Vardis were an influential three-piece heavy metal band from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, who enjoyed hits between 1978 and 1986.
They formed a prominent part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene, then prevalent in the United Kingdom. They consisted of frontman Steve Zodiac on guitar and lead vocals, Alan Selway on bass guitar and Gary Pearson on drums. Alan Selway was later replaced by Terry Horbury (previously of Dirty Tricks) on bass guitar.
The band were originally formed under the name ' Quo Vardis ' after the 1950's Roman epic film, Quo Vadis. This was later abbreviated to Vardis. Their first recordings were made at Holyground Studios in Cass Yard, Kirgate, Wakefied. The first ever track laid down on vinyl was titled 'Jiving All Night Long' with the B side titled 'Stay With Me', both penned by Zodiac. This was followed up with a second record, both cover versions, those being 'Roll Over Beethoven' (ELO) and 'Don't Waste My Time' (Status Quo).
Vardis quickly gained notoriety for high energy live performances, the unique approach of incorporating elements of 70's glam rock and heavy metal music and frontman Steve Zodiac's searing Fender Telecaster sound. Zodiac was reputable for playing Vardis concerts barefoot and bare chested, his look completed by long, naturally ice-blonde hair.
They took the unorthodox approach of comprising their debut album, '100MPH' (1980), of entirely live recordings. This is largely considered to be their finest hour and gained the band a large following early on in their career. They were invited to play the Heavy Metal Holocaust music festival in August 198l alongside Motorhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Triumph. Around 30,000 heavy metal fans were estimated to have attended with the PA reportedly reaching new heights of amplification at over 100,000 watts.
Among the many bands reluctant to be associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal tag line, few were as justified in their protests as Yorkshire's lovable boogie rock merchants, Vardis (formerly Quo Vardis ). Indeed, any links between the trio's turbo-charged rock & roll and outright heavy metal were tenuous at best, but with independent record label Logo looking to sign the band responsible for the fierce version of "If I Were King" featured in their New Electric Warriors compilation, Vardis decided that they could bang their heads quite convincingly, thank you very much. Thus a deal was struck, and, wishing to waste no undue time tinkering in the studio, Vardis proceeded to compile their 1980 debut, 100 MPH , from the best live versions of their road-tested repertoire. Because of the less-than-high-quality venues the band was known to perform in at the time, the resulting LP was hardly possessing of the highest-fidelity sound, but its blue-collar aesthetic and high-energy feel actually lent themselves perfectly to the band's good-time hard rock sound. Besides the aforementioned "If I Were King," 100 MPH rounded up most of Vardis' previous single releases, including the title track, "Out of the Way," and "Destiny" -- all boasting tightly executed performances that greatly improved upon the studio originals. In terms of new material, the potent "Living out of Touch," the very Saxon-esque "The Loser," and the irrepressible "Let's Go" stood out as highlights, helping to confirm 100 MPH as Vardis' finest hour.