Angus Thomas was a renowned bass player from Chicago who had a "must see" reputation as a "Jimi Hendrix" on bass. He played in a number of Chicago based bands that played rock and funk. Angus was always the draw; a stand out who overshadowed the rest of whatever band members he was on stage with.


"Rick and I knew of Angus and we had seen him play. You could never remember the band he was in or anyone in the band but him. But when they came to town you had to go see them just to see Angus play. He was an absolute monster onstage. He had all these effects on his bass rig, which of course appealed to me. I never heard anyone get sounds out of a bass guitar like that . It was like he was my bass counterpart. He would establish this hard, mean funk groove and then the next minute he was soloing like a lead guitar player."

Angus arrived in Champaign in 1982 to join his family who had moved there. Looking for a gig, he showed up at a Combo Audio show.


"Angus showed up at one of our gigs at Mabel's. He had apparently asked around who was the hottest band in town and someone told him to come see us. I walked out of the dressing room during a break in our show and he was standing there. I knew who he was, said hello and told him how much I loved how he played. He looked straight at me and said "you need me in your band." I told Rick about it later. We just looked at each other and a light went on at the possibility. . . "hey, wait a minute . . "

After one rehearsal with Angus, Rick and John knew this was what they had been looking for and it would take Combo Audio to another level.

"Letting Tom go was one of the hardest things we ever had to do personally and professionally. We loved him, loved his personality, his playing, his voice. We knew it would upset a lot of Combo Audio's audience. Some people thought we were crazy. Why would we change something that was so successful and going so well? But we had to do it. Rick and I just knew we had to go that direction with Angus."

Angus appeared as the new bass player for Combo Audio very abruptly. One week Tom played, the next week Angus played. While it did upset some of the band's fans, Angus soon won over the band's audience and expanded it. The combination of Rick and Angus' grooves and the harmonic colors John and Angus developed with their effects laden sound led to a trademark Combo Audio sound of "three guys who sound like five".

The band immediately went into the studio with Dana Walden and recorded more material with Angus to submit to labels who were now courting the band. Ken Adamany, who managed Cheap Trick, stepped in and began to manage the band. With Angus aboard, the band quickly evolved to its highest peak and began several years of nearly non-stop touring in concert clubs, university shows and opening or co-billing in large venues with peers like Talking Heads, U2, Billy Idol, Duran Duran, The Tubes, and INXS.

After a courtship from nearly every major label, Combo Audio was signed to EMI/America in late 1982. Their self titled EP "Combo Audio" was recorded at Pierce Arrow Recorders in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago. Dana Walden produced with Ian Taylor (Psychedelic Furs) engineering and mixing, with Paul Klingberg as second engineer. Dana eventually had conflicts as he was also producing and recording with his own band, Champaign and dropped out of the Combo Audio project leaving Ian Taylor to finish producing, mixing and engineering the record with the band at Synchro Sound in Boston. a studio owned by The Cars.

"Combo Audio" with the single "Romanticide" was released in early 1983 after the band finished a trip to Los Angeles. "Romanticide" became a top single pick again in Billboard and received wide acclaim with regular support and airplay in New York, Boston, Chicago, St.Louis and Los Angeles.

With EMI, the band also made a second "Romanticide" video which immediately went into power rotation in a newly launched MTV.