|[in]:||Northern Metal, No. 12, p. 22-23|
|[article]:||Kick Axe (Welcome to their Club)|
|[by]:||K. K. Percy|
If it's too loud ... you're too old! Along with being one of the mottos of HM is also one of the tracks on the upcoming KICK AXE opus Welcome to the Club due to be released before Christmas. Recorded at Metalworks Studios here in Toronto during July and August, we went down to the studio to sit it on a couple of sessions and cornered guitarist/lyricist Larry Gillstrom for a pre-release interview.
"Our album is going according to schedule and I've gotta say that we have never had so much control over our future, ever. In the career of the group, especially with so many big conglomerates like CBS with Ted Turner trying to buy it, Epic and CBS buying part of our merchandising company Winterland, and all of this stuff going on. Yet we still managed to retain control over this project. Where the A & R people, they're really great people, but it's like they want a tape and a half finished thing. Like what you heard tonight. So they want a tape to take home to listen to and we say no because it's like someone coming to see an artist painting a picture and say "can we take a snapshot so we can decide what it's gonna look like." (laughter) No one wants people to see it until everything's there. Unless they are directly involved with the project. Otherwise the only way we allow anyone to leave here after they come in and hear what we're doing is either with a smile or unconscious (laughter).
We feel the album is taking the direction we really want to take with the strength of our vocals, and the kind of guitar work Raymond and I always wanted to do, the gutsy Deep Purple, Aerosmith type of guitar work. Well, Deep Purple didn't have 2 guitars, so we're gonna cover some of that up with Hammond organ and 8-3 through a Leslie. That was used for Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild" and "Magic Carpet Ride", Uriah Heep and others. It was always a 8-3 through a Leslie then everyone stopped using it. So when Heavy Metal came back, although I never ever believed it went away - I always think it's a constant thing that flows and sometimes people build it into a fad, then it comes back to Heavy Metal, then a fad and so on. This has got to be the third time it's been a fad I can think of. And in one of those fads they lost the 8-3 through a Leslie. So on this album we're gonna try to regenerate it. Kind of like a 1980's "Born To Be Wild", Steppenwolf-type sound on some of the songs on this album. Our other songs, we're gonna be leaving a lot of guitar out to show off the vocals. Then on other songs we'll drown the vocals out with so many guitars. One track we have is called "If It's Too Loud, You're Too Old" that's 2 minutes and 40 seconds long, and it lays down the statement right there on the spot. There's no foolin' around on the song, it's like a freight train going over your head. Ray has a guitar solo that hardly has any notes in it, it's all whammy bar he's just going crazy on it. It's a lot of fun, and all the HM fanatics in the record company want it to be the single even though we have the other people saying they want this to be the single.
We've got some sensual, sexual songs on this album because we've always been that kind of the band. We like to go out in front of an audience and play for girls as well as to guys. You can't play to all the same, there's times when you want to be dynamic and still be yourself. The last thing we allowed to happen on this record is for anyone to take away our sincerity and the direction we've always headed in. The first album we were really happy with but we never had as much control as we do now. And hopefully each album we'll gain more control and it'll become more apparent to people exactly where we're heading for and what we're hoping to do. We want to be unique so when people say, "Well they're like this or like them," no they're just KICK AXE and that's that. We're not the new wave of Heavy Metal or melodic metal or we're this kind or that kind. The labeling thing is something we all try to avoid. Yet if someone comes up to me and asks if I'm in a Heavy Metal band, I'll say "Ya". because I always thought I was. I've always thought that I was a Heavy Metal guitar player and I would always say that. Because I remember other groups trying to deny they were Heavy Metal because they thought it would give them a bad name. But I can't see why anyone would worry about it. If you believe in a constant force of Heavy Metal as one of the few types ofm music that maintain the constant ... it's like it's always been there, since Victor and I were in his basement listening to Hendrix and Cream. And to me there's always been bands putting out albums like that but then it became popular all of a sudden, then unpopular then popular again with the trends. But it's bands like the Scorpions and Judas Priest, Deep Purple have been constant but are now huge because of the trend. Yet they've always had an army of followers all along the way."
The title for KICK AXE's second LP is more than just a phrase or title of a song, it's a statement of sorts as Larry explains:"Welcome to the Club" is - right around now everyone is complaining about unemployment, welfare and everyone has their sob stories. And they start coming on to you with their problems and you feel like saying "welcome to the club". If you think you have problems I could start spilling mine out to you. The title and the whole album is trying to grab the idea of "you're born, this is what you can make out of it, go for it. But if you want come cry about it - then welcome to the club." (laughter). See, the first line in the chorus of the song "Welcome to the Club" is "if the habit's hard to break, welcome to the club." Im mean if anyone tries to deny that they're under pressure or that they don't have habits or their heart doesn't ache then they're probably not human."
On the subject of not human, most people will remember the Vice from the first record and KICK AXE's video for "On the Road to Rock". A funny looking dude with eyeballs that swivel and a bizarre voice, it symbolized a phase in the KICK AXE attack. But he/it will not be involved in Welcome to the Club at all. "The Vice was the first album and only first album. See, the Vice is the thing you get when you're first into the world and then the Welcome to the Club is when you realize the Vice has already got you, right? And in one way or another you're being squeezed. I mean it's not a downer or a negative attitude, it's just very realistic and we're trying to talk about human situations but just the human drama."
There are no club dates at all and a tour will depend upon what happens with the album. But there definitely are plans for possibly 3 videos to support Welcome to the Club with "Make Your Move" slated as the first one. The tracks as they appear on the advance cassette are: Side A - "Welcome to the Club", "Feels Good - Don't Stop", "Comin' After You", "Make Your Move", "Never Let Go"; and Side B - "Hellraisers", "Can't Take It With You", "If It's Too Loud You're Too Old", "Feel the Power", "With A Little Help From My Friends".
"The tracks I'm looking forward to personally - me as a writer and a guitarist is our ballad "Never Let Go" which is about post disaster, not necessarilly nuclear disaster, but the breakdown of society song where the only thing left between two people is their love for each other when there's nothing else left around. And it's a strong candidate for a video. "Hellraisers" will definitely be my fav. live song.
I look forward to different songs for different reasons. "Feels Good, Don't Stop" has probably got the best background vocals ever heard on a record. (laughter) You know, it's got the KICK AXE harmnonies the way we really wanted them to be. If you wanted to liken it to another band, I would liken to say, Queen. Early Queen like "Liar" or "Stone Cold Crazy". The songs that had the really clear but blow-by-you harmonies that you'd sit and go "what was that". Not too much guitar, songs like that. We've always wanted to do a song like that. Not much guitar but a lot of lead and background vocals and really feature the drums and bass. Let everyone hear what our drummer and bassist sound like without any guitars.
"Feel the Power", "Hellraisers" and "If It's Too Loud, You're Too Old" are songs we have to have on our records to perform live on stage and go crazy with. We have to have those songs. "Hellraisers" to me is a song that I can go out and go crazy on stage, get out all my energies out in that one tune. I'm totally in love with that song. Sitting on the turntable, that's the type of song that depends on the volume. At a low volume it wouldn't mean anything but crank it to 10 and it'll mean a lot."
The last song on the album is a remake of the Beatles' classic "With A Little Help From My Friends" and KICK AXE sent out an open invitation to musicians to get together and have a good time.
"It's called "A Little Help From My Friends" and all we're asking for is a little help from our friends in the industry. They'll get publicity on it, we'll get publicity on it and hopefully radio will like it. It'll be orchestrated. It'll be planned out but no restrictions are being placed on anyone. If they want to fly off the handle and start wailing off something, go ahead. We won't stop them. We'll lay it down and if it's good it'll get on the album. If not it'll become magnetic heaven." CHMA: "Live Aid for KICK AXE?" Larry: "Ya, Live Aid for KICK AXE (laughter). I can only afford potato skins to eat!" (Laughter).