[published]: 1984, June 30
[in]: Johnson City Press Chronicle, p. 9
[article]: KICK AXE: pile-driving rock 'n' roll
[by]: Elaine Cloud Goller

On the back of the premiere KICK AXE album, Vices, are individual photos of the five band members. Under one picture, the caption reads "Vice Brian Gillstrom; drums, vocals and responsibility".


"I am the main partier," Brian explained in telephone interview, "but I tend to get out of hand once in a while. Basically I'm the one responsible - when we leave, people say 'gee, I wonder who's responsible for that'? It's usually me."

Not to be mistaken with another heavy metal band, called Axe, Brian wants it clear that the name is "KICK AXE - all capitals". (He talks in all capitals, too.) They chose the monicker, he said, because "it sounds crunchy".

Pile-driving rock and roll, in the tradition of the bands this mostly-Canadian quintet has been inspired by - the likes of Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin, Who - is what to expect when KICK AXE opens the show at Freedom Hall Civic Center for Judas Priest Friday night.

The other members of KICK AXE are lead singer George Criston (recruited from Milwaukee), bass guitarist Victor Langen, and Raymond Arthur Harvey and Brian's brother Larry Gillstrom, who both play lead guitar as well as six- and 12-string and rhythm guitars. All are also vocalists.

Brian describes his compatriots as "very hard-working. We take one day at a time. When we hit that stage, we don't think about tomorrow, we think about rocking those people".

Becoming rock and rollers was a matter of self-preservation, 26-years-old Brian said.

As youths, they lived in Regina, Saskatchewan. There was a choice. Either you belonged to a gang, and were subjected to assaults from other gangs, or you became a rock and roll musician, and played at gang parties, thus becoming everyone's friend.

"When we were kids from like (age) 9 to 11, there were little gangs in our neighborhoods who would go around and beat you up. We were into music so much, we were practicing while there were out terrorizing the neighborhoods".

Everyone in the band, he said, had the ususal childhood lessons on piano and/or guitar, but the instruments each member plays now were primarily self-taught.

Langen and Larry Gillstrom began the original group in 1976, touring clubs in northern and western Canada, although finding a good record deal was to take a few years, when word got around to producer Spencer Proffer, who signed them up with Pasha Records.

Brian was generous with his praise for Proffer, who also co-wrote several tunes on Vices, an unrelenting heavy metal LP featuring some impressive mixes.

"We lock ourselves in our rooms and begin writing. Everybody comes up with different ideas, that we work on by ourselves, then present them to the band. Sometimes it's lyrical content first, sometimes it's musical. Then everybody puts in, and it starts to click. One good idea sparks the next.

"We're a heavy metal band, but we're melodic. We have five-part harmony, so it makes it interesting".

"The lyrics to our songs are about what our fans inspired us to do. They give us an indication of what they like, we take it and add our polish to it. Heavy Metal Shuffle is about a fan who takes music too seriously - 'nobody told him it was only a song'".

On the Road to Rock is about us, basically about rocking out every night, with different people and parties all the time."

The group hopes to do a video in the next couple of weeks of either Shuffle or Road to Rock, or possibly both, and has written four songs that will be recorded on Black Sabbath's next album.

"We're a real party band, we love to party. We'll see if Johnson City can out-rock Nashville".

You heard that, rockers. The challenge has been issued.