[published]: 1984, July 7
[in]: Indianapolis News, p. 14
[article]: Kick Axe Taking Heavy Swing
[by]: Zach Dunkin

In the beginning there were Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad and Deep Purple, the pioneers of heavy metal rock during the late '60s.

Imitators such as Kiss, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith flourished during the mid '70s. Today, the music business is seeing yet another generation of heavy metal rockers with AC/DC, Quiet Riot, Def Leppard and the Scorpions thriving on the pop charts.

Kick Axe, a heavy metal quintet from Vancouver, wants to be a part of that movement too.

"I would say that the acceptability of heavy metal sure has opened up a lot." said Kick Axe bassist Victor Langen. "You're seeing a lot more magazines with the Scorpions, Van Halen and Judas Priest on the cover."

"The door is open and that will help, but we're not expecting it to be easy. We're prepared to do whatever we have to do and it could be a long, hard ride."

Kick Axe will be on the road with Judas Priest through August, pumping its debut album, "Vices." The tour will visit Market Square Arena Tuesday night.

Langen described Judas Priest as one of the bands that helped to break down barriers for the new haevy metal units.

"They've been at it so long you could call them a first and second generation band," said Langen. "It took them so long to break through. Actually, the first generation never went away because they still have a hardcore following."

One of the most difficult tasks for a heavy metal band is finding enough support. Any hard rock act knows before it dives into the business that it won't be accepted by the masses. But a market does exist and the challenge is to get some share of that.

What separates someone like Quiet Riot or Kick Axe from the rest?

Langen says it's his group's approach to vocal harmonies and its dual lead guitars that make it somewhat different from the other heavy metal acts.

"We were looking for some sort of individuality where people will hear you on the radio and say, 'Hey, that's Kick Axe,' so we we went to the vocal thing more than most heavy metal bands," explained Langen.

George Criston is the lead vocalist, but all five members of Kick Axe sing, making it possible for four part and occasionally five-part harmonies.

"It's the way it has alway been with us," said Langen. "And we can do it live, which is one of the reasons we've been coming across real well on stage."

"It's going to help us stand out from the pack."

The dual lead guitars by Larry Gillstrom and Ray Harvey provide a more melodic, fuller sound than some heavy metal bands.

Gillstrom is also the primary creator of the group's lyrics although all the writing credits go to Kick Axe as a unit.

"It's all collaboration," related Langen, who formed the original Kick Axe in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1976. "It always starts with someone's idea, then we all just chip in and build on it. It just seems to happen."

Spencer Proffer, owner of Pasha Records, and producing whiz of Quiet Riot's multi-platinum debut album, "Metal Health," also produced "Vices." The comparisons between the two acts are unavoidable.

"We were afraid that could happen and it did a little bit right off the bat, but people are taking it now for what it is now that people are listening to it," said Langen. "It is standing on its own."

Langen noted that Kick Axe was one of the last groups to come out of Vancouver before the city's music scene cooled. Vancouver has produced such successful acts as Loverboy, Bryan Adams and Chilliwack.

"It's kind of a dead scene right now," said Langen. "The club owners want everybody to play copy tunes like Duran Duran. We got out of there just in time."