[published]: 1984, July 27, Friday
[in]: Deseret News, p. W9
[article]: Band Enters via Great White North
[by]: Jerry Spangler

The Great White North has given the world some of the most gifted rock musicians and musical groups: Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, The Guess Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Rush, Loverboy, April Wine and numerous others.

Kick Axe - an emerging Vancouver-based heavy metal band - hopes to add its name to that prestigious group of Canadian performers.

According to Kick Axe drummer Brian Gillstrom, the band is not a carbon-copy of the immensely popular hard rock bands currently making waves on the contemporary music scene.

"We're ourselves," he said. "Sure, other groups have influenced us, but we strive for an original sound and show. You can't copy what has already been done; you're not fooling anybody when you do that".

Kick Axe will be in concert Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Salt Palace. Also appearing will be Judas Priest, one of the world's premier heavy metal bands.

Gillstrom says he enjoys the music of most current heavy metal bands, including Judas Priest, Def Leppard and The Scorpions. But he is also quick to point out that he and other members of Kick Axe enjoy all kinds of music.

"I like the symphony," Gillstrom said. "To me the symphony is heavy metal - a super heavy metal."

The sound of Kick Axe is surprisingly fresh. Yes, it still has the sounds of screaming electric guitars and thunderous drums. But it also exhibits unique vocal harmonies, a rare (for heavy metal) melodic sound and a refreshing crispness.

The crisp sound is due in part to the long time the band has been together and the thousands of nights playing together, Gillstrom told the Deseret News.

"Most of us went to the same elementary school together, and when we were about 14 or 15, we all got back together again and started playing," he said. "Since that time we have been paying our dues."

Those dues were paid over about eight years in the form of more than 300 shows a year on the Canadian nightclub circuit. One result has been a large following of devoted fans north of the border.

Success was just around the corner, but the band was in need of a lead singer. When George Criston of Milwaukee applied, they asked him, "Do you like screamin'? Do you like rock 'n roll?"

"When he said yes, we signed him up right there," said Gillstrom. "One of the things that makes this band is that we all have the same heads - we all have the same ideas about what the music should be."

The band is composed of George Criston, lead singer; Victor Langen, bass guitar; Raymond Arthur Harvey, lead and rhythm guitar; Brian Gillstrom, drums; and Larry Gillstrom, lead and rhythm guitar.

After sending several demo tapes of their original material to an American record producer, the band was eventually signed to a record contract. The subsequent result was "Vices," an album making slow but steady progress on Billboard's list of top 200 albums.

According to Gillstrom, the band's first album is a positive album that should "make you feel good inside."

"I like to see people go crazy and have a good time. I like our music to be a release for people. I don't want to hit them with heavy ideas or sing about world problems."

"They get enough of that already. There is nothing down on this album. I don't want them to hear anything about nuclear war. I just want them to have a good time."

Kick Axe will certainly be having a good time if "Vices" is a financial success. FM radio stations around the country have begun playing cuts from the album, the most popular of which appear to be "Heavy Metal Shuffle" and "RoadTo Rock."

But it is still yet to be seen if Kick Axe will achieve the fame and fortune of its Canadian predecessors.

"Part of becoming a success is touring," Gillstrom said. "We (the members of the band) get along well together and we'll probably keep touring until we're gray."