[published]: 1984, October 31
[in]: Winnipeg Free Press
[article]: Kick Axe seeks slice of world fame as a Prairie Group
[by]: Kevin Prokosh

All rock groups on long concert tours have to put up with exhausting bus rides, lousy food and shady promoters. But a Prairie band performing in the U.S. has the added hassle of fielding questions about Big Foot

For Kick Axe, the Regina heavy metallers based in Vancouver, the dumb questions about their homeland are regarded as an occupatiopnal hazzard.

"They think that if you leave your house you have to run to your car beacuse there will be a 20-foot grizzly chasing you," laughed Brian Gillstrom, drummer and one of the vocalists of the quintet. "It's ridiculous."

He figures a stupid question deserves a stupid answer and often tells the reporters that the band drives a dogsled to the border where they rent a car to travel in the U.S. On the way home they rent a team of dogs from the thousands of kennels at the border and jump on their sled to drive to their igloo. "Some people believe it," said the 25-year-old Regina native.

A lot of people want to know about Kick Axe since the group pounded out a place in metal music with a powerful debut album and heavy touring schedule. Vices is about to turn gold in Canada and has sold about 100.000 copies in the U.S. It has just been released in Japan and will soon be available in Australia and Europe.

Hitting road again

Gillstrom, enjoying a rare day off at home in Regina with his parents, and Kick Axe are about to hit the road again with a string of concerts in Western Canada, including a date with Quiet Riot and Whitesnake at the Winnipeg Arena Nov. 7. The are an ambitious crew "possessed by rock 'n' roll."

"Basically we are going to tryand take over the world," Gillstrom said. "We want to put the Prairies on the map and we want to be the ones to do it."

Kick Axe formed in 1976 will return to the recording studio next year to do a follow-up to Vices. By that time they hope to have a stockpile of 125 tunes from which to choose.

The members of the group are excited about returning to Winnipeg where rock 'n' roll is king and where they received faithful support as a bar band for many years.

"I always considered Winnipeg to be the rock 'n' roll capital of Canada," said Gillstrom. "Winnipeg rocks better than any place we have played yet, We feel we owe your city a good one because of all the years of support and the wicked parties we had there."

Larry leads assault

Kick Axe's sonic assault is lead by the twin axe-work of Gillstrom's brother, Larry, and Ray Harvey which backs the dynamic vocals of George Criston, the Milwaukee native who is the only American in the group. They play anthem music, such as Heavy Metal Shuffle, which is filled with little touches that can only be heard with headphones.

"We made it so it would be good for tripping out on," Gillstrom said. "I bet most of the people inm Winnipeg haven't heard the little secret messages on it."

The members of Kick Axe are more interested in making sure there are strong hooks in their music than strong messages. They shy away from making political statements. They have no pretensions about waht they are trying to achieve.

"What do we know about politics anyway?" he said. "We're a rock 'n' roll band. We'll leave it to all those overgrown kids in the Parliament buildings.

The group is more intent in providing its listeners with a release from the world than depressing them with more bad news.

"We just want to help them get rid of a little steam from their day. At our concerts we like to see people get out there and put out as much energy as we do."