[published]: 1985, January
[in]: Rock World, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 26-27
[article]: Getting Kinky with Kick Axe
[by]: Bob Grossweiner

These party animals are Canada's outrageous answer to Motley Crue.

"What vices don't we have?" wonders Larry Gillstrom, one of Kick Axe's two lead guitarists, when asked why they titled their debut album Vices. "Let's see, there's wine and women, but we don't indulge into anything harmful to our health."

"Actually," he says after thinking to himself for a few seconds, "we indulge in just about all vices but just lightly, except for drinking and women. We're Canadians so we drink a lot of beer, like Molson-gold label, of course-and John LaBatt's Extra Old Stock."

"It's the bottom of the barrel," interjects singer George Criston. "6.5% proof!"

"You have to scrape it off the bottom of the barrel," laughs Gillstrom.

"Victor (Langen), our bass player," he adds with another laugh, "is very short, and he can only put two of them away before he turns into a large group of people and starts dancing with himself."

Kick Axe, one of the most promising heavy metal bands to emerge in the summer of 1984, has open concerts for Judas Priest, Quiet Riot, and Scorpions. In fact, Priest's Rob Halford went to see the Vancouver-based quintet perform and personally chose them as his group's opening act.

Originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, Kick Axe has been kicking around the Canadian club circuit since the winter of 1975-76. "We believed in ourselves," says Gillstrom, whose younger brother Brian is the group's drummer. "We've enjoyed the lifestyle of being on stage. We were making a reasonable living; we were able to pay our bills and buy the odd article of clothing."

Actually, Kick Axe made more money on the Canadian club scene, where an act plays one club for six nights, than as an opening act on a major cross country tour of the States. But they had to leave the club scene to promote Vices.

And if Gillstrom's guitar licks sound a bit like Quiet Riot's Carlos Cavazo's, the answer is simple. Not only are Kick Axe and Quiet Riot on the same Pasha Records, but they used the same studio and same producer Spencer Proffer. "80% of the similarity can be attributed to the same studio and same producer," feels Gillstrom. "They said they were going to track my guitar the same way they did Carlos'. I never heard Quiet Riot much before we recorded Vices so I can't attribute any influence to him."

Kick Axe was finally able to leave the Canadian clubs behind when they recruited Criston two years ago. Previously, they were more instrumentally oriented. "I'm the only Yankee in the group," says the twenty-two-year-old barefoot vocalist from Brookfield, Wisconsin. Kick Axe listened to over two hundred audition tapes; Criston only mailed one-to Kick Axe.

"He doesn't breathe with shoes on," jests the twenty-eight-year-old Gillstrom. "It's embarrassing, because everywhere we walk, he has to say 'excuse me.'"

"If you never wear shoes," advises Criston, "your feet get real comfortable. It's like walking on hot coals-you don't think about it."

But what about Canadian winters when it goes below zero degrees. Criston then admits to only pair of slippers and one pair of shoes. He started his barefoot days when playing frisbee, but Gillstrom really believes he does it because he wants to meet Cyndi Lauper.

Vancouver is a hot bed of Canadian musical talent with Loverboy, Bryan Adams, Chilliwack, Red Rider, Headpins, Strange Advance, and Doug and the Slugs. Even though they had to perform some top 40 songs to get booked again, Kick Axe was the top Canadian club band and the most non-top 40 group. Even their debut single "On the Road to Rock" had to be edited to remove some of the guitar licks.

On the road with the heavyiest of heavy metal bands, Kick Axe loves to party. "We're having a lot of wild parties," admits Gillstrom. "But on our first tour of the United States, we've tried to behave as much as possible. In Canada, we used to have wild after-hours parties, from room trashing to wild antics with women-six nights a week! But now we don't want the headliner to find out that the opening act couldn't make the gig because someone was in jail."

The wild antics really depend upon which Axe member is involved. "It's just basic kinky sex, depending upon the women," acknowledges Gillstrom, "but I can't say these things for the press."

"Yes, you can," replies ROCK WORLD's intrepid scribe.

"Well," laughs Gillstrom, "Victor has strange uses for electric razors, which is why he loses them."

"That's where they go!" exclaims Criston.

"We carry more handcuffs with us than a police force," admits Gillstrom, "and most of them are used on us. We do things for fun, but then there are people we really want to get involved with for a few days so we hoard them for ourselves."

In Victoria, Canada, the quintet has such a bad reputation that they can't go back. "It seems that a bunch of local people walked into the wrong party," states Gillstrom.