[published]: 1985, April
[in]: Rock Fever, Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 32
[article]: Ready? Kick Axe!
[by]: Lynn Reynolds

1984 was a banner year for bands getting by as part of the heavy metal crowd. Under those conditions the record industry and our ears fell prey to the good, the ordinary, and the just plain bad, Canada's Kick Axe, a group currently being touted by and carefully guided into the release of their first record on Pasha Records is part of the bumper crop of good newly recorded talent.

They began as Kick Axe about eight years ago, evolving these past five years into a group of four musicians. They added George Criston, the lead vocalist and the only American, a year and a half ago. What they have that makes them special is the musicianship to branch into other genres with the spunk and kick to play straight from their guts in the all out "go for it" style that defines heavy metal. In the words of George Criston, "We are trying to create something new, strong music that comes from our hearts and heads." It's the music they love and they want to expand with it.

As kids, the nucleus of the group, Larry Gillstrom, one of the two lead guitarists, and Victor Langen, bass guitarist, grew up in western Canada forming a band to play for the biker gangs to avoid being hassled by them. "They'de leave you alone if they knew you were in a band." It was a tough place to grow up, but being in a band helped you survive. Eventually Larry's younger brother and drummer Brian, joined the group with Kick Axe being completed by Raymond Harvey, the group's other lead guitarist. Both Raymond and Larry pick up acoustical guitars to add more dimension to the sound of Kick Axe and everyone contributes to the vocals.

The album Vices, released by Pasha in May of '84, has some very interesting music news on it. There are the 'power train' metal anthems "Stay On Top" and the title track, "Vices", and the surprising acoustic mix on "Dreamin' About You." The harmonies are accomplished; the guitar work is not just another version of 'white noise' but actually refined riffs and lead work that makes you pay attention. Listening to them you hear the influences of Queen, Hendrix, and the Who; they speak of the Winter brothers, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd and Creedence Clearwater as important to them, and have demonstrated enough talent to build on this legacy, not just rip it off.

This combination resulted in Kick Axe becoming one of Canada's hot club draws, eventually interesting Pasha Records enough to start asking for demos. They polished their sound playing clubs six nights a week, four sets a night. They rehearsed during the day and played all night, keeping this pace up except to take a couple of weeks off during the year. The dedication suggested by that is evident when talking with them; it all adds up to a group of young men who share the drive to go into the music world, giving it 100%; putting themselves "full force to the wall" in the words of Larry Gillstrom.

Kick Axe spent about eight weeks recording the album, rehearsing 15 hours a day in pre-production, so that when they hit the studio there was a product ready to go. Their enthusiasm about the finished album was great. They liked it and hoped that the next one will be another step for them musically, each one part of a growth process. There are a lot of other sides to Kick Axe than just heavy metal and part of their dream is that someday it will be possible for them to demonstrate even more.

Very aggressive musically, they see their music as a release for the audience. They see the world as a violent place but aren't in support of it. Kick Axe wants to say something positive to the audience about themselves, "good attitude music," giving their fans something to think about while having a great time doing it. Their outgoing attitude reaches their live performances; the say they watch the audience as much as the audience watches them. "We want to grab them and not let them go." Kick Axe has been touring U.S. concert circuit since the release of the album, travelling about 500 miles a day and getting used to having "no fixed addresses." They see Los Angeles as their U.S. home base but have replaced a home life with their "marriage" to the band and the dedication it is going to take for them to make it. They don't intend to waste any time.