[published]: 1985, December
[in]: Metallion, Vol. 2, No. 8, p. 40-41, 43
[article]: Inside the Rocker's Club
[by]: Stunner Crunch

"I've seen women kiss those stinky toes. I've seen chicks grab on and suck his big toe. Really fucking gross."

Brian Gillstrom's been banging skins with Kick Axe a while now and he's seen some pretty sick stuff, but the new cult of George Criston toe-suckers is enough to give Bri the barfs.

"George can't stand wearing shoes while he is performing. He's got to be able to feel the stage with his bare feet. Plus he's secretly in love with Cyndi Lauper, so he's always getting his feet hacked up. He'll come off stage and go, 'Had a little mishap tonight,' as he pulls back a couple inches of skin and wipes away the blood. "That George is one tough guy. One night we're playing the Black Knight in Winnipeg, and now, you have to understand, before this night I'd never lost a right-hand stick in my life. So I'm wailing away during my solo, and it happens. Instead of trying to cover up, I stood up, looked at George and started laughing. He walks over and brings me another stick. I'm wailing away again and it happens again. I stand up and George comes over and says, 'I know you lost your stick, right? It's OK, I'll get you another one.'

"So he climbs up into the rafters where there's all these beams and starts tearing on this board. He's got his cordless mike on so you can hear the boards ripping and cracking. He's hauling away at this board and suddenly the whole section tears away and comes down. George comes back to the stage with this stick about eight feet long and six inches wide and goes, 'Here's your stick, try and hang onto this one.'

"I swung the thing and just cleared all my drums of the riser, just wasted them. So there's me standing there with nothing to play. George calmly takes the mike and announces a short break. We played there three nights and people came the next two nights expecting to see the roof torn down and the drum kit smashed. They thaught it was all rehearsed. At the party after that night, the drum roadie was so pissed-off he brought all the broken bits back to the room and threw them into the toilet. All night there were people going in there and pissing all over the stuff.

"I don't mind living 10 lives in one; the old candle is flaming away at both ends, definitely. Even if I was to die two years from now, I would already have lived a few lives, more than most people."

The way things are going, Kick Axe will soon be packing even more living into their day-to-day lives. '85 was the touring-east year the group's ever had and with the release of Welcome To The Club, the pace can only increase.

Welcome... is a shit-hot disc, jammed with raving melodies, more hooks than a bait box and explosive singing from 'Stinky Toes' Criston. The whole thing's powered by a mother-eater of a drum mix, huge chunks of sheet steel drumming rattling around inside your chest bones 'til it feels like they're about to blow apart. What it does to the female chest, you can well imagine. All of this rides on a production sharp and clean as a new razor blade and with a bite to match.

"We're not big in abstracts, we write about things that we witness or that affect us directly. The idea for Welcome To The Club is that we all belong to the club already, but you don't know it until someone reminds you. The line if the habit's hard to break,' well, it's whatever habit that's got you; whether it be alcohol, drugs, sugar - whatever. Or some guy comes up to you and starts on about his girl leaving him and it's 'Hey, welcome to the club, we've all been there.'

"We've got a good pair of straight-ahead rockers in Make Your Move and Comin' After You. Feel The Power is one I personally like a lot. It's about the unique power in live rock; how when you're at a really good concert it can just take you away. If you're at a show and and your feet hurt or you have to move around because you're restless, then the concert isn't that good. You should loose all the feeling in your body in the power coming off stage. The power is that magnetic field that attracts you to the stage, makes you forget everything but just being there, and you feel you don't want the concert to ever end.

"That line in Hellraisers, 'every mother's son born to be a hellraiser,' well, everyone has a party animal in them somewhere. Everyone wants now and then to just say, 'Fuck it' and just let it all out for a while. With some people, the party animal is easier to draw out than with others. But if you can get it out of them, they like you.

"It may sound like it but Feels Good - Don't Stop isn't necessarily about sex. It's about when you're on a roll, on whatever it may be and not wanting to stop. It's about really enjoying all the fun things humans like to do, doing them to the limit."

That attitude's no stranger to ther boys of Kick Axe. At work or play, they do it all the way.

"There was this beach festival happening in Florida so me and my brother Larry (Kick Axe's ace axe), grabbed a couple of two-gallon magnums of wine, the kind with the chugging handles, and we went partying. After a while we grabbed these two women and we went way, way out to do some body surfing. By now it's getting dark but hey, we're having a great time. It was one of the best times I've ever had in the water but being Prairie boys, we aren't too ocean conscious. We're out there having a wild time and this one wave hits Larry broadside and he goes down.

"I looked back and I couldn't see him anymore. I'm not that great of a swimmer but we had to play a gig the next day, so I floundered over to where I saw him disappear, grabbed him under the arms and dragged him to the beach. He looked real funny with all this water pouring out of his face. I went back in and had a great time, 'til we couldn't see anything.

"Next day the guy at the hotel told us that beach was a big shark feeding ground and I shivered because I remember there were big fish bumping into me but I didn't think anything of it at the time. You know how it it when you're pissed, I was just booting them as hard as I could. The guy said they have someone on shark watch even during the day because the sharks chase fish into the shallows where it's easier to get them, I had nightmares about it."

Touring with the likes of Judas Priest, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Helix, the Scorpions and other big name barn-burners, Kick Axe was constantly having its mettle tested.

"We have this routine some nights where George and Ray do this struggle. One night during it George's hair got caught in Ray's machine heads. Like really caught, the guitar wrapped up tight against his head and neither of them could move. So they both fall on the stage and can't budge because George would just scream. I jumped off the kit and ran over, turned my back to the audience and just started ripping George's hair out and holding it up to the crowd, trying to make it part of show. So here I am, grinning and holding up handfuls of hair, George is just shitting from the pain and audience doesn't know what to make of this.

"I got my turn for a scalping another night when I was playing with a splintered stick. I came swooping down and got the stick tangled in my hair. It wouldn't come out, so I'm looking like a Pippi Longstocking with this stick sticking straight out and waving back and forth. I couldn't get it out so I'm trying to hit the cymbals with my hair and finally I start grabbing at it between licks and tearing a lot of hair in the process."

Lots more rock'n'gore was in store for our hero as the tour went along. Brian, you see, is the practical joker in the pack, the man who's been known to demolish hotel rooms and then spend his off-hours trying to put them back together. Or leave town, whichever comes first. So he was usually the first in line when tehre was someone to be set up.

"Those guys were always looking to do us in. Kick Axe has two tall guys, two medium-sized guys and one short guy. One night the Priest bunch kept delaying us from going out front until it was time to go on. We rush out there with not a second to lose to find that the mikes have been shifted around and the ring nuts locked tight so we couldn't change them. The tall guys wound up singing on their knees and Victor, our tiny perfect bassist, had to jump up to reach his mike. On the last date with them, they did me in the most. All day they were walking around with sneaky smiles so we knew something was up. Midway through the set they slowly start taking my drumkit away, piece by piece.

"They'd grab one cymbal and leave, come back, take another one. Then it was a tom, then the high hat. By the third to last song, I was down to the bass drum and a snare. Then I stood up to end the last song and when I sat down again, the drum stool wasn't there. I jump up high and come down hard to end the song, so when I came down on nothingness, I flipped off the riser, which is about four feet high. But the Priest boys were standing there to catch me or I would have been history.

"When it came to the shows, Halford and the boys were real gents, true metal brothers. They gave us some of their Very lights and full spots, made sure we had good sound and took the trouble every night to check that things were going well with us.

"I'd go out with those guys any time, anywhere. We generally get along well with everybody because we don't get into tripping out on people. What for? I don't want to be known as an egotistical jerk. What's the good in that? I don't think I'm better than anybody else; I just think everybody has their own gig and mine just happens to be playing rock'n'roll.

"It's the same way within the band; everyone in the group are best friends and hang out together. That's why the writing is all credited to Kick Axe. In other bands, fights start over who wrote what and who's going to get what money. We register everything as being written by Kick Axe so it's an even split all the way. That way if you have a good idea that would improve someone else's good idea, there's no temptation to say, 'I'm gonna keep this one for my own song.' All the ideas we have go into the common pot and we dish up what's needed. It comes real natural for us to run this band as a democracy."

The democratic metal marauders of Kick Axe took to the road again on December 12, kicking off a Southern Ontario tour with Helix at the Kingston Arena. Then it's off to join Lee Aaron on a cross-country tour after which, it'll be into the U.S. with an as yet unnamed headliner. '86 is the year the band must build on the foundations they laid down last year.

"We've learned the value of consistency, it's the key to climbing the next rung on the ladder. You've gotta make the effort to be great every night."

And what tour would Kick Axe most like to be great on every night?

"The tour we'd most like to do is go through Scandinavia with Stunner Crunch."

I hear ya boys, and I'm packing the penicillin.