[published]: 1986, January 9
[in]: Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, p. D5
[article]: Kick Axe Sask. boys on musical high
[by]: Terry Craig

"We're just a bunch of Saskatchewan boys out to conquer the world."

And with a second album, Welcome to the Club, earning airplay in Canada and the lucrative American market, Kick Axe drummer Brian Gillstrom is confident his prediction for the band will be met.

The Regina-based five-piece band rolls into Saskatchewan Centennial Auditorium Friday night in its first headlining tour.

The band has attracted a major corporate sponsor, Labatts, which allowed it to revamp its stage presentation, utilizing the latest and most sophisticated stage equipment.

"This will be a totally different show," Gillstrom said of Friday's performance. "We have a whole new look and a big bundle of money behind us."

But unlike Helix, for whom the band has opened on several tours, Kick Axe prefers spontaneity to be the key to on-stage performances.

"Helix likes planning its shows," Gillstrom said. "But we don't set out to plan everything; that just takes away from rock and roll. If you want programmed music we leave that up to Madonna."

Although the band has been together for eight years, the majority of time on the club scene, the past two years have seen the group make the giant leap from clubs to major concert stages.

Last year a round of constant touring in support of heavy metal supergroups, such as Judas priest, the Scorpions and Quiet Riot, earned the band a recording contract with Spencer Proffer's Pasha Records.

Proffer's golden touch at the control knobs has made radio contenders out of groups whose music rarely makes it to that media. But under Proffer's direction, a steady diet of melodic heaviness can be found on the charts.

Gillstrom said the new album represents a conscious effort by the group to get airplay, but at the same time retain the element of rock.

"Rock and roll has always been about human feel. When you listen to machine music, it sounds so stale. I think it's a trend and that people will tire of it and want to hear real music with fire in it. Radio airplay is so important, or else your stuff gets passed over."

The band included a 1960s classic, With a Little Help From My Friends, on the new album, recorded partially as a tribute to the Beatles, Joe Cocker and its favorite band, led Zeppelin.

Top Canadian artists Brian Allen, Sherry Albron, Rik Emmet of Triumph, Lee Aaron and members of Coney Hatch formed a 20-voice choir which adds a tremendous spirit to an already powerful song.

"It was a damn good excuse to party and undoubtedly one of the highlights of the album," Gillstrom said.