|[published]:||1986, March 8|
|[article]:||Prairie heavy-metal band ready to fly with albums|
Nature failed to provide Regina with a lake, so Reginans made their own.
When the music business didn't provide Regina with a rock tradition, Kick Axe took up the banner.
Things are looking up, too, with a little help from the band's friends.
Coming from a prairie city long on wheat, cold winters and Rider Pride, Kick Axe has had a tough row to hoe making its mark as a heavy-metal band.
Other than Kenny Shields, who used to be in the defunct band Streetheart, about the only name entertainer to come from Regina was actor John Vernon, says Kick Axe's Victor Langen.
Compounding the problem is the lack of rock-music clubs in the city: "There's no (music) industry here in Regina. There isn't even any live rock and roll clubs left here anymore".
"You can't go out here if you want to go hear a band. There's nothing here anymore. You have to go to Saskatoon."
The situation isn't unique to Regina, said Langen. Rock clubs are closing all across Canada: "It's just one of those down periods, I guess."
Kick Axe is probably reaching the point where that won't matter anymore. The group plugged away on the country's bar circuit for five or six years before landing a recording deal in the U.S. in 1983.
Now it has released two albums on Spencer Proffer's Pasha label, distributed by CBS, the most recent being Welcome to the Club. The band has been an opening act for groups like Scorpions, Quiet Riot (its label mate), and Judas Priest.
Its remake of the Beatles' With a Little Help From My Friends was a hit in Canada.
Kick Axe's story isn't unlike that of many other Canadian rock acts that have scratched their way up: Bad management, bad agents, letters without reply and unsold demos litter the band's past.
"We must have sent out 70 demos in our time," said Langen. Finally, Proffer, known mainly as Quiet Riot's producer, heard three of their songs in a demo and signed them right away.
As happens too often, a Canadian act had to go to the U.S. for recognition, but Kick Axe didn't forget its roots.
The video for With a Little Help From My Friends features a chorus of familiar Canadian rockers, like Lee Aaron, Sheron Alton and Rik Emmett.
"After reading in magazines, you know, things like Motley Crue says Ratt is no good, or Quiet Riot thinks everybody is no good, it was just like, hey, we were trying to show a more Canadian attitude."
"There's no reason why musicians just can't all stick together. If we can't stick together, what is there left?"
The chorus was filled with the faces Kick Axe met along the byways of Canada's rock-club circuit.
"I think there's a genuine feeling (of togetherness) among the Canadians," said Langen. "We all realize how hard it is to break out of this Canadian syndrome of 'Hey man, they can't be any good.'"
"In all our years coming up through the bars, we ran into bands like Helix, the guys from Honeymoon Suite when they were in a band called Lennox."
"The Coney Hatch guys, Lee Aaron we've known for years playing the bars. So, it's just everybody wishing the best for everybody else."