[published]: 1986, March 12
[in]: Michigan Journal, Volume 15, Issue 25, p. 9
[article]: Canadians try U.S.
[by]: Kevin Evans

Canada is slowly beginning to feed the U.S. with prime rock groups. Rush, Triumph and Bryan Adams are just a few of those that have made the trek from "the Great White North." Hoping to join their Canadian counterparts is the hard-rocking Regina, Saskatchewan natives, Kick Axe.

"There is a stigma in Canada," said Victor Langen, bassist for the group. "Canadians go 'Well, it's a Canadian band; they can't be very good.' It's a young country culturally."

"In Canada, people have a bit of hesitation toward a Canadian band, figuring they're not from Los Angeles," he added. "Groups like Rush, Loverboy or Bryan Adams had to go outside of Canada to get recognition, and when they come home, everybody's going, 'Aren't they great!' It was a whole different story when they were trying to get somewhere in their own country. People wouldn't give them the time of day."

Kick Axe, however, seems to be breaking away from that attitude.

Their debut album, Vices, went gold in Canada and sold more than 200,000 worldwide. Since then, they've opened for such groups as Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, the Scorpions, Quiet Riot and Ratt.

"We went out in America to prove ourselves to the big boys out in New York and Los Angeles that yes, we can back up our words with action," said Langen. "We'll go out there and tour from one end of North America to the other to make it happen. It's just a matter of time."

Their latest album, Welcome to the Club, might be the spark they are looking for.

Recorded at Metal Works, the recording studio owned by Triumph, the album is more polished than the "rawer" Vices, said Langen.

"We learned a lot by doing that first album," he said. "We were there every step of the way, right from start to finish, with our eyes open and our mouths shut, and this time with our eyes open and our mouths open. We definitely had a lot of artistic input on what went down."

Welcome to the Club, produced by Spencer Proffer (Quiet Riot and W.A.S.P.) with Randy Bishop, includes "Comin' After You," "If It's Too Loud (You're Too Old)," "Hell Raisers," and "With A Little Help From My Friends" a song recorded as a tribute to the Beatles, Joe Cocker and Led Zeppelin.

When Cocker recorded his version of the song, Jimmy Page played guitar while John Paul Jones was an arranger and played keyboards, thus, planting the seeds for Led Zeppelin.

"It's a good classic song to do something with. It's always been one of our favorites," said Langen. "It was a natural for historic reasons and musical reasons, plus it seemed to go along good with the whole idea of having a big party with all of our friends coming into the studio."

Kick Axe invited their closest friends to aid them record the song, including Triumph's Rik Emmett.

Kick Axe's George Criston on vocals; Brian Gillstrom on drums; Larry Gillstrom on lead guitar; Raymond Arthur Harvey on lead guitar and Victor Langen on bass got their name using the slang name for the group's instruments.

The 'Kick' is slang for a kick drum, like the Bass, and the 'Axe' for guitar; heavy on the beat and heavy on the guitars," said Langen. "We figured that it meant Rock-and-roll and it sounds heavy."

The hard-rocking Kick Axe is British influenced, according to Langen, who cites Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Queen as the groups early influences. Regardless of the influences, Langen likes to think that the band stands alone, and thinks that the group's vocals are the best way to do it.

"We try to build up our vocals as our calling card."

Kick Axe will be appearing with Autograph this Friday at Harpo's at I-94 and Chalmers.