[published]: 1986, August
[in]: Hit Parader, No. 263, p. 50
[article]: Metal Madness (Canadian Rockers Return with Welcome to the Club)
[by]: Rick Evans

There's something about Canada that seems to tickle the collective funny bone of America. Sure, it's big, it's cold, and it's the home of all those hockey players with no teeth. But it's also the place where some of the finest contemporary hard rock is being produced. So stop laughing at visions of endless tundra (heard any good tundra jokes lately?) and Moosehead beer, and start listening. If you do, one of the bands you'll probably pick up on is Kick Axe, one of the Great White North's most proficient metal configurations. You won't find any pretentious art rock here, and there are no dance rhythms within earshot. These guys play rock and roll the way it's supposed to be played - loud, fast and hard.

"We're not into trends or things like that," lead guitarist Larry Gillstrom stated. "That's not to say we don't keep on top of what's happening in rock and roll, but the fact is we're going to play the kind of music we like whether it's what's in at the moment or not. There's always people who want to listen to rock music, and those are the people we're interested in."

The band's latest attempt to appeal to this hardcore rock market is Welcome To The Club, a shining example of rock executed with style and power. Sure, we've all heard the riffs that adorn such wall-shakers as Hellraisers and Too Loud...Too Old a million times before. But since when is heavy metal a medium of creativity? Kick Axe do what they do very well, and they seem to be having a hack of a time doing it. And after all, isn't that what really counts?

"We do really enjoy what we do," said Gillstrom, who's joined in Kick Axe by his drumming brother Brian, vocalist George Criston, bassist Victor Langen and guitarist Raymond Arthur Harvey. "I think you can tell when a band is having fun and when they're just doing a job. That's true both onstage and in the studio. I think everyone has been to a concert where you know the guys up there would rather be back at the hotel sitting around the pool than up onstage. So far, we haven't had any problems like that. We haven't been around long enough. Give us some time."

"Actually, I don't think that could ever happen to us," he added. "If anything, we have too much fun playing music. We'd rather do that than anything else. We've avoided most of the other temptations of the rock-and-roll lifestyle, so music is what's left. We're very proud of this album. Welcome To The Club really shows how we've grown as a band."

Having spent more than a half of the last year on the road touring the world with groups like Judas Priest, the Scorpions, Helix, Night Ranger, Ratt and Krokus, Kick Axe couldn't help but mature as a rock unit. As Gillstrom was quick to explain, life on the road gives a band an entirely new perspective on its music.

"When you get up in front of 10,000 people, especially when you're the opening act, you can learn some lessons very quickly," he stated. "The people have paid to see the headliner, and you usually have to proof yourself to them in a hurry. Most of the time, the crowds just want to be rock-and-rolled, and if you can do that, they're with you. But sometimes you'll run into a hostile bunch and have to win them over. I've got to say that we've been very good in that regard. No matter what the response given us when we go onstage, by the time we leave, everyone's cheering. To us, that's the biggest accomplishment of all."

"But you learn from everything when you're on tour," he said. "If you keep your eyes open, a lot of what goes on around you can be put to good use. There are a lot of song ideas to be picked up - and lots of girls to be picked up as well. The simple fact is that we're all very excited about Kick Axe at the moment. We love the album, and we're looking forward to getting back out on the road. Right now, everything is going just the way we planned it."