[published]: 2004, November 16
[in]: Metal Sludge
[article]: 20 Questions with Larry Gillstrom
[by]: Denny Hawk

The beginnings of Kick Axe can be traced all the way back to 1976 in Regina, Saskatchewan, but they really started to come into their own between 1983 and 1987 with their albums "Vices," "Welcome to the Club" and "Rock the World." Plus they had a song on the Transformers soundtrack! Who doesn't like a movie about big robots that turn into cars and shit? Omega Supreme rules!

Anyhow, Kick Axe toured the world with such heavyweights as Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Scorpions, Rush, Metallica, and even Quiet Riot! But now they've reached the pinnacle of their career as guitarist and co-founder Larry Gillstrom steps forward to do 20 Questions with Metal Sludge. How can you top that? You can't. Enjoy!

Metal Sludge: What are you currently up to? This is your one and only chance to plug your shit, so get it all out of the way now.
Larry Gillstrom: Kick Axe is currently doing live shows in Canada to support our new album Kick Axe IV, as well as writing songs for another studio album. We are also re-mastering and reissuing our third album Rock The World. The reissue will have new artwork to replace the crap that was forced on us by the record company back when the album first came out. Several of our upcoming tour dates will be recorded and video-taped for a DVD to be released in 2005. Anyone wanting to find out more about what's currently going on with the band, head over to

Metal Sludge: So, Kick Axe has a new album out. After all these years, what prompted you guys to get it together and record again? Seriously, when you see what a disgrace a lot of hard rock bands from the 80s have become these days, doesn't it make you think that your "hiatus" was a good idea?
Larry Gillstrom: I'm sure there are lots of groups from the past that get back together to try and milk their past glory. We're not doing that. We got back together simply because we wanted to and it was safe now to do so. Our hiatus was mandatory when it happened in the 80's. Our management had piled up so many legal and financial problems in our name that it was impossible to continue. So as a group we've always felt that we had unfinished business. We don't expect to just pick up where we left off, but we are enjoying making music together again, and as we have said in the past... if it feels good, don't stop.

Metal Sludge: Rank the following Canadian guitarists on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being a hosehead, and 10 being someone who brings home the back bacon.
Larry Gillstrom:
Aldo Nova = 7
Paul Dean = 7
Alex Lifeson = 8
Rik Emmet = 8
Kim Mitchell = 7
Carl Dixon = 6
Gino Scarpelli = 7
Mike Dwarf = 6
Jason Hook = 6
Brent Woods = 6

Metal Sludge: Former Kick Axe singer George Criston was not available to participate in the recordings for the new CD due to his commitments to Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne and Dido. What exactly does George do for those artists, and do you think it bummed the fans out that he didn't appear on the album?
Larry Gillstrom: I'm not sure exactly what George does for those artists; I only know that he is employed by Nettwerk and that he really enjoys the work. I'm pretty sure it's a technical position that requires his many skills. Some fans are sure to be disappointed that George is not on the latest album... he was invited... but could not attend.

Metal Sludge: In a band that had gold record success in the 80s with "Vices" and "Welcome To the Club" with George Criston, do you really think that any remaining fans of the band are going to fall for the "return of original vocalist Gary Langen" schtick you are clinging to on your Web site?
Larry Gillstrom: Clinging to a schtick. Eh... The fact is that Gary, Vic and I started Kick Axe as Power Trio in the 70's and bringing that core back together has been very rewarding personally and musically. To me, that core is the original Kick Axe. If anyone else wants to read something different into that, well that's their problem. All the fan mail we have got about that issue has been positive, so I think the only people who could possibly see it as a schtick are people who don't know the whole story.

Metal Sludge: Yes or No, has Larry Gilstrom ever:
Larry Gillstrom:
Piloted a dog sled = Not that I can remember... definitely not sober
Seen an abominable snowman = Once or twice on the tour I've woken up in bed beside one
Been chased by a polar bear = No.
Wrestled a bull moose = Yes.
Jacked off with back bacon grease = No, I usually get someone else's girlfriend to do that for me.
Sniffed glue with an Eskimo = Yes.
Farted in an igloo = No.
Used maple syrup as a lubricant = Every day.
Been hit in the face with a hockey puck = Hey I am Canadian, of course I've been hit in the head with a puck, many times.
Strangled a goose = How the hell can a goose strangle anyone?

Metal Sludge: What 'rock star' deserves a smack in the mouth and why?

Larry Gillstrom: If you are referring to rock stars from back in the 80's, then I would say none of them, because they have all been through so much shit by now, they only deserve good things. But if you are talking about modern rock stars, then I would say they all deserve a good shot in the head. Why? Because they have no clue...

Metal Sludge: Give us your fondest memory about touring or being in the following cities:
Larry Gillstrom:
New York = One hell of a wild cab ride from the airport to do interviews at CBS/Sony headquarters. We told the cab driver we were late and he said no problem, then it was like we were in a movie chase scene. Scary but fun.
Winnipeg = Rocking at the Black Knight club a few months after Vices was released.
Montreal = Playing the Forum with Scorpions.
Chicago = I can't remember much about Chicago, except for tall buildings and some young kid throwing a rock through our tour bus window from a highway overpass, but we had a great in-store in Milwaukee.
Moncton = I was there, but thankfully I can't remember it.
Los Angeles = Partying at the Rainbow Bar & Grill every night for two months straight while recording Vices.
Detroit = Hanging out with the guys from Nazareth after our set at Harpo's.
Toronto = Playing at the CNE concert with Scorpions, Quiet Riot, and Helix
San Francisco = Opening for Judas Priest at the Cow Palace. It was a great show and a great time. Except that someone picked me off with a high velocity quarter during a solo... not funny.
London = My memory of London is pretty foggy... muhuhaha...

Metal Sludge: Is proclaiming yourself as "one of the best heavy rock groups to come out of Canada in the eighties" really saying much?
Larry Gillstrom: There's about 30 million Canadians who'd be proud to state that.

Metal Sludge: In your opinion, who's the most overrated band today and why?
Larry Gillstrom: Unlike the media, whose job it is to point out overrated bands and get very opinionated about it, I just don't have any desire to do that. If I have nothing good to say about a band, then I usually don't say anything about them. If I'm asked about a specific group I'll comment on them, but I'm not going to arbitrarily pick out some group that I don't like and shit on them.

Metal Sludge: Of the following, which do you prefer and why:
Larry Gillstrom:
Victor Langen or Gary Langen = 50/50, Gary is a great guy to hang out in the studio with, Vic is more fun to do acid with.
Goddo or Helix = Well, I am friends with both groups and have partied many places to the ground with both groups. But I'd have to give the decision to Helix, because they were like our "brothers in arms" during the 80's. Both Helix and Kick Axe went through a lot of the same shit back then, both good and bad, so I can resonate with those dudes pretty good.
British Columbia or Newfoundland = BC... Have you ever been to Newfoundland?
"On the Road to Rock" or "Heavy Metal Shuffle" = HMS by far. Mainly because it was one of the first Kick Axe songs ever written and it has always been in our repertoire, in one form or another.
Labatt's or Molson = They both make great beers, but I'll give the decision to Molson because I like their TV ads more.
Bryan Adams or Corey Hart = Bryan Adams
The Stampeders or The Guess Who = The Guess Who
Tim Horton's or Mr. Sub = Do I have to pick one? Mr. Sub, because I hate the Tim Horton's commercials.
Slik Toxik or Gypsy Rose = Slik Toxik
Kids in the Hall or SCTV = Tough call... SCTV by a nose.

Metal Sludge: Out of all the bands that Kick Axe ever toured with, which ones were the coolest to work with, and which ones were the biggest bunch of jackasses you've ever met?
Larry Gillstrom: My experiences were never that polarized. Some bands were good to us, some were not. But it was never that extreme one way or the other. I think Judas Priest, Scorpions and Whitesnake were the coolest bands to work with while Quiet Riot and Autograph were not.

Metal Sludge: Rank the following Canadian chicks on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being a bucket of moose piss, and 10 being a goddess of the Great White North.
Larry Gillstrom:
Pamela Anderson = 3
Avril Lavigne = 8
Alanis Morrissette = 5
Lee Aaron = 9
Shania Twain = 7
Celine Dion = 3
Neve Campbell = 8
Aimee Mann = 5
Any of those chicks in Kittie = 5
Anne Murray = 4

Metal Sludge: Did your drummer Brian get the gig because he has talent, or because he's your brother?
Larry Gillstrom: Initially he probably got the gig because we needed a drummer and he was the only guy we knew who was immediately available. Since that time he has definitely proved himself and was awarded several endorsements while the rest of us were still paying for our gear. The fact that he is my brother is probably more of a hindrance at most times. The really heated arguments that occur in Kick Axe are always between one of the two sets of brothers.

Metal Sludge: Doesn't guitarist Ray Harvey have a brother that could play in your band?

Larry Gillstrom: Yah. What a great idea!

Metal Sludge: For what amount was your biggest music-related check, and what did you do with it?
Larry Gillstrom: I'm pretty sure that the biggest checks ever written for Kick Axe went up our manager's nose, but the biggest one I ever saw was $50,000 and we used it to buy new gear, wardrobe and lots of booze and drugs.

Metal Sludge: We heard you guys were commissioned or something to write songs for Black Sabbath, but they ended up becoming King Kobra songs. How did that happen? Please tell us the whole story and clear all that up once and for all.
Larry Gillstrom: We were in the studio at Pasha recording the Vices album. I guess someone had approached Spencer Proffer about whether he had any songs in the Vault that Black Sabbath could check out for their upcoming album. Spencer gave us the keys to the Studio for the weekend and asked us to put four songs together. We did and they turned out pretty good. The song Hunger on the Transformers soundtrack is one of those raw demos untouched. Black Sabbath never used the songs, so we wanted to use them on our second album, but unknown to us two of them had already been promised to King Kobra and the other two were secretly sold off. We were pretty bummed out when Spencer informed us of these things because we really liked our versions of the songs, but what can you do... he had all the power.

Metal Sludge: You don't really consider Canada to be a real country, do you?
Larry Gillstrom: There are no more real countries, man! Just big businesses and power groups. Borders and governments are just a facade to keep the masses in line.

Metal Sludge: The Last of Larry Gillstrom:
Larry Gillstrom:
Last book you read = The Pillars of Creation - Terry Goodkind
Last movie you saw in the theatre = Lord of the Rings - Return of the King
Last concert you watched from the audience = Evanescence
Last new CD you purchased, other than your own = Evanescence
Last 'rock star' you shook hands with = As far as I know, rock stars don't shake hands; we either bow, nod, hug, sneer, punch or tackle each other. The last rock star I did any of those things with or to, other than members of my own band, would be Jimmy Page.
Last fast food drive-thru you hit = A&W
Last cover song you played live = Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
Last time you talked to George Criston = 2001
Last time you had a prostate exam = What's that??
Last time you barfed = A few weeks ago after catching a glimpse of a Celine Dion concert.

Metal Sludge: Time for Metal Sludge's Word Association. We mention a name, and you give us your thoughts.
Larry Gillstrom:
Kevin DuBrow = Blah!
Nikki Sixx = Cool.
Charles McNary = What were we thinking!
Rob Halford = Screaming for Vengeance tour... the most stage presence I've ever seen.
Nick Gilder = For some reason I feel sorry for this guy.
George Criston = Great voice.
David Coverdale = Another great voice.
Blackie Lawless = Interesting dude.
Spencer Proffer = How come our album cost so much to make?
Sebastian Bach = I've only seen him live once, but he was screaming his guts out, in key, and I was impressed.

Not too shabby! Larry told a few good stories, talked some smack, and above and beyond all, he took our questions seriously and answered every single one. We really can't ask for more than that!

For more information on Kick Axe and all that they have going on, be sure to check out their official site at

And if that's not enough, you can also check out the official Kick Axe Fan Site at, which just happens to be where we stole all of the pictures we used for Larry's interview. Thanks Vlado!

Larry Gillstrom with Denny Hawk