July 16 2013 – Every once in a while we run into a press release that excites us beyond description. As a classic rock focused website we are children of the school of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd that spent our formative teenage years immersed in the Canadian hard rock and heavy metal landscape. Q107 was not a “classic” rock station in the mid 80’s, it was just a rock station and would play the songs that were commercially viable at that time. Rock was still plentiful on the Billboard charts and a large percentage of high schoolers were “rockers”. Canada had it’s fair share of very good rock bands that had global impact. Now 30 years later it seems that Rush and Neil Young are pretty much the only bands left that can still sell out the Air Canada Center but our rock heroes of ages past have not totally disappeared. Enter Metal On Ice: Tales from Canada’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Heroes – a multi faceted project being brought to life from Sean Kelly (wikipedia offers the following bio info on Kelly – (Sean Kelly is a Canadian musician, currently playing guitar in the band with Nelly Furtado. He founded the Toronto-based glam rock band Crash Kelly, and is the band’s lead singer and guitarist. Kelly was a member of Canadian rock band Helix, playing bass guitar.)
We had the good fortune to have Kelly spend some time answering our questions about his Metal On Ice project – a project that we will cover extensively as we have a very strong personal love for the artists involved in the project. Read on to find out more:
1) Sean thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Tell our readers in your own words what the Metal On Ice project is all about?
Metal On Ice was written to fill a void that I’d noticed in Canada’s documented musical history. I wanted to write a book that acknowledged the valuable work that bands like Helix, Coney Hatch, Kick Axe, Lee Aaron and many others did in terms of growing the Canadian music industry. I also wanted to speak about how these Canadian artists shaped my own musical dreams and career choices. I spoke with a number of bands from a number of hard rock and metal sub genres (I’m sure some people will wonder why I considered bands like Haywire and Honeymoon Suite to be included in a Hard Rock and Metal book, but you’ll have to read to find out!). It was great to see how Canada’s geography, climate, and vastness affected the touring routes for these bands, and helped to shape what I feel is a unique Canadian musical identity. Interesting to note that at times the experiences of bands like Voivod and Sacrifice where not all that different from those of Brighton Rock and Sven Gali!
2) With a book, a record and a tour all planned it seems to me the only thing missing to complete the full multimedia experience is a film. Do you think a documentary based on the book, the CD recording sessions, and the shows would be interesting?
We have already received interest from a reputable documentary company, so talks are already happening!
3) Canada used to be fertile breeding ground for world class hard rock/heavy metal bands. Do you think that is still the case or have audience tastes changed so much that hard rock is no longer viable? On that same topic any good up and coming hard rock bands you are following?
With the world’s musical recorded output at every kid’s fingertips thanks to the internet, I believe viability is not truly in the ears of the beholder. It has been my experience that kids have a much wider and varied collection of music in their collections than they ever did in any other time in history. I think there will always be rockers out there who feel a connection with attitude drenched, screaming vocals, Marshall-driven power chords, double bass drums and all the other Hard Rock and Heavy Metal accoutrements. I’m really getting a kick out of the band Diemonds these days, they have such an authentically 1986 vibe, it feels real.
4) Agreed, we have covered the Diemonds a few times and love their vibe. We are also huge fans of two other Canadian bands – TimeGiant and One Bad Son. The press release tells us that “the album will include new recordings of original hit songs by celebrated Canadian artists Brian Vollmer (Helix), Carl Dixon (Coney Hatch), Darby Mills (Headpins), Lee Aaron, Nick Walsh (Slik Toxik) and Russ Dwarf (Killer Dwarfs).” Does this mean that each of the artists will be re-recording one of their hits just for this CD with session musicians or are all the artists on the list working together with each other? Can you name a song or two that will be on the CD for our readers or is it a surprise?
Yes, each artist will be performing revitalized re-recordings of some of their favourite songs and biggest hits from their catalogue…I’ll keep most of it a surprise, but one tune will actually be Nick Walsh from Slik Toxik singing a classic Kick Axe track, with Victor Langen from Kick Axe on bass! Because we are running a Pledge Music campaign, which allows fans to take part in the experience of making the album, we are going to be taking fan polls as well to see what people want to hear.
5) The project also will feature live gigs – how many dates are you anticipating and will all 6 musicians be participating?
We are starting off with a big kick off show for the book and the EP on October 26th, 2013 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. All 6 artists will be performing. I would love to take the Metal On Ice show on the road, bringing other artists on board. Great songs are based on great stories, and this show is also going to be about the artists sharing these stories. It’s going to be a great night!
6) Wicked! Hope we are invited to cover the show and get the word out on what a great time it will surely be. Sean, you launched a PledgeMusic campaign (which we urge our readers to check out here) to get the album made – how is the progress so far?
We are closing in on 20% after one week, but we are still trying to push the word that there are many cool experiences above and beyond pre-ordering the book or CD…we have signed Kramer guitars, the opportunity to spend a day in the studio with all 6 Artists and myself, VIP passes and a cocktail party at the Metal On Ice release concert, some “game used” signed microphones from Sennheiser, and more! This is a chance for fans to be an integral part of the making of not only a great EP, but a part of Canadian music history as we Honour these artists and their contributions.
7) It is impossible to mention Canadian rock without mentioning bands/artists such as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees – Rush, Neil Young and The Band. Will any of their stories be told in the book?
I completely agree with you, the aforementioned bands and many more form the cornerstone of our Rock music heritage. However, Metal On Ice speaks to those artists we do not see as regularly (or at all!) in books about Canadian music. Having said that, there are already plans afoot for another Book/Music project that will look at some of the more mainstream Canadian rock acts…stay tuned!
8.) Hey maybe you can get Triumph to do a reunion show for that project! I am certain our readers will be very excited about the Metal on Ice project (book, CD, live shows). Why do you think they should support it (besides gaining your eternal gratitude lol)?
Aside from hearing some great Canadian music, and seeing some world class performers from Artists who are masters of their craft, I believe that supporting this project is just as much about validating the music that provided us with great times, memories, and inspiration. By supporting the Metal On Ice project, you play a key role in recognizing the contribution of Canada’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Heroes, you help contribute to a great charity (5% goes to TEMPO – Through Education Music Provides Opportunities), and you get some cool stuff on top of it all!
9) Sean thanks again for the time, any closing remarks?
Thank YOU my friend for the time…and of course, ROCK YOU!!
There you have it folks, hopefully you are as excited about this project as much as we are. For the record Coney Hatch is one of my favorite bands of all time and I am pumped that Carl Dixon is part of this project. Please do click on the PledgeMusic page here and have a look and maybe you can spare a few bucks to support this very important project to preserve Canadian Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal history!