ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON JUNE 18, 1982
By Steve Newton
Canada’s prairies are most famous for producing one thing: wheat.
But recently a sound has been heard emanating from the nether regions of Canada’s hinterland–the sound of crashing drums and furious guitars. The ‘breadbasket’ of the country is no longer a place where whirling combines and John Deeres make the only noise worth listening to.
The Queen City Kids are a young, determined rock band from Regina, Saskatchewan, a group whose debut album last year went gold in Canada, selling over 50,000 copies. Now based in Winnipeg, the band is made up of singer Alex Chuaqui, guitarist Ken “California” Fyhn, bassist John Donnelly, and drummer Jeff Germain.
The Kids were in town last week, not playing, but making a promotional tour. I talked to Jeff Germain about the band, their influences, and their new album Black Box.
Having grown up together in Regina and knowing each other for so long, is the Queen City Kids sort of a ‘rock and roll family’?
Well, we just went to the same schools together. We started in grade seven and the band’s been together since then. We put the group together in December of 1969 when we were twelve years old, and we’re 24 now. When we got out of high school we decided to make a career out of it.
Being together that much, do problems and irritations often arise between band members?
I think we’ve got those things worked out, you know. We’ve matured together and grown up together. Certainly the bickering and all that–we just don’t have time for it anymore. We’re just older and know better.
What were the band’s main influences during the formative years?
It had to be the Beatles, and the pop stuff that was out at the time. Being in Regina, kind of isolated from the rest of the world, what we had was the AM radio sound, and that was where our first influences were. Pop was basically our first influence, and then we got into an English, sort of heavy, sound.
How would you classify your music? Would you call it heavy metal?
No. It’s heavier than most AM stuff you hear these days, but it certainly isn’t Motorhead. It’s got some redeeming features, I think.
What do you think of Motorhead?
Well, I sure admire their dedication to what they do. I think they go for the throat all the time, and I’ve got to give them credit for that. But I think our band does that too. We put on a show and go for the entertainment thing. I think that’s a worthwhile part of what Motorhead do, but the music itself, I wouldn’t even want to comment on.
Black Box was not recorded in the conventional manner. What was the purpose of recording it in an old, abandoned bank building?
We wanted a theatre type–a live type of sound–so we went to different places trying to find the right kind of acoustic ambience for our music. After quite a search we found this one certain building that was the building. We all knew as soon as we walked in. It had sixty-foot ceiling that we could really use to give the music some air instead of just pouring on the effects like reverb and all that garbage that you can only use so much of anyway.
What’s the title track of your new album about anyway?
The lyrics themselves are about a sniper-assassin-photographer who goes around taking pieces of people that he takes photos of. It’s really quite an eerie song.
What sort of music do you and the other guys n the band listen to in your spare time?
Quite a wide variety, actually. Kevin’s into jazz guitar–he likes Al Di Meola and B.B. King. I Iike some of the newer stuff–I used to be quite a heavy fan of the Sex Pistols. But I think our roots are in the sixties, so we still like the Rolling Stones and that sort of loose feel to songs.
Do bands from the prairies like your group and Streetheart, have anything about them that sets them apart from, say, big city bands?
Well, I know one thing is that we’ve had to work twice as hard as a lot of the big city bands to get recognition in the big cities. We’ve had to go out there and really prove ourselves every night. If you say you’re from Regina, you really have to blow minds to make an impression on people.