Back For Another Bite
Swiss rockers Krokus return to the US after a 17-year hiatus
by Todd K Smith
For an ‘80s hair-metal band Krokus defied the critics by selling over 10 million records at the top of their game. They nearly dominated MTV from 1984-1986 with such cherished classics as, “Long Stick Goes Boom,” “Eat The Rich,” and power ballad, “Screaming In The Night.” Yet it was their tag as a poor man’s AC/DC that gathered up the masses and packed venues from coast to coast. Keeping the retro flame burning, The Golden Phoenix Hotel and Casino has booked the band October 8th for a night of headbanger mayhem. “I’m a big fan of ’80’s music,” says Bill Thornton, entertainment director for the Golden Phoenix. “We did the whole retro-revival this summer with Missing Persons, Tommy Tutone and Flock of Seagulls which went over really well. But I’m a metal-head at heart, so when I heard about Krokus getting back together to tour the US, I had to book it.”
Krokus didn’t start out as a metal band, they were originally a progressive rock outfit along the lines of Yes, Genesis, and ELP. But when the band didn't get anywhere commercially, it decided to cash in on metal's popularity and started emulating, among others, AC/DC. The connection goes back to early 1980 when, after the death of singer Bon Scott, AC/DC management contacted Krokus vocalist Marc Storace to see if he wanted the gig. “I thought they were pulling my chain,” says Storace. “We (Krokus) were really starting to gain momentum in Europe and to be honest, I thought we were going to be the bigger band.”
Storace stayed and with guitarist Fernando Von Arb, the two became the chief songwriters in the band. Krokus had their highlights. Headhunter (‘83) and The Blitz (‘84) both went platinum with sales in excess of one million. Others like Metal Rendez-Vous (’80), Hardware (’81) and One Vice At A Time (’82) all went gold. However, critics hounded the band for their copycat riffs and cheesy rip-off antics over their peers including Def Leppard, Judas Priest and AC/DC. Hits revolved around cover songs like the Guess Who’s, “American Woman,” Bachman Turner Overdrive’s, “Stayed Awake All Night” and The Sweet’s, “Ballroom Blitz.” In 1988, after an exhaustive cycle of recording and touring, the band screeched to a halt. “We’d hit our peak in the States,” continues Storace. “After eight albums and just as many world tours, it was time to take a break. We needed a manager to say, ‘Let’s have a holiday’ but instead we got used and abused.”
Then there was the money. “We got ripped off bad,” says Storace. “They took it all like an ex-wife.” Frustrated by a relentless schedule, betrayed by crooked management and creative stagnation between the two primary writers, Krokus called it a day. Storace moved to England and started his own band while the other members including Von Arb, guitarist Mark Kohler, bassist Chris Von Rohr and drummer Dani Crivelli all went their separate ways. After the dust settled there were occasional regroupings. 1991 saw the release of Stampede, and in 1995 Storace retuned to join Von Arb, Kohler, original drummer Freddy Steady and fill-in guitarist Manny Maurer for a quick run around the European retro circuit.
“In 2002 we were invited out to several big festivals in Europe,” recalls Storace. “We were amazed at the crowd response. They knew all the old hits, singing every word. It was really quite emotional.” Rejuvenated, the band slipped into the studio and recorded Rock The Block (’03). Their native land answered back by moving the record to the top of the charts. “It caught us off guard,” admits Storace. “Switzerland is known for chocolate, watches and scenic landscape, not metal. After all these years we finally had a number one record in our home country.”
Though guitarist Fernando Von Arb has decided to sit out the current tour of the US, Krokus can still satisfy that certain guilty pleasure. “I really don’t care who’s in the band with Mark (Storace),” says Bill Thornton of the Golden Phoenix. “I’ve been waiting 17 years to see this band on stage. I have no doubt they will be incredible.”
Krokus are touring in support of their current live CD Fire And Gasoline, a much better platter than 1986’s Alive and Screaming. They play the Retro Lounge at the Golden Phoenix October 8th, 2005. Show starts at 9:00PM.
Website: Krokus Official Site