The MusicNerd Q&A With Sean Kelly

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Sean Kelly is the kind of guy that lives and breathes music. He is a Billboard-charting guitarist with his own band, the glam-rock indebted Crash Kelly, but has also performed with former Guns N Roses member Gilby Clarke and Nelly Furtado, among others.

Last fall, Kelly celebrated the release of his first novel, Metal On Ice. The book draws on interviews with Canadian heavy metal artists, journalists and others, giving an insight and perspective to the world of Canadian heavy metal music in the 1980’s.

On Saturday, May 10 at the Opera House in Toronto, Kelly celebrates the self-proclaimed “loudest book release party ever” with the Metal On Ice EP, featuring Canadian heavy metal artists including Helix’s Brian Vollmer, Darby Mills (Headpins), Lee Aaron, Nick Walsh (Slik Toxik), Russ Dwarf (Killer Dwarfs) and Coney Hatch’s Carl Dixon.

Sean Kelly spoke with The MusicNerd Chronicles from his Toronto home last week about his rock n roll duty to promote Canadian heavy metal music:

Considering how well known some of the acts covered in your book are here in Canada, it is kind of surprising that you were the first to really take the time to document their respective stories.

I approached writing Metal On Ice from a fan perspective. I am a music biography junkie; I love reading about the history of bands. I realized however that bands like Helix, Harem Scarem and others from that era never really got their due. You’d be met with derision from a lot of people upon mention of any of those band names, but they are such an integral part of the Canadian music tapestry, I wanted to honour these guys and the influence they had on me.

Rightly or wrongly, do you feel as though Canadian heavy metal bands often played second fiddle to their American counterparts?

Let’s face it: In the 80’s, we were inundated with American media and American bands in all genres of music. The first bands I was really exposed to were Twisted Sister, Ratt and Motley Crue. But when Helix, a band from Kitchener, played my hometown’s hockey arena with the big stage, the ramps and their light show, Canadian heavy metal suddenly became a much more tangible thing to me.

Did you sense any kind of resentment on the part of any of the acts that you spoke with in the book?

In true Canadian fashion, I didn’t get a sense of bitterness from anybody. Sure, there were those that wish that some things had gone differently but overall, the feeling was that everyone just felt incredibly lucky to have been given a shot at it and to still be doing it today.