The general Winnipeg area has always served as backdrop for some of the country’s most original music. After serving as the Guess Who‘s bassist for 5 records over 4 years, the flame that was Canada’s Supergroup had apparently gone cold.
Following Burton Cummings‘ departure, Bill Wallace retreated back to the ‘Peg where he dabbled in several projects, including Crowcuss. He joined Les-Q with fellow Guess Who alumni Greg Leskiw, whose previous credits also included Wild Rice before The Guess Who and Crowcuss & Mood Jga Jga after. The band toured the prairies and Ontario for the next year or so. Along with Steve Hegyi on guitar and drummer Bob Brett, they changed their name to Kilowatt and signed with Dallcorte Records in early 1982.
They travelled to Toronto’s Phase One Studios for the making of their self-titled debut that summer. The band’s connections with Guess Who continued when Domenic Troiano, who’d played on the GW’s last 2 records was in charge of production. Falling on years of experience with the GW, James Gang, Bush and The Mandala, he was able to help cut one of Canadian rock’s most under-rated records. With Leskiw doing the bulk of the writing and backed by the opening track “Lovers On The Run”, the record set out on a path of crisp no-frills rock. Other noteable cuts included “What’s On Your Mind”, and “Shady L’Amour”. They also successfully demonstrated their versatility – the anthemic “Kids Are Crazy” was the direct opposite of the haunting “Loneliness”, which Leskiw co-wrote with Troiano. They toured extensively throughout the mid-west and into Ontario and points east for the next year. With a live show charged with raw energy, they quickly became staples of their road tours.
After touring the country, the band took some time off and returned to Toronto the summer of ’83, minus Bob Brett. Again with Troiano serving as producer, they went into Sounds Interchange and recorded CURRENTS. With a variety of session musicians, which included Troiano and eventually new drummer Gary Craig, the new album served up a healthy dose of the previous menu. On the back of the lead single “Ma Cherie”, it showed the diversity of tracks like the upbeat “It’s So Easy” and “I’m Not A Kid Anymore”, to the melodic “Change Of Heart”. Again the band criss-crossed Canada in support of the record and were met with enthusiastic sold-out crowds. In the meantime however Dallcorte Records was having financial problems and when they went out of business in ’84, Kilowatt was out a label.
They stayed on the road for the next year or so, but drifted apart to pursue solo and outside interests in the mid ’80’s, including Wallace hooking up with Donnie McDougall as part of a touring act called The Best Of The Guess Who. Wallace replaced Jim Kale as bassist for the real mccoy for the second time, when he & McDougall were asked to join The Guess Who‘s full-fledged reunion in ’99.
Though gone from the scene for over a decade, Kilowatt’s brand of straight forward rock never went out of style, and renewed interest in the group prompted the release of HEADQUARTERS in ’99. These were the original demos intended for the self-titled album, but were scrapped once Domenic Troiano had come aboard. Later that year, THE JAM FACTORY SESSIONS appeared. There were 3 different versions of the tape, entitled simply Q, recorded before the band’s signing to Dallcorte, and were sold mainly backstage after the shows.
It’s hard to say exactly where Kilowatt would’ve wound up had they gotten another record deal. Their outside interests always kept things on the edge, much like their songs. Winnipeg’s Happy Little Family of Musicians runs wide. They were known by some as ‘The Other Guess Who‘, even though Kilowatt put out some of Canadian rock’s purest music of the day, to the bones, no frill rock ‘n roll, and were one of the country’s most under-appreciated groups.