Switzerland's most successful hard rock band, Krokus enjoyed international popularity in the 1980s and onward for their aggressive, straightforward variety of European metal.
Hailing from the Swiss city of Solothurn, Krokus was formed in 1974 by guitarist Tommy Kiefer and percussionist Chris Von Rohr. Initially performing an eclectic and artful brand of prog rock, Krokus released their first album in 1976, with the founders joined by guitarist Hansi Droz and bassist Remo Spadino. Krokus' second album, To You All, found them pursuing a tougher hard rock sound with a revamped lineup: Von Rohr moved from drums to vocals, Fernando Von Arb came on board as second guitarist, and the band had a new rhythm section, bassist Jurg Naegeli and drummer Freddy Steady (the new members were all previously with the group Montezuma). As Krokus moved toward a harder and leaner sound influenced by AC/DC, they decided they wanted a stronger vocalist, and Von Rohr moved to bass while Marc Storace, a former member of Eazy Money, became their new lead singer, joining in time for the sessions for 1980's Metal Rendez-Vous.
By this time, Krokus had become a leading draw in Switzerland and Europe through steady touring, and were gaining momentum in England and the United States. Released in 1982, One Vice at a Time was recorded after the band had signed a new management deal as well as a contract with Arista Records in the United States; it also marked the recorded debut of guitarist Mark Kohler after the departure of Tommy Kiefer. The album sold well and the songs "Long Stick Goes Boom" and "American Woman" (the latter a cover of the Guess Who's hit) became modest hits, but their biggest breakthrough in the United States came with 1983's Headhunter, which went platinum in America and gold in Canada and Switzerland, spawning the hits "Screaming in the Night" and "Eat the Rich." Released in 1984, The Blitz was another commercial success, but it also found Krokus moving in a more pop-metal-oriented direction, and reflected internal instability, as it was the second album in a row in which the band broke in a new drummer; Steve Pace replaced Freddy Steady on Headhunter, and Jeff Klaven took over on The Blitz. Issued in 1986, Change of Address was a commercial and critical disappointment, and after the live album Alive and Screamin', Krokus entered into a short-lived deal with MCA for 1988's Heart Attack, which featured new drummer Dani Crivelli.
Following an international tour in support of Heart Attack, Krokus went on hiatus, and while Fernando Von Arb formed a new version of the band (with no other previous members) to record 1991's Stampede and 1999's Round 13, other figures from Krokus' classic period drifted in and out of the group for several years, and Von Arb bowed out for a few years following wrist surgery in 2005. In 2007, the best-known members of Krokus were persuaded to reunite for a special television appearance, and after Mark Storace, Fernando Von Arb, Mark Kohler, Chris Von Rohr, and Freddy Steady wowed the crowd (and paid tribute to Tommy Kiefer, who died in 1986), they played a massive homecoming show in Sweden and regrouped in the studio to record a new album, 2010's Hoodoo. In May 2011, the ongoing reunion hit a snag when it was announced that Freddy Steady had left the band, though Krokus vowed to continue, releasing their 17th album, Dirty Dynamite, in 2013. In 2017 they released the covers LP Big Rocks via Century Media that, along with Krokus renditions of key cuts from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Queen, the Who, Steppenwolf, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones, included a re-recorded version of the band's own "Backseat Rock N' Roll." ~ Mark Deming