|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (April 2015)|
|Origin||Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada|
|Genres||Heavy metal, glam metal, hard rock|
|Labels||Pasha, Epic, Song Haus Music|
|Past members||George Criston
Kick Axe is a Canadian heavy metal band from Regina, Saskatchewan. Influenced by rambunctious arena rock from the 70s and early 80s, the group is perhaps best known for their 1984 album Vices, praised by publications such as Allmusic for its "down-and-dirty guitar riffs" and notably managing to crack the American market. The band achieved moderate commercial success in the mid-1980s on the strength of the singles "Heavy Metal Shuffle", "On the Road to Rock", and "Rock The World". Following the release of their 1986 album Rock the World, Kick Axe disbanded and remained on hiatus for many years. In 2004, they re-emerged with the album Kick Axe IV.
The band's "classic" mid-1980s lineup consisted of George Criston (vocals), Larry Gillstrom (lead guitar), Raymond Harvey (lead guitar), Brian Gillstrom (drums), and Victor Langen (bass guitar). Vocalist Criston did not return for the band's 2004 reunion, being replaced by Gary Langen, who had actually been a founding member of the band in the late 1970s.
History of the band
Early years (1976 - 1980)
Kick Axe was formed in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1976 by Larry Gillstrom (guitar), Victor Langen (vocals/bass guitar) and his brother Gary Langen (drums). By 1978, they added a second guitarist in Raymond Harvey and decided to relocate to Vancouver, British Columbia in search of greater exposure. Gary Langen was not willing to leave Saskatchewan and was replaced by Larry's brother Brian Gillstrom. The group began recording in 1979 but scrapped the sessions because they felt they needed a more distinguished front man. Vocalist Charles McNary was brought in and the band started to make waves, even making an appearance on a Playboy compilation album.
Career expansion, decline and fall (1981 - 1988)
McNary left the band in 1981, and after an international search, he was replaced by George Criston, giving Kick Axe the "distinguished front man" they had long desired. Shortly after his joining, the group signed a major label deal with Spencer Proffer's Pasha records. Vices was released in 1984 to critical acclaim, and the band toured behind such top acts of the day as Judas Priest, Whitesnake, and Pasha label-mates Quiet Riot. The third single from Vices (appearing only on the cassette version), a cover of Humble Pie's "30 Days in the Hole" appeared on the Up the Creek movie soundtrack in 1984. The song also appeared on the first of two Muchmusic compilation albums promoting the network's weekly Power Hour program.
The band's follow-up album Welcome to the Club was released in 1985 and strayed away from their rock anthems for a more radio-friendly sound, and included a handful of guest stars. It reached the Billboard Top 200, but disappointed longtime fans. Meanwhile, the group appeared on the Transformers: The Movie soundtrack under the name of Spectre General, the name change being due to legal complications. They recorded two songs under that name: "Hunger" (later covered by King Kobra in their 1985 album Ready To Strike) and "Nothin's Gonna Stand in Our Way" (a cover of a song by John Farnham from the film Savage Streets) which were included on the soundtrack. Guitarist Harvey left the band in 1986, and the band elected to carry on as a four-piece. Their next album: Rock the World, a return to their heavy metal roots, was released but by then all momentum had been lost. By 1988, dropped by their record label, Kick Axe broke up.
Reunion without Criston (2003 - present)
The band reformed in 2003 with original member Gary Langen singing for Criston who was unavailable to join the reunion due to prior work commitments. The new album entitled IV was released the following year. In 2008 Langen left the band, though they continued to play Canadian tour dates and rock festivals in 2009 and 2010 with new vocalist Daniel Nargang, formerly of the Regina metal band Into Eternity.
- Daniel Nargang - lead vocals
- Larry Gillstrom - guitars, backing vocals
- Raymond Harvey - guitars, backing vocals
- Brian Gillstrom - drums
- Victor Langen - bass, backing vocals
- Gary Langen - drums, lead vocals
- George Criston - lead vocals
- Charles McNary - lead vocals
- Dave Zurowski - guitars
- Keep on Riding & Ashes to Ashes (Kick Axe SP ?) (1979)
- Weekendride & One More Time (Kick Axe Single) (1981)
- Vices (1984)
- Welcome to the Club (1985)
- Rock the World (1986)
- Kick Axe IV (2004)