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 left the group and was replaced by Larry's brother Brian Gillstrom.
Vocalist Charles McNary was brought in and the band started to make waves, Vancouver Seeds album that also appeared on a Playboy compilation album. McNary left the band and was replaced by George Criston , giving Kick Axe the "distinguished front man" they had long desired. The band decided to pursue the heavier style that formed the original roots of the band.
Shortly after George 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 The Transformers: The Movie soundtrack under the name of Spectre General, the name change due to legal reasons.
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.
One final 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". .
Kick Axe, arguably the best heavy rock group to come out of Canada in the eighties, are in the process of recording a new album. Tour dates across Canada are planned for this summer and fall. Kick Axe received a gold record for their debut album "Vices" and toured with several rock heavyweights such as Judas Priest, Scorpions, Metallica, Rush, Quiet Riot, and WhiteSnake. Between 1983 and 1987, Kick Axe released three albums with CBS/Sony and were also featured on two movie sounds tracks and numerous hard rock compilation albums. Their three videos all received heavy rotation on music channels during the eighties and can still be seen frequently on the Much Music Power Hour and VH1's Classic Metal Mania
Kick Axe is a Canadian heavy metal band, originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, now based out of Vancouver, BC.
- January 1984
- January 1984
Welcome to the Club
- January 1985
Rock the World
- January 1986
- Celluloid Records
Live & Kickin' Axe
- January 2003
- King Biscuit Records
- January 2004
- MTM Music