Kick Axe, one of the best and most successful heavy rock bands to burst out of Canada in the 1980s, returns with 'Kick Axe IV,' its first album of new material in 18 years. 'Kick Axe IV' will be released on September 7, 2004, by Song Haus Music.
The band includes vocalist Gary Langen, guitarist Larry Gillstrom, guitarist Raymond Harvey, bassist Victor Langen and drummer Brian Gillstrom. All of the members contribute vocal harmonies.
The 14 songs on 'Kick Axe IV' are: "Right Now," "Rockin Daze," "Consolation," "Turn To Stone," "Do You Know," "Who Knows Ya," "Woe," "Time," "Slip Inside My Dream," "Who Says," "Rock N Roll Dog," "Black Heart," "City Lights" and "The Only Ones Here."
"We always felt like the band had unfinished business. Every couple of years we would talk about getting back together, and now we are finally able to do that," says Larry Gillstrom. "It took us two years to put 'Kick Axe IV' together. There were a lot of songs to choose from."
The band was originally formed in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1976 by Larry Gillstrom and brothers Victor Langen and Gary Langen. Ray Harvey soon came on board and by early 1978 the band relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia.
"The move to Vancouver really changed our outlook and we were able to build up a great local following," Larry Gillstrom says.
Gary Langen left the band before the end of 1979. In 1980, Larry Gillstrom's brother Brian Gillstrom joined on drums and Charles McNary climbed aboard as lead vocalist. Kick Axe was still not entirely happy with its lineup, and national advertisements resulted in Milwaukee native George Criston earning the lead vocalist slot, and he relocated to Vancouver in 1982.
Kick Axe signed with Pasha Records and recorded its 1984 debut 'Vices' with producer Spencer Proffer. "Heavy Metal Shuffle" was a modest hit from the album, which very nearly went gold after a well-received tour opening for Judas Priest. The follow-up album, 'Welcome To The Club,' was issued in 1985. The band also recorded two songs for the 'Transformers: The Movie' soundtrack but record company brass were afraid the band's name was not suitable for the young audience, so they were credited as Spectre General. 'Rock The World' was released in 1986 but severe business-related problems going back to 'Welcome To The Club' caused Kick Axe to fade away by 1988. But the band never formally broke up.
The members all stayed in touch and many remained involved in various aspects of the music business.
"Several of us still played in groups just for fun, or wrote songs for other bands. I got into developing software and video games and have been fortunate enough to be successful at it. My brother Brian started a limousine company that's now the biggest one in Vancouver," Larry Gillstrom says. "After leaving the band initially, Gary played with bands in clubs. Raymond had left the band before 'Rock The World' and he joined the Vancouver band Rock & Hyde, which was Bob Rock's old band. Bob went on to produce albums for Motley Crue and Metallica."
Awareness of Kick Axe never waned: the first two albums were reissued on CD to brisk sales and positive reviews; copies of 'Rock The World' have sold on eBay for $150 (U.S. dollars); and several fan-created web sites have been started, including one in the Czech Republic (kickaxe.wz.cz). 'Kick Axe IV' is a deeply satisfying album for Kick Axe because they were able to translate their accumulated wisdom into richly rewarding songs.
Upon the reformation of Kick Axe two years ago, Gary Langen came on board. Criston was not able to participate due to his behind-the-scenes commitments with the likes of Sarah McLachlan, Dido and Avril Lavigne. With the exception of Gary Langen, the lineup on 'Kick Axe IV' is the same as 'Vices' and 'Welcome To The Club.'
Kick Axe plans to hit the road again for an extensive tour. The band has already performed one highly successful, eagerly awaited reunion show. It took place in August 2004 in Regina, Saskatchewan, their hometown, which also happened to be the last city they performed in during their original run.
Longtime allies within the media and radio have encouraged Kick Axe's return. The band plans to stick around.
"There is no foreseeable end at the moment. Tasting it again is very enticing," Larry Gillstrom says. "We went into this without preconceived notions of how the music would sound. 'Kick Axe IV' is very emotional and from the heart. We all got what we wanted out of the album."
For all the latest Kick Axe information, including tour date announcements, visit www.kickaxe.net.