Victor Langen is the bass player and original founding member of Canadian rock band Kick Axe, who were at the height of their career during the 80s. Vic has remained in the music industry and kindly agreed to answer some questions for me.
Angel of Metal: How would you describe Kick Axe's evolution as a band?
Victor Langen: The 70's decade was our Jurassic Period, the 80's the Dark Ages, the 90's the Middle Ages, and now it is our Renaissance!
Angel of Metal: Was there anything specific that triggered the Kick Axe reunion in 2002?
Victor Langen: We had always intended to get back together after all the legal bullshit was cleared up, (long story...) but when SONY/CBS USA re-released Vices and Welcome to the Club on CD in 2001, the discs sold out very quickly. This made us realize that we had to get back together, because we still had thousands of fans wanting more KICK AXE.
Angel of Metal: You've been involved with soundtracks for films. Tell me some more about that.
Victor Langen: I have been very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, meaning... Hollywood California during the mid 80's. Midway through the recording of our debut album, Vices... our producer was asked to be Executive producer for the movie "Up The Creek". The roster of artists performing songs for the soundtrack included Cheap Trick, Heart, The Beach Boys and my favorite, Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople. All of these artists came into Pasha Studios to record their soundtrack songs, and Spencer the producer asked us to cover a classic Brit band, Humble Pie. We also sang background vocals on Ian Hunter's song. Later on, towards the end of the Vices recording sessions, our producer was approached by Tony & Geezer, regarding him producing their next incarnation of Black Sabbath with Ian Gillan as vocalist. Spencer told them that they needed some modern songs and that Kick Axe could write some songs for them. Very cool eh! We wrote 5 songs in one weekend at the recording studio for them, but that version of Sabbath never did record at Pasha because Ian Gillan went back to Deep Purple for their Perfect Strangers reunion album. Spencer also acted as Executive Music supervisor for the animated feature film, "Transformers - The Movie" in 1985. He included 2 of the songs intended for Black Sabbath, "Hunger" and "Nothin's Gonna Stand In Our Way". By the way, WASP used a song, "Runnin' Wild In The Streets" on their Last Command album recorded with Spencer, also Carmine Appice's band King Kobra recorded 2 of our songs, "Piece Of The Rock" and "Hunger" on their album Ready To Strike. King Kobra also made a video for "Hunger". That accounts for the songs we wrote for Black Sabbath, that ended up elsewhere.
Angel of Metal: Having toured with many big names, who stands out amongst the British artists for you and why?
Victor Langen: Judas Priest hands down! Because they truly gave us our "BIG break" into the Big leagues. On the very day that Vices was released in Canada, Kick Axe was performing a live radio broadcast in Calgary, Canada. On this same night, Judas Priest was performing a sold out arena concert in Calgary, the Defenders of the Faith Tour 1984. Rob Halford was traveling to do an on-air interview at the local Rock FM radio station, listening to the station along the way... he heard the FM radio debut of "Heavy Metal Shuffle". During Rob's live on-air interview, listeners could call in to ask questions and such, and several callers asked what he thought of Kick Axe. He replied that he indeed had heard "Heavy Metal Shuffle" while enroute to the radio station, and his quote was: "That's a Demon of a song!" and that Priest would be checking out Kick Axe after their concert was over. The whole band came to our Midnight Live Broadcast performance, in their stage wardrobe!!! Amazing to us, but what amazed the Priest guys as they entered the venue... Kick Axe was performing a song of theirs that they never ever played live, "Take These Chains" from the Screaming For Vengance album. This is the stuff dreams are made of. The rest is history, we jumped from our cross Canada club tour directly to opening for Judas Priest across the USA. Regarding British artists we have toured with, honourable mention must go out to Whitesnake, fine English gentlemen indeed!!!
Angel of Metal: Please recall a crazy/funny story whilst on the road?Angel of Metal: What has been your proudest moment in your musical career so far?
Victor Langen: After the 2 month USA summer tour with Priest, we opened for the Scorpions in Canada and the USA. We were playing some shows in Quebec, the province of Canada that speaks only French. Well... Scorpions speak German (and at the time, broken English) and Kick Axe speak only English. We were in the very old part of historic Quebec City, the capital of Quebec. We stopped to have beers at a quaint sidewalk cafe, 10 crazy, rowdy rockers... none of whom are speaking a single word of French. The Scorps were hollering in German, us in English. Even in French, a beer is a beer, but because we were obviously non-French, we were refused service and then expelled from the premises. We could not find a single place to serve us all a beer!
Victor Langen: The proudest moment was receiving our very first Gold album for Vices, presented to us in Toronto, 1985 at CBS Record's head office while we were recording our follow-up album "Welcome to the Club" at Triumph's MetalWorks recording studio.
Angel of Metal: Do you have any other projects... and how do you keep yourself busy, outside interests etc.
Victor Langen: I am not involved in any other projects at this time. Kick Axe is my only musical endeavor that matters. I enjoy listening to European bands, especially Rammstein.
Angel of Metal: Is it difficult to write new material whilst staying true to your roots and long term fan base?
Victor Langen: My early influences will always affect how any "new" songs come into existence, as all artists must evolve.
Angel of Metal: For someone that has been playing music for decades now, in what ways has the music business changed for the better and worse in your opinion?
Victor Langen: The internet has changed the music business for both better and worse in my opinion. It gives forgotten groups such as Kick Axe, new unlimited exposure. This is good. The downside of the internet to me, is the illegal downloading of copyrighted property. This is simple theft. Also, MP3 audio quality leaves much to be desired. Bad.
Angel of Metal: What was it like being a part of the 80s metal scene and were there any bands you feel should have become household names?
Victor Langen: There will never be another time like the 80's... Metal ruled MTV and radio worldwide. There were some bands that I feel should never have become household names... but definitely Kick Axe would have become a household name.
Angel of Metal: Who are some of the newer bands that have impressed you?
Victor Langen: Rammstein, Nightwish, The Foo Fighters, Nickelback.
Angel of Metal: For fun, is there anything you wouldn't do now, that you would have done when you were younger?
Victor Langen: I would not change anything except our manager. His criminal greed ruined our promising career.
To check out more about Victor and Kick Axe, visit http://www.myspace.com/wwwkickaxenet and http://www.myspace.com/victorlangen. I would like to thank Vic answering these questions. I hope he continues to Keep It Loud for many years to come!