[published]: 2004, August 5
[in]: (Regina) Leader-Post, p. D3
[article]: Regina boys still kickin' it
[by]: Gerry Krochak

Kick Axe & Queen City Kids (appearing as part of Buffalo Days)

7 p.m. Sunday Confederation Park

FREE (with gate admission)

It has been nearly 17 years since the members of Kick Axe stood on a concert stage together, but it's going to happen Sunday night at Buffalo Days when the group joins the Queen City Kids for a Regina classic-rock double bill in Confederation Park.

It's somehow fitting when you consider that it has been nearly a quarter-century since these two bands last shared the stage on Pile O' Bones Sunday in Wascana Park when QCK were still known as Cambridge.

Kick Axe bassist and co-founder Victor Langen, who has been running a limousine company in Vancouver with drummer Brian Gillstrom for the past decade, says getting the group back together isn't so much a reunion as it is taking care of some unfinished business.

"We've always stayed in touch in the Lower Mainland in Vancouver," he says. "Being we all grew up as kids in Regina, we were always a tight-knit group."

It's impressive when you consider the ladder that three guys from Martin Collegiate -- Langen and the Gillstrom brothers, Brian and Larry -- along with guitarist Raymond Arthur Harvey, who is originally from Yorkton, and vocalist George Criston, a native of Milwaukee, actually had to climb to get to the top of the Canadian hard-rock heap.

The group slugged it out on the Canadian club scene for seven years before signing with Spencer Proffer and Pasha Records in the U.S. and CBS/Epic in Canada.

It wasn't long after the release of Vices and the singles "Heavy Metal Shuffle" and "On The Road To Rock" that Kick Axe had hit the road in the U.S. and Canada on high-profile tours with Judas Priest, Scorpions, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Ratt and Helix.

Being Regina kids in their early twenties, the wide-eyed boys could not resist the trappings of the road life and an endless supply of partying.

"The lifestyle change was bizarre," Langen says, recalling some particularly crazy times with groupies from Texas and California who would follow the group across the southern United States.

"We were quite young, maybe a little shy, but it was wild. . . I mean, it was back in the days before AIDS. The worst thing that could happen to you was that you might need a mitt full of pills when you get to the next town.

"It was a whole different world back then, y'know? You didn't have the shadow of 9/11 hanging over you. It was all fun."

In between dodging groupies and consuming vast amounts of free booze -- often before going on stage -- the group built its profile in both the U.S. and Canada before releasing Welcome To The Club and Rock The World, by which time the wheels were falling off and the financial stress mounting.

The band opened a series of shows for Rush throughout Canada before playing its farewell show on New Year's Eve 1987 in Calgary.

Langen spent three years in Germany, but was never able to get the idea of Kick Axe out of his system in the years that followed as co-owner/operator of Paramount Limousines.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2004, and he says the group -- minus Criston, who has been replaced by Gary Langen -- is looking forward to playing some live shows, but a new album, Kick Axe IV, shows that he and his cohorts are looking to make this regrouping a long-term union.

"We're a lot older and wiser -- at least a lot older," laughs Langen, who is now 49 and the oldest member of the band. "The common thread on a lot of the new material is being able to look at life the way you just can't when you're in your early twenties.

"You experience the loss of friends and things that make you reflect a little harder on what you're really doing with your life and where you're going.

"It won't be too deep for our old fans, though. We still know how to rock. That's something you never forget."