[published]: 2006
[in]: Dose Entertainment
[article]: Kick Axe Story

- Kick Axe have re-united after 15 years and produced a fourth studio album entitled "Kick Axe IV".

- Kick Axe was arguably, one of the best hard rock bands to come out of Canada in the 1980's.

- Kick Axe released three albums and three videos during the 80's as well as performing on the soundtracks for "Up The Creek" and "Transformers:The Movie".

- Kick Axe received a gold record for their debut album "Vices", and have sold over a quarter of a million albums worldwide.

- Kick Axe have done many arena tours of North America with several rock heavyweights such as Judas Priest, Scorpions, Metallica, Rush, Quiet Riot, Triumph and Whitesnake.

Kick Axe was formed in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1976 by Larry Gillstrom and the Langen brothers, Gary and Victor. The group was initially a power trio with Gary Langen doubling as both the lead singer and the drummer. All three musicians were influenced by the same artists from the 60's and 70's, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and The Guess Who.

As a trio, Kick Axe played clubs and college shows throughout Western Canada. In 1977, they landed a summer tour with Canadian rock legends Chilliwack. During this tour, the guys in Kick Axe formed a solid friendship with Bill Henderson and Brian "Too Loud" MacLeod of Chilliwack, who would later produce the first Kick Axe single. Raymond Harvey joins the band in January 1978, adding his guitar & vocal talents.

Kick Axe clawed its way up the Western Canadian club circuit until they were the top rock act in the clubs on the West Coast. The pinnacle of this period was a live radio broadcast from the Savoy nightclub in Gastown on CFOX. This broadcast was heralded as one of the best live broadcasts ever done for CFOX and the station was swamped with calls about the group. The CFOX program director was so impressed he re-aired the broadcast a week later. Bill and Brian from Chilliwack heard the broadcast, contacted the guys in Kick Axe and offered to produce a single for them. At the same time, a track called "Reality is the Nightmare", recorded live during the acclaimed CFOX radio broadcast, was added to two compilation albums: "Vancouver Seeds" and "Playboy Street Rock".

Unfortunately during the recording of the single "Weekend Ride" with Bill and Brian, Gary Langen had to leave the group for personal reasons. Larry called up his brother Brian, who was playing with another group based out of Regina, and asked him to come out to Vancouver to join the group as their new drummer. Kick Axe remained on the top of the Western Canadian club scene, but could not manage to secure a recording deal with a legitimate record label. So Kick Axe decided to go back to the style of music that got them started in the first place, a form of music now called "Heavy Metal". Lead singer Charles McNary did not feel the same desire to go in this direction, so he left the group and was replaced by George Criston from Milwaulkee, WI.

In 1983, Gary Stratychuk at Star Command got the band a recording deal with Pasha/CBS Records, who at that time had the number one album in the USA, with Quiet Riot's "Metal Health". Producer Spencer Proffer brought the band to Hollywood and recorded the band's debut album "Vices". While in Hollywood, Kick Axe also wrote and recorded a four song demo intended for Black Sabbath, Spencer's next project to produce at Pasha Studios. Those songs were not used by Black Sabbath, but eventually found their way on to albums by King Kobra and Wasp, as well as the "Transformers: The Movie" soundtrack.

After the Hollywood recording session, the group landed the opening slot for the North American tour of Judas Priest. This tour was very successful in promoting Kick Axe to audiences all over the world. Kick Axe followed up by continuing to tour with several other major groups, such as the Scorpions, Quiet Riot and Whitesnake.

After a year of solid touring, Kick Axe went into Triumph's MetalWorks studio to record their second album. Spencer Proffer was not available to produce the album, so his protégé Randy Bishop came up to Canada to take the reins. Although the band was very proud of the "Welcome to the Club" album, they did not feel they had the same chemistry with Randy Bishop as they did with Spencer Proffer.

Kick Axe went out to tour again for another year, but part way through their Canadian tour, all of their equipment and assets were seized. The band recalls the events as the worst days in the band's history. Their gear was seized at the end of their performance in Winnipeg, and the band was forced to play the following night in Thunder Bay, using the opening act's gear. This was all the result of the shady business affairs of the band's manager. Needless to say, the band was in dire financial straights and their spirits were damaged by the betrayal of their manager.. Raymond Harvey left the band to join Rock & Hyde and Kick Axe continued on as a four-piece.

Kick Axe recorded a third album entitled "Rock the World" in Vancouver in 1986, but the group no longer had the financial resources to promote the record properly. The debts were enormous and every time Kick Axe would attempt to play anywhere, there were sheriffs waiting to seize their money and gear. So in 1987, the group disbanded as friends.

Fifteen years later, the band got together for a meeting in Vancouver and figured it was safe to re-unite again. There was still lots of Kick Axe fan activity on the Internet, and the groups first two albums had been re-issued, with great success. George Criston was not available for the re-union, due to commitments with Nettwerk artists Sarah McLachlan, Dido and Avril Lavigne. Victor contacted his brother Gary to see if he was interested in the re-union. Larry Gillstrom and Gary Langen got together and recorded a couple of demos. Everybody was blown away by how great Gary's voice sounded after all these years and the five members, Larry, Gary, Victor, Raymond and Brian decided to record "Kick Axe IV". After two years of rehearsing, recording, and mixing, the long overdue new album from Kick Axe was released in September, 2004.