[published]: 2019, October 10 (updated)
[in]: Regina Leader Post
[article]: A 'spectre' from the past: Kick Axe coming home for rare Regina concert
[by]: Ashley Martin

You get on stage now and it's just for the fun of it. ... And it's a time machine," says Victor Langen of Regina-born band Kick Axe.

Being part of a Hollywood movie soundtrack might have transformed Kick Axe's career, if the Regina band hadn't opted to stay true to its roots.

When the animated The Transformers: The Movie came out in 1986, it featured two songs by a band dubbed Spectre General.

"It could have been a career changer if they used our real name, you know?" said bassist and Kick Axe co-founder Victor Langen.

"Because Kick Axe sounded too dangerous or something, is the excuse we heard. It sounded vulgar or something."

"There was a lot of pressure from the record company to (say) 'hey, let's go with this. We've got a hot potato here,' but we couldn't turn our backs on our origins... We always proudly stated where we're from, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, not Los Angeles."

Kick Axe
(with The Killer Dwarfs)
Saturday, Oct. 12
Casino Regina Show Lounge

By that point, the band — also including present-day members Brian Gillstrom, Larry Gillstrom and Ray Harvey — had moved to Vancouver to pursue a music career. They travelled to L.A. to record.

"We were just in the right place at the right time when things were happening," said Victor Langen. Pasha Records, which managed Quiet Riot, signed the band and "one thing led to another."

The band released three records before breaking up in 1988.

"We're very proud of what we did then. It took long years of hard work playing every town hall, every school gymnasium from Redvers to North Battleford to all points in between, Hudson Bay, whatever. That's where we learned to be what we became," said Langen.

Langen and the Gillstrom brothers played their first concert as 12-year-old students at Rosemont School in west Regina.

It was "terrifying, terrifying, but you realize, 'hey, we can do this,'" said Langen.

"Kenny Shields was the first live rock star from Saskatchewan and he broke the door down, let's say, where he went 'hey, we can go for broke here,'" added Langen.

"It proved that anything was possible, even if you're from Regina, Sask. So we kept going. Go play Winnipeg, go play Edmonton, Calgary, and it just spread from there and you keep doing it."

They're still doing it today. Kick Axe reunited in 2003 and, in 2008, hired new vocalist Daniel Nargang, formerly of Into Eternity.

Langen said performing keeps him young.

"You get on stage now and it's just for the fun of it. ... And it's a time machine. All of a sudden, instead of being 58, you're 18. Boom, you drop 40 years. People are trying to lose weight at our age; we're just trying to lose years.

"And then you wake up the next morning like you've been in a trainwreck because you're acting like an 18-year-old again. ... Whiplash, torn ligaments," he said, laughing.

"Everybody's holding onto their youth quite well, and their hair these days. We're still known as a hair farm in the industry. ... I think we all must have a strain of Neanderthal because everything's fine right now."

Even after four decades together, the band will experience a first cruise in January. Kick Axe is slated to join wrestler/musician Chris Jericho as he hosts the Rock N Wrestling Rager at Sea, sailing from Miami to the Bahamas.

"We're digging through our song book; we're pulling out a bunch of old songs and we're going to be road testing them in Regina. There's a few songs that we haven't played in years, but Jericho wants us to do three unique sets on his ship," said Langen. "Our drummer Brian Gillstrom, it's his birthday as we're passing through the Bermuda Triangle on Jan. 22 and Chris has a bunch of paranormal people that do a satellite radio show. We're going to broadcast from there and celebrate Brian Gillstrom's birthday as we go through the Bermuda Triangle. Not bad for a bunch of hooligans from Rosemont."

Kick Axe recorded a new album in May, which Langen hopes will be released by in December.

Larry Gillstrom of Kick Axe performs in Saskatoon in 2015. Photo Matt Smith / StarPhoenix

Victor Langen of Kick Axe performs in Saskatoon in 2015. Photo Matt Smith / StarPhoenix