Kick Axe

About Kick Axe

Canadian mainstream metal band Kick Axe was formed in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1976 by brothers Victor Langen (bass) and Gary Langen (drums), along with guitarist Larry Gillstrom. The band started out playing biker festivals around their home province, and soon added second guitarist Raymond Arthur Harvey in January 1978. Kick Axe relocated to Vancouver in the hopes of finding more gigs, but the constant touring disagreed with Gary Langen, who quit before the end of 1978 to spend time with his new family; he was replaced by Gillstrom's brother, Brian. The group began recording an album in 1979, but were discouraged by the results and abandoned the idea in favor of searching for a true frontman. They hired Charles McNary in 1981, but he became more satisfied with the band's local success -- both in clubs and with the independent single "Reality Is the Nightmare" -- than the remainder of the group. National advertisements for a new singer landed Milwaukee native George Criston, who moved to Vancouver in 1982 to join Kick Axe. Thus constituted, the band landed a deal with Pasha Records (home of Quiet Riot) and recorded their debut album, Vices, with producer Spencer Proffer. Vices was released in 1984 and produced a minor hit in "Heavy Metal Shuffle," as well as landing the band an opening slot for Judas Priest that summer. The follow-up, Welcome to the Club, appeared in 1985, featuring a charity-benefit cover of "With a Little Help From My Friends" recorded with a variety of Canadian hard rock all-stars. The album went gold in Canada, but guitarist Harvey, tired of touring, quit shortly thereafter. Kick Axe continued as a quartet and recorded two tracks for the soundtrack of Transformers: The Movie; however, executives feared the band's name would be inappropriate for the film's young audience, and they were instead credited as Spectre General. Back under their own name, Kick Axe recorded their third album, Rock the World, in 1986; however, it failed to build on the band's previous commercial exposure, and they broke up soon afterwards. ~ Steve Huey

    Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

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