For Belle Vernon native and Axtion guitarist Darren Lazzari, the phrase “everything old is new again” is ringing true.
Lazzari, a 1982 Belle Vernon Area High School graduate, will reunite with his Axtion bandmates, vocalist Randy Amos and fellow Belle Vernon native bassist Kevin Bell for a return to the stage at 7 p.m. Saturday at JB’s Roadside Pavilion in Tarentum. The event marks the first time members of Axtion will hit the stage together since the band’s breakup in 1986. The band’s lineup is completed by drummer Dave Snyder, who agreed to perform with Axtion earlier this year.
“Everything comes back around and the younger generations are digging back into history,” said Lazzari said about the response he’s received about reuniting Axtion after a 33-year hiatus. “I didn’t think we had this many fans. I’ve always said Axtion fans were the greatest back in the day. They’re the greatest even now.”
Axtion was formed in 1983, when Lazzari relocated to Columbus, Ohio, to form the band with Bell and Amos to showcase their brand of hard rock inspired by bands like Kiss and AC/DC.
“We had a bunch of gigs happening and we were doing really well,” Lazzari recalled. “My aspirations were always to be a rock star.”
That version of Axtion disbanded before Lazzari and Amos returned to the Pittsburgh area. The duo formed a new Axtion lineup, and the band immediately became hometown heroes. The band performed to sold-out audiences and shared the stage with popular national acts like Stryper, Helix, and Autograph. In 1985, Axtion recorded their debut album “Look Out For The Night.”
“We were so young when we recorded that album,” Lazzari said. “I turned 21 while we were in the studio. We had a chance to become rock stars and we totally went for it. We were in the studio from eight at night to eight in the morning every day for two months. The record company led us to believe things were going to be great, but they were just blowing smoke at us. We were just a tax write-off to them.”
In 1986, Lazzari relocated to Los Angeles with hopes of continuing Axtion, but he became frustrated with California’s over-saturated music scene.
“We tried to do it out there, but it was very frustrating trying to start all over again,” he said. “We never did continue as planned.”
Lazzari’s time in Los Angeles wasn’t a total waste. In 1987, he answered a radio station ad announcing Ozzy Osbourne was searching for a new guitarist. To Lazzari’s surprise, he received a response from Osbourne’s team, and he was given one week to learn five Osbourne songs for his audition. Lazzari was called back four times, and during his final call back, Lazzari auditioned with Osbourne singing at his side.
“I was doing a guitar solo with Ozzy standing five feet away and watching me with his arms crossed,” Lazzari recalled. “My heart was racing. For two months, I would run home and check my answering machine to see if I got the gig. They didn’t even call me to let me know they chose somebody else. I went into a state of depression. I didn’t want to play or practice my guitar after that.”
Lazzari eventually returned to Belle Vernon and kept a low profile from performing.
Lazzari said the idea to resurrect Axtion began in 2015, when he and Bell reunited on stage for a benefit concert for Lazzari’s late cousin, Rick Parente. Bell pulled Amos into the fold, and in December 2018, Axtion held it’s first rehearsal in more than 30 years.
“It felt really good to be playing those songs again,” Lazzari said. “We thought we would throw it together in a month or two. We were humbled very quickly when we realized how challenging those songs are to play now at our age.”
But Lazzari said father time won’t stop the band from reliving their glory days when they take the stage at JB’s Roadside Pavilion.
“We’re not 21-year-olds anymore, but we’re going to give the crowd a pumped-up show,” Lazzari said. “We want to bring back the good old days. Hopefully, none of us will keel over in the process.”
Axtion will perform at JB’s Roadside Pavilion with special guests Misaligned Mind and Doug Carnahan. For more information, contact 724-265-2382.