After years of playing to empty arenas and sordid dives, Canadian metal warhorse Anvil got a shot in the arm last year from — of all the things — a rock documentary. The success of Sacha Gervasi’s "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" revitalized the 50-something rockers, propelling them on a world tour that’s seen them perform before thousands of fans. The long slog, it seems, has finally paid off.
“We were looking for a title to the movie, and I thought we should call it ‘Juggernaut of Justice,’” frontman Steve “Lips” Kudlow says from Melbourne, where the band is playing a series of dates. “But Sacha came back and said, ‘No, that’s your next album.’”
While the band does feel vindicated, there are still issues that reflect the conflicted, lifelong friendship between Lips and drummer Robb Reiner —one whose ups and downs made the movie so compelling.
“Most things have remained the same — actually, shockingly so,” Lips says, quipping that at least they’ve been able to give up their day jobs. “For Robb, when he felt things weren’t as good as they could be… well, he still feels that way. It’s a question of whether he feels the band has proven itself musically. The band has to take on its own life aside from the movie, and he worries about that.”
Lips continues to play the optimist to Reiner’s dour realism.
“People go, ‘It’s not gonna last’ — but then again, it’s already lasted over 30 years! What do you mean, last? I have a slightly different perspective, and I think the band has proven itself. We’ve always had people who hated us, and that’s not going to change. All I know is that I’m doing what I love, and that’s the most important thing.”
But still, it must be asked: is there any downside to their recent fame?
“I keep my blinders on, but if I wanted to dwell on it, I could,” Lips replies. “People that are still negative toward what we do; people wanting to be friends now that I’m famous; people that I haven’t heard from in years that now want to touch base with me, only to say that they know me or whatever. But I don’t care, it doesn’t affect me. I’m not the negative type. I still have no ego, I’m still loading my own equipment.”
There is, perhaps, at least one negative aspect to Anvil’s long struggle for success. Lips reveals that one of the songs on the yet-to-be-recorded "Juggernaut of Justice" is called “Going Deaf.”
“I hear whispering in my ears 24/7,” he says. “It’s really bad at home because for whatever reason, it’s affected the part of the hearing that receives a woman’s voice, so I can’t hear my wife talk — or my son, because his voice hasn’t changed yet. It’s bad, very bad.”
In their upcoming Japan tour, Anvil return to a country that was pivotal to their early success — and recent comeback.
“I would say we’re even more appreciated now, which is what’s so special about the relationship between Anvil and Japan,” Lips says, recalling their debut tour here in ’83. At the time, Japan was getting its first taste of the new-metal explosion sweeping North America. “Japanese do not forget. I would imagine it’s going to be insane. The movie depicts Japan as the hero — they are! We’re coming back, and are going to be playing for the people who love us most.
“From what I hear, the movie is doing extraordinarily well, and we’re getting a lot of email. I don’t know what to say other than it’s incredible luck, and a beautiful blossoming flower of light. It’s amazing, and better than it’s ever been.”
Twenty-seven years after Lips and Reiner met in a basement jam session in suburban Toronto, are they planning to go out on the current high note, or will they soldier on even if the luster brought by the film subsides?
“You keep rocking 'til you die,” Lips says. “I mean, is there an end to Mick Jagger? Well, why should there be one for me? You do it until you don’t want to, or until you’re dead. I’m a lifer. I’m not happy and comfortable until I’m on the road playing every night. It’s as simple as that.”
Anvil will play at Club Quattro, Shibuya at 7 p.m. April 19-20. Tickets are 7,000 yen.
This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).© Japan Today
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hahah good luck to ANVIL!!! Rock on!
Never heard of them
Maybe, just maybe, this article was written so that people would hear about them. But a bigger question is why would any musical group play
unless a) they were practicing b) they went to the wrong venue c) the arenas weren't empty but 'nearly' empty.
My friends live right across the street from "Lips", and they didn't know until they saw the movie.
This is a fantastic metal band. Some albums weren't the best but the good ones are some of the funniest, most powerful of metal albums (check "Absolutely No Alternative" or "Plugged In Permanent"). Their sense of humor is very very straight and may as usual offend some but that fits the essence of this music. If all music was created the way that Anvil creates their type of music, there would be no wars on this planet and everybody would have fun.
Lots of JT posters are probably young, so they likely wouldn't know much of the metal bands of the 70s and 80s. Much luck to Anvil.
I know this country can be expensive, but 7000 yen to see Anvil?!
I would have to get two jobs to be able to afford them.
great documentary, even if you have never heard of them. See it if you can.
They are musicians? Comedians?
Anvil rocks. Much better than any of the girly boy bands that Jp is coming up with these days. These dudes might not have become the next Pantera or whatever in their early days, but they have a billion times more interesting story than any of the hip hop/new age/studio promoted 'musicians' that's been making the rounds the past few years. Who's Anvil? Jeez, buddy, did you just get out of diapers or been living under a rock in the desert? Sheesh, kids nowadays.
The whole dildo thing they did onstage wasnt really my thing. I reckon thats half the reason they didnt make it big. Otherwise the music wasnt too bad. Like some other HM hair bands - too much posing.
Any western musician group may be infamous gets a good coverage in Japan.
Anvil must be an acquired taste. I don't remember them and I was into metal back in the 80's (I was in my 20's). Metallica? Ronnie James Dio? Yngwie Malmsteen? Yeah I remember them, but Anvil? Don't really recall them.
Didn't see the documentary, who cares!!!
Like them or not, theirs is a film about not giving up on dreams. They predated Metallica, Dio and Yngwie, and their album Metal On Metal set the tone for all followers. Anvil rules!
Bless their hearts and it just proves that you are never too old to sell out.
I agree, I wouldn't pay 7000 yen to see what's left of Led Zeppelin now, much less a Cancon band that couldn't cut it.