Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on April 2010
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 sunny 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 (right) and drummer Robb Reiner (left)—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 till 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.”
Indefatigable Canadian metal veterans and film fest darlings. Apr 19-20, 7pm, ¥7,000. Club Quattro, Shibuya. Tel: Creativeman 03-3462-6969.