Anvil is THE band that pretty much invented thrash metal
Last Tuesday, May 20th was a long time coming my friends. Like many people out there, metal masters, Anvil, sort of flew under my musically inclined radar for quite some time. Sure, I was well aware of their massive hits, “Metal On Metal” and “March Of The Crabs” waaaaay before I ever saw their fan-fucking-tastic 2007 documentary, Anvil: The Story Of Anvil, but I’m ashamed to say that before 2007, it was just about those two songs for me. When I was headbanging out to those tracks while still in high school, I didn’t even know that a band called Anvil was even responsible for them. It’s sad really. Anvil is THE band that pretty much invented thrash metal, thanks in large part to drummer, the super chill, Mr. Robb Reiner‘s unwillingness to slow the fuck down, and lest we forget, Mr. Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow‘s signature metal riffs have been ripped off time and again by some of the biggest names in the Metal game. These big names in the game went on to have lucrative careers in the industry while the forerunners of said game were left lagging behind back in Canada. I call bullshit on that. That was until lifelong fan (and I do mean lifelong), Sascha Gervasi decided that the time had come for the rest of the world (specifically the metal community at large) to finally meet Anvil. The documentary happened and I think by this point we all know the story, and thusly, the band itself.
I became obsessed with the greatness that is Anvil.
It was after I viewed the documentary for myself that I became obsessed with the greatness that is Anvil. I had to meet these guys. kilScene.com wasn’t even in its embryonic stage back in 2007, it wasn’t even a thought; it was nothing at that point, but just the same, something had to give. I first saw Anvil perform live back in 2010 at The Gramercy Theatre in New York and I was once again blown away. Fast forward to June 16, 2013. That was the date that kilScene officially launched and I made it my mission to get interviews with all the bands that were on my bucket list. First up was Local H: Mission Accomplished. Next on the list was Bad Religion: Done deal. Anvil was the only band that was left.
I had reached out to Robbo’s sister, Sister D (and a HUGE thank you to you, milady) who after a lot of back and forth put me in touch with the band’s PR people. The weeks, the days are wiling away and still not one word. I put in request after request for an interview and I even went as far as to relent (just another way of saying ‘give up and settle‘) for two comps for my photographer and I to be admitted to the show just so we could review it. May 20th had rolled around and still not one word from anybody. Hell, I made plans to do something else with my Tuesday night. That was until 3:45 that afternoon. Chris Pacifico from Anvil’s PR team had finally given me the green light. Not only was I going to get my two comps to review the show for the site, but I was also given Steve’s number so I could personally call him to set the interview up. Time to scramble. I quickly start writing up some interview questions, shower, dress, haul ass to the train station, write up some more interview questions. “Last minute” does not even begin to describe how quickly all of this was pulled together.
6:36pm: Santos Party House. Anvil is just finishing up sound check. I’m all sorts of giddy as Lips, Robb, and bassist, Sal Italiano are running through “Hope In Hell.” Lips disappears backstage. I follow five minutes later. Now you can read our exclusive interview with Lips a little later, but first, a few words about the show …
If you’re a fan of The Metal, if you enjoy a solid hour and a half of banging your head this way and that, then Anvil will more than abundantly provide you with opportunities to do so. When I saw Anvil back in 2010, they were tight as hell, now with new bassist, Mr. Sal Italiano in the fold, the band just got that much more tighter (welcome to the fold, sir, welcome.)
Lars Ulrich can go straight to hell and may Robb Reiner’s drumming be the soundtrack that sends him there.
The show starts promptly at 10:00pm. The band comes out and goes right into the smashing. “March Of The Crabs“. Robbo is bashing away at the skins, Sal is in the pocket, Lips… where the fuck is Lips? I’m hearing his guitar, I’m staring at the stage and I’m only seeing two members. Sal notices me just staring puzzled. He points to the crowd. I turn and look and there he is. Lips is amongst us. Right in the thick of it. The crowd swarmed on Lips. It truly was a spectacle to behold. With Lips now back on stage, the band launched into “666“, another personal favorite. The band is really cooking now. Once the band went into “On Fire” from the band’s 2011 monster smash of an album, Juggernaut of Justice, I was secretly hoping, nay, praying that I would get to hear the live version of Track 12 off of that album. What’s so special about Track 12? Track 12 is “Swing Thing“, and as to why it’s so important is because it gives the best drummer in the business period, Robbo, the fucking spotlight that he most certainly deserves. What Robbo does is bigger and badder than just a mere drum solo. That’s the easy part, Robbo lets his drumming do the talking and that night when he drummed the fuck out of “Swing Thing“, much longer than it’s 3-minute studio version, we all heard him loud and clear. He’s a master of his craft and he had all of our attention. Neil Pert who? Lars Ulrich can go straight to hell and may Robb Reiner’s drumming be the soundtrack that sends him there.
They are of the people because they are the people.
Anvil played all the songs that I hoped they would play (except for “Toe Jam” off of 1988’s Pound For Pound). Another highlight performance was “Thumb Hang“, the Black Sabbath-esque rock monster. All in all it was a memorable evening with Canada’s favorite sons, but would you expect anything less? Anvil is all power and heart in their performance. Another spotlight of the show was hearing Lips recant his many tales over the years in the business. One such tale that sticks out involved the late, great Ronnie James Dio. It’s nice to see that even a Metal god like Lips has a bit of the fanboy in him. It makes him that much more human in my eyes. Before delving into the interview portion of this piece, I really must say thank you to all three members of Anvil. Sal was courteous and kind and very welcoming. Robbo, was just Robbo: Ultra cool and laid-back. Meeting Lips was like meeting a friend that you didn’t know you had. Meeting Lips was all pleasure and no business. Anvil as a whole are all inviting and open. Sure, they gained some recognition from their documentary, but even that newfound fame didn’t turn them into these guarded rock stars. They are you, they are me, and they are us. They are of the people because they are the people. If you (wherever you are in the world) hear that Anvil is coming to your town/country/whatever, do not hesitate! Purchase your tickets because seeing Anvil live truly is an unforgettable experience. It’s one week later and hell, I can’t get their performance out of my head. Good music will do that to you, don’t you know? Now I invite you to get to know Lips on a personal level for yourselves. Ladies and gentlemen of kilScenedom, Mr. Lips Kudlow …
kS • If you could have any band open up for you, past or present, who would that be?
sK • April Wine because they’ve been my favorite Canadian band since the 70s. They’re good friends and we’ve been talking about doing shows with them down here, opening up for us. Of course that would be the other way around in Canada.
kS • What influenced your desire to start a band?
sK • When I was 10 my father brought home an electric guitar, but by then I was already into rock n’ roll. I liked Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley and stuff. But by 1966 when I started, it was The Rolling Stones and The Beatles that really had a big, huge impact on me and I remember standing in my living room, must have been the next day that I got my guitar, and I go, “I’m gonna do this. This is what I’m doing for the rest of my life.” And my little brother goes, “You’re crazy“, and I go, “Yeah, but this is gonna be fun.”
kS • Who were some of your influences growing up?
sK • Well like I said, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones initially because that was all that was there in a sense when I first started playing. I mostly looked for stuff that was guitar oriented. Well played stuff, whatever came up and came out from 1966 on, I was onto. So by the time Hendrix came out, I was already playing for a couple of years so, once I heard that then I REALLY knew what I wanted; what lead guitar was anyway. Then I guess Grand Funk, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin, and all the other bands that came along during that era. Heavy blues.
kS • What’s your opinion on the music scene today?
sK • Sad. Extraordinarily, profoundly sad, especially the bands that have lost all remnants of melody and rhythms. Completely lost; and there’s nobody playing good drums, that I can think of anymore except Mickey Dee and Robb. And I guess whatever is remaining of Ian Pace, but it’s still not, there’s nothing new that I can possibly name. Not even one. the music industry as a whole right now, there is no money in making music, there’s only money in advertising your music and advertising your merchandise and that’s the purpose of recording records these days. People are dispensing of the music really quickly. They go through it, listen to it a couple of times, on to the next. Music is not valued the same way because they’re not paying for it. It’s sort of a psychological thing. If you don’t have to pay for it, why do you value it? You don’t.
kS • Do you have a favorite venue you like to play here in the states? If so, which?
sK • The Whiskey A Go-Go in L.A is a pretty good favorite. I have a new favorite down in Texas, a place called The Gas Monkey which is pretty amazing. It was an outdoor gig and it was really, really nice.
kS • What’s the writing process like for Anvil?
sK • Particularly for the last album, it was just Robb and I. It went really quickly and we’re finding that that’s the goods when you can can come up with it quickly. When you spend too much time, too much goes in, and it’s harder for the audience to comprehend at the end of the day. If you can keep it straight forward and to the point and if you can get through a bed track in an hour and a half you have a great song.
kS • Do you road test new material?
sK • The last time we road tested something it was in the 80’s and we added a much of songs that our rhythm guitarist sang and we tried them out and failed miserably and I swore I’d never do it again.
kS • With the exception of the latest one, which would you say is your favorite Anvil album?
sK • Probably Worth The Weight and Forged In Fire. Worth The Weight had the most ornate guitar playing out of all our albums.
kS • What’s on you’re bucket list at this point in your career?
sK • Making money. I mean really. It’s the only thing left to do at this point. Certainly we have the fame, the notoriety, and the recognition. No money. Because all the recognition and all the notoriety came at a time when music isn’t worth a nickel. So how do you make money? Our T-shirts are doing okay so that’s what I’m making a living off of. As far as royalties and radio play, we’re never going to get that. So I guess bucket list would be to have a hit single on the radio and maybe it’ll happen before I die and hopefully a day or two before because I’ve never looked for it and nor do I give a shit about that. I would be more happy if I was financially set up.
… And thus ended my long awaited interview with Lips. This is a hard working band. I have a soft spot in my heart for hardworking bands. Anvil does deserve the fame, the notoriety and adulation, but they deserve so much more than that and this writer hopes that the band will finally see the realization of all their dreams because when you work as hard as a band like Anvil does, why hope for anything less?