Anvil - Still Going Strong
Written by Wendy the MettleMaiden,
The highly acclaimed docu-movie:
"Anvil - The Story Of Anvil" - is bringing metal back into the
minds, and hearts of everyone. Our highly misconstrued metal milieu is
finally being recognized, and appreciated for what is truly is. Metal
is a vibrant genre characterized by profound intellect, devotion, and
a sincere sound, mettle attitude. The stereotypical, judgmental mindset
of sex, drugs, rebellion, and loud music, is being viewed from a more
personal aspect, as a portrait of merciful fate, all thanks to Anvil.
The challenges of everyday life
which we face, its struggles, its addictions, and most of all it realm
of joy and more abundance, are remarkably envisioned through the souls
of two Canadians who never surrender, and finally triumph. Hail Anvil!
story on screen, or rather account of the two main protagonists: Lips
& Robb seems almost too manufactured, as if they have some ploy for
the viewer to sympathize. In effect, they are the 'everyman' in us, two
middle age losers, whose talent, and creativity have fallen astray, as
their lackluster lives clearly remonstrate and demonstrate. This dramatic,
emotional roller coaster is an honest, non-scripted account of the very
lives and compassion which two endearing souls have endured, in the hope
to one day attain a modicum of success.
documentary that plays out like a movie, is genuine, honest, visceral,
and most of all identifiable with the everyday bullshit we all dish out,
and find ourselves sinking in, all too often. This documentary has it
all. If you are a fan of Anvil, or even if you have never heard of them,
this will touch you way deep down inside.
n many secular reviews
of the film, the uninitiated often compare Anvil to Spinal Tap or Metallica
out of pure ignorance. Many may not be familiar with the band, who only
had one video ever played on Headbanger's Ball in the '80s. The fact is,
as Robb himself states, "Anvil is the real Spinal Tap, and there
can only be one real Robb Reiner, and that is me!"
long fan - Sascha Gervasi - a British Anvil enthusiast, who wrote the
screenplay for: The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks, follows Steve and Robb
around with his camera, encouraging them to act natural. He assiduously
accompanies them to work, and gets to know their friends and family. He
accompanies them in the studio while they record - This Is Thirteen. He
even joins them on a tragic European tour (while they take vacation from
work). During this catastrophic sojourn through Eastern Europe, the brothers
quarrel over financial concerns, and poor planning, and they almost disband.
All throughout the drama, the daily vicissitudes become more pronounced.
the audience becomes more involved in the world of these two larger than
life characters, their private home life vision, and their personal experiences,
all the poles of existence become explored, and the viewer attends to
a more solicitous union of mind, heart, and spirit. As Sascha pursues
these two key members of Anvil over the course of four years, this allows
the spectator to vicariously experience an up close, candid, in your face,
glance at the wear and tear of the "Rock 'N' Roll" lifestyle.
s you ride on this
journey with them in this heartwarming documentary, you realize just how
close these two friends are. You feel their frustration as they continuously
try to self distribute their own music out to their loyal fans. You feel
the painful aggravation when they return home, back to their jobs, after
the unsuccessful tour. Then, you witness the support they receive from
their families, when others want them to just give up, and call it quits.
let's step back in time and see where it all began. The year is 1973,
the place is Toronto, Canada. A 14 year old rocker named Steve Kudlow
is walking down the street when, while passing a house on the corner,
he hears what he determines to be really incredible drumming, or a loud
racket, unlike anything he had heard from his music idols. That is the
day when he met Rob Reiner, and the day Anvil was forged in fire and passion.
two have remained been best friends, band mates, and metal brothers ever
since. Five years later they formed their first band with Steve on vocals
/ guitar, and Rob on drums. Dave Allison played rhythm guitar, and Ian
Dickson was their bassist. This band became known as: Lips.
played a late '70s rock sound, influenced by The Scorpions, UFO, Kiss,
& AC/DC. To avoid a law suit with the Disco outfit: Lipps Inc.,who
brought us the classic - "Funky Town", they changed their name
to Anvil, in keeping with a more metal style movement, emanating from
Europe, championed by the likes of Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, Def
Leppard, & Motörhead.
teve, to this day
is known as "Lips", as an homage to their original appellative.
The next step was to re-release their debut album - Hard 'N Heavy - and
to start on the path to what should have been rock stardom. Unfortunately,
they signed with the corrupt Attic Records, who would thus be one of the
many assholes in the music business who would f*ck over such amazing talent.
hey followed a common
trend, by writing many songs dealing about what they knew, namely sex.
As far as Lips, himself was concerned, most metal fans are men, and it
sure worked for Kiss! Lips even began using the famous onstage gimmick
of playing his guitar, with a vibrator (that is right, he made use of
a ladies' sex toy, and it made an odd grinding, but rippin' sound). One
would surely assume a unique metal act, as such would go far in the early
heir sophomore outing
- Metal On Metal - slightly divorced itself from the more sex type lyrical
thrust, and began to deal with true metal based themes. Anvil will always
have a penchant for sex, drugs, and metal messages in all the music they
write, but this album set a new precedent which inspired many around the
the Metal underground, Anvil, along with fellow Canadians: Exciter, and
England's Raven are considered to be the progenitors of Speed Metal. Many
may not be aware, but Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, and many successful
bands have been influenced by Anvil. This is evidenced by the personal
accounts of key musicians at the introduction of the movie. Although,
I'm not quite sure why Slash from Guns 'N Roses fame is included. However,
Velvet Revolver's guitarist: Mr. Saul Hudson did write the introduction
for the - Anvil: The Story Of Anvil - book, which has been released through
Bantam Publishing in the UK. The fact is clear, Robb Reiner is one of
the first Speed Metal Drummers, and Steve "Lips" Kudlow is one
of the first Speed Metal shredders.
y the time Forged
In Fire was released, everyone in the metal community felt Anvil would
be the next big thing! The implementation of an anvil on every album cover
became a staple trend, still practiced to this day, as well as the fervent
use of alliteration in the album titles. So what happened, what went wrong?
even shared the stage at the Japanese Expo in 1984 with bands like: The
Scorpions, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake. So, why did the other bands prosper,
and leave Anvil behind sifting through the dust?
there is no sincere or concise explanation for this, there are a couple
of theories circulating. I've noticed that most bands blame the labels
for their shortcomings.This is somewhat justified, and Attic Records were
total crooks. They even screwed over another Canadian act - Razor - who
also set the standard for early '80s speed and thrash.
here is always "the
right place, right time", argument. Although, after all, we all create
our own destiny, and we are all responsible for our own actions. I'm certainly
not one to judge, but Anvil like most bands, love to party. I've personally
witnessed other musicians reminisce with Lips about his chequered past,
and he has little recall...too much smoking green or white rhino, I'd
ould it then be
that Anvil's songs were not "radio friendly"? Surprisingly,
their song - "Metal On Metal" is well known in the metal community
as an influential anthem, and it's chorus is quite catchy.
some would suggest that their live performance was lacking? That is totally
bogus, because, Anvil's stage theatrics are extremely entertaining, not
only was there Lips parading around with his vibrator; but this multi-talented
front man, also sauntered across the stage adorned in full red and black
leather, chains, and bondage gear.
is a well-known fact that Anvil love to interact with their faithful fans.
They definitely have a very dedicated fan base with the Local Union 666
Fan club still going strong. These die-hards buy the music, merch, and
everything else,then, as Lips often asks in his lyrics, "Where Does
All The Money Go...?"
nvil is well known
in most metal circles. So, then it must be that Anvil didn't promote themselves
properly, or receive substantial marketing? This is suspect, as Anvil
later was signed to the renown Metal Blade Records label in the mid '80s.
They toured, relentlessly, and continuously, all the while consistently
releasing new material.
in the '90s on the smaller Hypnotic label, they continued to create amazing
speed metal masterpieces. This is why Anvil are still together to this
day, having only suffered minor line-up alterations. They have issued,
thirteen studio albums, and are finalizing their next creation - Juggernaut
of Justice. When budgets permitted, they still toured whenever possible.
truth is quite apparent, there is not one logical reason for why Anvil
are not now superstars, that is except the choices one makes in life,
with no one to ultimately blame, but himself. Life is about change,and
progress. Lips, Rob, and mainstay bassist: Glen 5 have continued to create
quality music. In fact, Glen Five, was an Anvil fan himself before joining
the ranks. He has chosen to remain loyal to the trio, even after the departure
of Ivan Hurd.
has come full circle. Anvil - The Story Of Anvil has now been in theaters
for quite some time. Anvil themselves have been touring the cinemas, playing
a short set afterward. Quite often, they will hang out with the fans for
a meet and greet session. It looks like their moment in the spotlight
has finally come, but will it be only 15 minutes long? I suppose that
depends if the Academy Awards acknowlege the buzz circumnavigating among
f the success of
this documentary does earn Anvil and Sacha Gervasi, dare I say, an Oscar?
I for one, will definitely watch the award ceremony just to see Anvil
play live, and of course win (yeah right!). I have not been loyal to an
award show since Metallica was first nominated for a grammy in '89, played
their song - One - and subsequently lost to Jethro Tull.
pleased to hear that the members of Anvil are reportedly no longer working
their "day jobs" of catering delivery, and construction / demolition.
They are now able to focus on the band full time. They are thrilled to
meet celebreties, and new fans of their music, and movie. They are in
negotiations with a major label for distribution of their new album, and
a big tour will soon be announced. Finally, these virtual unknown cannucks,
who have truly influenced all aspects of Heavy Metal music, are realizing
their heartfelt dreams.
hey have made appearances
on several radio and TV shows including Jimmy Kimmel. On this broadcast,
Lips was highly excitable, and Rob calmly discussed the succes of the
film. When asked about one of the arguements in the film, in which Lips
is apologizing to Rob, expletives deleted, of course, Kimmel is assured
that there have only been a few major blow ups in their life, and two
of those are captured on film. Jimmy Kimmel also inserts some canned humour,
when alluding to the alliteration in the albums titles by saying, "You
have recorded: Pound For Pound,...Charles In Charge..", the audience
laughs, accordingly. I'm sure that was not spontaneous, and Mr. Kimmel
had rehearsed what to say to Anvil, unlike the casual display of life
as we know it, which is so evidently verified in the film.
o, if you are an
old school Anvil fan, new to the hype, or perhaps just curious about all
the ruckus, make sure you not only watch this movie, with no agenda, but
also be sure to support them on their road to rock stardom. Oh, and one
more thing, please buy their cool merchandise too; because, the dudes
still need to pay back Lips' sister for the 25 thousand US dollar loan,
they borrowed to record T.I.T. with Chris Tsangarides!
Wendy the MettleMaiden - June 2009
also: review/article of
the screening of Anvil! The Story Of Anvil