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Interview conducted May 09 2009
Interview published May 15 2009

The Anvil: Story Of Anvil Movie is universally being praised by the media, and rightfully so. I was so grateful when it came to my town, and Anvil played live immediately following the feature. I was also very appreciative when the two Metal On Metal Masterminds - Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Robb Reiner - took time out of their hectic schedule to conduct a back to basics interview with me.

I must have foreseen the night to be most fortuitous, when Wendy parked in space # 13, and cried out, "This Is Thirteen!" Indeed the evening would be one to remember; marked by plenty of powerful engagements, well worth the wait. With old, and new friends alike, united by hard 'n heavy mettle hearts, we truly and thankfully did celebrate with even more abundance than ever imagined. Our local newspaper even documented the event, and photographed me speaking with the brothers beneath the skin.

MettleAngel: Well guys, I must say that this is quite an honour to finally interview you, given your recent success. Have you seen the Wheaties: Metal On Metal cereal box mock up by Dalila K of Rockstar pix. That is hysterical! Actually, I know that it is really a 30 year overnight success story; but nevertheless, I've been wanting to do an interview with the both of you for quite sometime.

  • Lips: Yeah, I know, it seems like there is always some shit going on with us. (Robb): I think you definitely picked the right time, as we have been doing so many damn interviews. Most of them are for the secular, non-metal press. It is cool to sit down with an old school fan like yourself. Our bassist - Glen 5 - has always referred to you as the #1 Anvil fan in Cincinnati.

That very well may be true. Last time we all gathered was in 2007, in the basement of the Beachland Ballroom, in Cleveland.

  • Lips: Yeah, you, Wendy, and that blonde boy of yours were downstairs speaking with Gord Kirchin from The Exalted Piledriver.

MettleAngel: They will always just be Piledriver to me. Actually, Wendy was speaking with him and his wife. I was entranced by the conversation you were having with Mark and John Gallagher from Raven. Mark was reminiscing about the early '80s, and your lustful exploits. He alluded to you jackhammering his would be girlfriend, but you had no recollection of the event.

  • Lips: Ahh the glorious '80s, what a blur, and what bliss!

MettleAngel: Back in those days, bands like yourself, Raven, and Exciter set the precedent for what would become Speed Metal. You all seemed primed for success, and yet it really never happened for you, or any of the other truly worthy bands.

  • Lips: Times were different then.... (Robb): Man, a lot has changed for us, especially, over the last two years.

MettleAngel: I can see that, and congratulations on all your success. That show you were playing in Cleveland was Bill Peter's - Metal On Metal 25th Anniversary Party. Lips, do you remember when we all had breakfast together in Kalamazoo, in 2001 for the very first Classic Metal Fest?

  • Lips: Yes, I do, that was in Michigan. Brad Youngblood really worked hard to make the event worthwhile. He is a good guy.

MettleAngel: Yes, he is, and that show was stellar. In some respects, he indirectly set the standard for what would become the KIT festivals. I know an American dude who now lives in Norway. He was in attendance at that show. He is a key promoter now for Keep It True. Many of our friends gave Brad money, just so he could fairly pay the bands for their travel expenses. We fronted him some cash, to alleviate and allay his worries. What an amazing gathering of talent: Manilla Road, Omen, Exciter, Abbatoir, Hades, Halloween, Cage, Destiny's End, New Eden, Vicious Rumours, Agent Steel, Premonition, and so many others, all played and kicked ass!

  • Lips: Brad did a hell of a job! That was when metal was still suffering from the blows of rap. Those kids who love it so much today, were still in elementary school, when all that was going on.

MettleAngel: Yes, the school love of metal on metal minded appreciation had not quite struck back! The internet was just beginning to burgeon and blossom. Webzines were still in their infancy. Do you recall the very first time I met you? It was when you toured in 1999 for the Speed Of Sound album. You were opening for Jag Panzer and Iced Earth.

  • Robb: Yeah, I remember that, you met us at Annies, then you came to see us the next night in Columbus at the Alrosa Villa, where Dimebag was later shot.

MettleAngel: Indeed I did. Do you recall how I I pestered you to add - Blood On The Ice to your live set, and once you finally did, you chose to dedicate it to me? My first Anvil cassette was - Pound For Pound. After hearing this, I did my best to secure the past material. I have bought every CD you put out, so far.

  • Lips: Yeah, you even were able to get our manager an original copy of - Past And Present - Live In Concert on CD. He was so excited that you found that for him.

MettleAngel: It was worth it, because he gave me a free 20th Anniversary T-shirt. Speaking of Tour Shirts, Wendy and I are so glad we showed up early. We received your E-mail about this event, which was a last minute surprise. We were supposed to see Gwar this evening. I'm glad we got here when we did. Glen only had three Metal On Metal large T-shirts remaining, and a handful of patches. So I bought those right away.

  • Lips: We really appreciate the support. Fans have been giving us money too. They want us to pay back my sister.

MettleAngel: You mean you have not remunerated her for the cost of - This Is Thirteen?

  • Lips: I wish! The 20 grand was just for the album recording in the studio. We still have our flight expenses, our touring costs, and a whole lot of legal bullshit to cover. (Robb): This is why we finally have ourselves a worthwhile manager. He is really getting us going. We will be on Jimmy Kimmel playing live, next Friday.

MettleAngel: Wow, that is so surreal. I don't even think Maiden or Priest have played the late night talk show circuit, as of yet. I think Heaven & Hell should do this.

  • Robb: We are also in negotions to sign with Sony Productions.

MettleAngel: That would be awesome. Does this mean that you will finally re-issue some of those classic albums from the Attic years? That Molten Masterpieces 2 on 1 bootleg is a joke. It is difficult to find Hard 'N' Heavy on CD. I would not mind the Metal Blade material being remastered, as well.

  • Robb: We still have our issues with the Attic titles. We are trying to secure the rights to the first three albums, so we can re-release them ourselves properly. The new album we are writing, and recording - Juggernaut Of Justice - will be a monster with proper production, and distribution.

MettleAngel: I am very excited about this...

  • Robb: Well it is finally happening for us. We have all been through so much bullshit over the years. Our manager has the best interest of the band in mind.

MettleAngel: I'm glad to hear this. I know you have been royally screwed over in the past. Will you explain to me the rumour about you opening for the summer Judas Priest & Whitesnake Tour? I heard this announced on the radio, so I believed it to be true. When I contacted you, you informed me that it was just a perpetrated rumour.

  • Robb: Yeah, that was leaked before it was ever finalized. We were offered the opening slot, but we never committed to it. Where the band is now, we just did not feel an opening slot for 30 minutes, in the early evening would do us justice. We love Priest and Whitesnake, but we have much bigger offers, now on the table. The Anvil Movie DVD will come out in October, and we will be doing a world tour to support that release.

MettleAngel: We had already purchased our Priest tickets, but we were excited about seeing you again. Now here we are, so I suppose that is serendipitous. Rob, do you recall that at the 25th Anniversary Cleveland show I bought the original band released edition of - This Is Thirteen - for $12?

  • Robb: We were selling that at the show, but what do you mean?

MettleAngel: Oh I know, it was just that I paid for the CD with a $10 and $2 bill. Obviously you had not seen a $2 bill, so you began to give me $20 as change. I instantly corrected you, as to not rip you off, or be unfair. I wanted to give you the $2 bill, because it was rare, and I wanted to give you something to commemorate that show.

  • Robb: Of course, I showed that to my wife, because it was so different than Canadian currency.

MettleAngel: Then I suppose you recall how we assisted you with getting back to the hotel, where we were all staying. There was some frustration trying to secure your rooms, that night.

  • Lips: Yeah, that was chaos back at the hotel. There was some kind of football rivalry going on, which made the hotel so busy, and overcrowded.

MettleAngel: The day after you played, there was a big Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals football game. The Cincinnati fans had driven up to give the Browns fans hell. Those football fans are as insane as us metalheads. I never let any football fan know that I too was from Cincy. I was there to celebrate Bill's 25th Metal Fest.

  • Lips: We have hockey fans, who act the same way.

MettleAngel: Lips, I was surprised that in the movie, you referred to - This Is Thirteen - as your best metal release since the Attic years.

  • Lips: Dude, it is! (Robb): Definitely!

MettleAngel: Don't get me wrong, I love it, but you can not dismiss the Metal Blade, or Hypnotic albums. Chris Tsangarides did a phenomenal job, but you can not just give him all the credit. It is like with Priest and Painkiller, it just seems that everyone thinks that this is their best effort; sure it is awesome, but the Tom Allom albums kill too. I'm just grateful they will perform British Steel in its entirety this summer.

  • Lips: What don't you like about - T.I.T.?

MettleAngel: Man, I love all your albums. I just played - Still Going Strong - that is a rippin' release. I also think Worth The Weight is underrated. Plugged in Permanent, Pound For Pound, Pleny Of Power, and Speed Of Sound are also amazing! I've always loved those tongue and cheek - Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'N' Roll type lyrics, which you write. For example, in the movie, when the talk show lady recites the lyrics to - Toe Jam.

  • Lips: Yeah, I know you have always been a fan of our lyrics. You are a dedicated person who really understands us, and embraces our history. (Robb): You have commented on our lyrics a number of times.

MettleAngel: So whatever happened to the vibrator? This was always a killer gimmick, which made the live shows, even more exciting.

  • Lips: Ahh yes...well let's just say I'm a waiting for a sexy lady to bring one to the show and present it to me, while I'm playing, after the film. (Robb): Honestly, I think that at this time in our career, the vibrator should take a backseat. Perhaps when we headline, and if our fans bitch enough, Lips will re-introduce it to the live performance.

MettleAngel: This is another aspect about Anvil which I find so appealing. You all have such a wonderful sense of humour. I loved the Christmas gift giving scene in the movie, where you presented your son with a South Park DVD. When I initially introduced Wendy to your music, the first songs I played for her were - Hair Pie, Show Me Your Tits, and Five Knuckle Shuffle. I think thereafter, I played her - Butter-Bust Jerkey, Jackhammer, Mattress Mambo, and Man Over Broad. You got to love the line,..."Skin boat to tuna town!"

  • Lips: Well we are a band out of the early '80s, and in my experience the majority of people who listen to metal, are guys. So we write our songs through their eyes. What can I say, I love tits, and I always want to be knee high...in hair pie!

MettleAngel: Yes, the sweet triangle taco, I miss the bush years. I'm not a fan of camel toe, or fake tits. I prefer tits to be big, baggy, sagging, uneven, and all natural.

  • Robb: It is always in good fun. we don't want to be taken too serious, in that respect.

MettleAngel: I know, as we are all married, and our wives are so damn cool. I've always appreciated your honesty as concerns drug use, and marijuana. Songs like - Smoking Green, Sativa, and White Rhino - the ragin' instrumental you played tonight, all contribute to the band's character.

  • Lips: Speaking of being high, I sat through both showings of Star Trek today. I just wanted to have some time to set up, and soundcheck. The movie let out so late, we barely had any time to rehearse.

MettleAngel: You sounded fine to me. The set list was awesome, and the sound for this little, quaint theater was damn good. I'm sure if you had more time, you would have also played - Forged In Fire.

  • Robb: I heard you shout that out. Dude I noticed that you were the only guy there constantly, banging, and singing every word to - 666, and Metal On Metal.

MettleAngel: Thank You, I had so much fun banging my fist on the seat cushion. Wendy was thrashin' too, and she has a really sore neck, from an injury incurred a week ago. I always appreciated that Anvil could mix Hard Rock elements with molten metal anthems.

  • Lips: We view the - Metal On Metal - album as a blueprint for the form and style which would follow on both sides of the metal playing field. Both Speed and Thrash bands cite us as an influence. Surprisingly, a number of Big Hair bands do as well.

MettleAngel: This is probably why Bill Peters named his radio show - Metal On Metal. He knows that true metal endures. For over 27 years, he has consistently begun every Friday night show on www.wjcu.org with - March Of The Crabs followed by - Metal On Metal. It has become his trademark.

  • Lips: Bill is a hell of guy! (Robb): I'm surprised he is not here.

He may attend the Columbus show on Sunday. I called many of my friends to let them know not to miss this.

  • Robb: We'll have to add Cleveland to this promotional tour. Those guys in that city have always supported us.

MettleAngel: Cleveland Classic Metal rules. Bill is busting his ass to release some new material from his notable bands this summer on Auburn Records.

  • Robb: So tell me honestly, Michael, what did you think of the movie?

MettleAngel: I suppose I view it more as being a documentary. I admire the brutal, and visceral honesty of the movie, and its intent. There is an emotional component, with which all viewers can vicariously identify. The sincerity, and passion of the band bring the whole drama to life. Wendy and I related to you as being brothers bonded by an unconditional love. We also see Anvil as an everlasting marriage, which has weathered many storms. In our own relationship, I'm the one who is difficult, and almost impossible to live with; while Wendy is the whipping dog.

  • Robb: We feel this to be more of a movie, the way it plays out, and not necessarily a documentary.

MettleAngel: To that extent I agree, but is in authentic and unrehearsed. It is not superficial fiction, riddled with multiple takes, and a pedestrian script. It is, in fact, your life, right up their on the big screen for all to react to, understand, and ultimately empathize with, as they reflect upon their own lives.

  • Lips: Yeah, we bear our souls, and are our true selves.

MettleAngel: It is candid, shocking, and revealing. I admire the scene in the studio where you two argue, fight, reconcile, and weep. Some may find this to be too "gay" for metal. I see it as being true mettle. The essence of family, and the elements of friendship are ideally expressed and conveyed. That whole integral, evocative scene is rooted in intimacy, love, compassion, and commitment.

  • Robb: Yeah, and no one has seen it as coming across as weak or wimpy. The emotional struggle is the glue which binds; while the motivational determination is the oil which greases the wheels of our inevitable success.

MettleAngel: Well put, and I do agree. What do you think of all the Spinal Tap comparisons, in the various reviews of the movie? Many of the ones which I have read are divorced from the reality of the vibrant metal community. There are way too many Metallica allusions. They just don't know what goes on in the metal milieu.

  • Robb: I always say that I'm the real Robb Reiner, and Anvil is the real Spinal Tap.

MettleAngel: I just find it hard to fathom that Spinal Tap have returned, with a new album coming out soon called - Back From The Dead. They will be in Columbus next Sunday, Wendy and I really want to see them perform live.

  • Robb: Well the more people read about them, the more they become fascinated about us.

MettleAngel: I can see this as being an inevitable tour that should happen, with both bands co-headlining! On your forthcoming album - Juggernaut Of Justice - you finally plan to record the song - Thumb Hang? I think Slaughter from Canada borrowed your idea for Strappado. Are there any plans to re-record some classic tracks, perhaps as bonus tracks?

  • Lips: We have so much material, and we have to be very selective about what we put on the albums, so we'll just have to see.

MettleAngel: Rob, I learned a great deal about your personal life watching the movie. I was not aware that you were a painter. I especially enjoyed the "Mr. Hankey" scatological rendition. It is a shame the wife does not let you display that one, openly in the house. Wendy and I have the crass "Shit List" poster from Spencer's Gifts adorning our bathroom. I was also astonished to learn that Ivan Hurd, your former guitarist for so many albums, married Tatiana; who worked so hard to book you a tour.

  • Lips: Yeah, and they are both so happy. We felt it appropriate to honour their wedding service, in the movie.

MettleAngel: So, for the last few years, you have chosen to be a Canadian Power Trio like Rush and Triumph.

  • Robb: Essentially we have always been a three piece. Ivan was more of a touring band member. He did not contribute that much in the studio.

MettleAngel: He did lay down some leadwork on T.I.T. What about your work with Sebastian Marino who would later join Joe Comeau in Overkill?

  • Robb: Sebastian was only with us for - Worth The Weight. Lips and I are the backbone of the band.

MettleAngel: I've heard there is a book now out, available through Bantam Press, which even goes into more detail than the movie, itself. I'm planning to get that. Afterall, I purchased the Bruce Dickinson - Crowley novel, which goes into much more detail than the movie could, or even should.

  • Robb: Yeah, once you get the book - Anvil: The Story Of Anvil, you will get a stronger sense of what is really going on.

Yeah, because the events in the film go back at least four to five years. I was aware of that when they were celebrating Lips 50th birthday. Dude, I know you are now a bit older. Jon Oliva is turning 50 this week. I guess we are all aging gracefully. Have the fans really been enjoying the live performance after the film?

  • Lips: Definitley, some don't know how to react. After the credits roll, I come screaming up and down the aisles, shredding on my guitar.

MettleAngel: I assume because you are plugged in permanently!

  • Robb: Overall it has been awesome from city to city. The showing in October in London was incredible. We did even better than Metallica's - Some Kind Of Monster.

MettleAngel: I know, my fellow writer Mozzy covered that event for Metal Covenant. You'll have to read it. I'll have to link it to this interview.

  • Lips: I think I did catch that, but send me a link, again.

MettleAngel: I will once I publish our interview.

  • Robb: Man all these shows are just crazy. We had Dustin fuckin' Hoffman banging his head. Chris Jericho was thrashin' out, too.

MettleAngel: Chris, and several famous wrestlers are really into metal. Chris has his band Fozzy. So brother, do many of the fans know that Anvil was originally called - Lips? You actually initially released Hard 'N' Heavy under this moniker, before unfortunately being signed to Attic Records. I've heard the reason you changed the name from Lips to Anvil was to avoid confusion with the disco outfit - Lipps Inc.

  • Lips: Yeah, but I kept the name for myself. Anvil is a more metal based name, anyhow.

MettleAngel: Oh I definitely agree! You can't get more metal than an anvil. I actually like Lipps Inc., as they wrote my favourite disco song - Funky Town. I have that one on vinyl. Do many of your fans actually realize that you have consistently included the anvil image in one form or another, on every single Anvil album?

  • Robb: Many don't catch this. With some of the albums like - Plenty Of Power and Speed Of Sound, the anvil is a little more obscured. (Lips): This has always been a major part of who we are. My favorite cover depiction is - Plugged In Permanent - with the heavy anvil crushing the acoustic guitar.

MettleAngel: And let's not forget the anvil smashing the Hi-Fi stereo on - Absolutely No Alternative.

  • Lips: People may not realize it, but there is always alliteration on every album, as well.

MettleAngel: Oh I know that! The first letter of the first word, always matches the first letter of the last word; case in point - Metal On Metal, Strength Of Steel, This Is Thirteen.

  • Lips: I must admit that we do get a kick out of our novice fans, who claim that they have one of our albums. They usually say, "I have one of your records, it is the one with the anvil on it!"

MettleAngel: That is hilarious! So I must ask you what motivated you to make this movie?

  • Lips: After all these years, Sacha Gervasi approached us about doing it. He was well established by this time writing screenplays, and making movies.

MettleAngel: I am aware of this, because he wrote - The Terminal - which starred Tom Hanks.

  • Robb: He was always a fan of ours. He even roadied for us back in the day. We had not seen him for over 20 years. He expressed the excitement about doing this, so we though what the hell. (Lips): It was great timing, because we were working on a new album, and going on a European Tour. It all really happened fast, but it was not right away. The whole deal with Anvil is that we are always up to something. I guess you could say that we have a loaded gun full of ideas. We have never really stopped just being up to doing something. (Robb): Anvil is our life, and we live it everyday. (Lips): We were reunited with Sacha, and he really wanted to document every aspect of our daily lives, from the pivotal to the most mundane.

MettleAngel: I'm sure you had no idea that all this would escalate into what it now is?

  • Lips: We certaintly did not. This is why the key to ultimately being successful is to always be on guard for the next big thing to happen in your life.

MettleAngel: You mean like a kind of "Expect The Unexpected" type thing?

  • Lips: Definitely! You have to keep pushing forward, and make your peace with the past.

MettleAngel: I'm sure with the global economy and so-called recession, the movie is an inspiration to the underdogs, and all of those who struggle to make ends meet? Just like the song - Where Does All The Money Go? Some of us are living on a shoestring.

  • Robb: We never saw the point to giving up, or giving in.

MettleAngel: This is why Anvil are the real deal - true mettle.

  • Robb: What would be the point of calling it quits, or throwing in the towel? I ask you, "What are you quitting from?" This is more than just a job, this is who we are, this is what we do, and have always done.

MettleAngel: I suppose you both share this underlying confidence, ever since you first formed your partnership as teenagers. I love the scene where Lips talks about his first experience of Robb and his drumming.

  • Lips: Yeah, I guess you could say our souls are somehow linked.

MettleAngel: I was surprised when you went on the rant about all the negative energy. I never took you as being a spiritual person.

  • Lips: I am a human being facing everyday frustration. The fact is I love to play. I love to be in Anvil. (Robb): Yeah, we are so grateful for all of our new fans, and the older ones who keep appearing out of the woodwork with their revealing tales and stories about the crazy '80s.

MettleAngel: Well, you now I'm one of those freaks. I want to sincerely thank both of you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me.

  • Lips: No problem, you are a dedicated fan, and we have been meaning to do this for quite some time. (Robb): Yeah, I'm just glad to hear that you loved the movie, and will tell the metal fans what they must experience.

MettleAngel: Indeed I will. Thank You again for everything, always. I'm looking forward to when Wendy is out and about, wearing an Anvil shirt, and someone stops her, and says, "I loved that movie, and I'm not even into Heavy Metal!"

  • Lips: Well when it does, and I'm sure it will given Wendy's wonderful mettle attitude, definitely let us know. Otherwise, I guess we'll catch you again in the fall. (Robb): Yeah, we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

MettleAngel: Thank You again, I am ever pleased that Anvil are still going strong, and back to basics! Forever may you be forged in the fire of eternal blessings and joy.

See also: review of Anvil! The Story Of Anvil

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