In the early '80s, Anvil was on the verge of being Canada's leaders of metal mania. Frontman/guitarist Steve "Lips" Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner were the Toronto outfit's masterminds, writing songs like "Metal on Metal" and "Hot Child" that helped them influence a multitude of young bands coming up at the time - such as Slayer and Metallica. Anvil's massive, pounding metal was riding high.
But somewhere towards the end of the "Me" decade, the wheels seemingly fell off Anvil's wagon. A surely promising signing to their genre's influential Metal Blade label failed to bring the band that extra push. Their debut on the imprint Strength Of Steel cracked the bottom of the Billboard
charts but soon faltered. The band released five more marginally received yet solid collections of metal before shuttling off to various independent labels.
Most familiar with Lips and Robb's story blame the changing metal climate at the time, or shoddy managers and promotions. Even still, the band never wavered in their brutal sonic attack and continued to record 13 albums of heavy metal material, most recently This is Thirteen
In 2005, former Anvil roadie and current Hollywood player Sacha Gervasi began filming a documentary on the band. Anvil: The Story of Anvil
chronicles a few years in the life of the band, through disastrously hilarious European tours and strife-filled recording sessions.
Rocks Off sat down with Lips and Robb a few hours before a screening of the film at the Angelika Theatre at Bayou Place.
Mark C. Austin
Rocks Off: How are you enjoying all this newfound, rediscovered, fame?
Lips: What's the best part? That we get to play! We feel as though we had been deprivated over the years, we should have been playing more. We only played fifteen or twenty gigs a year, and now we play every night.
Robb: We are completely enjoying every bit of this. Getting recognized everywhere...RO: How does your family react to all this new hype?
Lips: My relationship with my family isn't contingent on whether or not I'm successful. My wife is happy, yet there's concern now that I'm away from my 11-year-old. There's balance, life has balance.
RO: Any plans to have him come out on tour?
Lips: We have to see what happens with school.
Robb: My son is actually going to be coming out with me, so is my wife. This thing is for all of us...
RO: In the movie, you guys seem to have fought a lot. Has anything like that happened on this recent current tour?
Lips: No no...
Robb: In our whole friendship we have only had maybe half a dozen disagreements. They just caught a few on film.
Lips: In one of the fights, wasn't really a fight as much as it was Robb getting distraught over playing a dive and no one being there. It was more of a pep talk than a fight. You have to keep in consideration, what could be more exemplary way to show a relationship than to show a breakdown.
We both had the same goal, but disagreements on how to get there. It's not like we have different goals and are disagreeing on what the goal is. The main cause is all for the same thing.RO: The movie made it look like you fought all the time...
Lips: It's more of an oddity that Sacha caught. He just captured it.
Robb: They were over financial stresses that made it easier to have conflict.
RO: Like how if you meet a couple for the first time and they are arguing...
Lips: I can understand that. We're guys, we get over it. When guys argue it may almost come to fisticuffs. It's not like men and women. It's usually because you aren't having sex that it's easier to get over.
RO: And the next night you are out having a beer...
Lips: In our case we end up smoking a joint (laughs).RO: What's up with the new album, Juggernaut of Justice
Lips: All the music is written, we just have to record it! We've still got 13 albums we have recorded to let people in America be aware of. We aren't there yet.
Robb: We hope to record by the end of the year so it will be out next year; that's our plan.
RO: Will you ever lose that underdog fight and spirit, of still needing to prove yourselves, even after 13 albums?
Lips: We fought too long and hard to have that just go away. You will always feel as though obscurity is right behind you. It's not like all this happened 20 years ago, it was virtually yesterday.
RO: What would be your best advice for younger bands coming up today?
Lips: Stick to your guns, man! It's not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; it's the journey getting there. And even if you never get that pot of gold, you still have a helluva a lot of stories and places and people that can help you be wealthy in other aspects of being a human being.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil is now playing at the Angelika Theater, 520 Texas, 713-225-1470.