30 Years and 13 Albums Later, 1 DVD Paves the Way for Anvil’s Biggest US Tour Ever
Lead vocalist/guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow took the time to talk to DTM on the eve of the “Anvil Experience Tour” to share everything from the band’s triple-decade struggle to be heard, to what exactly kept the guys going, and as Lips put it, “it’s the ultimate rock and roll story.”
Anyone who has seen Anvil! The Story of Anvil, the DVD released last fall which tells the story of the band, knows it played a role in launching the Canadian rockers into the spotlight. As what Lips calls “the final culmination of 30 years of work,” it was directed by their old friend Sacha Gervasi, who shows Anvil’s journey to success through a raw, intimate look into the band’s life- even taking the audience along to a typical day at work for Lips in a school cafeteria. The DVD follows Anvil to a point where they score a record deal and have plans to go on their biggest US tour ever, which they are currently on and will be wrapping up in the next month.
Anvil toured in places like Europe and Japan back in the ‘80s, and were good friends with bands like Metallica and Black Sabbath. Only, no one ever really caught onto Anvil. For whatever reason, their music didn’t stick. Luckily for them, that has all changed.
Lips was humbled by the idea of the Anvil Experience Tour in the days leading up to its kickoff.
“I’m going to get to live the dream. It’s going to be the biggest tour we’ve done in America in our lives. I mean, that’s what we’ve put everything towards, to become a viable touring band. And that’s what the dream is,” Lips said. “It’s going to be amazing, just amazing.”
It was about being in the right place at the right time, according to Lips, who said he believes success itself is “completely random.”
“It’s a miracle no matter what way you make it. It’s a miracle if you make it at all. Being in the right place at the right time is a miraculous thing. But the only way to ensure you will make it is to keep doing what you do, because then you stand a chance,” he said. “If you give up, you’re never going to win. Quitters never win. With It’s been a lifelong process and we’re now reaping the rewards. Our self belief and determination has paid off.”
Lips added that the best part of it all is it had nothing to do with a corporate sponsor. “It was a fan of the music that went and did [the DVD]. And we’re not talking a fan from last month; we’re talking about a fan from 20 years ago. There is honesty and a level of gratitude for the director and for us because of the camaraderie and accessibility he was given as a friend,” Lips said. “These were all unbelievably spontaneous decisions; nothing was planned.”
Lips said he attributes the band’s ability to hold it together for so long because he has always held onto his own self-belief. “You’re never going to get anyone to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. I mean, why do you keep doing it? Because you derive enjoyment out of it. You love it. You know, why do people stay in marriages? Why do couples still have sex even though they have children? They love each other. They want to continue. It’s really the same mentality; it’s basic really.”
In looking back at the past few decades, Lips said that although it was a combination of reasons as to why Anvil couldn’t catch their big break until now, he always measured success in other ways.
“How can you expect to make it big when your record company is only going to press a couple thousand copies and they’re only going to spend $5,000 on promoting it? Who’s going to hear about it? How far is it going to get? What’s the best you could hope for? When you’re signed to labels like that, it takes a hardcore following to make you successful. It’s not a question of a level of success. Most bands will probably tell you putting out a record is a miracle in itself,” he said.
“I’ve acquired a following over the world that pays for those records to get done. That’s success. And being around the world 10 times around and back, and having all these experiences, I’m a very successful wealthy man on that level. But on the level on finances, have we sold 6 million records? No. I’m the corner hardware store and I’ve been competing with Home Depot and I’ve managed to keep my store all these years.”
For sticking to their guns, Anvil finally is getting their long overdue acclaim. But, Lips is fine with how long it took to get to the top. In fact, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve never recorded anything I didn’t want to record. Every possible aspect has been completely honest my entire musical career, and that’s a whole lot to be proud of,” he said. “Many bands do it for the purpose of making money, but we’re simply not one of them. This was a band that was always completely honest and true to the genre that they helped create. It’s very much an integrity thing. We never aimed for commercial stardom, that’s not what we’re about. It’s about doing what you love and getting away with it,” Lips said.
As far as the future goes, Lips admitted that the band is already set to record a 14th album, but they don’t want to rush it.
“We’re just waiting for the opportunity and the window of time to get it done. That’s the thing about Anvil, we’re always ready. That’s why this has all been possible. Had we given up or not been ready, there wouldn’t be much of a movie or a record to be recorded. That’s really the ultimate key to success- always being in the process of working towards it and not giving up,” Lips said.
“So yeah, we’re ready. As soon as we finished This Is Thirteen, we began writing. That’s part of it too. No matter what happens, you still have to write another record because you’re job is never finished,” he said. “It doesn’t matter; big, small, indifferent- you still have to create more music.”
Article written by: Melanie Wolfson
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