ANVIL's LIPS Is Still Waiting For 'A Real Break'
Guitarist/vocalist Steve ”Lips” Kudlow of Canadian metal legends ANVIL says that he believed from the beginning that the band’s documentary, ”Anvil! The Story Of Anvil”, would have the kind of impact that it ended up having. ”I knew immediately, because it wasn’t some jackass with a video camera,” he told A&P-Reacts in a new interview (see video below). ”It was somebody [Sacha Gervasi] who was a screenwriter for Steven Spielberg doing a movie about me. Guess what. And I’m gonna bring it. ’Cause I knew if I’m gonna bring it, then I’ve got somebody who’s gonna fucking pick that shit up and run with it and get some place with it. I knew it on the onset. I knew before the director did — I knew before he did. When he told me, ’I’m gonna make a movie about you,’ I broke out crying. He goes, ’What are you crying about?’ I go, ’Because I waited my whole life for this moment to happen, and now it’s happening.’ He goes, ’What’s happening?’ I go, ’I’m gonna get the recognition that I’ve been looking for my whole life. My ship just came in.’ And I recognized it for what it was. And it turned out that that’s exactly what it was. I haven’t worked a regular job in 10 years, since the movie came out. It worked, as far as I’m concerned. What, I’m not as big as AC/DC? How are you ever gonna do that? You can’t make up for fucking 30 years of lost time — you can’t do it, no matter what you do.”
He continued: ”We had gotten a great start in three albums, and then got shot down in flames, man. Because we got signed to a Canadian label, and when a big-time American manager tried to sell the three albums that we recorded for our Canadian label to an American label, they didn’t wanna pay for it. ’Give it to us for free.’ Well, what do you think the Canadian label said? ’What are you, fucking nuts?’ If you owned that label, after you’ve invested in the band, and then [another label tells you], ’Okay, we’ll put out your records, but we’re not gonna pay you for it.’ Well, who in their right mind is gonna agree to that? So, they didn’t agree to it. So, what do you think happened? Three albums, and the choo choo train stops going. Because the manager pulled us out of the record deal that we did have, and then we had nothing for four fucking years, between ’83 and ’87 — no records. And in that period of time, everybody and his brother came out with albums all over. All of a sudden, America got turned on to heavy metal. And what’s ANVIL? We never got a break. I can keep talking about it.”
Lips went on to say: ”A break — a real break — is when you get a major distribution with major promotion and you get a real tour. What’s a real tour? Playing with Ozzy [Osbourne], playing with METALLICA or playing with one of the big bands and going out on a real tour and playing in all the hockey arenas all across the country. That’s how you really make it. And if you don’t get that spot — like METALLICA got to open for Ozzy — you’re never gonna make it. Same thing with MÖTLEY CRÜE; you never would have heard of MÖTLEY CRÜE if they hadn’t gotten to tour with Ozzy. It’s just the way it works, and that’s the break. And here I am, 42 years into this business, I still haven’t gotten that break. Even after the movie, I still didn’t get that break. You’d think, ’Well, look at all the publicity that the band got,’ but I never got the tour that you need to break the band, to make it a viable thing. The only way to get viable and get credibility is to be put in front of real audiences and real venues on a consistent basis. Until that happens, you’re not getting your break. And that’s how the music business has worked and has always worked. And that’s the reality of it. So people having expectations of saying, ’Well, ANVIL, they got that movie. They should have made it.’ Yeah, right. Without the break? Without getting the tour with METALLICA? Without getting the tour with GUNS N’ ROSES or the tour with AC/DC? No, they’re gonna give it to another band who’s signed to a major label, and the major label is just whacking out dough. It’s like I said: you need the promotion, the infrastructure, which is record companies. Now, having said that, record companies virtually don’t exist because you can’t sell records anymore. You can’t sell CDs. Everybody’s streaming. So, what do you get for streaming records? You get six million streams on your song and you get fifty cents. That’s not gonna tour-support you; that’s not gonna put you on a big-time tour. It’s just not gonna work. So, most of what I’m talking about, it’s wrong time.”
He added: ”I’m not talking about it being bitter; I’m talking about the realities of what it all is. And I’ve overcome all of it, just by the fact that I’ve been playing, like I said, for the last 10 years, doing it the way I wanna do it in the small venues. I’m [in] one of the biggest club bands in the world. I don’t stop touring — ever! I’m always on the road. I’m making a living… And I’m happy with that. I always have been happy with that. That’s fine with me. Who needs the living up to bullshit and being led around by the nose — you’ve gotta be this, that or the other in order to sell your product? Well, no. I’m gonna do it the way I wanna do it. I’m gonna make the product that I wanna make and I’m gonna do it my way and I don’t have to answer to anybody but to myself. That’s the best, man. That’s doing it on your own terms. Nothing is better than that. Nothing is more gratifying than that.”
”Anvil! The Story of Anvil” was named one of 2009’s best documentaries by a slew of film critics associations across the continent, including critics in Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, and Las Vegas, as well as the International Documentary Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the National Society of Film Critics. It also made the year-end Top 10 lists in publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and Village Voice.
”Anvil! The Story of Anvil” was the directorial debut of screenwriter Sacha Gervasi (”The Terminal”) and was produced by Rebecca Yeldham (”The Kite Runner” and ”The Motorcycle Diaries”). The film follows Kudlow and Reiner and their band, ANVIL, which released one of the heaviest albums in metal history, 1982’s ”Metal on Metal”. The album influenced an entire musical generation of rock bands, including METALLICA, SLAYER, and ANTHRAX, who all went on to sell millions of records. ANVIL, on the other hand, took a different path — straight to obscurity. The film was both entertaining and touching as it followed their last-ditch quest for the fame and fortune that has been so elusive to them.