ANVIL is a legendary Canadian heavy/speed metal band that formed by Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow and Robb Reiner in 1973. To date, the band has released fourteen studio albums, and has been cited as having influenced many notable heavy metal bands, including Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and Metallica.
I recently had an interview with the legendary LIPS from Anvil, read what he had to say about the ups and downs the band have been through in their career and also an exclusive on the departure of Glenn Five!
Hi Lips, how are you doing? What’s happening at the moment?
Hi Mohsen, I am doing well, Thanks.
I never had a chance to see you on stage, fingers crossed though, but I saw several videos of you playing guitar and sliding using a vibrator (lol) , I think that’s a genius way of use, but would you tell me the story of how did you discover that you can use a vibrator as a slider? And don’t you ever have any problem in airport or security with that?
Back in our early beginning of the band we had decided all of our songs would be about woman and sex….we would put things like panties, braziers, and nylon stockings on our microphone stands. I thought it would be a good idea to play my guitar with a vibrator as when I was a kid I discovered that small electric battery powered motors produce sound when placed near a guitar pick up. The vibration causes the strings to play and the hard plastic curved plastic worked great to use as a slide. Only one person could get away with this kind of novelty and it’s me!! The airport security always has to take a second look to believe their eyes but they never make an issue of it…..
We are doomed to live our life in the present, no way to the past and nor to the future, but we are able to think about them and analyze them or make some plans for future. I’d like to ask what was in your head in 1981 when you were recording “Hard ‘n’ Heavy”? Did you think that you were going to be a legend someday?
When we started we believed we had something special…we were a very strange anomaly as we played our own music that was considered very heavy. We knew that it was a lifelong journey and we followed our dreams and desires. Robb and I made our decision to stick with each other forever and meant it!
When you and Robbo first started playing music together in 1973 and even from the first incarnation of the band in 1978, did you think you would still be creating music together over such a long period of time?
There was never any doubt what so ever…only our health will ever stop that from continuing.
Can you tell me what feeling encouraged you in those years and what passion made you write such great songs?
The things that inspired us most was going to see live shows. Robb and I were lucky enough to see some of the original heavy rock bands in their big moments. Like for me, seeing Black Sabbath in the summer of 71 was an experience I have never forgotten. It has stayed with me my entire life. I understood what they were before anyone did….they were the future of rock music and most of the people that were at that show didn’t see it the way I did! They were there to see Three Dog Night doing Jeremiah was a Bullfrog!! When Sabbath played Children of the Grave I lost my mind! I’d never heard it before but I remember thinking that it was the heaviest thing I’d ever heard!! They played an incredible show that day….and in fact there is a bootleg recording of it I hear recently…it was as I remembered excellent!
Let’s talk about “Juggernaut of Justice” album, How do you feel now after releasing such a METAL piece of work? And how has it been received so far? And I’d like to know if you have any particular memories during the recording process.
We feel it is our best work ever! The sales have gone well and even more importantly people love hearing the new songs live. The recording and writing were great! It was a lot of fun recording the bed tracks at Dave Grohl’s studio in Los Angeles. The huge Motorhead flag hung up over the studio glass added an ambience of pure metal inspiration!
“Juggernaut of Justice” Takes Top Honors In the ‘Metal On Metal’ Listener Poll, but I’d like to know what album is the top of 2011 in your opinion?
I have no idea!!! I haven’t bought anyone’s cd this year to compare it with…..
There is a point in ANVIL history that I couldn’t find any clue, In 1983, you signed a contract with David Krebs, but he suddenly changed his mind and stopped returning phone calls and did not get the band a major label recording contract, i’d like to know why? And what happened during that time to you?
There are many unanswered questions concerning why. David had little or no knowledge of metal music. He managed Aerosmith and thought we were a great opener, but beyond that he couldn’t find us a deal without including our first three albums in a deal. The company Attic refused to license or release those recordings in the USA. This made it impossible for David to go forward with us. He pulled us out of the contract with Attic and left us to die or what ever!! We wrote Strength of Steel and recorded it on our own and released it through Metal Blade. Unfortunately this was 4 years after Forged in Fire which made the album 3 years too late. We struggled and did it on our own from that time until we began making the movie in 2005.
“…I actually preferred being a King in Hell than a servant below” you said this somewhere and also you advise younger musicians with this: “Never put a value of money on your music, and never depend on your music to make you money.” I saw many younger musicians who produce great music but they weren’t supported by record labels, so after several years, they gave up and disbanded. Do you think we need some changes in the music industry or do we have to learn how we can make a balance between economic issues and producing music?
There will never be balance between economic issues and producing music. This is even more true now than ever before. The reason is…people don’t buy music anymore…it’s free! So how can bands afford to record if people aren’t paying money for their music? The music has become nothing more than the advertisement to buy a t shirt! We sell 10 t shirts to 1 cd a night. This is because the internet supplies the people with free music sharing, so the only reason to buy a cd is for a souvenir.
In the summer of 2011, you played sell out dates in the UK and Europe and you said that you paid back a loan to your sister from the production of This Is Thirteen, how did it feel to be making money at last?
It’s been amazing….I quit my job at Choice Children Catering and am now making a living from Anvil. I’m working on making my first million!
As a Metal musician who has written, recorded and played Metal for 34 years, in your opinion what’s the main problem for younger Metallers these days? And what is your advice for them?
In my opinion…metal needs good singing….cookie monster yelling is not singing!!
With the recent news of Glenn Five’s departure, can you update me on the current situation in Anvil as you are touring the USA soon?
We hired an old friend to do the tour and are currently working with a new improved bassist. There was no major issue in fixing this at all and in fact everything was sorted out within a few hours of Glenn departing. Glenn tried to make it difficult by leaving without proper notice but we’ve been preparing for this for quite sometime. This did end up for the better as it is a huge improvement with our new guy both musically as well as personally.
Thank you so much for giving me your time, I hope I can have the honor of meeting you one day and feel free to leave a message for our readers and young Anvil Pounders here.
Metal is a way of life not just a type of music. It’s about the perseverance of rough times and getting everything you can out of life. I wish you all happiness which is the most valuable thing in life….All the best and thanks for the opportunity. LIPS
Interview by Mohsen Fayyazi