Long before they endeared themselves to film audiences worldwide in the award-winning documentary Anvil: The Story of Anvil (2008), Canadian headbangers Anvil were bashing out trail-blazing metal and inspiring legions of musicians, from Metallica to Slash.
This July 1st, Anvil will headline a special weekend celebration of Canada Day 2012 with a gig at Legacy in Taipei.
Singer / guitarist Steve 'Lips' Kudlow was kind enough to agree to answer some questions via email. Not surprisingly, he's a cool, thoughtful, & earnest man - and fast! What other rockstars reply within 24 hours? We at GigGuide.tw are honored to share the conversation with you.
Let's see you all at the show!
GigGuide: Anvil - In Taiwan! Hell yeah! To celebrate your 14th album, Juggernaut of Justice, we would like to ask you 14 questions.
First, welcome to Taiwan! The people are very warm and friendly, the food is famously awesome, the land is beautiful... how long will you be able to stay?
Lips: I think we will be there for three days. We will probably arrive the day before and leave the day after we play.
It is really cool that you are coming to Taiwan - to celebrate Canada Day! Does that strike you as a little funny?
I find it really great that we are considered worthy of celebrating Canada Day in Taiwan. I consider myself to be a very proud Canadian and always wear some type of clothing that depicts the Canadian flag when I play shows. We have songs that only a Canadian band could write...like on the newest CD we have a song called Fuken Eh!! which is a widely-used term only by Canadians. We sell T shirts with the red Canadian maple leaf and the slogan Fuken Eh! with the Anvil logo. We are known as Canadian and in many ways it is part of who we are and why we are respected all over the world. If I'm proud to be Canadian it's nice to know that Canadians are proud of me.
Your music and perseverance have taken you all over the world. What are some of your favorite places and why?
There are places we've been many times and when we are there it feels familiar and not as exciting as going somewhere you've never been. Familiar places are comfortable on many levels, as you know what to expect when you play and even who you're going to see. Places like that are numerous and very difficult to pick favorites as each has its special individual charm.
I've read that you have been able to leave the catering job shown in the film and now are able to get by on your music. Are you now in complete control of your music and money? You touched on it in the film, but has the rise of the internet & the fall of record companies been a blessing in that regard?
The true reality is I got famous during a point in time that CD sales are almost gone..., and hopefully the people I have decided to do business with won't rape us financially as well as not make wrong business decisions. There is no blessing. In order to make money a band has to work these days. There's isn't any more sitting around waiting for royalty cheques. I'm not complaining and in fact am so damn grateful because playing music every night to make a living is exactly what I've always dreamed of.
As you yourself have mentioned in many other interviews, the documentary is a powerful film because Anvil tells a powerful story. One thing that strikes people is your relentless enthusiasm and positive attitude. It is really inspiring. Where does that come from? As heavy metal is in many ways the soundtrack of the underdog, are your optimism and fortitude traits acquired from heavy metal?
I'm not certain I know where my spirit comes from. It's just simply there. There are others like me that choose to live their life looking at things in a positive way. I don't attribute my attitude to being only because I play in a metal band or because it's my musical preference. It's my own personality and nature to be the way I am.
I have to ask a little more about the film - it seems it has been a huge boon for the band, in both receiving some long due respect and gaining opportunities. How has that experience changed you and Anvil?
In many ways nothing has changed, but in others it's so big a difference it's not easy to quantify. The biggest difference of all is that I don't do deliveries for Choice Children's Catering any more!!
Canada seems to be good about helping bands - we get a lot who tour Taiwan with government money, and Taiwan itself has started helping young bands with grants. Do you think it is possible for modern societies to be more supportive of artists and musicians? If so, how?
I think it's possible but in this day and age governments are cutting back on music support in the educational system. I've got much bigger issues with that. It's a grand and amazing thing that governments have programs to help musicians but even before we give that support shouldn't we make sure children are given the opportunity to learn how to become a musician? Music is one of the only man made products that lasts. It puts time and place in perspective. Without music you might not even realize or know how old you are. Something this important should be nurtured at the earliest moments.
You recorded the new album, Juggernaut of Justice, at David Grohl's studio with producer Bob Marlette, (who has worked with Alice Cooper, Tony Iommi, etc). How did you come to work together and how was that experience?
Our management put us in touch with Bob, and Dave asked us to come to his studio to record and we did!! Working with Bob was fantastic and there's a good chance we may do another CD with him.
Who else would you love to work with in the future, either as a producer, songwriter, or guest musician?
I never think in these terms. I don't desire to collaborate with any other bands or musicians, and in many ways I prefer to work in a familiar surrounding with familiar faces .....
Some of your older albums have now been digitally remastered and re-released. How satisfying is that?
It's quite satisfying to have all our CD's reissued...but in all honesty after working with Bob I've come to realize so much about what is correct and proper production and song construction that it's really brutal for me to listen to without wincing in psychological pain in knowing how much better it could have been if only Bob had been there to help.
Metal has changed a lot over the years - or has society? It is not uncommon to hear really heavy music on TV, in films, or at big sporting events, for example. As music fans, what have you enjoyed (or disliked) about the evolution of heavy metal over the decades? Why does metal endure?
Metal music will never go away. It is the continuation of the use of electric guitar. Since the invention of the electric guitar the world has completely accepted all of its facets. It is common to hear electric guitar in almost every type of music created today. Music is the type of thing that has extreme longevity and because metal music is using the same instrumentation people can listen to this from old to new and much remains the same. If a song was great 40 years ago it still will be 40 years in the future. It has become a timeless and endless format of music. The only possible way for it to ever change would be if a new type of instrumentation ever gets invented that is more versatile. Not likely!!
What other bands with similar commitment and longevity would you like to give a shout out to? Who else should the world be listening to?
The first names to come to mind are dear good friends. It's difficult to divide my emotional opinion and my musical opinion. When I like the musicians on a personal level I can't help but like what they do. In many cases I may like their music but the people they are is not the type you can call friends. In the friend department, Motorhead, Saxon, Y&T, Raven, Girlschool, The Rods, Riot and Exciter. All these bands have been around for almost as long as, and some longer than, Anvil. These bands will go until their health fails them....they are lifers!! No parole from Rock n Roll
May I make a request? Motormount!
We did play Motormount for many years but only since we had to change bass players we aren't doing it...but I assure you that what we will play will be impressive and you will remember it for the rest of your life!!
I saw a youtube clip from 2010 of you onstage saying you like to meet everyone in the crowd after the show. Do you still do that? Can we, your fans, look forward to meeting you in person here in Taipei?
If it isn't an out of control situation we definitely will be out to meet and greet as many people as we can
Thanks so much for taking the time to consider our questions! We're really excited for your show at Legacy!
And dear readers, Urban Nomad Film Fest will screen "Anvil! The Story Of Anvil" and have a question-and-answer session with the band on the day. Details here.
You can purchase concert tickets through WalkieTicket.
Anvil + Greasy Jelly For Mercy Killing at Legacy Taipei 1 Jul 2012 (Sun)
The official Anvil website
Official Anvil Fan Club - The Metal Pounders Union Worldwide. E-mail: AMPU666@yahoo.com