Wednesday, April 29, 2009

'Anvil: The Story of Anvil' Movie Review

Back on April 22, I was supposed to go check out the Anvil Experience, a screening of the movie followed by a live performance by Anvil at the legendary [Cabaret] Metro in Chicago.

You know what?

It was SOLD OUT.

Unbelievable. I mean Anvil, until a few months ago couldn’t even sell out my living room and here they were in the midst of a sold out tour in major markets of the US. I suppose it makes all the difference in the world that for the first time in a quarter of a century, Anvil actually has a marketable product!

‘Anvil: The Story of Anvil’ is a film by Sacha Gervasi, an accomplished Hollywood writer and former Anvil roadie and it tells the story of not only a band, but of a lifelong friendship forged in what else? Metal.

It’s the story of Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner, guitarist/vocalist and drummer of Anvil and how these guys made a pact at the age of 14 to “make it” in the music business. Similar to the Maiden movie review, if you’re reading this you know damn well putting the words Anvil and make it in the same sentence is an oxy-moron. These guys were on the cusp of “stardom” back when Reagan was serving his first term in the White House with the highly influential 'Metal on Metal' LP.

Since then? (cue chirping crickets here). A lot of years, a lot of albums, a lot of good times but a lot of disappointments too. A lot of blood, sweat and tears amounting to little in terms of financial or material “success” but they never gave up, ever. As with any movie, it’s only as good as the “characters” in the movie. What we find in Kudlow and Reiner are two very deeply committed individuals, they’re committed to their families, their music, their history and most importantly each other. Some of the shit these two endure and have endured, you almost wish they were fictional characters.

The support the band receives from their families is also of note. All of these people (wives, children, siblings, parents) have also been “beat down” by the Anvil machine over the years. Some question the reality of a struggling band and what it all does to their day-to-day lives.

The trials and tribulations of being in a band are simply brutal. If you’re in a struggling band it’s even worse. If you’ve been struggling for close to 30 years…the question turns to “just how much more can one take?” If you’re reading this and you’ve got some connection to the music business, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The roller coaster of emotions associated with the biz is enough to make anyone sick.

There’s a scene in the movie where Lips is dealing with Anvil business via e-mails and phone calls, the elation in his eyes when something goes right…it’s almost too much.

I’ve seen many on that coaster and have delivered my share of both good and bad news to band members in the role of a manager and it’s never any middle ground. It’s either the greatest news or just the worst possible, ever. When Anvil gets a sliver of hope, be it a tour, a show, a new song it’s almost heart wrenching because we already know how it ends. The way it’s ended for decades, badly.

However, in light of the major success the film is currently basking in, things are definitely looking up for Anvil. The things that have seemingly forever eluded the band are essentially all lined up these days. From major management and booking agents to merchandise deals, the aforementioned hit movie and SOLD OUT shows from coast to coast, all of a sudden it’s good to be in Anvil these days, huh?

In closing, this movie is more than just another documentary on music or the business of music. It’s a true story of perseverance and dedication and doing whatever it is that gets you through the day. It’s obviously not about a paycheck or having a Ferrari buying party it’s about the journey of life and those we encounter along the way. It can be absorbed and appreciated by anyone who’s ever dared to dream.