Sunday, January 17, 2010

Metal, Movies and Miracles: Anvil in Chicago - January 10, 2010

Let’s get right to it. The movie rules, the book’s even better and live, they’re really doing what they do best, rockin’! Recently I was invited to tag along on an Anvil interview with my friend, a local writer named Tony Kuzminski (who's great work can be found here and here). I jumped at the chance to talk to the guys about Metal, movies and miracles which sums up Anvil 2010.

For the band a hectic day of travel, soundchecks, press and radio interviews, pre-show meet-n-greets and most importantly trying to grab a bite to eat cut into our scheduled interview time. After their dinner we sat down with a very laid back, very enjoying the moment Anvil. The day I described above, they're loving every minute of it.

I spent the majority of my “tape time” with Guitarist/Vocalist Lips while my pre-interview bullshitting was talking to Drummer Robb Reiner. Here’s what I got from the formal/informal conversation.

What would be one highlight from the last two years?

Playing Giants Stadium with AC/DC was a tremendous highlight.

Lips: Conan O’Brien…in ten minutes we were seen by more people than in 30 years!
Robb: Five million people saw us in about three minutes; it was a big day for Anvil and a big day for Metal.

That was a huge day for Metal!

Yeah, the underground got a chance to come above ground.

Where is Anvil musically in 2010? ‘This Is Thirteen’ is out, what’s next?

Well we have about 20 songs written, we just need to find the time to record them! We’re touring from now until the end of September (smiling).

An important part of the documentary was your working with Chris, will you be working with him again in the future?

Robb: Chris is definitely still on the table but at this very moment we just don’t know what’s going to happen. But the important thing is the music is written, I’d like to do it right now, I really would. I mean we wanted to record it last year but…

So with the songs that are written, you’re not going back and re-writing them and tinkering with them are you? Meaning you’re going to over think them, are you?

Lips: No. If anything if we change something that usually happens once we’re recording, finding this or that to change.

How are you approaching album #14, ‘Juggernaut of Justice’, everyone’s main goal is to better the album before it and I think you’ll have your work cut out for you as ‘This Is Thirteen’ has seemed to resonate with people.

Lips: Well the difference between the feeling in and around the band in just in the writing, you simply cannot compare it. ‘This Is Thirteen’ was written in a much more time of duress, it was…

Sorry to cut you off, but it has to feel like it was written by a different band.

Lips: Yeah, way different, it was hard. But when you’ve got a bright looking future, the music just poured out of us like nothing. It was completely different and there was a sense of ‘writing because we knew we’re going to get a chance to record again’ versus years before of writing and hoping everything would come together so we get a chance to record everything, does that make sense?

Yeah, totally, I’m sure it’s a huge weight off your shoulders.

Lips: It’s a completely different outlook and in turn feeling when you’re approaching it. So with the next album, it’s like we’re going to have to top these 20 songs already written that will be ‘Juggernaut of Justice.’ Because those songs were written in such a great time. The true test will be the next batch of songs.

By that time we’ll have been used to all of what’s happened, there won’t be that extreme level of excitement and anticipation we had while writing these. Those writing sessions had all this extra stuff built in. But man, the upside to any and all of this? It’s the 14th record!

I think that coming from you that really resonates especially as I always think the scene during the movie where you’re recapping a tour that didn’t go as smooth as it could have, and you aid “at least there was a tour for things to go wrong on.” That’s not just a quote; it’s more of a mission statement.

Lips: Well 99% of life is being there isn’t it? That’s how I look at it, if you’re there then you’re participating and its taking place, life is happening! If you’re sitting home on the couch, it’s not happening there.

Early in my career we had a soundman and we’d be playing these gigs, we’re talking really early on, right? So some of the bands that we’re our “competition” would show up to the gig and one time, one of these guys said, “oh, you’re playing this dump.” Our soundman turned around and said “You came to see us, where are you playing tonight?”

For any movie to succeed, the audience has got to either totally identify with the main subjects or “characters.” Or at least “root” for. A huge part of the movie is that people can relate to you and Robb.

I think people that - love Anvil, hate Anvil or never even heard of Anvil will walk away wanting good things for you because, well because you’re not assholes. I think if you were assholes you probably would’ve simply blown Sacha off some 30 years ago.

Lips: That’s karma. I mean some people have said to me that “Oh, it must be so easy, to make your band happen all you have to do is show how hurting you are.” It’s not quite that simple.

There are a lot of elements, one being you have had to have made some sort of impact, a lasting impact that major rock stars will give testimonials telling the world your worth.
There’s no way you’re going to get that kind of support. You’re a fan of Metal I take it you like the DVD’s that come out and most if not all of them come out with the intention of making the band being featured look great! They set up a shoot in a club, pack em in for free get them free drinks and how long until the people see it’s all fake? It’s all just a show and not reality.

The Anvil movie shows the reality and to such a great degree that the biggest rock stars in the world sit down to watch it and they weep! Because they’ve all lived it!

I often think of this, imagine there was a documentary on Vincent Van Gogh. Instead of reading stories about his life after he’s dead and gone, there’s a camera following him around in the cornfield before he shoots himself in the head. You get to watch it in real time, the struggle and all that. Not a retrospective, but an in the now moment.

How does it feel for a band that’s always been about the music, over 30 years worth, but how does it feel to be accepted by such a different realm?

Lips: Oh it’s completely different set of circumstances, a movie and the silver screen is a much, much more enthralling and bombastic thing. You can’t compare it to putting a record out, no matter who you are. No matter who you are, what band you’re in or the style of music you play you’ll never get to the level of putting out a movie. But then again it’s not just the question of a movie, it’s a good movie!

So in your heart of hearts is there a difference between being noticed by some guy who knows you from VH1 and not from ‘Metal On Metal’ or the ‘Mad Dog’ video or something?

It makes absolutely no difference, it’s like you can call me anything you want, just so long as you call me. Does it matter why I’m “famous” or how I got “famous” or what reasons or whatever…I’m famous (laughing)! I mean it’s a miracle; the whole thing’s a miracle!

Anybody making it in music is a miracle, it’s a miracle Metallica made it, it just always is, and that’s nothing at all against any band I’m just saying it’s a miraculous thing when it happens. It’s not necessarily because of the competition; just all your stars have to align to make it all work.

I totally agree, there’s a lot of planets and stars out there, for all of them to line up for you doesn’t happen everyday.

Lips: Even in our eyes, throughout the years it wasn’t about the amount of records we sold, it was the fact that we were making records.