In a new interview with Metal Underground, ANVIL frontman Steve "Lips" Kudlow spoke about how he and his bandmates have retained an uncompromising attitude throughout their 40-year-plus existence, at times drastically limiting their commercial appeal.
"Whatever fame and whatever success we've had has been completely on our own terms," he said (hear audio below). "It's not because we gave in to some record executive, a cigar-smoking asshole who wants us to become a pop band. It was never gonna happen."
When the interviewer pointed out to Lips that even a band like British heavy metal veterans RAVEN released one or two albums in the mid-1980s that saw them being pressured into adopting a more commercial sound, he said: "Well, that's what they claim. That's what they claim — and so does SAXON. And I guess I could claim it too, but I have a different thing to claim. You do it because you wanna do it, not because you're asked to do it or that you're told to do it, or demanded of. You do it because you think that that's what you need to do. And that's a big mistake that many, many bands make. And it depends on how far you go.
"In the particular case with ANVIL, we had an album called 'Strength Of Steel' , which is about the closest you could probably say that we ever came to trying to even attempt to go in that direction," he continued. "Were we pressured into doing it? No, [it was] self-applied pressure. And I was up against a mutiny. It was against my wishes and my better judgment to go in that direction, and I fought it tooth, fang and claw, against it. And in doing so, it didn't go as far as it would have gone, could have gone in that direction. In other words, it could have really wrecked us. And I knew better — I knew better. And that's why [quoting 'Mad Dog' Lyrics] 'Looking for a bitch in heat / begging for a doggy treat,' lyrics like that certainly keeps you off the radio and keeps you from being a pop band. So, even though we might have had the song, we certainly didn't have the lyric.
"It was through that era — all the bands watching BON JOVI figured, 'That's what we've gotta do,'" he explained. "And it's, like, 'No, that's what BON JOVI did. That's not what you've gotta do.' And there's an endless list of bands. We can talk about Y&T — one of the greatest American innovative bands, one of the very first hard rock/metal bands in America that were — now we can say 'forced'… I don't say they were forced. And that's why members of the band decided to leave, because they couldn't live with the decisions that they made trying to do that. And then it didn't succeed, after they let everyone ream them. And then it still didn't pan out. Then they get so frustrated, they leave. I get it. That's why you don't do that. That's a major lesson in why you don't sell out — because at the end of the day, you're gonna really hate yourself for doing it.
"The guy in our band that was most adamant about becoming that way was our original rhythm guitar player," apparently referring to Dave Allison, who was in the group from its inception in 1978 until 1989. "At the end of the day, it took its toll. He's long gone. His dreams of ANVIL becoming BON JOVI ended after 'Strength Of Steel', really. And then we put out 'Pound For Pound' , which was a way, way heavier album, and then he left the band after it. 'Cause he knew wearing makeup and dressing like a girl and putting on makeup and fucking pretending that you're a fucking poser, it's not gonna work out. 'Lips is a fucking maniac. He wants to be heavy. And it's not gonna be BON JOVI. I quit.'
"I never look back," Lips added. "He's looking back. He's looking back real hard and long now — with his COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] problems from smoking… [He's] been out of the business for 40 years now. While I'm having the time of my life, he's sitting at home on his couch wishing he was me."
ANVIL's latest album, "Legal At Last", was released in February via AFM Records.
A Toronto-based group, ANVIL was formed in 1978 by childhood friends, Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner. Both came from Jewish families and had been playing music together since their teens. ANVIL is considered to have been an influence on many metal bands, including METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX.
Though initially a four-piece band, ANVIL's current lineup includes Kudlow, Reiner and bassist Chris Robertson.
ANVIL gained popularity and new fans since the 2008 theatrical documentary, "Anvil: The Story Of Anvil", which is currently available on Netflix.