STEVE 'LIPS' KUDLOW: ANVIL Movie 'Cemented My Place And Name In The Business For The Rest Of My Life'

June 25, 2024

In a new interview with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio, ANVIL frontman Steve "Lips" Kudlow was asked if it's easier for new acts to get their music out there today than it was back when he and his bandmates started. He responded: "I think that because there's no infrastructure, it's next to impossible to ever break out from a small garage band. How are you gonna make the public aware? I can tell you that the level of promotion, as an example, that went into the ANVIL movie [ANVIL's acclaimed documentary, 'Anvil! The Story Of Anvil'] in comparison to any ANVIL album, it dwarfed it. It's, like, what albums? When did you ever put an album out? Okay, the difference [with promoting a new album] is you've got a couple of guys on the telephone, making phone calls to get the ANVIL interviews and this and that, you've got a couple people, whatever, and they work for the record company, or at the most five people are on the case. You've got guys specifically for this area, specifically for that area, whatever, as far as publicity is concerned. But for the ANVIL movie, there were over 180 individual people working to promote that movie at the same time. I was doing interviews from 5 in the morning — almost 24 hours a fucking day, man. It was insane. And I'm not talking about I just did it for a day. This was for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks that this went on. Because it was playing in all different places in different film festivals all over the world. And we ended up going to all those film festivals and playing in the film festivals, doing unheard-of things, like playing in theaters, like the band is playing in theaters, like, what? So it was a pretty revolutionary thing to be part of and certainly something that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just unbelievable stuff, man. Unbelievable. And what did it turn into? It turned into cementing my place and name in the business for the rest of my life. It justified all the hardships that I went through previously. It gave everything its meaning and significance. And everything has become part of the story rather than a negative to the story. Basically railroaded the band out of business after our third album and put us in the gutter. I was able to actually go back and thank him for doing it because if he hadn't done it, there'd be no movie. It's just remarkable, the stuff that you get to live as a result of what you made possible by showing up to your own future. What does that mean? That means that you've gotta be ready when the opportunity comes. You always have to be ready. And so when opportunity comes, you're ready. So you always have to be ready."

"Anvil! The Story of Anvil" was named one of 2009's best documentaries by a slew of film critics associations across the continent, including critics in Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, and Las Vegas, as well as the International Documentary Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the National Society of Film Critics. It also made the year-end Top 10 lists in publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and Village Voice.

"Anvil! The Story of Anvil" was the directorial debut of screenwriter Gervasi and was produced by Yeldham ("The Kite Runner" and "The Motorcycle Diaries"). The film follows Kudlow and Reiner and their band, ANVIL, which released one of the heaviest albums in metal history, 1982's "Metal on Metal". The album influenced an entire musical generation of rock bands, including METALLICA, SLAYER, and ANTHRAX, who all went on to sell millions of records. ANVIL, on the other hand, took a different path — straight to obscurity. The film was both entertaining and touching as it followed their last-ditch quest for the fame and fortune that has been so elusive to them.

Back in April 2022, Lips said that he didn't expect the proposed follow-up to "Anvil! The Story Of Anvil" to ever see the light of day. He told Friday 13th Metal: "I don't suspect there will be [another movie], because I think it's a little late on. There's really no point at this point. To a great degree, the people who knew about the movie knew about it, and today it's kind of faded back; it's not as prominent today. That could change. You never know."

As for what he attributed the film's overwhelming success to, Lips said: "It's hard to compete with reality, isn't it? People try to make documentaries, but it's not the same as actually filming things in real time. It's not the same, man. You can do a retrospective and show pictures of the band in the old days and all that — talk about the old days, the old days, the old days — but everybody's seen the old days. What about tomorrow? What are we gonna film tomorrow? What are you doing tomorrow? What do you hope to happen tomorrow? How are you gonna make what's gonna happen tomorrow, put it into motions so we can see it happen? That's what the ANVIL movie did. It's off the hook in that regard. You can't beat the spontaneity. I mean, there's pure spontaneity — as things are going on. You can't make shit like that up."

Back in 2017, Lips said that there was "forty minutes of probably good footage" already shot for a follow-up ANVIL film, but he didn't "really expect anything to ever come of it." He explained: "[Gervasi] paid for that movie ['Anvil! The Story of Anvil'] himself. He doesn't wanna do that again… You never make back all your money. But what it did for his career… like what he did for our career — same thing. He's got a career, and then some. But it's just a question of, will a movie company wanna buy it, wanna finance it? And it's not cheap. It won't be like a blockbuster — it's not gonna cost three hundred million dollars. You're talking about probably less than a million to make a documentary. I don't get paid. Documentary subjects never get paid. I'm not an actor. And it's doing my career such a huge favor, I haven't really got the right to go, 'Hey, why don't you pay me too? You're making the biggest advertising campaign that ever existed? Now why don't you pay me?' It's, like, that doesn't make sense. And he'd say 'no' and I wouldn't get the movie made."

Lips added: "So that's the big question: will there or will there not be? Who knows? I'm not gonna discount it. I'm not gonna say 'no.' I don't know enough. I'm not in that stream of the business, so I really don't know how to answer it. Now, having said that, the ANVIL movie did extraordinarily well, so it would be in their best interest [to finance the movie]. And it's, like, if you guys are lacking stories out there and storytellers and writers, here's something that's a natural, living, breathing fucking story. Why not continue it? You've got an automatic audience from all the people that saw it the first time. So it's got all those positive aspects going for it. But it's just a question of who's gonna open their wallet. [Laughs]"

ANVIL will release its 20th studio album "One And Only", on June 28 via AFM Records. The effort was recorded late last summer with longtime producer Martin "Mattes" Pfeiffer and Jörg Uken at Uken's Soundlodge studios in Germany. The same production team was responsible for ANVIL's last four albums, "Anvil Is Anvil" (2016),"Pounding The Pavement" (2018),"Legal At Last" (2019) and "Impact Is Imminent" (2022).

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