Anvil – Steve “Lips” Kudlow & Robb Reiner

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Interview with Steve "Lips" Kudlow & Robb Reiner

Interviewed by Petri Da Costa

The band Anvil, formed in the late 70’s in Canada by vocalist/guitarist Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner, had a glorious start releasing a string of three unforgettable classic metal albums: ”Hard ‘N’ Heavy”, ”Metal on Metal” and ”Forged in Fire”. With these three albums the band made a name for themselves and had even an influence in the early thrash scene, people like Tom Araya, Scott Ian and Lars Ulrich have already spoken about how impressed they were with Anvil. What happened next, from the mid 80’s until a few years ago, most people don’t know, the band somehow "fell under the radar" for many. The band never stopped, even with label or line up changes or problems with management. Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow and Robb Reiner never gave up on their dream, and all this perseverance and passion for the band that they formed was one of the many ingredients for the success of ”Anvil! The Story of Anvil” (released in 2009), one of the most talked about and well received documentaries ever made.  So I asked ‘Lips’ and Robb about the band’s current situation and plans for this year and the future.

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I read in an interview that you guys already have 20 songs for the new album. Have you recorded some of these songs or when will that happen? Who will take care of the production, will it be Chris Tsangarides again?

Lips: We haven’t recorded yet but plan to go into the studio in August or September. Pretty sure Chris is going to be involved.

Robb: Well yes, the new album is written, plans are to record in Sept/Oct 2010. Chris is again going to produce!

Are you guys planning to release the new album by yourselves, like what happened Anvil.jpgwith ”This Is Thirteen”? Or is there now, after the whole success of the documentary, any big label interested in releasing the new album?

Lips: We currently have the ability to do anything we want…We haven’t been silly and signed anything that might change that. We prefer to do things our own way and I’m hesitant to bring other elements like record companies in to spoil the aspect of the art. When we finish recording we will decide on our path.

Robb: Um…still unknown at this time, although there are labels looking to put out future Anvil cd’s!

The song ”Thumb Hang”, the first song that you guys wrote together, was finally recorded but it came just on the VH1 Classic Records version of ”This Is Thirteen”. Any chance that there is still some other old songs that you guys wrote but never recorded, that will eventually be recorded?

Lips: None that anyone knows of! However I’ve been writing my entire life and there’s hundreds that never got recorded and that never will.

Robb: All is possible!!

Are there any plans to re-release some of the old Anvil records? I have always noticed that is kinda hard to find most of the albums from Anvil, at least on cd.

Lips: At some point in the future if there’s enough interest we may reissue some of the old cds.

Robb: Well yes, just in time….we plan on releasing a double best of perhaps first!

Do you guys plan to find a second guitarist for the band or have you decided to stay like a trio?

Lips: We’ve been a 3 piece since 2007 and have no plans of changing.

Last year the band had the chance to open for AC/DC twice, how was that experience, to play with a band that had an influence on Anvil? How did the AC/DC fans take Anvil?

Lips: I’m not sure if AC/DC was a big influence on me, as we’re from the same era…Angus is the same age as me. I do love them but influence is a different matter. I grew up with the older bands like Cream, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Cactus, Grand Funk, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin. It was a great experience opening and we went over quite well.

Robb: It was living the dream…sharing the same stage with AC/DC alone was mindblowing yet being special guest at the request of Angus! We made 10’s of thousands of new fans!

After the release of the documentary, the band has been in the spotlight frequently, appearing on tv shows, film festivals, playing more and more gigs, gathering new fans. Do you guys feel that finally the recognition the band deserve has come?

Lips: We feel that we have earned our recognition, deserve sounds like we expected it…we value the situation because we’ve worked very long and hard to get the attention. Everyone who works hard deserves something but working hard is not necessarily entitlement. When you’ve gone the distance of time you’ve earned it, not deserve it.

Robb: Yes, things have changed!!! Big time!

Talking about this media and public attention that the band got after the success of the documentary, how your personal lives have changed? Do you guys still have your daily jobs or is it now just the band?

Lips: My personal life has changed, I don’t do deliveries to make money! I’m a full time musician and am making a living from my art.

Robb: We are the same people, everything around us has changed…yes, the day jobs are two years ago gone and the band is making $$$$$$$ for us!

I read that Anvil will appear in the film ”The Green Hornet” playing in a club. How did this invitation came about? Did it come from the film’s director (Michel Gondry)?

Robb: Michel Gondry requested Anvil after he saw the Anvil movie, he could not think of a more perfect band!

In April the band will play 4 dates in Japan, a country where Anvil has been playing in the past years to big crowds. Do you guys feel you have a much stronger fan base there in Japan than, for example, in your home country of Canada?

Lips: I suppose we may have more fans in Japan but we have recently done extremely well in our home country…better than we ever have. The biggest crowd we’ve ever played to was last summer with AC/DC in Moncton, New Brunswick 72,000 people. The overwhelming support from the audience is something I will never forget.

Robb: YES, this is no secret and has been that way along in Anvil’s career. Japan rocks, Canada is still waking up!

During the summer, Anvil will be playing to some prestigious festivals in Europe, like Sweden Rock Fest, Sauna Open Air, HellFest, Bang Your Head, probably to some fans who have never had the chance to see Anvil live. Will the set list for the gigs be based more on ”This Is Thirteen” or kinda like a ”best of” from the band’s career?

Lips: It will be our best known songs plus a couple newer from ”This is Thirteen”.

Any plans to play in some countries that Anvil hasn’t played before? Is there any particular place that the band has always wanted to play but never had the chance?

Lips: There are many places we haven’t been and that excites me the most. I want to play in South America someday…

Robb: At this point anywhere new is good!

After 30 years with the band, going through some tough and good times, do you guys feel that there is still something missing? Something that Anvil hasn’t accomplished yet?

Lips: We still haven’t made huge money….but making a living from this is a huge step in the right direction….

Robb: Yes …many more years of touring and recording…enjoy blowing people away!

Well, that’s it, thanks so much again guys for the interview and hope you guys have a great tour and see you in Finland!

Robb: Ya looking forward to will the first time for Anvil there!