Venue: Blender Theater (New York, NY)
Event: “The Anvil Experience”
If one goes back in time to the heyday of “Big Metal” during the eighties, and all of the myriad bands whose music thundered out of our stereos, there was always one name that came up as being held in high esteem by the likes of Metallica, Anthrax and many, many more – that band was none other than Canada’s Anvil. They all loved the band and each seemed to have been influenced in some sense by their sound, drive and manner of delivery. Having grown up in the Metal eighties, I owned a few of the bands earliest and most influential releases myself. Among them “Metal On Metal”, which was my favorite based on songs like “Jackhammer” and “March Of The Crabs” and I think the other ones were either “Hard ‘N Heavy” or “Forged In Fire” but I am not 100% sure at this point in my life. Perhaps I had both of them, but its been so long since I have dug into my record collection that I no longer remember. It looks like a trip down to the parent’s basement is in order sometime soon.
Tonight’s fun would find me at the Blender Theater to enjoy the screening of the documentary called “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” which was directed and created by Sacha Gervasi. Gervasi was actually a fan of the band that met them way back in 1982 and upon reconnection with them was compelled to do a documentary about their life and adventures as a band who he had loved for so many years. The Blender Theater would primarily be packed with media folks this evening as the film had not yet officially opened up and starting off the festivities would be Rick Krim, who is the Executive Vice President, Talent andMusic Programming for VH1.
Mr. Krim would lead the attendees into applause for acclaimed documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who many of you might remember from the film “Super Size Me”. If you have not seen that film yet I strongly urge you to do so, as you will never feel the same about fast food again.
Spurlock is also the creator of the documentary series “30 Days”, and I really enjoy this show as it takes a unique situation and puts someone who holds an opposing view entirely in this situation for a period of 30 Days. It’s too much to explain here, so program your DVR’s for a few episodes to get a clearer photo. Spurlock came out to a nice amount of applause and he joked with the audience about getting drunk, and being in a Metal band. He really seemed to be excited about the film himself and we were lucky to snare a shot of him being very Metal just before the documentary was played.
Morgan introduced director Sacha Gervasi who everyone was happy to see and he kept it very simple and humble as he thanked all for being a part of the night and this film about the band that he really holds a special place in his heart for.
*** Spoiler Alert!!!! *** Fear not, we are not going to spoil your enjoyment of the film, so safely read on for some background on the film and not much else until this is released on DVD.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil: Like many of the folks around me, tonight would be my first time ever seeing the critically acclaimed documentary so I was very happy to be partaking in the event this evening. The movie had been presented at the Sundance Film Festival to an incredibly high critical response last year and this was followed by a screening at the Brooklyn Academy of Music that I missed based on another commitment that I had that night. Fast forward a year and the Metal community finds the power of VH1 Classic behind director Sacha Gervasi and his film and with that much of a push working in its favor perhaps the guys who make up the band Anvil will finally get their due. The film gives people the “origin story” of the band and how childhood schoolmates Robb Reiner and Steve “Lips” Kudlow met and eventually formed the band Anvil together. It had another name at first but I will leave that for you trivia buffs to figure out. It clearly demonstrates the mutual brotherly love that the pair shares with each other and how they still stand behind one another even after doing this stuff since 1973. Thirty six years is a long time to struggle at making it in the music business and I am sure that no one will argue with me about that. Parts of the film features thoughts about the band from such Metal music luminaries as Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Slash (Guns N Roses), Scott Ian (Anthrax) and Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead), and its interesting to hear their take on the bands story.
We see the band traveling on what would appear to be a solid tour on paper and find out just how difficult such an undertaking can be when it comes down to dealing with club owners, traveling from place to place and even getting a clear idea of the big picture and plans from one’s own acting management personnel. Musicians who are bravely adventuring into such things and are new are advised to pay close attention to some of the happenings here because this is not always what you might expect it to be. We meet the spouses and families of the musicians and learn first hand what they think of the efforts that the guys take again and again and while some remain hopeful there are others who feel the time has come to call it a day. There are more than enough moments to make one catch their breath and say “wow” or “I really feel for these guys” and yet, despite all of this they remain friends and are always eager to give it a shot in the quest for real greatness. It’s not all sadness and gloom and a number of funny moments can be witnessed that will break the serious ice that is sometimes put in front of us. As the film closes you might find yourself shaking your head as you realize that this is not a joke story but instead someone’s real life trials and tribulations. This will really impact you if you are a working musician or someone else who is trying to “make it”.
Tonight’s affair was primarily done as a presentation of the film to the various media outlets, but some lucky fans were able to purchase tickets which allowed them to be in the mix as well. There could not have been a lot of them to go around and I would venture to guess maybe one hundred based on all of the very visible media folks that were around me.
Anvil – The Performance: It was only a few mere minutes after the film had been enjoyed by the audience when I saw that a number of attendees made a mad dash to the stage. There was no official photo pit this evening so I got in position as fast as possible to be able to catch the guys in action. The lights went down and there was Robb and D5 on the stage, but where was Lips? Well, he was right behind us in the audience and he quickly had a circle of people around him as he brought to life something that we only generally see in videos. It was a true cool Metal moment as the introductory chords of “March Of The Crabs” began and while Lips played he had head bangers on either side of him and while he looked to be the model of concentration you could see the wide smile he had as the crowd cheered him on.
He moved to the stage and the band did another couple of numbers and between them he engaged the crowd and thanked them for their interest in their story and the very visible show of support for what they were doing. He introduced the guys and when we got to the track “White Rhino” we were treated to a killer drum solo from Reiner who in my opinion has always been one of the finest Metal drummers out there.
After the drum solo Lips talked to the crowd at some length and he was definitely enjoying being there. The story was great to hear from him and had not some idiot in my vicinity been so drunk that he was causing a ruckus right up in the front I would have heard more of it. Fortunately, security tossed him out of the venue before he ruined everyone’s good time. Five songs are really just a teaser when someone is getting into the whole live music thing, but this movie should definitely lead to several gigs where the fans will be able to enjoy a longer and more comprehensive set. Most of the material Anvil did tonight was that older stuff with the only newer track being “This Is Thirteen” and its inclusion made sense since the band was working on pushing that release during the context of the film. If I had my way, they would have played a few more numbers and featured my personal favorites of “Mothra”, “Jackhammer” and “Blood on the Ice”. Oh well, like I said, this will be something to enjoy in the future.
Sacha Gervasi came out next and embraced the guys, and then said a few more choice words to us all. He then asked if we wanted to hear the band play “Metal On Metal” and the guys quickly indulged us in the number.
The whole room was on its feet from the moment the band began to play but for the last tune the place was really rocking hard and that was great to be a part of. Lips came back out into the audience for the songs conclusion and climbed onto the seats so he could give everyone a better view of the grand finale. He also played the songs last notes with his mouth for added effect. What a great way to finish. Lips told the crowd that the band would be meeting people in the lower part of the venue in a few moments, but we didn’t stay around for that as the week was going to be a busy one for PiercingMetal.com with a show almost every night that followed this gathering.
I would have to say that this was a fantastic time and I really hope that a large number of people get to see the movie when it opens up for its limited screenings at the end of the week. Of course these screenings will not find the band appearing at the closing and that’s why we made sure to present to the readers a lot of photos so they could be part of the moment as well. There were a lot of great stalwarts of the Metal community present tonight and among them Dee Snider and Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister. We didn’t get a photo of them as they were sitting up in the seats that were way opposite of where I was but that’s ok, I prefer shooting photos of them when they look this way:
Tonight it was better to let them be a couple of Metal legends who were out to relax with friends and enjoy a good film. I saw one of the three dudes from VH1’s “That Metal Show” but no Eddie Trunk who I learned later was in Los Angeles and would be attending that city’s premiere and performance event instead. Frankie Bello of Anthrax was also there as was renowned photographer Frank White and also the lovely Ms. Baya Voce (of MTV’s “Real World Brooklyn”).
That’s Baya on the left and pictured with her is Erica Dagley who I learned is also a DJ. I’m pretty sure that while their focus might not be Metal that there is always hope that this film turned them over to our side and will find them using this kind of stuff in their own performances going forward.
More performance shots can be enjoyed here: gallery link
1. March Of The Crabs
2. This Is 13
4. White Rhino
5. Metal On Metal
Official Website: www.anvilmovie.com
I mentioned how the movie featured some comments about Anvil from the likes of Lars, Lemmy, Scott and Slash and this got me wondering what some of the others who I get to see doing their own thing for the Metal thought about the band. Based on that premise, I put the question out there and got the following responses:
“As a fan of Heavy Metal music, what did Anvil mean to you?”
Chris Caffery (Savatage/Trans-Siberian Orchestra): “Anvil was one of the first pro bands I opened for when I was a kid. I was 16 at the time. A place called JB’s Rock 3 in Middletown, NY. They were really cool guys and have always represented the meaning of the true Metal spirit. I am very happy to see them getting this recognition over 20 years later! Metal!!!”
Steve “Buckshot” Seabury (Moth Eater): “Anvil always meant to me that it truly is a long way to the top if you want to Rock & Roll.”
Tim “Ripper” Owens: “Anvil makes me think of the days when it was fun and putting a Metal record on and cranking it up…good for Anvil, I’m happy for them”
Dan Nelson (Anthrax): “Anvil proved that Canadians with mullets could not only play hockey, but can rock the f*#k out as well!!’”
Jack Frost (Seven Witches): “What Anvil means to me. This is an easy one. Anvil is one of those bands that came onto the scene and just crushed with there pure rawness and killer tune. It’s sad to see them not going to the next level as they had so much to offer. We the fans and friends are the lucky ones that Rob n Lips kept the dream alive. They never stopped there quest for music till this day. They make me never stop I look at them and just push along. I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with them last year in Canada while I was playing in Belladonna. It was a gig I will always remember as I had the greatest time talking with Lips about gear. I’m so happy there getting there time in the spotlight they r gentlemen and great musicians. Anvil means Metal for life”
Jasmin St. Clair (Metal Media Personality): “Wow… when I hear the name Anvil… the one thing that sticks in my mind is the whole in your face attitude, vocals and most of all how much I fell in love with that band after listening to Metal on Metal. I loved the way they dressed and most of all how explosive they were on stage (trust me….having a hip babysitter that would sneak me into shows was awesome). I always had a great time listening to Lip’s voice. It was aggressive. I think they definitely gave way to a new form of aggression in metal music and definitely paved the way for many more bands to be more in your face about what they did. I hope to catch them live again. I always appreciate a great live performance.”
Joey Belladonna (Independent Artist): “They are a great band! Very good guys to work with and a very hard working band”.
Monte Conner (Roadrunner Records A&R): “I’d like to relate some life changing Anvil story but sadly, my story is less grandiose. Anvil were just one of many killer super heavy (at the time) bands spearheading the scene back in the NWOBHM and thrash days. I got into “Hard N Heavy” and it was cutting edge new school metal but with a clear nod to 70’s Ted Nugent (in the lead guitar dept.) By the time of “Metal On Metal,” they had lost the 70’s influences and fully embraced the emerging scenes – it was just full on metal! They continued that approach to a slightly less effective degree on “Forged In Fire” but sadly lost the plot a bit after that and simply never recovered. Until now! I haven’t heard their full last album “This Is Thirteeen” aside from the title track and that is 100% vintage Anvil – the best song they had done in years. I don’t know Lips and Rob but they seem like the sweetest guys you could ever hope to meet and I am so happy for the attention they getting after all the hard work they have put in all these years.”
My hope is that some of these other opinions have sold you on the band just a little bit more and perhaps not only inspired you to see the movie but also to seek out some of their music. If that is the case, we have loaded in this handy little Amazon.com widget that allows you the means to order some of their available releases. Enjoy and keep those horns raised up for the Metal!!!
Update: Shortly after we attended this movie we learned that Anvil was confirmed for a couple of dates on this Summer’s Judas Priest/Whitesnake tour, so that is a promising sign for all fans of the band. Let’s hope they get to do the full tour as that will be a power packed night without question.