Anvil - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rowland   
Thursday, 18 August 2011 05:00

Confirmed Metal Pounders Union member and lifelong fan of Anvil, Jim Rowland was the happiest man on the Uber Rock planet recently when he got the opportunity to meet up with the band before their show at London's O2 Academy in the cosmopolitan borough of Islington.




The band may have been to hell and back in the years since Jim first discovered their music through albums such as 'Metal On Metal' and 'Forged In Fire', but thanks largely to their foray into the world of cinema back in 2008, Anvil in 2011 are a band on the up. 


So, for now at least let's erase those images of founding members Steve 'Lips' Kudlow (vocals and guitar) and Robb Reiner (drums) struggling to hold their life's work together on a shoestring budget with the help of long time friend and bass player Glenn Five, and let's celebrate with the guys as they tell us all about studio album number fourteen and how they got to become best buddies with the likes of Dave Grohl.



LipsOkay Lips, Robb, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. Guys let's start with the new album ' Juggernaut Of Justice'. It's a great album, congratulations!


Lips: Thank you very much


It's the first post film album, and your profile has gone through the roof. Did you feel pressure to deliver the goods?


L: That's a very common question, and we'd probably say yes. But the reality was that even before the movie came out in the theatres, my overall feeling was that it was going to be successful. A lot of people asked about what we'd expect from the film.  Well it wasn't some guy with a video camera, it was Stephen Spielberg's screenwriter that had got Hollywood to come and make a film about Anvil. What would you think is going to happen? I'm gonna become fuckin' famous dude! That was the first thing that came to mind. OK so they'd finished the movie and I'm seeing how the fucker's coming together.... this is going to be incredible! We're not gonna have a minute once this thing hits, we'll have no time to write fuck all.... so they're in editing, we'd just finished 'This Is Thirteen' and I go into the rehearsal studio to start writing, but it was writing with a different environment, with hope, pure unadulterated hope and completely unfettered by the peripheral bullshit. No record company to stress out on, no manager, nobody to worry about but me and my songs.


That's a completely new thing, that's a great place to be, so all I had to worry about was writing the best songs that I could without any other complication, and environment is everything because you write either consciously, or subconsciously, and some us even unconsciously, about our environment. Such examples, in 1989 we put out the album 'Worth The Weight'. What was in my environment? Well, my first marriage fell apart, Rob's Dad was total loss. What were the song titles on the album? 'Love Me When I'm Dead', 'The Sadness will last Forever', 'On The Way To Hell' - oh this is a very bright happy album isn't it? But that's it, you're environment dictates what you do! So in this particular case with 'Juggernaut of Justice' we had nothing but glorious sunshine and hope in our entire environment, so what are your songs?  Happiness and hopeful songs about having a future, about winning not losing. And that's really the theme of 'Juggernaut Of Justice'. The whole album is about winning. I wanna win the cup! Like it says in 'Fucken Eh' or 'Running'. It's about winning! I don't wanna be lame, I wanna win the game! It's not about loss. The environment of the movie got reflected in what we wrote. So was there a pressure? No, there was just a glorious wonderful warmth and feeling of hope all around us that just permeated the whole thing, so what kind of record did we create? The best fuckin' record we ever had. That's how you make the best record of your entire career - not at 25, but at 55! We break the fuckin' rules, man. You know people have said, "it's too fuckin' late". Well perception is projection, so when somebody says it's too late, what they're saying is it's too late for them. But it's never too late to become successful. Better late than never! And metal music, most importantly that everybody must realise, is fucking timeless! When Toni Iommi plays 'Iron Man', it does the same thing to me today as it did when I was fifteen. And kids that are fifteen years old when they hear that song for the first time, it's doing it to them too. So metal music is timeless and I am bent on that kind of metal, the timeless shit, not stuff that's necessarily trend. Trend metal, when you put a mask on and you sing like cookie monster, I don't know how long that's gonna last.


Can I ask you about the UK, what do you think about the UK, do you like coming here especially or is it just another country on a European tour?


L: No, I love coming here. Come on, man - you guys speak English. From the get go, that's got to be better. At least you can understand what the fuck I'm saying to you! (laughing)


Apart from 'Juggernaut Of Justice', what is your favourite Anvil album?


L: 'Metal On Metal'. I would say 'Forged In Fire' but there are reasons that I don't. 'Forged In Fire' to me was a let down production wise. It's got great songs but it fell short on production. There are lots of reasons, and we could sit here and talk about it for six hours. You could go on for ever talking about shoulda, woulda, coulda...


RobbRobb, I'm going to ask you the same question


Robb: It would be between 'Forged In Fire' and 'Metal On Metal' I guess, but I like something off of all the records


L: With 'Forged In Fire' there were a lot of problems especially after we finished the record. It was a disappointment to all the record companies and everyone we were involved with at the time. They wanted hit singles and all the shit most record companies want, and it was barren of that. It was pure influence style metal.


R: I wasn't disappointed with that record - I knew what it was.


L: Kerrang! magazine said it sounded better when they were sitting in the bog having a dump. That derailed everything. That's why we went into obscurity because of the 'Forged In Fire' album at that moment. It was 20 fuckin' years ahead of its time. No way of it getting marketed, no way of it getting the proper record deals it needed, and we fell off the fuckin' train, only to have to do everything on our own from then on in, till the movie. We knew internally we have something special, and we're not going to give up.


R: It didn't discourage me, because people gave us the love anyway, where it mattered. The musicians, and the diehard fans.


L: We're playing in Europe 25 years later on the back of 'Forged In Fire'. All the people in the business at the time were wrong.


JuggernauntThis new album was recorded in Dave Grohl's studio with Bob Marlette producing. Who funded it?


R: We did.


L: It's amazing how well we did with that movie.


And Dave Grohl?


L: Dave threw it in


For free?


R: virtually


Because he's an old fan?


R: Yes, he loves the band and he wanted us to make a real record. Motorhead makes records there.


L: This was from the Independent Spirit Awards, the Academy awards for independently released films. VH1 invited Dave Grohl to come and introduce Anvil, as we were going to play at the Independent Spirit Awards to a celebrity audience. He said "there isn't a thing I'd love to do more, I love that band. I'd love to." We had no idea.


R: I did, because you know that Probot record? That's Anvil. Half that record sounds like Anvil stuff. (laughing)


L: So Dave pulls up in his limousine, gets out with his wife or whatever, and he's holding a guitar case. It's a 335 Gibson guitar case and I'm thinking fucking cool man, he's gonna play 'Metal On Metal' with us. He comes over, hugs me, says "I love you brother, this is a present for you" and he gives me the Dave Grohl Gibson signature guitar. So I'm freaking out and the first thing Robbo says is "Hey man, Probot". And he says, "yeah, yeah, you got it eh?"


R: I confronted him right there and said "Hey Dave, you gotta tell me straight up". He says 'of course I ripped you guys off," and I said, "right on, brother!" It was fuckin great.


L: So he introduces us and says that he's had a couple of lucky days in his life and nothing could be more lucky than introducing Anvil, one of his all time favourite bands. So after the evening, he says, "you guys are going to come and record in my studio, and if you don't, I will never talk to you again".




And how did Bob Marlette come in? Was it because he is a fan, or because he is a very good producer?


R: Our manager brought him in


L: What's fascinating about that is everybody that we let in, it has to do with passion. If you have a passion for it, then you're my man. What happened is that Rick Sayles called his friend Bob, and said 'do you want to do this band?' His wife overhears him on the phone, and says "Anvil? You're going to have an opportunity to produce Anvil? Have you seen the movie? You've got to watch the movie!" So he watches the movie. I go pick him up at the airport, he gets into the car and says "I wanna do this album so bad, I'm gonna give you the best fuckin' record you guys have ever recorded. This is your moment dude." And everything he said, he delivered.


R: And fuck did he deliver?


Rob before we finish here tell me about 'Swing Thing' on the new album.


R: Well we're both jazz guys, I consider myself a jazz drummer in the traditional sense. Lips listens to big band shit, so for years we've been saying we should do a jazz/metal type track, and we finally did.


A little later on I also caught up with bassist Glenn Five, who rarely does interviews and got the chance to pose a few questions to him.




Glenn, to the older fans, you're still the new boy, even though you've been in Anvil for sixteen years now. What were you doing before that?


Glenn: I was playing bass in another band just trying to make it. I had the dream, just trying to get out of the basement. We were in the band for nine years, and I had that desire to just do it, but they became kind of like this drinking team and it was more about the party than the music, and I was like well you've got to get to the party before you can act like you're at the party, right? It kind of fizzled out and I was 25 years old and at a crossroads in my life. Just as I was thinking about that a flatmate of mine came home with a number of a band that needed a bass player. It happened to be Robert's number from a band called Sacrifice. They were old mates of mine so I figured they needed a bass player and I phoned them up and they said, "no it's not for us, it's for Anvil". He hooked me up with their number and we talked and we jammed and I'm sitting here fifteen years later. I've had the dream, some people call it a struggle, I call it a life.


Hard_N_HeavyWere you a fan of Anvil at the time of the early albums like 'Hard 'N' Heavy' and 'Metal On Metal'?


G: No. When 'Metal On Metal' came out, the name started getting around. I knew the big songs like 'Metal On Metal' and 'Forged In Fire'. When I joined the band, of course I started to jam all the songs that I knew and I started listening to tapes and CD's of the stuff I hadn't heard yet and I started going mad - how can this stuff not have got into my circle of friends? I was slightly a generation after that; I was part of Metallica and Slayer, that generation. I liked Maiden and Priest and some classic rock like Yes and Jethro Tull and Allman Brothers stuff. I started getting educated more on the older stuff and these guys were like my teachers, and they accepted me into their family quite soon, and album by album I contributed more, and now I consider myself a pretty vital part of the threesome.


I wanted to ask you about 'This Ride' on the new album. You handle the lead vocals on that track and you wrote the lyrics.


G: Yeah, well we had this idea on the last album on 'Bombs Away', I also wrote those lyrics. We had the idea that maybe I should sing it. We were in the studio with Chris Tsangarides, before I went to sing it I said "what do you really think?" Is it gonna be strange to have another voice on the album all of a sudden as it's been many many years since they used another voice, when Dave Allison used to sing a couple of songs. CT said maybe it would be a bit strange, so Lips did it and it sounded great. With this one, we were in the studio with Bob Marlette and Lips was sticking around to finish up and I was leaving the next day. I said maybe you should sing 'This Ride' before I go to help with the phrasing. He said "why don't you sing it?" so I thought 'here we go again'. Bob said 'great idea' so we did it and we're all happy with it.


Still_Going_StrongGlen just to finish off what is your favourite Anvil album?


G: I love 'Still Going Strong' - it's got an edge to it. I love 'Worth The Weight' for the thrash aspect, 'Strength Of Steel' for the production. They're all amazing for their own reasons.


I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the guys in Anvil for being so open and honest with their answers during this interview, they certainly were an interviewers dream and as a lifelong fan I could have chatted all night with them if they had not been quite so busy.  But in saying that it's a pleasure to see them so busy and so obviously enjoying the attention that is once again being afforded them. 


You can read my review of the show that followed here, and before I finish I'd also just like to thank Roland Hyams at Work Hard PR for making all of this possible for me.