Fri, 18 Sep 2009 08:37:45
Anvil! The Story of Anvil Videos
This Is Thirteen means a lot to Anvil frontman Steve "Lips" Kudlow.
It's his thirteenth album since 1982, but in some ways, it's the most special. With the breakout success of Sacha Gervasi's documentary The Story of Anvil, all eyes are on the Canadian mayhem makers. It took awhile for Anvil to be embraced like this, but it's undeniably happened now.
"It's all going okay, man," says "Lips" with a smile.
It doesn't really make a difference to "Lips" and his lifelong partner in rock, drummer Robb Reiner. They've always kept their music heavy, and This Is Thirteen may just be their heaviest album yet.
All eyes are on Anvil, but "Lips" is just having a good time slinging riffs, per usual. He spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor Rick Florino about the release of This Is Thirteen, the affect of the documentary and much more in this exclusive interview.
This Is Thirteen has a real groove. Was its creation any different from previous albums?
The biggest major change is that we weren't using tuned down guitars anymore, which actually makes a big difference. We stopped using dissonant modes. You've heard the term "blue note." That's a dissonant note to whatever pitch that you're in. A prime example of that is the song "Black Sabbath." It has an octave where the third note is the "blue note." Instead of using notes built on that pattern, we stopped doing it other than the song, "This Is Thirteen." The rest of the songs aren't really like that. That makes us sound more like we used to because on the early albums we very rarely used that note. In the song "Forged In Fire" way back in '83, we toyed with it—maybe in "Metal On Metal" as well. Generally speaking, we didn't use notes like that. It's a little bit higher and brighter and more aggressive sounding than we'd been on the previous records.
What's the story behind the bonus track, "Thumb Hang?"
I love that song! We'd written the song in our teens, and we never used it. There's a number of songs like that. On the Plenty of Power album, we had a song called "Left Behind" that was also one of those tracks we didn't use and then we just decided, "Oh what the Hell, let's use it." The movie created a lot of interest in that song, and all I did was sing the main riff in the first line [Laughs]. Everyone was like, "You've got to do that song, man!" It really came out well—probably better than I might've thought it would've. We probably should've recorded it a long time ago [Laughs].
The world is ready for it now.
It's quite interesting because the message of the song is using history to state an opinion on the effects of religion and government on a society. It dissects the things religion and government drive us to do, or not to do, whatever the case may be [Laughs]! The song is about the Spanish Inquisition, which is not the most pleasant of subjects, but it kind of resonates today.
How have things changed for you since the movie came out?
We're famous! [Laughs] It's quite bizarre because we've gone the opposite route. When you make it, it's usually through the paths of which you'd been traveling. As it turned out, we took a detour around those paths. The people that would formally have known about us first know about us last. Particularly, the German entertainment business itself! We'd been signed for a half dozen records in Germany, and this movie happened at the end of that record deal [Laughs]. It was really fascinating because they're just finding out about the movie now. They're asking, "Why was it a secret? Why did we never know?" It is funny, man. It's gone back the other way. We're in all of the major magazines, and now all of the rock magazines are becoming interested in what happened. They were the last to know [Laughs].
Well, you're not doing anything differently. You're kicking ass like Anvil always did. You changed nothing and fame came to you.
That's part of the celebration, isn't it? The celebration is this has all happened on our terms. We never had to tailor our music or make it any different. We never had to be any different than ourselves, which is the heart and soul of metal music. It's uncompromising. That's what the fans see as integrity. In this genre, if you tailor your music or you're perceived as tailoring your music to acquire success, you instantly get written off as being a sellout. This isn't a case of that. This is the case of a band who stuck to its guns and because it stuck to its guns, the good karma came. We treated our fans right. We befriended an English fan at 15-years-old, who grew up to be a screenwriter. He came back to make this movie. It's really pure. There's no intervention by big corporate business that made this happen. It evolved on its own. It happened in a very unique and special way that will probably never be repeated. It was specifically this band. We recorded 12 albums in obscurity in order for this to have any depth or significance. This was done by a fan too! There's quite an incredible set of circumstances surrounding the story within the story. It's quite amazing!
There's a deeper message in that. If you're true to yourself first and foremost, that's when it'll truly all pay off.
Authenticity and integrity have to be there for you to make it at any level. It doesn't matter it's through a movie or a song you wrote. In order to gain success, there has to be a level of integrity or authenticity there, or it probably wouldn't fly.
Is it weird watching the movie? Did you watch it once and move past it, or is it something you really thought about after viewing?
It's a chunk of my life! Whether I want to watch it or not—I lived it [Laughs]. It's not made up. Those are all real moments, man. It's like watching the best home movie I've ever seen [Laughs]. What were just happenstances have been etched in stone so to speak. The landscape has changed. There are a lot of important lines that have become etched in stone and it's that way for a lot of people.