Anvil set to launch Juggernaut of Justice

One of the most unlikely yet most deserving success stories of the past five years has been that of Canadian heavy metal band Anvil.

Formed in Toronto in 1978, the group has served to cement a lifelong bond between guitarist-vocalist Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner who formed the band in their teens. Over the past 33 years however, it hasn’t always been an easy road for the band. You can blame bad management, poor promotion and a plethora of other reasons for the fact that the group gained momentum only in the past few years.

As the old adage goes however, good things come to those who wait.

In 2005, the group’s former roadie Sacha Gervasi, who had gone on to write films including The Terminal, approached the band with the idea of making a documentary on the group. Affording Gervasi the opportunity to capture the band, warts and all, ended up being a life-changing decision for Kudlow and Reiner who had spent the previous two plus decades slugging it out with little in the way of support.

Gervasi’s film, Anvil: The Story of Anvil was released in 2009 and catapulted the band into the limelight, a long 31 years after they formed.

With the band’s newest record Juggernaut of Justice set to drop tomorrow, Anvil will play Moncton’s Oxygen Nightclub tonight, with local ne’er-do-wells Iron Giant opening the show.

From his home in Toronto, Steve Kudlow says that the success of their documentary influenced the creative process behind Juggernaut of Justice in a monumental way.

“We began the writing process for the new record before the documentary came out,” the affable Steve says, “but it was while the movie was being edited that writing really took off. My thoughts during that time were that we had better get the greatest record we had ever done completed because I just knew that after the film’s release, we were going to become extraordinarily famous.”

While some might interpret his last statement as arrogance, speaking with the musician reveals that he is humble almost to a fault.

“Writing the new record was much like our moment of truth,” he says. “Everything we had worked for was culminating in the making of this record. It took 30 years to get there and we knew the eyes of the world were going to be on us and that we had better be glowing.”

Steve says that for the making of Anvil’s newest record, he purposely went into the studio not having prepared his vocal lines and song lyrics, a total 180-degree difference from past Anvil efforts.

He insists that the spontaneity of having to come up with something under pressure worked well for him.

“I realized that spontaneity is where it’s at because in being spontaneous, you are not confined to your own parameters,” he says. “As soon as you lock yourself into something, you are not opening yourself to the possibilities that could end up being more impressive. When you are inspired to create something, that urgency is the fire that motivates you.”

Acknowledging that success in the music business is typically reserved for the young and/or good looking, Steve says that the heavy metal genre is the exception to this rule, allowing bands like Anvil to reap the fruits of their labour despite the fact that they are not spring chickens.

“I feel that many fans respect the fact that the metal genre is old and that there is no age barrier when it comes right down to it,” he says. “The music has timelessness to it and garners so much respect because you have got guys like Ronnie James Dio who lived and played heavy metal until he died last year.”

The success of their documentary has opened up a world of fans to Steve and Anvil. Instead of seeing their audience as primarily a youth-driven market, Steve says that it is now common to see people all the way up to age 70 attending their shows.

“These days, we find that it is the demographic of the movie coming out to our shows; people that saw the movie that want to see what we are about,” he laughs. “I find it incredibly remarkable but I feel a little odd sometimes though, playing to older people and I am swearing throughout the show.”

Article published May 9, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript