DATE OF INTERVIEW:
3rd September 2009
STEVE "LIPS" KUDLOW
METAL DISCOVERY: I’ve heard the occasional person, generally not from the metal community, who isn’t aware of Anvil before, believe that the film is a mockumentary, kind of like a Spinal Tap thing. Has anyone ever approached you on the street or wherever believing you to be an actor from the film?
STEVE KUDLOW: No, but initially when Sacha was talking about this, he said “you know there’s no way around the Spinal Tap comparisons because, first of all, you’ve got Robb Reiner! So, forget it man, we’re going with it, and embrace it, and we’re gonna use it to our benefit. Feed the hook, people get drawn into that, then we’ll drop the Anvil on them!” It somewhat works like a Trojan Horse! [laughs]
(Steve "Lips" Kudlow on meeting Oscar winning actress Tilda Swinton)
"I met Tilda Swinton who was actually quite remarkable...and she coined the phrase, “the Anvil factor”. I talked to her about that, and she was saying what success really is, is going after your dreams and getting away with it...She said “that’s the Anvil factor”."
Anvil - promo shot, 2007
Photograph copyright © 2007 Ross Halfin
Interview by Mark Holmes
MD: How have you adapted to life in the public eye since the release of the film because you must get recognised a lot more now than before?
SK: Absolutely, it’s quite remarkable.
MD: Is it surreal in one sense?
SK: Well, it used to be one in a hundred; now it’s one in ten, so it’s come up quite a bit. I find that a lot of people just leave me alone. They know me, and they give me a little nod; they don’t bother me.
MD: Kind of respectful acknowledge.
SK: Most people are quite respectful, generally speaking. The only time I find it a little overwhelming is when we do the screenings. We do the Q & As, then we stand around having pictures taken, and sign autographs. There are so many people, and the people actually get really hostile with each other.
SK: Yeah, I find that really upsetting, and I actually have to yell…I yell at the top of my lungs - “I’m not leaving until everybody gets what they came here for” and then, all of a sudden, everybody calms down. Relax!
MD: There’s a scene in the film where you’re seen…I think this is towards the start of the film…where you’re backstage at a festival and you spot various people from your past, like from bands, and you’re going up to them. Is that now the reverse? Do you get loads of bands coming up to you at festivals and wherever?
SK: Yeah, that’s actually quite remarkable, I’ve gotta tell you that. The first thing that comes to mind, and it doesn’t completely shock me because I guess it’s just the way things are…in 2001, I think, I played a festival in Germany and the band Megadeth was on the bill, and I ran out to their dressing room and introduced myself to them, and they were okay but quite cold. You know, they were okay. Certainly my discussion with Dave Mustaine was wonderful - their lead guitarist and lead vocalist, my parallel in his band. And right away I noticed he had the same wedding ring…we started talking about everything else apart from rock ‘n’ roll! [laughs] But, of course, if you wanna talk to one of these guys, that’s probably the smartest way to go! [laughs] And we actually hit it off pretty well, but his bass player completely ignored me. At this Download festival, which was this year, he came running up to me! [laughs] It was weird man.
MD: Kind of a little bit of hypocrisy there.
SK: Yeah, I’m like thinking, what happened?! [laughs]
MD: I was looking on the IMDB on the internet recently and I noticed on the page for the film there are photos of you with Dustin Hoffman, Keanu Reeves and various other people. Do you have any famous fans of which you’re aware of from the world of celebrity?
SK: What, like bands?
MD: Well, I guess people peripheral to the metal scene like Dustin Hoffman and people like that?
SK: Oh yeah. Within the movie community, the Hollywood community, the movie is quite well known about because it resonates very, very, very strongly with people who have gone after their dreams and have been actors and actresses, producers, directors, cameramen…like all the people in Hollywood. Because it’s all a dream for all of us to be able to try and get a job doing what we love. So we have people like, I met Tilda Swinton who was actually quite remarkable. In some of her interviews she talked about the movie and called the tenacity, and those kind of attributes, in going after your dreams, and she coined the phrase, “the Anvil factor”. I talked to her about that, and she was saying what success really is, is going after your dreams and getting away with it. And I agree! [laughs] She said “that’s the Anvil factor”. [laughs]
MD: Hopefully ‘Anvil’ will become a word in the dictionary as an adjective to describe that kind of idea!
SK: Yeah! [laughs] But it’s remarkable, it really is, to meet some of these people. …Mickey Rourke and, erm…[laughs]…it was really quite funny because Robb asked him, “hey man, did you die at the end of that movie, ‘The Wrestler’?” [laughs] And he kind of looks at him and says “what kind of question is that?!” [laughs]
MD: I’d like to know that too actually, did he not answer it?!
SK: No, no, he just said, “I hope so!” [laughs]
MD: When you watch the movie…I guess you’ve seen it a fair few times now at screenings and whatever…have you learnt anything about yourself when watching it about which you were previously unaware of?
SK: Er……not really. Some of the things I had to grow accustomed to. I knew I was like that but I mean like some of my body language, because you don’t see yourself from that perspective. So it made me self-aware. Not self conscious, but self-aware. And after the movie, I feel I’m still doing…and even the tone of my voice, sometimes the tone of my voice reminds me of the movie. So it leaves echoes, very prominent echoes. It’s really weird. You know, stuff like when sitting with my mother and sister…[laughs]…I’m looking across the table and thinking these are those two people in that movie! [laughs]
MD: Movie stars themselves, of course!
SK: That’s what I’m thinking! [laughs]
MD: Out of interest, do you still have your day jobs, or has Anvil now become a fulltime profession once more?
SK: No, there’s virtually no time to go and do that and, to be really honest, we’re making a lot more money from the band so we’re able to do this. So instead of making money from my job, I’m making it from the band, which is great man!
MD: Of course, that’s your overall aim so…
SK: Yeah, that’s what’s supposed to be happening! [laughs]
MD: You must have had plenty of offers since the release of the movie and obviously will have the pick of the best of those, but what’s been the weirdest offer, or offers, you’ve had?
SK: Oh geeze, like doing…[laughs]…doing motivational speeches! [laughs]
MD: I guess that’s not so weird though from the context of the film, I could see that being quite a viable thing! Is that something you’ve gone for?
SK: I don’t know! I don’t know about that! It seems a little odd!
MD: Well I think the film has touched so many people in so many different ways in that it’s motivated them to maybe approach reaching their dreams in a different way through the optimism and enthusiasm you show as a person in the film. Maybe that’s why that kind of offer’s coming up.
SK: Yeah, I mean I can see it too, but I can’t see myself standing in front of an audience trying to talk them into doing what they love.
MD: Unless you put it into the words of a song or something and go and play some metal for them!
SK: Well, the other thing is I could probably take that direction more lyrically, which I kind of have anyway. Most of my lyrics are life lessons. They’re about real life…in most cases, and in some cases they’re very embarrassing like ‘Five Knuckle Shuffle’! [laughs] But it’s being bloody honest, you know.
MD: Definitely! You played some huge stadiums recently supporting AC/DC - how did those shows go, and did they epitomise the pinnacle of Anvil’s dream?
SK: Yeah, and it’s really bizarre because the irony of it all is as crazy as the whole inception of all of this in the sense that the biggest show I’ve ever done in my life was in Canada, because Canada I would have assumed to have been the last domino to fall. And a country like Germany or Japan we have our stronghold that have basically always paid for our continued recording career, and we end up doing our biggest show in our lives in Canada! In a country where we would be lucky to sell somewhere between five hundred and a thousand CDs. And then, the other part that was really ironic is before even coming out onstage, people were chanting our name.
MD: Were there any nerves before going out in front of so many people?
SK: Not really, I was just really shocked, and the reception was probably the best I think I’ve ever experienced. And that’s what I’m saying is just that some of it is I don’t get it! You know, like you stand there and you’re in awe of it! I’m scratching my head and I just go, “I don’t get it!” Like, something this big I could’ve seen happening in Europe or Japan, but Canada?! The irony of it is unbelievable.
MD: But great at the same time.
MD: I read you have ‘This Is Thirteen’ being reissued in a couple of weeks - how much of a relief and satisfying is it to finally get that out there on a proper label with proper distribution after all the blood, sweat and tears recording the album?
SK: It’s getting the dues that I hoped to get. I mean, it’s amazing, it really is. It’s totally what should be. Justice! It’s incredible! You know, originally they were talking about doing a soundtrack and not even putting out ‘This Is Thirteen’. Then everybody involved said “that’s not fair, what are you doing to the band? How does it help the band by not putting out that? It’s gotta go out first!” So it’s actually really beautiful, sweet justice.
MD: And very deserved as well. The labels you went to that are shown in the film like EMI and whoever else, have they ever approached you since the film and now shown an interest in releasing it?
SK: They came back as soon as they saw the film, and they were on it like flies to shit man. It was actually incredible man; it was really brutal. Fraser saw the movie and then immediately started contacting Sacha, and he sits him down and, “is there some way I can make a bridge to Anvil and maybe sign the band?” And Sacha looked him straight in the eye and he said “Fraser, the landscape has changed” [laughs] He used his own words against him! [laughs]
MD: That must’ve been satisfying!
SK: Yeah! There was yet more to come, of course. EMI helped us out; they jumped right in and helped us manufacture more CDs, but they were really, really cheap…like ridiculous….[laughs] And they were trying to sign us but, when it came down to it at the end of the day, the company was disintegrating as every day goes by. They didn’t have the money or the support to make it fly so, when it came down to it, we couldn’t go there. They were originally going to release a DVD and everything but we couldn’t go there. They really dicked us around bad actually at the end of the day. It got really ugly because they were holding us out, the movie and everything, saying they’re gonna come through with all these promises, and the more pressure that the lawyers put on them, it never came to fruition. So, in the meantime, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff going on. A friend of ours, who actually just recently passed away, started really bugging Eddie Trunk from ‘That Metal Show’ about the movie. So, eventually, we ended up being friends with Jim Florentine who was also on ‘That Metal Show’. We told him a bit about the movie, and he ended up coming up here to Toronto, and I went to one of his comedy shows, and I gave him the shirt off my back! [laughs] Literally! He said, “ah man, that ‘Metal on Metal’ shirt…”, so I said, “it’s yours”, and I gave it to him. So, what eventually happened, Jim and Eddie Trunk are talking about Anvil, and then they find out that the movie is going to be playing so they go and see it. So they go and see the thing and they flipped out. They tell the guy who is the head of VH1, “you’ve gotta see the thing”, so he saw it. He gets on the email and orders a t-shirt from Robb! [laughs] Okay, so, Robb doesn’t know it’s the head of VH1 asking for a t-shirt…[laughs]…so in one of the emails, finally, Rick Krim from VH1 asks Robb, “do you think your director might be interested in…if VH1 can acquire the movie, do you think you might wanna let him know.” [laughs] So Robb forwards the email on to Sacha and he just about shit his pants! [laughs] So, of course, everything from that point on was just like…wow! [laughs] But a lot of weird kismet. Like I say, you know, going to a comedy show and ending up being friends with Jim Florentine, there’s no real reason for that to have happened, but it did. And there was no pretence, like “I wanna become friends with this guy because he’s gonna get me connected to VH1”…I didn’t even know that…I think it was even previous to him being on the metal show. So we end up doing an interview on ‘That Metal Show’ and there’s Jim Florentine telling everybody that I gave the shirt off my back! [laughs]
MD: That’s a good little anecdote!
SK: Yeah, really weird man!