In case you’re unfamiliar, Anvil is a Toronto heavy metal band that emerged in the early 80s and is credited for inspiring bands like Metallica and Slayer. Their first three albums are considered metal classics. But due to a cocktail of poor management decisions and label jumping the band drifted into obscurity despite a string of solid albums full of their distinct blend of kinky metal and bluesy hard rock.
Everything changed in 2008 when the documentary film “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” www.anvilthestoryofanvil.com/ was released. Directed by former Anvil roadie Sacha Gervasi, the film chronicles the band on an ill-fated European tour with sparsely-attended shows, followed by their struggles to produce their thirteenth album and the toll it took on their family and friends. After premiering at Sundance the film went on to garner near-universal acclaim (it currently holds a 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes). The film gave way to a significant rise in the band’s popularity and big name gigs started popping up, including an opening slot for AC/DC.
The last time I spoke with frontman Steve “Lips” Kudlow was in the summer of 2006 behind the fondly-remembered Big Bop in Toronto. That night the band the band would play to a handful of people, a scene that was echoed throughout their documentary. With their latest aptly-titled album “Hope In Hell” having just dropped in May, the band is now two records deep since the release of the film. I had a chance to talk with Lips about the film’s overall impact on the band, and why he thinks there’s no point in Anvil creating more commercial music.
Damian Abraham is a guy you might recognize for different reasons. He makes records and tours the world with his critically-lauded band Fucked Up, while at the same time hosting MuchMusic’s The Wedge. He’s exposed to a diverse range of audiences and has crazy stories about some of the biggest bands on the planet.
I had a chance to sit down with Damian at the Amnesia Rockfest in Montebello, Quebec. A largely punk festival with a DIY flair, Rockfest finds the small village turned into a tent city, as many festival-goers pay locals for the use of their properties. From farmer’s fields to churchyards (and of course behind the liquor store) there are tents as far as you can see. This was the festival’s eighth year and apparently this model has worked before. But the loose atmosphere upon arrival foreshadowed the problems to come.
A wristband pickup snafu that left people waiting for hours was only the first hint of many organizational problems that plagued the proceedings. Over two days trash accumulated, porta-potties overflowed into rivers, and there was not a security guard to be seen (although the walking beer servers were plentiful). However, if you were able to grit your teeth and bear it, you may have caught some amazing music.
Like Fucked Up, who would later bang out a lively set in front of an appreciative crowd and bewildered security. But for the moment all is placid. As the Sun began to set we found a spot by the Ottawa River while Rancid provided the soundtrack. This is a largely unedited conversation between Damian and I where we chat about loud music, pleasing the fans, and even the Juggalo’s place in underground culture.
During my trip to the both great and gross Amnesia Rockfest I had a chance to sit down with Roger Miret, frontman for the New York hardcore punk institution Agnostic Front. Going strong for over 30 years the band not only set a standard for their genre, they also were on the forefront of the crossover movement with metal titans like Slayer and Anthrax.
The journey was a long one. Towards the end of the 80s Roger spent time in prison on drug-related charges, and the band imploded for a few years shortly after. So when he sits down and cartoon theme music seems to emanate from thin air, it’s a bit out of place. Turns out it’s one of his children’s apps that’s been inadvertently triggered on his phone. Now firmly grounded in the present we proceed to talk about his modern life as a family man, and what makes real hardcore music.