The metal band Anvil has been lifted out of obscurity as a result of a recent documentary about th aging rockers who have been together since the 1970s. They open for the mega-metal act, AC/DC at Gillette Stadium July 28.
A recent documentary on the metal band Anvil has lifted the band out of obscurity as they are the opening act for AC/DC on that band’s tour.
“Angus saw the movie and called us and asked us to come play,” said singer/guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow, 53, of AC/DC’s frontman Angus Young. “It is an honor and a privilege for us to open for them. It is kind of interesting, since we both have our roots in the 1970s, and here we are, both still rocking.”
The movie, “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” is directed by Sacha Gervasi, a former roadie for the band. The documentary is a candid look at three 50-something hard rockers chasing their dream. The movie’s more poignant moments show the trio persevering in the face of paltry crowds and shifty promoters and it has struck a chord throughout the music industry.
Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner began jamming while in high school in Toronto in 1981, and they’ve been the heart of the band since 1978. They’ve released 13 albums, and had a taste of fame back in 1987, when their “Strength of Steel” album hit #191 on Billboards Top 200 albums.
Many fellow heavy metal rockers like Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica have pointed to Anvil as an inspiration, yet the trio – with Glenn Five the bassist since 1995 – has labored on in obscurity. Just before the movie began filming Anvil on tour, Kudlow was working in a Toronto school kitchen to make ends meet.
But now, as the movie’s portrayal of Kudlow and his mates’ genuine devotion and single-mindedness resonated with many folks who’ve struggled after their dreams, even over-shadowing the obvious ‘Spinal Tap’ echoes, Anvil is suddenly hot.
“We’ve been very busy since the movie came out. We also did about 40 dates in movie theaters all over the United States, in conjunction with the movie. We’d basically set up and play in the cinemas, right after the movie. That’s very unusual but it worked well,” Kudlow said.
And what’s an in-demand band to do? Re-record what got them there. Anvil is updating their classic 1981 record “Hard ‘N’ Heavy.”
“It is a rare moment when you get a second chance to record some of your favorite songs. We’ve approached it like a real celebration,” Kudlow said.
How strange is it to be finally getting the recognition they craved all those years, the massive stadium dates with people like AC/DC after their decades of underpaid toil?
“It is absolutely a great feeling of validation,” said Kudlow. “Things are definitely different now, and we have great management that has been getting us gigs all over the world. The movie has been doing extremely well (Anvil shares in the film’s profits), and we keep discovering new fans.”
“I think a big factor was the way musicians embraced the movie,” Kudlow explained. “They relate to the things in the movie, no matter what level they are at. All of those things that befell us happen to lots of musicians, although few would ever admit it. The movie has had a bizarre effect on musicians really, because they can see everything in it is the real deal. The movie was created by a fan, with a completely different agenda than another movie might have had. He was not trying to exploit us, and that’s what makes the movie so pure. Sacha had been a fan since 1982, and he wanted to show the band in a good light.”
And what will Anvil play at those big stadium shows, opening for AC/DC? “Our set will be a cross-section of some pretty old stuff our fans might remember, along with some newer tunes,” said Kudlow. “Whether it is a stadium or a small club, my job remains the same, as it should. I’ll just go in there and go ‘Where’s my microphone and my guitar?’ We will all be trying as hard as we can to satisfy the fans with as many songs as we can fit in, and we are really looking forward to it.”
And after all they’ve been through, that contagious fervor for the music is what has sustained Anvil, and brought them to this point.
Anvil will be opening for AC/DC at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on July 28, Giants Stadium on July 31, and at the Aug. 6 show at Moncton, New Brunswick.
Jay N. Miller covers music for The Patriot ledger. Send E-mail to email@example.com. Attn: Music Scene in the subject line.