Anvil: Off the Beaten Path
Thanks to the documentary’s success on the independent film circuit, Anvil have earned their long-overdue second chance and are finally drawing the good fortune and rewards they’ve deserved. This year the band opened a handful of stadium shows on AC/DC’s summer tour and appeared at the Download and Rocklahoma festivals. Kudlow and Reiner are doing well enough to quit their day jobs and focus exclusively on the band, and they’re currently working on their 14th album. Anvil have traveled over a long, hard road to finally arrive where they ultimately belong, but whatever you do, don’t call it a comeback. They’ve been here for years.
GUITAR WORLD What’s happened for Anvil since the film was released?
STEVE “LIPS” KULDOW Everything has changed. In plain, simple terms, we’ve become famous. The movie brought us into the public eye, and people know who we are. It’s not an insane level of recognition, but it’s very cool.
GW The band is no stranger to fame, though.
LIPS Sure, but it still takes a while to get used to it again after so many years.
GW Did you have any idea that the film was going to be as successful as it’s become?
LIPS I’m an optimist. I don’t live in the same world that everybody else does. My wife has pointed out that I have my own state of reality. I can see success so vividly that it’s almost as if I make it happen because I’ve seen it already. It’s almost as if I conjured it up. It’s really weird stuff, man.
GW It’s definitely weird how a 15-year-old kid that the band became friends with more than 25 years ago grew up to become a famous film writer. [Among his many credits, Gervasi wrote The Terminal, made into a film by Steven Spielberg in 2004.]
LIPS We met Sacha Gervasi in 1982. He was a really special kid—a hilarious wise guy. Some of the things he would say would put us into hysterics. He was like that from the minute we met him. We were playing the Marquee Club in London and he made his way through the crazy crowd there, past the stage door and into our dressing room. Anyone who can do that has to be a smooth talker who can move fast. He offered to show us around London—Abbey Road, Carnaby Street—and we took him up on it. He ended becoming our roadie.
I had just come home from a festival in Italy in 2005 when Sacha sent me an email. I hadn’t heard from him in about 17 or 18 years. I immediately wrote back to him, and he invited me to visit him in Los Angeles. I told him I didn’t have enough money to fly to L.A., so he said he’d take care of it. I wondered what he was up to now. When I got there, he pulled up in this little blue Jaguar convertible that was previously owned by Sean Connery. I saw the look in his eyes, and it was that 15-year-old kid in a man’s body. I gave him the 10 Anvil albums that he hadn’t heard and he flipped out. I told him I still had the same attitude and that Anvil was in the middle of making a new album and was going to go on tour.
About two weeks later, he showed up in Toronto to tell me that he was going to make a movie about the band. A lot of coincidences, karma and destiny came together to lead us to this place. There are so many stories within this story, and they all came together at once. Everything that I did before this is what made this happen.
GW The film is about karma, but it’s also about sticking to what you believe in and never giving up no matter how difficult things become.
LIPS It’s self-belief. It’s almost a form of religion. If you were to say that God was inside all of us—that he’s part of all of us, or is all of us—then self-belief would be believing in God. You make your own parameters in life, and you draw your own conclusions. If you sell yourself short, that’s all you’re going to get. Once that attitude changed in me—it didn’t happen quickly and took years to happen—I realized that I was facing the last 100 yards. I had to either make the best of it or fall behind. The death of my father triggered that realization about a year before I hooked up again with Sacha. That was a real wake-up call. My father tried to enjoy every moment of his life. He showed me that every moment is worth cherishing and every day you spend above ground is a good one. True wealth is not measured in money but in how many friends you have.