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Real Spinal Tap: Heavy-Metal Rockers Make Comeback in Their 50s
2009-04-08 04:40:00.0 GMT


Interview by Rick Warner
April 8 (Bloomberg) -- In 1982, the Canadian heavy-metal
band Anvil played before 60,000 fans at the Monsters of Rock
festival in England. A quarter-century later, during a
disastrous return to Europe, they drew a handful of people at a
Prague bar and fewer than 200 at a concert in Transylvania.
The band’s journey from the verge of stardom to the
precipice of obscurity is chronicled in “Anvil! The Story of
Anvil,” a seriocomic documentary that could pass as a real-life
version of “This Is Spinal Tap.”
Anvil, founded in Toronto by childhood friends Steve
“Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner, influenced legendary heavy-
metal bands such as Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax with its
aggressive, lightning-fast style on songs like “Metal on
Metal.” Yet Kudlow and Reiner never achieved that level of fame
because of poor management, second-rate production and an
unwillingness to make their sound more commercial.
Now, thanks to the buzz surrounding the movie (which opens
April 10 in New York and Los Angeles), Anvil is enjoying a new
surge of popularity that may finally make stars of guitarist
Kudlow and drummer Reiner, now in their 50s. (The band’s third
member is bassist Glenn Gyorffy, known as G5.)
“This has been a surreal journey,” Reiner said in a joint
interview with Kudlow at Bloomberg News headquarters in New
York. “Being discovered and rediscovered all in one motion is
profound.”

‘Anvil Experience’

Since debuting at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, the
documentary has gained a cult following on the festival circuit.
Anvil has hired a big-time manager (Rick Sales, who handles
Slayer), signed a deal with VH1, attended a red-carpet premiere
with the wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and
embarked on a seven-city U.S. tour called “The Anvil
Experience,” where they play a short set following a screening
of the documentary.
“I feel like I’ve won in the lottery of life,” said
Kudlow, whose outrageous onstage antics include playing his
Flying V guitar with a dildo. “When I was 10 years old I made
the decision that music was going to be my life. Here I am at 53
and I’m going to be extraordinarily successful.”
While they’re both dedicated family men with time-tested
marriages, Kudlow and Reiner still have the rock n’ roll look:
long stringy hair, jeans and black-leather jackets. And neither
apologizes for playing earsplitting music at an age when many of
their contemporaries are tuning into soft rock.
“There is no age barrier associated with what we do,”
Reiner, 50, said. “Inside, I’m still a kid.”

Former Roadie

The movie was directed by Sacha Gervasi, who worked as an
Anvil roadie in the early 1980s when he was a teenager. Gervasi,
who co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s “The
Terminal,” lost touch with the band for 20 years and assumed
they’d broken up. But while listening to Metallica one day, he
was reminded of Anvil and decided to track his old friends down.
“When I found out they were still playing after all these
years, I thought it would make a terrific movie,” Gervasi said
in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “Lips is so funny, I
told him it would be like a Billy Wilder comedy.”
Gervasi followed Kudlow and Reiner on and off for two years
and shot 320 hours of footage. During that time, Kudlow worked
for a food-catering company and briefly tried his hand at
telemarketing to support his family. Reiner owns a home-building
business, but like Kudlow music remains his passion.
“We’ve never been in it for the money,” Reiner said.
“We’ve always made enough to keep the band going, but we’re
definitely not living in mansions and eating caviar.”

Snakeskin Boots

Kudlow, nicknamed “Lips” by Reiner’s father because of
his prominent mouth, became disillusioned with pampered rock
stars when he met Van Halen bassist Mike Anthony backstage at a
concert in the late 1970s.
“When I congratulated him on his success, he looked down
at his beautiful snakeskin boots and said, ‘These cost me 1,500
bucks. Wouldn’t you like to be in them?’” Kudlow recalled. “I
thought that was pretty rude. He had to make me feel bad for him
to feel good.”
These days Kudlow and Reiner are feeling awfully good
themselves. In addition to the movie and their mini-tour,
they’re getting ready to record their 14th album, “Juggernaut
of Justice.”
“It’s going to have a revolutionary new sound:
jazz/metal,” Reiner said. “It’s Gene Krupa meets Anvil.”
Or Anvil meets Spinal Tap, the fictional, hard-partying
heavy-metal band made famous in a 1984 spoof starring
Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean. That film
was directed by Rob Reiner (no relation to Robb Reiner), making
the comparison with Anvil even more tempting.
“They weren’t real; we are,” Kudlow said. “We’ve paid
our dues.”

For Related News and Information:
Top arts and lifestyle stories: MUSE <GO>
Film reviews: NI FILMREV <GO>
Reviews by Rick Warner: NI WARNER <GO>

--Editors: Jeremy Gerard, Jeffrey Burke.

To contact the writer on the story:
Rick Warner in New York at +1-212-617-3552 or
[email protected].

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Manuela Hoelterhoff at +1-212-617-3486 or
[email protected].
 

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your text here
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13,192 Posts
anvil will be at one of the showings at the music box in chicago.

i know they say its a real band and all, but the guys name is robb reiner. makes me wonder...
 
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