An Interview with Steve “Lips” Kudlow of Anvil

Anvil Continues Its Heavy Metal Crusade After 42 Years | KMUW

In an increasingly disposable world, Anvil are true survivors. When the North American market turned their back on them, Anvil pushed forward. When the Metal scene was overtaken by various trends of the 90’s, Anvil fought back and did what they do best: released album after album of kickass Trash Metal. Most of the general public has heard of Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth and with good reason. They’re great bands in their own right. However, lurking beneath the surface is an entire ecosystem of fantastic bands which the foundation of Thrash Metal was built upon. Anvil is one of those bands. More so, they are THE band that the bedrock of the genre was built upon. In my opinion, at least.

I love Anvil. They’re may favorite Thrash band, and easily one of my favorite Metal bands in general. They don’t play games. They don’t fuck around. No, Anvil are the the true embodiment of the Heavy Metal spirit. Admittedly, having been born in 1988, I was not around for their 80’s run. Like so many others, I became familiar with the band through the documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil and also through the Metal Evolution docuseries which aired maybe ten or so years ago. From that point on, I was hooked. I loved their story. I loved their character and most importantly, I loved their music and I still do.

Today I’ve got the one and only Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow “in the house.” One of the true Metal warriors. Lips is honest and to the point. I appreciated and respected that. For 42 years Anvil has soldiered on, and I am happy to say that this year we’ve gotten another new release from them. It’s called Legal at Last and you can grab it at any number of places, but here or here are as good as any. The album rocks. Grab it and find out. Enjoy!

Andrew:
Lips, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Tell us about your back story. How did you get into music? What was your musical gateway so to speak?

Lips:
In 1966 my dad brought home an electric guitar. I was 10 years old at the time. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were all the rage at that time and had a huge influence on me.

Andrew:
Anvil has been around since the 70’s. How did the band get its start?

Lips:
I met Robb through a mutual friend at school. I was 17 and Robb was 15. We had many of the same musical favorites and hit it off immediately. We set out on a life long journey to create the heaviest band and music ever known in Canada.

Andrew:
Often times bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax get all the attention, but Anvil started before all of them and were a huge influence. Why was Anvil so overlooked at the time?

Lips:
We got fucked by signing an independent record deal with a Canadian label that had no distribution in the USA. After recording 3 records with Attic Records, we hooked up with Leber and Krebs management…Aerosmith, Scorpions, Ted Nugent and many others. Unfortunately, these guys had little or no knowledge about Heavy Metal and at that time, neither did the labels in the USA. They refused to sign us or pay for licensing our first 3 records. They wanted the first 3 records for free!! The manager pulled us out of our deal with Attic and that left us abandoned without a record deal for 4 years. 4 of the most important years in Metal history.

Steve 'Lips' Kudlow - Steve 'Lips' Kudlow Photos - VH1 Classic Presents  "That Metal Show: Anvil Special" - Zimbio

Andrew:
Your first four albums, in particular, Hard ‘n Heavy and Metal on Metal, are some of the best Metal albums to come out of the 80’s. What do you remember about that time and those albums?

Lips:
We had made a huge impact in Europe, to the point that to this day it’s still very good response and devoted following.

Andrew:
As the popularity of Metal waned here in North America, why do you feel it stayed so strong in Europe? Why do you feel Anvil maintained such a devoted base there?

Lips:
Metal music is a way of life in Europe. It’s not a trend.

Andrew:
In the early 90’s, Anvil sort of fell into obscurity here in North America. What was that like? Why do you think that is and what did the band do between then and the documentary that kind of began your rise?

Lips:
North America turned its back on Metal music during the 90’s. We’ve never depended on the North American market so nothing has really changed in 45 years of doing this! We kept going and released numerous albums being signed to a German label….as we are now! North America is a place where only trends do well. There is a established audience for Metal but it’s extremely diverse and fragmented so sales are limited to any one specific following. These days, there’s virtually no sales as most music is being streamed. With the current status of the world, it’s difficult to say if there’s a future for music at all. Let’s hope so!

Steve Kudlow | Discography | Discogs

Andrew:
After so many years as a band, finally in 2008, the documentary, Anvil! The Story of Anvil kind of broke things open for you guys. How satisfying was that to finally get your due? What’s it been like since?

Lips:
It’s the perfect way it turned out. I’m permanently on vacation ever since the movie came out. Nonstop touring, writing, recording and playing for the past 13 years! Pure satisfaction!

Andrew:
During the really lean years, how did you find the fortitude to carry on? Did you ever consider giving up?

Lips:
No, we have had a hard core following that has made it possible to continue. There’s been financial support from German record labels for over 30 years. The concept or idea of Anvil being a failure is totally a misunderstanding of the facts. A failure would have been never releasing records. That is definitely not the case. We have now begun writing our 19th album. When the movie was being made, it was our 13th album. That’s not failure. That’s perseverance and determination.

Andrew:
Over the last few years you’ve released some really strong material, including your new album, Legal at Last, which was released in February of this year. What can you tell us about that record?

Lips:
Legal at Last had started out as our strongest selling album in decades. We had all but recouped all the expenses when COVID-19 hit and sent us home from one of most extensive European tours we’d ever been booked on. I’ve already written 11 new songs for the next album since we got home in late March.

Anvil stays true to heavy metal | TheRecord.com

Andrew:
Do you collect vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Lips:
Hahahaha….I haven’t bought a CD, vinyl or any music in years.

Andrew:
What are some bands that mean the most to you?

Lips:
Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Cream, Cactus, Captain Beyond, Montrose are some of my favorites from when music really meant something!

Andrew:
Last question. Anvil seems like a band that has embraced the DIY approach for most of their career. What advice do you have for young bands just starting out?

Lips:
DON’T!!! In this day and age, there’s very little opportunity out there. The audience is almost impossible to reach as record labels barely exist. There’s no infrastructure to raise a band out of obscurity. The best advice is to be as creative as possible. Make music that is unique that only you can play. That’s the real winning ticket. Originality.

Anvil's Steve 'Lips' Kudlow: Our Main Currency Is Drumming

Interested in sampling Anvil? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.

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