Interview: Anvil

bill bodkin speaks with the heavy metal stars …

It’s very cool to listen to Anvil these days.

They’re the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary (Anvil! The Story Of Anvil), they’ve recently toured with AC/DC (on one of the biggest tours in that band’s recent history), headlined high profile festivals and have appeared in the major motion picture The Green Hornet.

Simply put, Anvil is the new hotness.

However, any metalhead worth his salt knows that Anvil has ruled well before they were documented on celluloid. Their speed/thrash metal sound was the inspiration for the sound that we’ve all come to know and love from “The Big 4” — Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. These bands have cited Anvil as inspiration and rightfully so, these Canadians can rip it up with great speed and furious anger — the epitome of hellbent for leather ’80s speed metal.

In the same vein, any metalhead that knows the historical importance of Anvil knows that no band deserves enormous success more than them. They toiled for 30 years, grinding it out in clubs known to the metal community as cult icons. Yet, the Big 4 went onto international superstardom performing a style that Anvil helped pioneer. Now, they are, as they put it, “really super famous” and as members of the metal community you couldn’t be happier for these guys.

Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin spoke with Anvil’s Robb Reiner about the documentary, the band’s history and their success — all before their show at The Bowery Ballroom in New York on Saturday night.

Pop-Break: You’ve been performing an aggressive, thrashing style of heavy metal for more than 30 years. What is it about this style of music that you love so much that you decided to dedicate your entire life’s work to it?

Robb Reiner: For me, man, it’s just about making music. I don’t consider it to be about anything but the music. We play with passion and desire and we have fun with it. That’s all it is for me … what is or why is doesn’t matter to me [because] we love makin’ music, man. There’s fans who love the stuff. We have a certain style that’s unique to only us, so that makes it even more fun. We have more and more fans than ever now that are really catching on and enjoying it.

PB: Speaking of your current status, since the documentary was released you’ve gone onto do so many huge things, like open for AC/DC, appear in The Green Hornet, headline tons of festivals. So my question is: When the concept of the documentary was initially pitched to you, did you have any inkling that the film would do so much for you guys?

RR: Well, to be really honest with you … yeah! [laughs] I can tell you why and how that came about. When I saw the film at the Sundance Film Festival and I saw what happened there, which was, they showed the movie eight times and they [all the showings] were sold out during the entire festival. There was 600 people at each showing, from all demographics, I mean it wasn’t just metalheads, it was everyone. And at the end of the movie they were giving a blank screen a five minute standing ovation. That’s when I realized this thing was going to blow the world away. At that point I thought that this was going to be the biggest rock movie ever. Lips [lead singer Steve “Lips” Kudlow], on the other hand, thought this thing was going to be huge before it was even finished.

PB: So how does it feel now that the movie is out and you have all this fame and recognition?

RR: When you work hard and you stick to your guns and you preserve and you believe in yourself and you don’t give up — that’s very powerful stuff. For us we do it naturally because we love what do. Listen, with the movie or without the movie, we would’ve continued rocking. We’re the same people, it’s that everything around us has changed. We’re super famous now, like really super famous now, selling records like crazy, tens of thousands of people coming to our shows. We’re being discovered and rediscovered — it’s a lot of fun, it’s what we’ve worked for. We’ve worked hard and our music has always been ahead of the curve and the world is finally catching up to us. What more can we do? We just want to put on the greatest rock shows, which we’re doing and having fun doing it. We just came back from Europe, and it was just incredible with what’s going on over there.

PB: Let’s move on to your new record, Juggernaut Of Justice. It was recorded in Dave Grohl’s home studio and it was produced by Bob Marlette, who’s worked with Ozzy and Manson in the past. What influence did they have on the new record?

RR: Well, Bob’s influence was large in one sense — that he brought great vocal direction to Lipps and clarity to the overall sound of the band. We wrote the songs in 2009, before we had Bob on board. Dave is a good friend of ours and he’s loved Anvil forever. He just offered us the studio and said, “You guys gotta record your new album in my studio and if you don’t, I won’t be your friend anymore.” So basically we said, “No problem, Dave.” It’s a great studio, but it was Bob that really brought the clarity to the band. He did a great job. The influence was him working with Lipps and bringing the best out of him, the real, real true best out of him.

PB: So how does this album stand out from the rest of your catalog?

RR: [It] stands out because of the superior production over all the records [we’ve done]. For me, this record is the best sounding record we’ve ever done. It’s amazing that the best is your 14th album — it’s unheard of. Usually bands, the more records the make the worse they get. The mandate for us was to make a true to form, classic Anvil record with a new kick — which was the production. And we did that tenfold. We’re on track.

PB: You’re performing at The Bowery Ballroom in New York on July 30. The East Coast has a lot of love for heavy metal. Have New York audiences always been really receptive and appreciative of Anvil for the last 30 years?

RR: Historically, yes. We’ve always done well in the Big Apple. New York, Chicago, L.A. are my favorite American cities to play.

PB: I know you guys are from Canada, so you’re answer might be biased, but what city in the U.S. has shown Anvil the most lost over the years?

RR: Oh, wow. Well, it’s a lot broader and bigger in America today than its ever been. We have been down there [New York City] in a year. We did a tour there last year, and virtually everywhere we played across the entire country was good. Even Portland was fucking killing it.

PB: Outside of the new record, what can we expect from Anvil in 2011?

RR: At some point there will be an Anvil 2 Movie: The Quest For World Peace. That won’t happen for a few years. We’re going to keep touring and making more records. That’s all we ever wanted to do and what we will continue to do. It’s just bring the majesty of Anvil to the world.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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