One could never accuse Toronto metal warlords Anvil of doing things for the wrong reasons.
Of often doing the wrong things over the course of their 30-year career, yes. But only for the right reasons.
Anvil’s tale is one of the noblest you won’t find in the history books, a study in perseverance and sticking it out for the pure, blinding love of rock ’n’ roll so poignant that it almost demanded to be turned into a movie. And lo and behold, it has.
Anvil: The Story Of Anvil, already an audience favourite at the Sundance Film Festival, has the honour of opening the Hot Docs film festival with a pair of screenings — one this Thursday at the Winter Garden Theatre and another Friday afternoon at the Isabel Bader Theatre – that are already sold out. A third has now been added at the Royal on April 27.
With buzz on the film building, the directing might of Hollywood screenwriter Sacha Gervasi (who penned Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal) behind it and fans like Slash, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich and Anthrax’s Scott Ian coming out of the woodwork in support, more attention is being paid to what front man and guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow good-naturedly calls Anvil’s “obscure, prolonged existence” than there has since the early 1980s.
The band, naturally, seems a little distrustful of the hype, but humbly concedes it would be nice if a few more gigs came out of it. Anvil’s dance card isn’t exactly full. The next show listed on the band’s website after next Saturday’s Hot Docs-related performance at the Bovine Sex Club is in July at the Perth Metal Meltdown in Perth, Ont.
“For decades, we’ve had this bomb ready to go and now the fuse is lit. We’re in the process of waiting for it to explode,” says bassist Glenn Five, an ardent fan who signed on with the stable Anvil core of Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner 12 years ago.
“We’re waiting. It hasn’t happened. The energy is there, they’re making a deal for it, so everything that’s supposed to get done will get done, right? And then, let it roll,” says Reiner. “Let’s get it going. We’re ready to go, to back up the movie, as a band and as ourselves.”
Anvil has never stopped playing because Anvil loves to play, plain and simple. That comes through in the documentary, where childhood pals Kudlow and Reiner long for the “vacation” of touring while slogging through day jobs in children’s catering and demolition.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find two dudes in their 50s who yearn to rock with as much youthful enthusiasm as Kudlow and Reiner. Reiner quits the band at least a couple times in the movie, which follows the band through a disastrous European tour where one promoter in Prague attempted to pay them in goulash, but the two are obviously inseparable chums who are gonna keep at this forever no matter what The Story Of Anvil does for their album sales and attendance figures.