InterviewsRecord Reviews

Anvil “One and Only”

Canadian heavy metal trio Anvil is back with its 20th album. “We are what we are and we do what we do. We have our audience who we play for and that is what we have focused on our entire career.”

Anvil plays meat-and-potatoes heavy metal of the best kind. The new album is focused on what the band has always been about – straightforward riff-driven heavy metal with catchy melodies. There are no trends in sight. This is good-old Anvil the way they sounded when we grew to love them on the very first album.

I met the band backstage in Tachikawa, Japan last year when they were in the middle of the process of making the new album. Steve “Lips” Kudlow looked at me with a serious look on his face: “It is very, very important for people to understand that Anvil is not a band that was here to make radio play and make pop music. OK? That’s not what we are. We are not making bubblegum music for kids and dance music. We are what we are and we do what we do. We have our audience who we play for and that is what we have focused on our entire career.”

The lyrical themes on the new album mainly fit into two camps – social commentary and stories about being in a band. “Feed Your Fantasy”, “Truth is Dying”, “World of Fools”, “Condemned Liberty” and are among the album’s standout tracks. “Rocking the World” is a song about being a touring rock band. It pays tribute to the many Anvil fans out there. The furious tracks “Blind Rage” and “Fighting for Your Rights” are my immediate favourites on another great Anvil album.

Co-founders Steve “Lips” Kudlow (vocals and guitar) and Robb Reiner (drums) have played together since 1973. Bassist Chris Robertson has been in the band for the past decade. The new album, “One and Only”, is the band’s 20th album. They debuted with “Hard ‘N’ Heavy” in 1981. They are still enjoying playing and writing new music together. “This is our day job. It’s our passion. It’s what we do. It’s our identity. It’s a lot of things. We’ve grown old together. To me that’s a beautiful thing,” said Robb.

Creating new music is a must for the band. They have no interest in just touring the catalogue like some of their industry colleagues do. Lips explained what he thinks of acts that stop making new music and complain about life on the road: “The way I look at other musicians… There are a lot of lazy bastards out there. The more fucking wealthy and the more success, the more lazy and fucking lackadaisical they are. It’s just ridiculous! ‘Oh, it is so difficult to be on the road. Oh, my God!’ They have to work two hours a day! Haha! Fuck, buddy! You’re gonna actually do something for two hours today and you’re fucking complaining that it’s such hard work. ‘Oh, it’s so hard to live in a tour bus!’ Oh, what? You sleep all fucking day and you wait for the tour manager go check your fucking sound. That is all you did. all fucking day, was lay in bed and you’re fucking complaining. I am serious when I say this, man. Because I’m living it and I’m in my 60s. I just did over a hundred shows in less than six fucking months. I had no problem doing it and I didn’t get sick. These guys fucking whining and complaining about going on the road for three weeks… I’ve been doing it for six fucking months! I don’t comprehend.”

“The other thing is ‘Oh, writer’s block!’ What the fuck is that! You lose your imagination? You wake up in the morning and ‘I lost my imagination! I can’t think of anything. My brain doesn’t work.’ That’s what they’re saying to me. Writer’s block? What the fuck is that? I don’t even know what the fuck that is. That’s like saying ‘I can’t think anymore’. Can you switch your brain off? How do you do that? Let’s say I am in the studio and I’ve written lyrics and whatnot and I am going through everything and I am singing all the lines in the song and we get to a certain point and something isn’t fitting and I am like ‘Hmm… I can’t think of anything. How am I going to fix this? Somebody help me!’ It’s like, oh, fuck, just change this word to that and this and that. OK, try. Done! How fucking difficult is it to use your head and think for a minute? I am watching Bob Dylan. ‘I can’t do it, man. I can’t write songs anymore.’ You’re revered as one of the greatest songwriters of all time and you’re telling me all of a sudden now you can’t write songs. Really? You couldn’t write songs to begin with and everybody’s been fucking fooled? I don’t know. I can’t figure that out. How the fuck did you get there when you can’t think of anything anymore? What happened?”

Robb added: “We gotta keep making music because that keeps you relevant. I honestly believe that.” Indeed. We are happy they soldier on as long as they create music as good as this.

Anvil’s new album “One and Only” will be released on 28th June via AFM Records.