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Documentary Success Lets Anvil Rock Louder, Prouder

Of the Oakland Press

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The Canadian heavy metal trio Anvil has a hit documentary and some significant attention from the music industry for the first time in a quarter century.

But frontman Steve “Lips” Kudlow says that after playing together for nearly 37 years, he and drummer Robb Reiner view all that as gravy.

“I think I’ve gotten everything I’ve ever wanted out of what I’ve done with this (music career) — and, quite honestly, even before the movie I felt that way,” says Kudlow, who started making music with Reiner in April 1973 in the band Gravestone, while later became LIPS and then Anvil.

“I started out with Robb when we were 14, and we said we’re gonna do it till we’re old men. We really meant that,” the singer-guitarist explains. “What I wanted to do is put a band together that would last a lifetime. As kids, both Robb and I looked at all the other bands, and what we noticed was they all started out really, really heavy, went lame and then broke up.

“And we said, ‘We’re never gonna do that. We’re never gonna go lame and never gonna break up.’ We stuck to that, and we’re still here.”

Anvil certainly had the heavy start, with its 1982 release “Metal on Metal” celebrated as a classic and seminal influence in the metal world, leading to tours with Whitesnake, Bon Jovi and Scorpions, among others. But mismanagement, a lack of record company support and other missteps eventually plowed under Anvil’s momentum for decades until the group’s career was resurrected last year by “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” which was directed by band fan and onetime road crew member Sasha Gervasi — screenwriter of “The Terminal.” The movie, backed by VH1 Classic, has earned rave reviews and made a successful swing through the film festival circuit.

The increased notoriety attracted new, and better, management and brought Anvil’s latest album, “This is Thirteen,” into wider release. Anvil songs were added to the Rock Band video game, and the group was tapped to open for AC/DC and appear in a scene of the upcoming film version of “The Green Lantern.” The band published an autobiography, and there’s talk about re-releasing the rest of its album catalog.

Kudlow is “pretty damn excited” by all that’s transpired, but he takes a more cautious view as well.

“I’ve been through the ringer before, earlier in my life,” Kudlow explains. “I’m very appreciative, but also at the same time extremely skeptical that it’s gonna last too long.”

He, Reiner and current bassist Glenn “G5” Gyorffy will do their best to make that happen, however. They continue to tour with the Anvil Experience, a night that features a band performance after a screening of the film, and there’s talk about a next album — although Kudlow says the goal now is simply to build on what the movie has started.

“It’s just a question of time,” he explains. “We’ve got to build our band, build the brand name, get people to know who we are. There’s a lot of discovery going on out there. People still have to get to know the band.

“Certainly, people know the name now, but they don’t completely know the music. It’s still a building process. There’s a bit of catching up and moving on. We have a long way to go before we’re a common commodity, you know?”

The Anvil Experience takes place Saturday (Jan. 9) at The Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 with a $47 VIP bundle that includes a meet-and-greet with the band. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.

Web Site: www.thecrofoot.com

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