J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

Anvil – the Story of Anvil

anvil-photoI finally was able to watch the documentary “Anvil – The Story of Anvil” last night.  It tells the story of the band Anvil who in 1983 played in front of 50,000 fans with the likes of the Scorpions, Whitesnake, and Bon Jovi.  Each of those bands went on to sell millions of records…all of them except Anvil.  13 albums and 30+ years later, they still struggle to play in front of 100 people.

The center of the documentary is the two remaining original members:  Robb Reiner (drums) and Steve “Lips” Kudlow (guitarist).  Friends since childhood, they quit school, started Anvil, and set out for stardom.  3 decades later, Lips works at a catering company and Robb struggles to continue with no break in sight.  A large portion of the story shows their ill-fated European tour that finds them being pay stiffed in Prague resulting in a fist-fight and numerous missed trains and airports.  They close the tour out at a festival in a 10,000 seat venue with 174 fans in attendance.  Not a single penny was netted from the tour.  They then place great hopes in releasing a new CD with one of their old producers but then struggle to find a record label that will distribute it.

The thing that makes Anvil so compelling is that the story transcends the topic.  Obscure Canadian metal bands don’t often attract too much attention (either in record sales or in movie tickets) but the relationship between Robb and Lips is the story’s strength.  These guys have known each other for so long, endured long bus rides together, got in fist-fights, told each other they loved the other, and celebrated birthday parties together.  Throughout so much pain in trying to obtain their goal, they have stuck it out with each other.

After the ill-fated tour and a series of botched record label interviews, Lips speaks about the dreams he still has.  Even after so many years, he dreams of walking out onto the stage to be greeted by thousands of fans.  He dreams of Anvil becoming a huge success, and a Japanese show at the end of the movie helps him realize that dream to some extent.

Since the release of the movie, which is receiving critical acclaim and is an Oscar contender, things have turned around somewhat for the band.  Their album was finally released on a real record label, they are about to embark on a real tour of Europe, and recently opened for AC/DC on a small tour that included an evening at Madison Square Garden.  Though they will probably never be a huge mainstream band, the documentary has opened their music up to thousands of people who would like to see them succeed.

While I was watching the movie, there were so many ways that I could resonate with these two guys.  As a church planter, I’ve cried and wondered and struggled with what it would take to get our church off the ground.  I’ve had the dreams where thousands of people show up and the dreams where nobody shows as well.  What I loved mostly though was Lips’ enthusiasm after so many years.  Even when he was discouraged and beaten up, he still thought things were going to work out.  He had the cognizance to realize that with that enthusiasm comes the burden of casting the vision in difficult times to doubters and skeptics.  In that one area, he was inspiration to me.

If you like good filmmaking and heart-warming stories, “Anvil – the Story of Anvil” is worth checking out.  The style of music is not shoved down your throat which makes the movie appealing to people who are not fans of the genre.  Robb and Lips are guys that you want to root for and perhaps in them you might find a bit of encouragement in the midst of what you are struggling through as well.

The article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner.

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October 5, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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