Since becoming a household name, following the release of the wildly personal documentary 2008’s Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, hard rock titans Anvil have been busy. Not capitalising on the buzz, or coasting on it, but building on it. Seizing the moment of international recognition to plan their Normandy and in the years since, their plans have filled the sky.

Australia has become a regular stop off for the group, who ventured down for Soundwave Festival, as well as supporting various releases here and there. Later this year, the band will be returning, holding high above their heads their latest album Anvil Is Anvil, before retreating to plot the release of their next album, Pounding The Pavement in 2018.

Ahead of their arrival, we caught up with lead vocalist and guitarist Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow.

The Neversphere: More and more amazing rock, or heavy music, tours are happening in Australia these days. Every week something great is getting announced and it seems like Australia is becoming known as a haven for rock n roll, and heavy music…
Lips: You know what’s really fascinating about your marketplace; prior to the last couple of years, there’s been one person…as my ex-Manager use to put it, there was one Gorilla in town, and you don’t deal with no one else. I’m not going to mention names but the bottom line is, there was some kind of monopoly on who gets in. It’s all political. And only a handful of people had control over those type of things.
The Neversphere: Without naming names, for a long time there was one person, or a small crowd at least, who had a vice grip on the touring market-
Lips: -On everything! All over your whole country. A complete stranglehold on the country. ‘This is who we’re going to allow in‘…’This is who we’re going to let get big‘, completely trying to control…It was all being controlled!
The Neversphere: Is it not like that everywhere?
Lips: Not necessarily…Well…No, actually. It may be like that to a certain degree in Canada, but there are still too many options. There’s a couple of guys, but they don’t have the monopoly on everything, not at all. Most of the guys are independent. The people who bring in, let’s say, medium-to-pretty-famous bands who’ll pull anything from 500-2000 seats, there could be an independent person [booking the tour]. It’s not some guy sitting in a big office. It’s some guy with long hair who happens to be in the business of putting on shows.

We have that kind of stuff in Canada, and so does Australia only unbeknown to all the touring bands all over the world. So, until those connections were made, it had to become viable. At one point, we were told ‘You don’t bother coming to Australia unless you do Soundwave Festival‘, period. And no bands were coming down to do regular clubs and play places. Because, of course, it didn’t make financial sense.
The Neversphere: Which is interesting when you recall all the drama surrounding lots of those bands coming down especially for Soundwave and not getting paid in the end…
Lips: I wouldn’t say that was the case. I would say that quite frankly, and what probably caused the demise, was everyone did get their money and it drove the festival out of business. I think it would be more that way, with his decisions, that he bit off more than he could chew.
The Neversphere: How did you find your time at the festival? Admin dramas aside, the vibe seemed to be it was more or less Summer Camp for bands…
Lips: Oh yeah. It was absolutely wonderful, a great experience. I have nothing bad to say about the promoter, or anything at all about Soundwave, what I’m talking about is the business in Australia, the way it was looked at and perceived as from outsiders. It’s not whether it was right or wrong, or this or that or the other. It’s just that were certain people you had to try and talk to if you wanted to enter the market. Beyond that, it’s not financially viable because it costs so much for the flights to get there, you certainly can’t drive around the whole country so you’re not doing it on a tour bus.

It must be very, very well coordinated and organised. There are some companies that have risen in the past few years that made it possible for things like this to happen. I think it’s absolutely stellar…Amazing.
The Neversphere: So essentially, this mass influx is because the so called ‘gatekeepers’ have lost their sway, so the long-heard greasy metal heads are rising?
Lips: Exactly. Ultimately, I think that’s what it comes down to. Your private, independent booking agencies and promoters…it’s not corporate people. They’re earth people, people that probably have other jobs too, music wouldn’t be their only thing. Trust me when I say it, it’s a very difficult business to turn money in, because you’re depending on people showing up to the shows.
The Neversphere: And all it takes is a rainy night and you’ll lose cash.
Lips: Exactly. It’s difficult and it’s precarious. But at the same time, you’re going to get these rockers who’ll get their chance to put on one of their favourite bands and be a promoter for the night. ‘Ok, I’ll put up a grand and I’ll put on a show tonight. I’ll rent a PA, charge $10-$20 bucks to get in, I’ll get 100 people, I’ll be able to pay it…’ And away you go, you have a show!

Ultimately it is that simple. To the point where I just did a show in South America, where a couple of ‘Bangers’, I call them ‘Bangers’, people who have joined our fan club, they decided to put on their own show. They bought the whole situation. They went to the venue, hired it, got someone to coordinate everything for them. They put up the money, of course people came and it was packed so they made all their money back; it was what they wanted to do. That’s how simple it can be.

I’m about to do an adventure and go to China before I come to Australia. Interestingly, this promoter is a young guy, he’s in his 40s, he saw the Anvil movie and was so taken by the story and everything about it that his dream became to bring the band to China. ‘I gotta bring the band to China’ he’s thinking ‘And I’m going to pay for it’. So, we’re playing China. We have five shows.

The Neversphere: From what I know that market is even tougher to crack than Australia. That’s pretty crazy that Anvil have shows in China.
Lips: It is crazy. You have to understand, if you look at that movie it’s a human story about perseverance and trying to do something against all odds. That’s a very common, core element of the human spirit. So here you have somebody in China who felt that, deep…deep enough to actually make the move. This individual knows that there are thousands and thousands of people like himself who have seen the Anvil movie in China and they want to see the band too.

It’s because it’s music. I’ll tell you this right now, I was just reading about it. Particularly in the arts, China has opened up with Canada. There’s a lot of travelling between China and Canada, of all different types of artists. Whether it’s music types, or artists that make paintings, even photographers. It’s interesting when applying for a Visa for China the things that it says. In the options for the reasons you’re coming ‘For performance’…It asks you if you’re coming to do a performance. I mean, Whoa…Ok. Even on American or Australian paperwork it doesn’t ask me if I’m going to do a performance. So, it’s almost built for putting on shows.

The other thing that I’ve come to understand which is really fascinating, is the idea of a communist rule. It tends to darken out the view to what might actually be there. From what I’ve actually been lead to believe it’s a facade. It’s a cover, it’s a mask. You take the mask off and its just people, just like we are, just like everybody is. That’s what it is.

The whole idea of separation by religion, by politics….The things that are keeping us separated are actually keeping us so fucking stupid.
The Neversphere: You’re in an interesting position to do some good with these shows then. Even taking a camera with you to show what it’s actually like on the ground there. Music could very well be the cultural bridge and ultimate connector.
Lips: It always will be, it’s a fundamental aspect of humanity. It’s one of the only things we create that doesn’t wear out. Just think about that. The only thing that mankind has ever made that never wears out is music. Everything else we do wears out.
The Neversphere: Going back to the Australian tour, you guys will be releasing your next album Pounding The Pavement next year, will we be able to hear any new songs live?
Lips: No, we can’t do that, that’s not possible. We haven’t been there since…Oh, actually we did come down for one of the last albums…We’ve got one album that we haven’t been down there yet. We’ve gotta come back for Anvil is Anvil. We’re coming at the end of that album cycle. The beginning of the Pounding The Pavement album cycle starts in February when the album comes out.

That means in another year, year and a half from now we’ll be back. That’s what I’ll likely mean. Let’s really hope, because honestly every time I do things like this, I always do it like I’ll never get a chance again. I look at it like something absolutely spectacular. I always worry whether there’ll be another time. Let’s get through this one, let’s hope that it goes very well, then it means there’s more for us to do. That’s the best way to describe it.

It’ll be the first time we’ve come to Australia and there’ll be any promotion. We’ve never done any. Now we actually are. Let’s see what difference you will make. Let’s see if you make a difference.

We’ll make a lot of noise with this…
Lips: [Laughs] Ok…

…That sounds great man.


Anvil 2017 Australian Tour Dates

Wednesday, November 8
Crowbar, Brisbane
Tickets: Metropolis Touring

Friday, November 10
Bald Faced Stag, Sydney
Tickets: Metropolis Touring

Saturday, November 11
Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Tickets: Metropolis Touring

Sunday, November 12
Fowlers Live, Adelaide
Tickets: Metropolis Touring

Tuesday, November 14
Rosemount, Perth
Tickets: Metropolis Touring