Anvil may be a new name to you, but in the metal community they have been known for the past thirty years. They have played on stage with the likes of Bon Jovi, Scorpions and Whitesnake, but until recently fame and stardom have eluded them.
Recently the Grateful Web's Derek Rhine had a chance to meet with Lips, the lead singer and guitarist of Anvil to chat about their history, struggles and future.
GW: Good morning Lips its very nice to be able to meet with you today.
Lips: Very nice to meet with you, I didn't even know I had an interview this morning. I just logged onto my computer on got your message. So I'm calling you back.
GW:Well thats great, I'm really excited. I heard a rumor that back in the 80's you were asked to play guitar for Lemmy. Is that true?
Lips: Yes thats true. I didn't do it.
GW: Can I ask why?
Lips: Cause we were recording Forged in Fire. Thats a pretty good reason.
GW: Excellent reason.
GW: Looking back with all the problems you have had with management and record labels, do you ever look back and wonder if maybe you should have taken up that offer to play with Lemmy and if the notoriety with playing with him would have helped out Anvil later on down the road?
Lips: You know thats funny, those are the things that he (Lemmy) said to me. (Laughter) Those are the things he said to me but I don't have regrets. No regrets.
GW: With what I saw on your documentary, you weren't getting support from record companies or management, some of you old members went off to play in other band like OverKill. They went off to see some moderate success that you weren't seeing. How did that make you feel.
Lips: Well actually, it wasn't as glamorous as that.
GW: How so?
Lips: Well, Sebby (Sebastian Marino) went looking for money ya know. And Bobby was not the place he was going to get it from. (Laughter) So he was treated like shit for a number of years and he quit that band too. So thats the name of that tune.
GW: What is the one thing, that if you have to look on your career, what is it that has been the driving force for lips?
Lips: Self knowledge. I have something no one else has and it was just a question of getting it exposed. It never had an opportunity. Really. Ya know your signed to independent labels that have distribution in the United States so real success was never in the cards. You won't get real success unless you have American distribution and exposure.
GW: Non of your records were released in the U.S.?
Lips: 3 CD's were available, Strength of Steel, Pound for Pound and a live album. The rest were on import if you were lucky to find them. Why is that, timing. Being at the right place at the right time and management. I haven't had a manger since, we'll we hadn't had a manager since '83 and thats what killed our momentum. We got picked up by David Krebs who was Aerosmith's management. But it didn't help us because we were signed to a Canadian label who wouldn't release our records in the states. And, that tied the managers hands and we got shelved between 1983 and 87. Probably the most important years in metal and thats it, thats what happened. Sometimes it's pretty simple, it's never just one thing, it's a whole number of things. But I didn't lose faith in things. It's only the business. I had everything else in place except for the business.
GW: You have been together now for over thirty years. Most bands don't make it a year without a contract. What is the glue between you and Rob that has kept you guys more than a band, and kept you doing this?
Lips: Well, its like I say. You know what you have. It's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. We knew eventually the cycle of music would come around and what we were doing would be in trend again. We just kept going, we didn't change what we were doing. We were just waiting for the world to change their tastes. Thats basically the way I looked at it. We are what we are, and thats what we are. You don't go change everything that your doing in hopes that you'll get someplace when your doing what you love. It's never going to have the passion, your music will never have what it takes. We kept on going the way that we wanted to go. Without the stress and pressure of record companies and doing what they say. I actually preferred being a King in Hell than servant below, lets put it that way.
GW: You have renewed interest in Anvil, you've got the documentary, you have support from guys like Dave Grohl, are you in a position now to finally quit your day job?
Lips: Absolutely. It's an amazing thing, it's a miracle. And that brings in the idea of why the album was called Juggernaut of Justice and why there is a picture of a miracle happening on the front of that cover.
GW: Whats next for Anvil?
Lips: It's interesting when you ask whats next, I think continuation is always whats next. Survival. Maintenance. Maintaining the stature. It's one thing to get here, it's another to stay here. The pressure of that never goes away. It's been there all along. On that level nothing will ever change. But now it can flourish without the burden of financial stress, and I'm proud and very very grateful for that.
GW: How does your family feel about this long struggle and final pay off.
Lips: For the most part I don't think my brothers and sisters honestly understood what I was doing. It wasn't until the movie that they got an insight into what was going on and what I did. I don't think they realized the significance of it or the magnitude of where it was going to go. So their pretty blown away to say the least. I think its been difficult for my mother to really grasp. If I get seen with her and people come up and take pictures and ask for autographs she asks “Who these people, why are they coming up to you?” I don't think she really understands. As far as my wife and immediate family is concerned, of course there is a great feeling of pride and happiness there. Being on the road is probably the biggest change, and the family getting used to me not being there, that is the biggest change.
GW: Were there any of the drug problems or excess in the band that you had problems with?
Lips: Not Me. (Laughter) Not me. I didn't derive anything from doing that. It didn't interest me, it never has. I think you have to be that kind of person weather your in a band or not to want to do that. I never went the direction of hard drugs or alcohol. And I consider alcohol and hard drug, it's addictive. Makes it dangerous. Doesn't it? It has a history of things it has done to people. I not without vices. I smoke pot. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed of it. I find it a very very light drug, it's safe and I never had any problems. Ya know? I'm one of those people who wonder why alcohol is legal and marijuana isn't. It should probably be the other way around cause there would be a lot less abrasive stuff out there.
GW: What advice would you give to struggling musicians, young and old, what would you tell them?
Lips: Never put a value of money on your music, and never depend on your music to make you money. And you will actually have a chance to actually do that. I think that the more you that you depend on something to work the further elusive it becomes. (laughter) if you don't expect to make money from your music then your better off because your facing the reality of what it's all about. The things to aim for are I've got a gig I've got an audience, and I'm writing music. Even if it costs you money to have that, it's worth every cent.
GW: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me today.
Lips: Take care.