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Absolutely No Alternative

It’s been a long, strange trip for Anvil.


Formed by lifelong friends Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner (singer/guitarist and drummer, respectively), these Toronto-based hard-rockers capitalized on a unique rock sound in the late-70s/early-80s that served as an inspiration for bands like Metallica and Guns N’ Roses.  Yet while all of their followers went on to arena-rocking success, Anvil got sidelined in the Big Book of Rock History, becoming mere footnotes to a movement they were a big part in starting. 


When former Anvil roadie Sacha Gervasi began filming a documentary on his former employers in 2005, little did he know what kind of impact he would have on the band.  Anvil! The Story of Anvil—out now on DVD—became a huge film festival hit in 2008 and got proper distribution in 2009, garnering a slew of absolutely stellar reviews and completely revitalizing Anvil’s career in the process.  Now, with the movie being submitted for Academy Award consideration, the band having just finished up promoting their 13th studio album This Is Thirteen, and work having already begun on Anvil’s 14th disc of face-melting metal (tentatively titled Juggernaut of Justice), both Reiner and “Lips” themselves sit down to take part in PopMatters’ famed 20 Questions series, revealing a love of painting, a love of family, and a love (of course) of all things metal ...


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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?


REINER: Anvil! The Story of Anvil.
LIPS: I really can’t remember the last time I cried at a movie, you know, they’re not real.  But I almost came to tears when I saw Inglorious Basterds.  [It’ll] almost make you cry cause they’re real.
 
2. The fictional character most like you?


REINER: There are none.
LIPS: Don Quixote—like me, he fought a fight that he couldn’t possibly win, but it fought it anyway. 
 
3. The greatest album, ever?


REINER: Montrose (self titled, released in 1973)
LIPS: Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick.
 
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?


REINER: Star Trek.
LIPS: Star Trek—I’ve loved Star Trek since 1966; it’s my all time-favorite TV series.  And I love all of the subsequent series, well, except Deep Space 9.
 
5. Your ideal brain food?


REINER: Chocolate!
LIPS: Coffee - it is a drug, and I try to stay away from it.
 
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?


REINER: My paintings, because I paint just for me.
LIPS: I’ve made music that has inspired other musicians, I’ve worked whole life to that.
 
7. You want to be remembered for . .?


REINER: Drum God/Painter.
LIPS: The person that I am.
 
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?


REINER: Buddy Rich.
LIPS: My older brother.  He was a clever guy, he taught me so much, he made me aware of so many things that other kids’ older brothers didn’t.  He taught me about everything from making gun powder to using a magnifying glass to building amps, taking things apart to see how they worked.  And through him, I learned about different effects, the echo chamber, I did experiments with guitars, he was great.
 
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?


REINER: A painting called “Early Sunday Morning” by Edward Hopper.
LIPS: There really is nothing like that for me; I have no desire to have done something that someone else did.  I wouldn’t want to begrudge them that.
 
10. Your hidden talents . . .?


REINER: Its all out in the open!
LIPS: Maybe i prefer to keep that a secret.
 
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?


REINER: Stay out of trouble
LIPS: To go after knowledge.  My brother gave me that, and i think he was right because you can never know enough, you can never learn enough, there’s no end to learning.
 
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?


REINER: A drum kit for my son Tyler when he was three years old.
LIPS: My first guitar when I was 13.  My parents promised me that if I got through my Bar Mitzvah, they’d get me a guitar. And I did.  And then I sold that guitar for another guitar I wanted later on.
 
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?


REINER: Levis.
LIPS: Levis.
 
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?


REINER: Depends on the moment. Probably my wife, Jane.
LIPS: My wife, Virginia.
 
15. Time travel: where, when and why?


REINER: I am a time traveler - I am not from here.
LIPS: Hey, I watch Star Trek, so I wouldn’t want to change the time continuum.
 
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?


REINER: Pot.
LIPS: I bite my nails - which compounds it, so that’s when you roll a joint.
 
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?


REINER: Chocolate and Pot.
LIPS: A filet combo at MacDonalds.
 
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?


REINER: Holland.
LIPS: Where I’m  most comfortable, here in Toronto, where I grew up.


19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?


REINER: Legalize Pot!
LIPS: Legalize Pot.
 
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?


REINER: Promoting Anvil! The Story of Anvil, This Is Thirteen, touring, and getting ready to record Juggernaut of Justice!
LIPS: The new Anvil album, Juggernaut of Justice, as a matter of fact, I’m off to record vocal tracks now, maybe rewrite some lyrics.

Evan Sawdey started contributing to PopMatters in late 2005, and has also had his work featured in publications such as SLUG Magazine, The Metro (U.K.), Soundvenue Magazine (Denmark), the Daily Dot, and multiple national newspapers. Evan has been a guest on RevotTV's "Revolt Live!" as well as WNYC's Soundcheck (an NPR affiliate), was the Executive Producer for the Good With Words: A Tribute to Benjamin Durdle album (available for free at GoodWithWordsAlbum.com), and wrote the liner notes for the 2011 re-release of Andre Cymone's hit 1985 album A.C. (Big Break Records), the 2012 re-release of 'Til Tuesday's 1985 debut Voices Carry (Hot Shot Records), and many others. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. You can follow him @SawdEye should you be so inclined.


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