Victoria Purcell (VP) caught up with Lips of Canadian heavy metal band Anvil, at MetalDays Festival in Slovenia.
Anvil have been around since the late 70’s. In their early days they jumped between record labels, building a fan base that included members of Motörhead, and Anthrax. They were well know in the industry early on, and it has even been said that Lemmy Kilmister asked Lips to play guitar for Motörhead to replace “Fast” Eddie Clarke, but Lips declined.
In 2009 Anvil really got the attention of the masses with the release of their documentary ‘Anvil! The Story of Anvil’. The documentary showcased the true struggles of a band trying to ‘make it’. Having watched the passion of Lips in the film, we were keen to find out if being in a band is still everything he wanted it to be (and if he has since taken on any call centre work).
We first talk to Lips about the bands visit to the beautiful location of MetalDays. The conversation then steers towards the music industry. Lips wastes no time in telling RAMzine how he see’s it. Perhaps Lars Ulrich should never have been silenced 15 years ago!? Let us know what you think in the comments.
VP: How are you today?
Lips: I’m good, we arrived the night before yesterday.
VP: How have you found Slovenia?
Lips: Oh it’s amazing, we went for a hike, and we saw the Tolminska Gorge, which was incredible. It was absolutely amazing.
VP: I have heard that’s one of the places everyone should defiantly visit whilst here. Have you been down to the beach yet?
Lips: Yeah, that’s all part of the excursion here. I mean, (we say) beach, it’s a riverside.
VP: Yeah, a beach alongside two rivers, the Soča and Tolminka. I’m very excited about visiting that area of the festival later.
Lips: The river is so crystal clear, it’s crazy, but it’s so nice.
VP: I hear that the water is quite cold?
Lips: Yeah, it’s REALLY cold water.
VP: That will be nice a refreshing, as it’s so hot here (35 degrees).
Lips: As we were hiking around, and we made our way down to the gorge and the river, I said to the guys “I can’t wait to get there”. I finally get there, I put my feet in the water, and it was so cold that you couldn’t keep your feet in the water. It was ice, ice, freezing cold. The other guys were cupping (the water) in their hands to drink.
VP: Slovenia is really a fantastic location for a festival. Did you ever play here when it was Metal Camp?
Lips: This is our first time here, we have never played here before. I like the little skinny streets, it’s a little different from the rest of Europe, the big question going on in our head is “What do people do here, how do they make a living?”
VP: That crossed my mind earlier too, there are only so many shops…
Lips: I guess people are farmers…they must be.
VP: I guess that could be it… Let’s talk about music! Anvil has been around since the late 70’s / early 80’s, you must have seen a lot change in the music industry…
Lips: Yeah we saw it disappear. After Lars Ulrich raised the red flag saying “Everybody is steeling the music, Everybody is steeling the music”. Then everyone said to him “Shut up, shut up, shut up!”. Then he shut up, and the music industry dissolved. That’s pretty much the way it went.
VP: How do you see the music industry today?
Lips: I think that it’s removed all hope, pretty much all hope for any upcoming new band. There is no infrastructure, there is no building of a career. The bottom fell out.
The only time your music is worth anything, is before you actually record it, and then you can do what we are about to do, which is crowd funding.
VP: That’s also a route that newer bands now take.
Lips: I’m sure that we are going to do okay with the crowd funding, but I can’t see a new band, that hasn’t got a name for themselves… how are you gonna get anyone to say “I’m going to pay for your CD, before I even know who you guys are” – how is that going to work?
VP: That’s a good point.
Lips: I really feel that the unwise choices, and stupidity of the people who were in charge of the way records were made, and manufactured CDs… they left the barn door open, and all of the horses ran out. That’s the way I see it, and I don’t know if there will ever be a way back.
VP: What are your plans for the crowd funding? (www.pledgemusic.com/projects/anvil)
Lips: Well, we are going to be recording in October in Germany, and between now and then we are going to try and get as much money as we possible can on pre-orders, and all kinds of fancy smancy things that we are offering. We have everything from guitar lessons, to drum lessons, we are even selling an amplifier… and one of my vibrators!
That’s what you got to do these days, you have to see what you can sell. It doesn’t mean that everyone has to have a vibrator…
VP: You could create a Anvil branded vibrator?
Lips: Yeah, we have actually put quite a bit of thought into that.
VP: Really? I have heard that Rammstein already have one…
Lips: Yeah, well I wouldn’t be surprised. We want to make one that lights up. So that when you buy one at the concert, everyone can hold them up.
VP: That would make an awesome photograph… a sea of glowing vibrators, rather then the standard sea of metal horns. I really hope this happens.
Lips: We will see, we got to get more famous.
VP: After your documentary came out, how did you find it affected the band?
Lips: In every possible way, this is all I do. I haven’t done anymore regular day jobs, no more deliveries. We have basically been on the road non-stop, other then stopping to go do a record.
We just finished a 2 year run, over a hundred shows in the united States, 20-30 shows in Canada, we went to Australia, New Zealand, all of Europe.
We have been to the UK twice for the same album, we did Bloodstock and a number of other dates about 2 years ago. Then we just did 4 shows just now, and that has completes the cycle, and we have ended back where we started.
VP: Have you found being on the road, everything that you wanted it to be?
Lips: And more! I love it.
VP: During the documentary you are so passionate about the band, is that still the case?
Lips: Yeah absolutely! In fact going home, or not doing anything is painful. That’s what its turned in to. If anything is painful it’s doing nothing.
VP: You are mentioned quite a lot on the internet, having influenced bands such as Megadeath and Anthrax, what do you think about that?
Lips: Well, we have been friends with those guys for many many years. We have always got backstage passes, and come to their shows, and they treat us like royalty, and that’s way previous to the movie. I don’t know, all that happened was that they let the world know who their favorite bands were.
People have to understand that amongst musicians, we don’t look at each others financial records. So we don’t really care. All we know is, I like that song, I like that album, I like that band. That’s all we know.
Some of my favorite bands, most people don’t know about.
Click here to see what we have called ‘A Brief History Lesson from Lips’ as he talks us through his favorite bands.
VP: Interestingly enough sales figures in the US say that more people bought ‘old’ music, then new.
Lips: Well, there are a number of things that need to be taken into consideration. In today’s music scene anybody can record, there is no filtering system, there is no record company, there are no A&R people, there are nobody saying “this is good, that’s better, this is bad”. There is no one making judgement calls, and putting out money on it.
In the early days you had to be good if you were going to get a record deal. Period. And it was the record companies job to go out and find the good bands to record. That doesn’t exist anymore. And the kids are left saying “I’ve got 10 quid, whose album am I going to buy…. well this is a proven product people have been listening to it for years, I’m going to take that“. It’s as simple as that.
VP: When music comes with lot’s of recommendation you can’t argue with that… So, what is the plan for Anvil after this next release?
Lips: We will be back touring probably February/ March, and then probably in the summer again. (There is) lot’s of stuff coming to the UK, we love the UK! That’s where the real authentic… I guess because we are Canadian, we say that’s where the real Canada came from.
Our $20 bills have your Queen on them…it’s our Queen too, and we are part of The British Common Wealth, and we are very proud to be, it puts us a mark above America doesn’t it! Well, in my opinion.
VP: Lips, thank you very much for talking to us.
This interview is also available to be watched on YouTube here (however beware of the sound quality due to a big noisy air con unit next to us).
You can pre-order the new album and see what experiences Anvil are also selling at their Pledge music page here – www.pledgemusic.com/projects/anvil