Saturday, September 18, 2021

Lips talks about Anvil: “Making a living doing what I love with the band… this is all I ever wanted”

Forty years later, after all the sweat, the accomplishments, the tears, the bad and the good times Anvil are still rocking out with original members Lips and Robb who in 2014 were joined by Chris Robertson on bass. Tonight The Underworld in London is packed and you can tell from the crowd that most of it is made of old-school fans. Lips starts the show by standing in the middle of his audience while playing the guitar with the same passion and enthusiasm he had in the 80’s. ‘March Of The Crabs’, ‘Bitch In The Box’ and ‘Metal On Metal’ continue to be the fans’ favourites judging from everyone’s reaction and excitement. There is an absolute standing ovation for the cover ‘Born To Be Wild’ which closes the night with a boom. Before the show started we had the pleasure to chat with Steve ‘Lips’ about all the news regarding Anvil as they are embarking a long European tour in support of the new album.

RAMzine: On January 19th you released your 17th album Pounding The Pavement how’s that going and what would you say to promote it?

Lips: I think it’s going ok, I mean I don’t really pay attention to numbers, I do what I have to do. Go out on tour and hopefully all the shows are full. All that matters to me is that the numbers are good enough for us to continue and throughout the years the numbers have been consistent so I don’t expect them to change. We are who we are, we do what we do, the people that have been listening to us all along will totally love it because it is exactly what they would expect or want. People outside that who have always hated us aren’t going to change their minds because we are not bringing anything completely new or different.

Anvil by Jessy Lotti
Anvil by Jessy Lotti

RAMzine: In support of your new record you’ve recently started a European tour, what do you expect from it?

Lips: I don’t think we have ever done so many shows in the UK since 1983 when we went out with Motorhead so it’s pretty exciting overall and very rewarding. Let’s face it 98% of Anvil’s shows are all to non-English speaking audiences so it’s a real pleasure to come to a place that isn’t at home or in America that speaks English (laughs).

RAMzine: Do you think your audience has changed over the years?

Lips: I wouldn’t really say that it has. Ultimately I think that people lock into what they grew up with and it stays with them for their life. You know, the same fans that came down to see us 35-40 years ago are going to be that portion of the audience that will always be there. They might not have hair anymore or it might be all grey but it’s still the same people.

Anvil by Jessy Lotti
Anvil by Jessy Lotti

RAMzine: When you think about the UK, what’s the first memory that comes to your mind?

Lips: Probably The Marquee and Sacha Gervasi, the guy that did our documentary, we met him when we first came here. I am still friends with him to this day. To me, playing in London is like playing in my hometown. Also, it reminds me of Chris Tsangarides, there’s a profound sense of sadness due to his recent passing.

RAMzine: How was working with him?

Lips: For a long time throughout my career he represented a guru in the production industry. Really, other than him there was no one else until more recent years. I’ve also worked with different guys now and I’ve come to realise there is differences between working with Chris and working with others. Chris was an old-school producer and he produced in an old school fashion. During the recording of ‘This Is Thirteen‘, we didn’t use much of what you call the new technology. Everything was kept real, if you had to sing it again he’d make you sing it again. Having said that with Chris you’d have to be a good musician or you’d probably not do very well. He was more like ‘the musician has to bring it, don’t make me do your work for you’. I loved him and I’m gonna miss him terribly, no one was expecting it. Honestly, knowing I’d have been here now I was looking forward to sending him a message and seeing him today. His passing completely caught us off guard.

Anvil by Jessy Lotti
Anvil by Jessy Lotti

RAMzine: You are the first Canadian band to have been inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History, what did that mean for you?

Lips: It’s not a question of what it means to me as much as what it means to the fans of my band. In the end I don’t think it’s going to make any difference, it’s, of course, a recognition and after all this time in the business it’s also very very rewarding. But it’s not going to change anything, financially or spiritually speaking. Considering I was the first in line among all the other Canadian bands I am happy I got it first. If they get inducted it’s great and I wish them all the best but I was there in line a few years before so I guess it’s only fair.

RAMzine: What happened after your documentary was released?

Lips: I haven’t been back to a regular day job since then which is finally a dream coming true. Making a living doing what I love with the band, I mean this is all I ever wanted, I have never wanted a million dollars.

Anvil by Jessy Lotti
Anvil by Jessy Lotti

RAMzine: Watching the documentary what caught my attention the most is that you, Lips, appear to be always optimistic even during the hardest times, where do you take your positive attitude from?

Lips: It certainly can’t get any worse and if it does oh well I don’t know (laughs). I think part of it comes from my parents never accepting what I do and so if you don’t get accepted from your parents everyone else’s acceptance is secondary. My dad was indifferent to my musical career, he never said don’t do that, he just saw a level of futility in it, whereas my mother thought it was a complete waste of time. In 1977 I quit school as I had an offer to join a band with Robb and in doing that I had to leave the house, there was no point of paying my mum rent when I could have lived alone under my own rules. By ’84 the band had lost his momentum and by ’87 my marriage was over. It was all starting over again including getting new musicians for the band. Me and Robb never gave up instead, we weren’t there just for the money or for the women. What John Lennon did for Paul McCartney that’s what Robb does for me, that’s how a writing team works.

RAMzine: Despite some ups and downs you and Robb seem to genuinely love each other. How’s your relationship with him now?

Lips: Probably better than it’s ever been not that it’s ever been a problem. We both want the same results, the only thing that we argue about is maybe the approach to get to that. It’s like two parents raising a kid who is being bad, the father wants to spank him, the mother wants to send him to his room but in the end they both want the kid to learn a lesson.

RAMzine: What is it that makes you want to keep going on and rocking after 40 years?

Lips: Really it’s playing live, you never get enough. That is the driving force that ultimately has the same effect to even the biggest rockstars. Why would Mick Jagger or Keith Richards even be bothered to go on tour? Only one reason – they love it, they love being seen by an audience. Being a musician and standing in front of an audience and feeling that kind of fulfilment can’t be compared to all the money in the world. Time is running out to be able to do that, so you go and do it for every minute you can get out of it. That’s when you have truly enjoyed yourself and felt the gratitude of all of it, that can only be achieved live. It’s the wanting of attention and being the class trouble maker which I was very good at. Like I say at the beginning of every show ‘We can’t help growing old, but growing up is completely optional’.

Claudia Mancino
Rock 'n roll has always played a big role in my life. I’m a music addict and a freelance writer since 2015. Driven by a consistent passion and an assiduous hard working ethic, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and interview some of my favourite artists. Animals and girly stuff lover. For those about to rock, we salute you!

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