Guns ‘n Roses have heard of them. Metallica has heard of them. Anthrax has heard of them. Twisted Sister said that they were their inspiration. So why haven’t you heard of the gods of Canadian Metal? That’s the question that Sacha Gervasi’s documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil! asks.
Anvil! made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. Since then it has made the rounds at some of the more prestigious film festivals, receiving critical praise the entire time. Now you’ll be able to see it at SXSW and if you do you definitely won’t be disappointed.
At age fourteen Steve “Lips” Ludlow (lead singer) and Robb Reiner (drummer) decided that they were going to rock together their entire lives, and through the good and the bad they’ve stuck right by each other.
The film picks up when Lips and Robb are in their fifties. Lips is working for a food-delivery service, and besides the long “hair band” hair he’s fairly unsuspecting. Lips is an energetic and emotional force. Everything he does he goes all out. Robb is a more laid back kind of guy, the yin to Lips’ yang. Together they have kept Anvil! rocking for more than 30 years.
But, 30 years later what do they have to show for it? They haven’t sold millions of records even though up to the point the film was made they’d already recorded 12 albums. They aren’t mobbed by fans wherever they go. They don’t go on worldwide tours that gross millions of dollars. But, they continue to rock on in the face of adversity.
A short way into the film we learn that an Anvil! fan in Europe has taken it upon herself to set up and carry out a European tour to music festivals and clubs. At first Lips is excited about it. He can’t wait to get out there and start playing with his band again. But, when they get to Europe the story is much more different than they had imagined. Most of the time they’re playing in bars, in front of anywhere from 10 to 20 people. It’s hard to watch at times because you can’t help but care for these guys and what they’re going through.