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Steve Lips Ludlow Anvil - Interview
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The Sword

Thrash metal veterans Anvil have had quite a career in their 35 plus years of existence, a lot of highs and a whole lot of lows but ever since their documentary "Anvil: The Story Of Anvil" was released almost 10 years ago, the band have enjoyed a resurgence in their career that not only opened doors for them but gave fans and critics alike a brilliant insight into the realities of being in a band. The band have a new album coming out February 26th titled "Anvil Is Anvil" and we had a great discussion with frontman Steve "Lips" Ludlow about the new songs, hanging out with Motorhead legend Lemmy and much more.



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Andrew: The new album "Anvil Is Anvil", how did the whole thing come together this time around?

Lips: Pretty damn quick actually, fucking great! I mean we were ready long before we went in to record it, it's just that we had an enormous tour schedule for the last year or so. That plus changing management just after the [last] album came out and holding off before we started touring didn't help the situation either, so that has to do with management not doing their job in a timely fashion and that's why they're gone. We got new people which is going a lot better, way better so that's all good.

Andrew: That's good to hear! As far as the songs coming together, at what point did you start writing and recording these songs?

Lips: For writing, it was as soon as we finished "Hope In Hell". As soon as we came home from Los Angeles 2 years ago, we started writing.

Andrew: Oh right, so you were that inspired to start writing immediately?

Lips: Yeah well actually I probably would of done the same thing this time but I got lazy [laughs]. I got a little lazy, I could of written half of a new album by now but I didn't do it. It was just one of those things, I didn't feel like it!

Andrew: [laughs] About the album title, it seems like it's about that you guys know who you are, the fans know who you are and you aren't about to make drastic changes. Would I be right in saying that?

Lips: Absolutely, couldn't be more accurate! The music speaks louder than anything because it's definitely an Anvil album, it certainly isn't anything else but.

Andrew: How important is it to you to keep the trademark Anvil sound on record?

Lips: It's not a matter of importance, it's what we are. You don't decide you are going to change it, you are what you are and if you can't be yourself, then who the fuck are you gonna be?

Andrew: What do you think of bands who do change from album to album?

Lips: I don't know who really does? Who does that?

Andrew: Metallica for example are a band that do that, it's never really the same kind of thing.

Lips: I guess, I don't know? It depends onto who's ears. Because to me it sounds like one long album and everyone says, 'Oh they changed so much after the black album', and I go, 'Really? Where?' To me I don't hear it because I'm not really a tuned in fan, I don't get to know the songs well enough unless they've been shoved down my throat by radio but other than that, it just sounds like, 'Hey Hey Hey', James Hetfield, heeeey! It all sounds like that to me.

Andrew: Ok well with some of the songs on your new album, there is one particular song I would like to ask you about and it's concerning gun control in the U.S., the track "Gun Control". How did that one come together and what was the inspiration behind the lyrics?

Lips: Well honestly what had happened was I had written a piece of music and while rehearsing it and playing it everyday, I could hear gun control on the riff. It's not like I was planning on it or I had this motive, it was it sounds like it's going 'Gun control da da da da da, gun control'. So OK that's what the song is going to be about. So I wrote the lyrics and everything about the subject other than saying whether I'm for it or against it [laughs], because you don't want to do that! I didn't want to do that and I have no intention of making a stance on that subject at all, I'm just talking about it in general. I live in Canada, we don't really have their issues at all, we're like you guys. It's no different in Australia than it is in Canada, we're part of the British Commonwealth, we're fucking civilised [laughs]. I laugh at that shit man because America is never going to make guns illegal, it's never, ever going to happen!

Andrew: [laughs] I guess that's what they are fighting about at the moment.

Lips: They can fight about it all they want, they're never going to change the constitution, it's never going to happen. That stuff is more than just stuff written on a piece of paper, it's etched in stone, it's never going to change.

Andrew: Yeah it's something I have talked to people about before and I think it's more of a cultural thing than anything else.

Lips: The entire country was constructed on the gun, everything about it. I mean come on, it's their second amendment! The second rule of the fucking rulers of land is you are allowed to have guns. How would you protect yourself if the first nation of people were attacking because you stole their land, but at gun point? The whole foundation of everything that they did to create that society is built on the gun, you can't remove the gun, it's the foundations.

Andrew: Yeah it's a big part of their history and something that some people need to realize maybe.

Lips: I think we all know it, we all know.

Andrew: Another song I want to ask you about is the song "It's Your Move" where there is some reference to Lemmy from Motorhead who passed away recently. Was that song inspired by Motorhead in anyway?

Lips: I was in the studio and he was on tour and I expected him to hear it! Hey check this out Lemmy [in his best Lemmy voice] 'The Ace Of Spades and the Joker is wild'. He was my friend! It started out as a joke, when I was singing I just wanted to crack everybody up so when the line came up in the lyrics, I went up to the microphone, bent my head back like Lemmy and sang the line. And everybody in the control room was like, 'We gotta leave that, that's fucking great!' Really? OK! I'm just having fun out here!

Andrew: Yeah it's a great song! I guess you knew Lemmy for a long time, what were some of your best memories hanging out with him?

Lips: Probably in 1983 while we were on tour with him, he invited me up to his hotel room and he says 'Come up and have a couple of drinks'. So I said, 'Sure man, fucking great!' So we sat down and he pulled out a 40 ounce bottle of vodka and a couple of crates of orange juice and these big tall glasses that probably hold 20 ounces of fluid. So he fills it up with about 10 ounces of vodka and then tops it off with orange juice and then we start drinking. Of course I get about 3 or 4 shots in and I'm fucking wasted because I'm not a drinker, so he goes, 'You're starting to look a little buzzed there, Lips'. So he pulls out a little leather pouch and a pocket knife and dips his pocket knife into this white powder and it's fucking amphetamines, it's fucking speed and he sticks it right under my nose and he goes, 'Fucking sniff, right!' and it's like no alcohol, I'm straight as a fucking judge! 'Wow Ok, this is cool!' We keep going and keep going and the next thing I know, there's a knock on the fucking door and it's the tour manager and he goes, 'Time to go to the gig guys'. And it was supposed to be our day off and I'm like, 'We're on our day off, what do you mean go to the gig?' And he goes, 'Guys, you've been sitting in here for 24 fucking hours, get your shit together and let's go!' 'What happened?' [laughs]. So I get to the gig and I can barely fucking walk, I'm so fucked up and Lemmy walks in and takes a look at me and goes, 'You're looking fucking knackered mate, maybe you oughta try one of these'. He pulls out a little plastic bag and it's filled with little black capsules and he says, 'These are called black bombers, take 2'. And I go, 'You know what Lemmy? After last night, I'm only taking one!' Well I ate the pill and fuck, I did the gig! I could of done 5! [laughs] all my hair stood on end and I go, 'Holy fuck!' Hey when in Rome, you do as the Romans. When touring with Motorhead, you do as Motorhead. That's what happened, now I know what no sleep 'til Hammersmith meant [laughs].

Andrew: [laughs] I guess he must of been one of those kind of guys that was very hard to say no to.

Lips: Exactly! And you gotta understand, he was like an older brother to me. He was 10 years and 3 months older so the way I kinda looked at him, it's like an older brother and you gotta respect your elders man. He was like my recognisance, he would fucking do it 10 years before I did so I knew what to expect in my future.

Andrew: He's certainly a unique character and we are definitely all going to miss him.

Lips: Yeah but we both knew that we would both be there forever until we're dead. These are the things that we had in common, we're lifers. That's what it is man, it's like no parole [laughs].

Andrew: {laughs] Exactly. Moving on to touring, I guess the first time I saw you guys was when you came over for Soundwave in 2010. Did you remember much from that experience at all? I think it was the first time you had been to Australia right?

Lips: Yeah it was great, really great!

Andrew: Yeah and then you came back a few years later and did your headlining tour as well.

Lips: Yeah about a year and a half ago now.

Andrew: So how was it and would you like to come back again?

Lips: I love it and in a heartbeat! We love it, what a fucking great place man. It's like visiting home, it's like another province of Canada. It's virtually the same shit! The biggest difference is you drive on the wrong side of the road, it's about the only difference.

Andrew: Well that depends on who's perspective it is, we consider it to be the right side of the road and consider you guys to be on the wrong side of the road!

Lips: Right exactly!

Andrew: [laughs]

Lips: That's about the only difference, you're street cars are identical to ours, the shopping centres, the commercial stuff is virtually the same other than Burger King which is fucking Happy Jacks or whatever.

Andrew: Hungry Jacks [laughs].

Lips: I mean very small differences but Australia is almost like a hybrid of Britain and Canada. Like, what is this? Canada/England, what is this? Even the money is like, that looks like Canadian money but it isn't!

Andrew: That's right, your banknotes have the Queen Of England too right?

Lips: Yes it does.

Andrew: Yeah she's everywhere! So what have you got planned on your touring schedule and will Australia be included on your touring schedule?

Lips: I fucking hope so man. We got 50 shows with Dirkschneider all over Europe and we're looking at something like September/October/November area time to possibly get to Australia, I don't really know yet. We're looking into it, it's getting tabled. We have people that can do it so we're trying to get them to do it again but we'll see. I haven't got confirmation on anything yet so hopefully, and I say more than hopefully, I gotta make it happen.

Andrew: Absolutely and the fans would agree with that, we would love to have you come back to Australia for another tour and especially on the back of this new album as well.

Lips: So what do you think? Do you like the new album?

Andrew: I do actually! I've been a fan for a number of years and I certainly think this new album is one of the better ones you have done in a while. I love some of the songs on here, even the first one "Daggers And Rum" which is a bit of a piratey kind of song. Where did that idea come from?

Lips: I got a friend of mine by the name of Spooky Ruben who contacted me and asked me to be in a musical play and I was going to be cast as Captain Snarls [laughs].

Andrew: [laughs] Right , Ok!

Lips: So I did the play and he's going, 'Come on man, write me a song for this pirate stuff man, come on!'. And at that point we had 5 or 6 bed tracks already sorted out and one of those, which was "Daggers And Rum", sounds like that would work. And then I started thinking, 'What am I going to use, what is the title going to be for that?' And I started thinking of possible titles and what came to mind was the band Riot, they had done a song called "Swords and Tequila" and that somehow struck me as a pirate sort of theme in a way but I obviously can't use that so I started thinking along that train of thought and then I thought, let me think about pirates - Rum, and daggers - Daggers and Rum! So when I sat and tried it with the music, I go, 'Fuck that fits like a glove, wow!' So I did a search on the internet and started reading all kinds of pirate shantys and getting inspired and I go, 'Well there's nothing here that I can actually use' and a lot of shantys were made up from musical plays all through the years, that's what you actually end up finding when you google it. So what that's telling me is I gotta make one up, you can't just steal parts of this one and that one, I gotta make one up. But "Daggers And Rum" is a fucking great piece of music man, fuck did that have magic.

Andrew: Yeah it's a very different Anvil song, something that you've never gone into before with that piratey kind of vibe.

Lips: Well it struck me that this could really work for a musical and when we were first offered to record it, then I thought, 'You know what? I'm leaving it for the record because this has got a lot of shit in it.' You can't lose this, I don't want to give it up before the album, this is top notch shit! But in actually creating the song, when I got to the studio, of course after the lyrics it was one of the very first songs that had to get finished because I thought we're going to need background vocals and we have that pledge campaign and when it came to the pledge campaign to sing backup vocals and I got the song prepared first. So in doing my guitar overdubs, I discovered there was a little melody that seemed to appear underneath the vocals that my lead guitar discovered while playing the lead guitar. Well that became the melody for the intro shanty of the yo-ho-ho part. So then I got really freaked out and I go, 'I gotta write something' and I came up with the yo-ho-ho thing and then I go, 'OK guys, let's go out'. So we took a piece of the verse and just separated it from the song and then sang the shanty on top of the drums and the bass, no guitar underneath it other than the lead guitar part so that you can follow the melody to the beat. What an amazing experience! So we created these shanty pieces and put it at the end and the beginning of the song which is like, 'Wow look how it sets the whole thing up'. It's just magical stuff that you create spontaneously, I'm very proud of it. That's why I just wanted to tell you a little bit of an insight into it as it's really fucking cool.

Andrew: Absolutely and I guess that's one of the reasons you decided to put it as the very first track on the album?

Lips: Yeah it had so much character and it was so theatrical that you gotta open with this. Listen to that, that's a masterpiece! To me it was extraordinarily unique, I did not know there was a German band called Running Wild that does everything in pirate. I never even knew that existed! I just thought, 'Wow I'm going to do this' but there's something about my voice and that piece of music that fit together. It sounds like Captain Lips! I don't know, there's just something very special about it and I think it was a great idea. People will be going, 'What, are you becoming pirates?' No it's just a song. Did I become a Japanese monster fighter because I wrote "Mothra"? Come on guys!

Andrew: [laughs] Exactly! I suppose this is one song you will have to play on tour then.

Lips: Yeah, we've chosen 4 songs to play live but we're probably only going to put 2 in the set at any given time. So "Daggers" is one of them and "Zombie Apocalypse", "It's Your Move" and "Die For A Lie", so we got 4 of the songs from the new album that we're going to rally around when we play.

Andrew: Awesome, sounds good! Good luck, have fun on tour and thanks for your time today. It's really appreciated and hopefully we get to see you in Australia.

Lips: Ok thank you!

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on February 11th 2016