Robb Reiner of Anvil
It might be hard to believe that the guys in Anvil have been shredding since the late seventies but for the band, they couldn’t imagine life any differently. Their story, now a much more well known one thanks to the documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” created by by screenwriter and longtime fan and friend of the band Sacha Gervasi, is an inspirational tale to any music maker out there who knows the daily struggles and challenges that present themselves. It displays the inner spirit of true metal and the journey that founding members Robb Reiner and Steve “Lips” Kudlow traveled to get where they are now from their glorious start, to run ins with bad management, label woes, tours from hell, working day jobs, and pretty much all the ins and outs of their every day life as they pursued their dreams.
Now that they’ve become ahousehold name Anvil is back out on the road, except this time they’re doing things their own way. After spending the summer opening up for AC/DC the band is now on their own headlining jaunt across the U.S. and according to the band, every night has been “awesome” and they are enjoying every minute of it.
With twenty songs for their new album “Juggernaut of Justice” written and waiting to be recorded the band has the near future mapped out for them and who knows, maybe there’s a sequel in the works? Everyone loves a happy ending.
We recently talked to drummer Robb Reiner about the tour, the new album, and how things have changed for the band.
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | February 2010
You spent the summer out on the road with AC/DC and now you’re following that up with your own headlining tour that kicked off in January, what does that mean to you?
It’s been great, we’ve done nineteen shows so far and they’re all awesome. They’ve all been good; it doesn’t seem to let up so that’s amazing.
You’ve said right from the beginning that you knew the documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” would be a success, what was it that gave you that insight? Or was it something about your story?
Lips always said from the beginning that it was going to be successful; he’s got his own reasons why. My reason came later, when we were at The Sundance Film Festival. When the film premiered I saw all kinds of people from metalheads to non-metal heads. The movie was screened six times to about 600 people and the movie was getting standing ovations at the end. That’s when I realized that the movie was going to be a hit. At that point I was completely convinced.
The movie has opened some doors for the band but the band has really survived over the years on the strength of your music and the members in the band, can you tell us a bit about that spirit and if there were times when you ever thought of calling it a day?
There’s never been a time. Maybe that time is coming but it hasn’t come yet.
The movie relays a really positive message to any band out there that may be just starting out, it shows the power of perseverance and the importance of sticking things out and being honest – do you feel that’s the real message of the film?
That’s one of many messages. The whole message of the movie is basically is take a look at these two guys in a band who influenced an entire generation of music and they never gave. It shows friendship, family, dedication, hope, everything.
You mention family and in the movie it’s clear that your family has firmly stood behind you as you set out to live your dreams, how have they reacted to the fame that’s come as a result of the movie?
They’re loving it. In my case, my family has been behind me from the get go so this is just a sweet celebration for all of us. My wife has been with me since the beginning of this band so everything great that happens to me she feels it. Our families are very supportive.
So your latest album is in production, what can you tell us about it?
It’s called “Juggernaut of Justice” and we’re going to record it hopefully at the end of this year. The album is completely written we just need to record it. We have twenty songs and we’ll probably put twelve on the album but we’ve been busy touring and doing everything we wanted to do and touring all over the world so we haven’t had the time to record it. We’re a band that needs to be seen so that’s what we’re out here doing right now.
Speaking of touring, what has been the most rewarding part of being out there on your own headlining tour?
The most rewarding part is just the whole fact that we’re even able to do it. I love to play for people and we’re not even blowing them away, we’re mesmerizing people.
Over the summer I heard you do an interview with Rob Halford (with Eddie Trunk) and there was talk of you guys opening some shows for Judas Priest and Whitesnake – what happened with that and are there any plans to hook up with a major tour?
That didn’t happen; we ended up going out with AC/DC instead. I don’t know if those bands are out there playing this year but anything is possible.
Before the filming of the movie did you know that Lars Ulrich (Metallica) and Slash were big fans of the band and really behind what you were doing?
Yes, they’ve all been our friends for years. They’ve always told us how influential we’ve been to them and how great the band is so yeah we’ve always known. It was really nice to see them step forward and tell the world everything that we already knew.
I think something that other bands could take away from your story is the issues you had with management and labels along the way and your decision to start doing things on your own.
It’s not that we decided to do that on our own, we just felt that that was the only way that we could keep things together because we went through a pretty fucked up time with a big manager who tried to do good things but actually ended up derailing things and through that process we just decided to take the bull by the horns and do it on our own. It was the harder route but it was still a lot of fun. In the last year though we have a manager who’s done pretty good stuff for us and that’s why we’re here touring.
The movie really let the world into your lives and you can’t help but watch the movie and root for you guys on an emotional level, is there a fear that your lives and the story of Anvil overpowers the music?
No no no, it was the music that got the movie made in the first place. Without the music there would be no movie. The movie’s success is bigger than the band at the moment but I think that will change.
Photographer Ross Halfin has a very popular diary section on his site, a few times last year he spoke about director Sacha Gervasi and how much money he’s making off the film. Ross thought it was wrong that you guys weren’t having the windfall that he was – Do you guys share Ross’ opinion? (Link to Halfin’s Diary, May 15 entry)
I know Ross very well, he’s a friend. Ross Halfin has ‘nice’ bad things to say about a lot of people. I don’t know exactly what he said about Sacha so I can’t really comment. Sacha is our friend to this day. He was a fan of the band; the whole movie was made by a fan.
Given what you’ve been through, what advice can you hand down to bands that are just starting out and at that struggling phase?
They just need to make sure they’re doing it for the right reasons. They have to love what they’re doing and not be trying to make a buck. The motivation should just be pure love for making music.
Looking into the future, are there bands that you’d love to tour with?
At this point it could be anybody – Metallica, Slayer, KISS, whoever. We’ll play with anybody!
As long as you’re up there on that stage?
That’s right, you got it!
Check out our gallery of Live Concert Shots from Anvil’s recent show in Hollywood, CA here
Anvil is wrapping up their headlining tour as we speak and then heading to Australia for the Soundwave Festival, check them out:
Feb 11 2010 Wonder Ballroom Portland, Oregon
Feb 12 2010 Studio Seven Seattle, Washington
Feb 13 2010 Venue Vancouver Vancouver, British Columbia
Feb 20 2010 Soundwave Festival – RNA Showgrounds Brisbane
Feb 21 2010 Soundwave Festival – Eastern Creek International Raceway Sydney
Feb 23 2010 Gershwin Room Melbourne
Feb 26 2010 Soundwave Festival – Melbourne Showgrounds Melbourne
Feb 27 2010 Soundwave Festival – Bonython Park Adelaide
Mar 1 2010 Soundwave Festival – Blue Steel Oval Perth
Mar 13 2010 Harvest Of Hope Festival St Augustine, Florida
Mar 19 2010 The Gramercy Theatre New York, New York
Mar 20 2010 9:30 Club Washington DC
* Photos provided courtesy of Herfitz PR