On the road to making their dreams come true heavy metal band Anvil knew they had to work hard and make sacrifices – there’s no substitute for rehearsal… ‘We done 7 days a week, 8 hours a day rehearsal for 10 month before the first gig. We played every shithole in Ontario and Quebec. It wasn’t easy back in the day being an original band. And we were loud as f***’ remembered guitarist Dave Allison in an earlier interview. (link below)
In his book The Story of Anvil, guitarist & vocalist Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow talked about the time when they saw Van Halen support Black Sabbath at Niagra Falls. Halen were an up and coming band with an intense excitement surrounding them. It had an effect on them ‘Robb and I wanted success more than anything. It wasn’t about financial reward, success would mean recognition for our music’. To give themselves a chance to make it, Anvil knew they had to fly from their home in Canada and play London. Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow looks back on the days when forming Anvil, he and childhood friend Robb (drums) always talked about playing London ‘it was one of our goals, to play in the same places that The Who and The Beatles played’.
A dream was about to come true as their record company Attic sent them to England ‘on a trip that would prove life changing’. Attic agreed to finance a trip to the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donnington ‘we were bottom of the bill headed by Status Quo, a privilege that cost us 30,000 dollars. We were already on the red line with Attic for life, so another 30 grand wasn’t going to make a whole heap of difference’.
Guitarist Dave Allison told me in a previous interview… ‘Monsters of Rock ! What an experience. It was surreal, couldn’t believe we were actually there. By that time we were a well-oiled, road hardened, very confident bunch of guys. I think we were a little heavy given the rest of the line-up, but still the biggest thing we had done’.
The appearance at Castle Donnington with Hawkwind, Uriah Heep, Gillan, Saxon and headliners Status Quo was followed by two sold out dates at the legendary Marquee Club, Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow remembers ‘This dark, sweaty venue in Soho in the heart of London was a legend in Heavy Metal circles. The gig was awesome, we blew people away. The energy in the room was totally intense. The dream I carried since my dad bought me my first guitar had come true. That night I felt I’d really made it’.
There was some downtime and relaxation for the band as they were invited to the Reading Festival ‘like Monsters of Rock another shrine to heavy metal. We weren’t playing but went along to hang out and watch the bands like headliners Iron Maiden and Michael Schenker’.
Feeding the media is part of the game and Attic set an interview up with music journalist Malcolm Dome. Rock photographer Ross Halfin was sent to capture a few shots for the article…. ‘Ross was a real kook, always trying to push the boundaries by getting musicians to do outrageous things. He said let’s get a picture of you opening the door and you’re naked just holding your guitar’. The photo was published in Kerrang magazine with a sign hanging off him Please Don’t Disturb.
In the chapter headed Big Time, Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow reveals the moment that Anvil’s fortunes were changed ‘Signing with David Krebs, within a short time of putting our names on the dotted line, we were off to Britain for a tour with Motorhead. A week before that we played the Heavy Sounds festival in Bruges, where the overwhelming response from the crowd convinced me I’d found an audience that would stick with us forever.
I had their first three albums and went to see them at Leeds Queens Hall in May 1983 with Saxon, Twisted Sister, Girlschool and Spider. Hearing they were opening for Motorhead I got a ticket for the Newcastle City Hall gig, and what I can remember they went down well. Looking back on that time was bitter sweet, as Lips remembers ‘During the UK tour with Motorhead in June and July ’83 we blew the crowd away. But by the time the 30 date tour culminated with three nights at the Marquee Club in London we were thousands of dollars in debt. One of our crew was carrying severe addiction problems and he blew all the money we were making on cocaine’.
Extracts from The Story of Anvil by Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow and Robb Reiner.
Link to the interview with Dave Allison
Gary Alikivi April 2020.