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Home » Living Legends

Anvil conduct a post-mortem of the music machine

Submitted by on April 4, 2012 – 1:55 pmNo Comment

The undisputed heavyweight kings of Canadian metal, Anvil have been pounding the pavement for 30-plus years. But it wasn’t until the release of the 2008 documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil – which documented the pitfalls of the band on their pilgrimage to find rock’s Holy Grail, the coveted recording contract – that the Canadian trio got a hug from their homeland. Martyr editor Remi Roy recently had a chance to sit down with Anvil frontman Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow to discuss the failing music industry north of the 49th, analyze an autopsy of the modern-day music machine, and question why Canadian rock legend Ronnie Hawkins now drives taxi in the country’s capital city.

Was it frustrating that you had to be hailed in Hollywood before being embraced by your home country?

Absolutely, there’s no question about it. We are cited as Anvil – the band from Canada – everywhere outside the country. It’s known without any doubt whatsoever that we are Canadian, and represent that, on many different levels. It’s always been apparent throughout our entire existence that we’re from here, and that’s part of the banner we fly, and part of why people outside the country give it [the music] credence.

In the context of your music career, has this country taken more from the band than it’s given back?

Other than the first three records we did, I’ve had virtually no support here. I’m not bitter about it – don’t misunderstand what I’m saying – it’s just a natural fact. But why would a Canadian label get behind a band like Anvil, when you can only hope two sell a few thousand records, at best? Has [being Canadian] made my career better? No. But it’s made me more unique.

If we draw a parallel between infrastructure and the music industry in Canada, we’d have too many cars on the road and not enough highways, bridges or roundabouts.  Do you think this country’s music industry could, could’ve or should’ve learned something from your story?

I don’ t think it’s something that can be taught. It will just continue the way it’s always been and I really don’t think it [the film] will have woken anybody up, or changed anybody’s perspective. You’d need something almost catastrophic to make any kind of change. I’d have to side with Ronnie Hawkins: Canadian musicians gotta be ten times better than anybody else, before we even make a dent. Usually when a band makes it out of Canada, they’re twice as good as anything else.

I interviewed Ronnie a few years ago and was shocked to learn he was making a living driving taxi in Ottawa….

Well, there’s some more of that stuff about Canada. Where’s our support? If we have such belief in Ronnie Hawkins, how could we get away with letting him drive a cab in Ottawa? I don’t understand it.

Your partner and bandmate Robb Reiner has said flatly he hates the industry. You’ve been more optimistic, pledging “record sales have no bearing on success – it’s how it sounds.” Do you feel there should be a prevailing culture of sound quality over dollar signs in music today?

You can’t do that anymore. The music industry, as we know it, doesn’t exist the way it did. There is no filtering; there is no A&R; there is no integrity. Now it’s completely up to the consumer to draw that conclusion, which makes it next to impossible to get anywhere. It really does. Everyone goes, ‘now it’s an equal playing field.’ Yeah, it’s an equal playing field – everybody gets nowhere. What music has now become is nothing more than an advertisement for your T-shirts and ticket sales for your gigs. Everybody gets the music for free.

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