Anvil’s profile in the Metal community has risen immeasurably over the past 10 years thanks to a film documentary and subsequent book about their history. But the Canadian band was actually forged (Get it? Anvil? Forged?) when vocalist/guitarist Steve Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner met in their Toronto high school in 1973 and decided to form their first band together.
The group was dubbed Lips (also Kudlow’s nickname) and released Hard ‘N’ Heavy, its 1978 independent debut album, under that name; after signing to Attic Records in 1981, they became Anvil and Attic reissued their album under the new banner.
The first album put Anvil in a bright spotlight. Lemmy offered Kudlow Motörhead’s guitar position after the departure of Fast Eddie Clarke, which he turned down, while Aerosmith manager David Krebs signed the band to a management deal that ultimately didn’t help them in any tangible way. After three albums with Attic, the band brokered is own deal with Metal Blade Records and recorded three more albums, but eventually the group’s fortunes began to wane with a declining interest in Metal as a whole. Anvil moved around to various labels, including some in Europe, where Metal still had a thriving community. Those overseas connections kept the band alive.
After years of recording and playing to nearly (and occasionally completely) empty rooms, despite being an avowed influence on music titans like Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer, Anvil was unable to secure a label for its 2007 album, This is Thirteen, so they self-released it.
The following year, former Anvil roadie-turned-filmmaker Sacha Gervasi wrote and crafted the band documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival and upon its theatrical release. VH1 Classics reissued This is Thirteen, which then led to the 2009 publication of a Kudlow/Reiner memoir, opening slots for AC/DC and Saxon, U.S. network TV exposure and the release of the documentary on DVD, which has solidified its cult classic status.
Over the past decade, Anvil has released four albums, including Pounding the Pavement, its 18th studio album which was released in January 2018. The fact that the band is not only still together but thriving is a testament to Kudlow and Reiner’s tenacity, perseverance and belief in themselves regardless of the outcome.
Anvil plays The Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky this Friday. Don Jamieson, Archer Nation and Smoke Healer open the 6 p.m. show. Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 day of show. Click here for tickets/more show info.