Anvil - Steve 'Lips' Kudlow

Anvil - Steve 'Lips' Kudlow

If I’d ask you to name three of the most resilient Metal bands, then I am sure ANVIL would be one of the immediate picks. Yes, these fine Canadians have been pounding the pave for four decades, and this Valentine’s Day are spreading more love with their solid piece of Metal titled “Legal At Last”. METAL KAOZ got Lips on the other side of a Skype connection and discussed the new album, chemtrails, God and other things that you will definitely find interesting. Please enjoy everything that is now legal!

Anvil - Steve 'Lips' Kudlow

Hello Lips and welcome to METAL KAOZ! How are you?
I’m doing ok.

Let’s start right away; so, after four decades, ANVIL are legal at last?
(laughs) Yeah, so is pot.

So, what does come first; ANVIL or pot (laughs)?
ANVIL by far.

Of course but the album’s title has two meanings, right?
Well, it has a lot more meanings than just two, really. It’s actually kind of complex in a certain sense. The idea of marijuana and becoming legal it’s not about just getting stoned; it’s about why was marijuana made illegal. It’s all about the economy and business is why marijuana was made illegal to begin with. It was a huge threat to the cotton industry, to the pop and paper and lumber industry and this is a major, major factor. They had to keep it out of business. Imagine if Levis jeans were made out of hemp. Imagine that cotton didn’t exist and jeans were made out of hemp. Do you know what kind of huge loss of work that would have meant for hundreds and thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars’ worth of loss of revenue if cotton didn’t exist?

Yeah, you’re right.
Well, that’s why they made it illegal. Not to mention that you can make materials off of it, you can make plastic. Now that would put the oil industry in peril. The entire economy was threatened by marijuana and that’s why was made illegal. Not because it gets you stoned because trust me in 1930 no one was really smoking it.

So, what do you think has changed and they made it legal? Although it’s not legal everywhere, but every state starts to picking up on that.
Money. Everybody looked at how the state of Colorado started making billions of dollars and they’re going “why don’t we make it legal?” and eventually that’s what is going to happen. Money talks louder than anything else in this world and that’s what makes it go around. It’s only a matter of time and actually I’m really surprised that the president who is such a businessman hasn’t actually changed the law already. Canada did and our prime minister is kind of a push-over but that was one positive thing that our prime minister did and that was to change the law last year. And there’s a lot of money to be made from it. And people don’t mind spending the money on pot and to be realistic and truthful about it, they are anyway.

So, it’s not only for medicinal purposes, right?
Even on the medicinal level, it should be legal anyway and certainly on that level. If we talk about marijuana on a level for medicinal purposes, first of all, because of the depletion of the chemicals that are emitted from the plant, which they call CBDs, we’ve completely been depleted throughout the ecosystem. So, it’s not found in our food, it’s not found in our water or air, and as a result, it’s actually really helping our immune system and that’s of course what they’ve discovered; if you take the CBDs that actually reverse the growth of tumors and all kinds of stuff to do with cancer, because it actually works as a cure. Now, how we’ve not have depleted of these chemicals, maybe we wouldn’t have as much cancer as we do.

Well, that’s a big discussion and a long one.
That’s right. Now there are intertwining concepts of what we’re celebrating and what we’re talking about when we have the idea of “Legal At Last” and that’s why we’re saying it’s a lot deeper than “let’s go get stoned” – it’s not really about that as much as it’s about everything else. It’s about turning the page in the history books and moving forward and being a lot more clever with the way we do business, the way we look after our medicals, the way we look after our environment. If the cotton industry wouldn’t have existed, maybe our lakes, our streams and our rivers wouldn’t have been as polluted as they are nowadays, because of course all the chemicals they used to make cotton are being dumped into our environment. Not to mention the use of oil and making plastic out of it and maybe we wouldn’t be using gasoline, maybe we would have found other forms of ways of making energy rather than using fossil fuels. So, all these different ideas and aspects are all tight into the idea of “Legal At Last”, so that’s what I think it coincidently and not on purpose ended up that way.

Wow! To be honest, you caught me off guard because I didn’t see that depth, although I don’t have the lyrics, just the music. And on top of this, the cover artwork doesn’t help seeing this direction, right? (laughs) It’s a tongue-in-cheek cover artwork. We see an angel using an anvil bong or something like that, so it doesn’t hint that there is such thinking behind it.
The other thing is when you’re looking it like that, you only see half the artwork because the other half of the artwork is on the other side of the album which is the devil smoking from the bong. Ultimately it says “for better or worse”.

Ok, I have preordered my vinyl copy, so I’ll soon see it. Let’s talk about the album itself; and before doing so, after five albums, ANVIL switched from Steamhammer to AFM Records. Was there any particular reason for that or just your contract ended?
The contract ended and we moved on, simple as that. No hard feelings towards SPV / Steamhammer; they are nice guys and everything like that but we moved on. Instead of staying with the same label, we went somewhere else.

Fair enough. The album comes out February 14th, so on Valentine’s day.
You’ve got to love it (laughs).

(laughs) So ANVIL do spread the love around.
Yeah, that’s right, we’re spreading the love around (laughs).

This is the third album you have Chris on the bass, so was he involved in the songwriting?
No, he’s not involved. I write all the songs.

Ok. What did he bring in ANVIL?
Awesome bass playing and great singing. What he needs to be bringing, he brings it (laughs).

What about the producer? Again this is the third album where you worked with the same producer, so was there any specific reason for that?
I liked what he did in the previous albums and I really like the guy and he’s reasonably priced. Lots of reasons to keep playing and keep working with him, right?

And he does a fantastic job, so why change?

There’s no reason to change. Although, in this album, I think I sensed a fresh energy in the band – I dunno how, I cannot put my finger on it, but I sensed some raw power and fresh too.
It’s a momentum. I think it really comes down to building a momentum and a level of confidence. I think that Chris’ addition, you know, it’s really solidified, we feel very comfortable now and we really work as a full-on team now. And I think that’s a great deal the part of it and also the momentum of the cycle of writing / recording / touring and you go through this cycle, you build a momentum, and I think we are at a really good point, so luckily we’re getting it captured and it’s about luck and magic and all those things; things are just falling into place, not because you want them to but because they just do. And you’ve got to get lucky – a great deal of what happens in the music industry is surrounded by luck. In fact, I really believe that a band making it is 90% luck. There’s a luck on finding the right guys, the right management, record companies, there’s also luck on writing the right songs and the music and the lyrics, the luck on when that record comes out, and then there’s the luck when people like what you’ve done and then there’s the luck on what band lets you open up for them. If you can be lucky enough to get all these combinations in a row, you make it. If something’s missing, you don’t. That’s the way it all works. So, until all the numbers line up and all the different combinations, you can stay in obscurity. The fewer things line up, the further into obscurity you fall. So, you know, maybe this time, we’ll get almost all the way there. We’ll get the right gigs this time that maybe will get bigger – I don’t know.

It’s a battle against probabilities and possibilities as you try to find the ‘sweet spot’.
That’s right.

“Nabbed In Nebraska” sounds like there is an interesting story behind, right?

Is this something you can talk about?
Sure, man, I will tell you what happened. We were playing in Colorado, and in Oregon, a friend of mine gave me a handful of pot and I put it in a Kleenex. I wrapped the plastic bag in a Kleenex and stuffed it in my pocket. While we were driving across the highway, we crossed the border into Nebraska and we saw signs saying “drug-sniffing dogs on patrol” so we thought to get off the highway and hide everything. So, as we were driving on the ramp, I pulled the stuff out of my pocket and put it on the dashboard, and of course, I had to take my fanny pack off, undo my seatbelt because I was going to take the Kleenex and stuff it down my pants, but as it turned out, I opened the window and it blew out of it.

(laughs) Come on…
...and when it did, I looked on my side and saw a policeman sitting in the parking lot in his car. Our eyes met and he knew that I knew that he saw something fled out of the window. He pulled out of the parking lot and started chasing us as we were going around the ramp and over the bridge to go back the other way. He stopped us on the other ramp going down and he came up to the window holding the Kleenex I had thrown out. He opened it up and asked: “did you throw this out?” and I was like “hmm…” He said: “you’ve got a choice; either you admit that you threw this out, or I am going to charge you with obstruction of justice because you were trying to throw it out. So what happened here?” I told him that everything was blown out of the window and his response was: “Do you expect me to believe that?” and as he was saying this, a whole bunch of tissues and papers that were sitting on the dashboard blew out and flew out all around him (laughs). Then he realized that I was telling the truth and he said: “you won’t be charged for having marijuana but I will charge you for littering and a fine for the marihuana”. So, I got a fine for $350 in total ($100 for littering and $250 for having less than a gram of weed).

(laughs) Oh my goodness…
After he let us go and while we were driving down the highway, I wrote the lyrics (laughs).

Yeah, that totally makes sense, Lips. Since we are talking about lyrics, let’s talk about “Chemtrails”; are you into this conspiracy? Do you believe this?
Well, it is not a question whether I believe this. I mean, what is the truth? The truth is whatever you wanna believe, isn’t it?

You can ask the same question about God; do you believe in God? They have told you that it’s true but have you seen Him?

Is there science to prove that He is there? Hehe, so when people talk about a conspiracy theory but yet when you look up in the sky and see streaks in a particular formation, like that time when we were in Germany recording our album and we were in a very rural area with lots of farm land, we looked up in the sky and there were streaks but they were in a checkerboard formation. That cannot be vapor trails produced from airliners, ok? There is something up there spraying this stuff. So, I looked it up on the internet and I found out that they are experimenting by spraying the sky with a chemical called alumina - at least this is what the internet was teaching. According to this, alumina is some short of aluminum in liquid form that is supposed to reflect sunlight which is something that has to do with controlling the weather and particularly the global temperature. So, they are trying to control global warming which by the way is supposed to be another conspiracy (laughs)...

Yeah, nowadays everything seems to be a conspiracy theory…
That’s right and it is exactly what I said; what do you want to believe, right?

It's “funny” that even though we have all this information right at the palm of our hand, we cannot be sure of anything.
Right, it is not that we cannot tell the truth, but we cannot tell what the truth is.

Yes, it is like having three clocks and because of it you cannot tell the exact time.
Well, yeah, and even a broke clock says the time correctly twice a day...

(laughs) Absolutely… I guess ‘conspiracy theory’ means that some believe this and some they don’t although I am not sure they call God a conspiracy theory, but let’s leave that (laughs)
Yeah, let’s leave that alone, ok?

What about the song “I Am Alive”? It gave me a strong SAXON vibe, in a “Wheels Of Steel” kind of way and you even whistle in the beginning like Biff does.
That was a nod to my older brother Biff but at the same time it is Ted Nugent.

Ok, I totally missed that.
Yeah, he is the main influence for that song. I am an old Ted Nugent fan. Not of his political views but certainly of his music, so...

Oh man, for a moment I froze when you said this (laughs)
Yeah, don’t worry, I am not on the same page with him on that stuff.

Thank you, man, for clarifying that.
He is a little bit too right wing and certainly he would not be celebrating “Legal At Last”...

No, most probably he would shoot with his arrows…
That’s right.

Why did you have “No Time” as a bonus track?
It is not really a bonus track; it is just another track. The record company wanted to call that...

Why? Was there a specific reason for this?
Because it is all about marketing; you are getting an extra track, ok? (laughs)

Sure, then we can have one track and leave the rest as bonus ones…
Yeah, that’s a good one, we can have one track with 12 bonus ones... How about that?

Yup… So, in a few days, you start the European tour; what are your plans for North America?
On September / October we will be coming all through the States and actually I cannot wait to play in Chicago which is one of my favorite places in America, so you can definitely look forward to seeing ANVIL in Chicago.

Absolutely, Lips, we’ll be there. Will this be a headlining tour in the States?
Yeah, as far as I know; I don’t think we will get a supporting slot. It would nice though. I mean, wouldn’t be nice getting to tour with METALLICA? That would be awesome!

I don’t think there is a chance of that happening…
You can always dream and hope, you know what I saying? It is all about the part of the luck we were talking about earlier.

True, however in the case of METALLICA, I believe they have grown too old for doing something like an extensive tour.
Yeah, they are not as hard-working as we are. James told me that he only works two nights in a row and I was like “whaaaaat?”

Absolutely, man, but it would have been extremely cool, I’ll give you that, Lips. Have you chosen the tracks to use from the new album?
Yeah, we are going to do “I Am Alive”, “Legal At Last” and “Nabbed In Nebraska”.

Will you be adding more as you go along?
We will probably stick to those three. I mean, come on we have a lot of songs and lots of albums to cover, man.

Come on, it is not that many - the band has been around for just 40 years…(laughs)
Exactly... (laughs)

Ok, Lips, thank you for taking the time to talk to METAL KAOZ, we’ll see you in Chicago. It was a pleasure talking to you.
Likewise Dimitris, I will see you the next time we are in town, man.

We will be there, man. Stay safe with your travels, Lips.
Thank you, have a good night!