Anvil (pt 2): Unleashing their Juggernaut of Justiceby Talk Rock To Me on Mar 6, 2011 • 10:22 AM No Comments
Despite their undeniable talent and an iconic album, Metal on Metal (1982), Toronto’s Anvil missed its date with rock and roll destiny and was relegated to decades of obscurity. But when Sacha Gervasi – a long-time fan and friend turned screenwriter – contacted the band in 2005 with the idea for Anvil! The Story of Anvil, founding members Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow and Robb Reiner immediately sensed they were being presented with an important second chance. Earning critical acclaim and numerous awards, the funny and grippingly-intimate documentary thrust the band back into the limelight – and the recording studio. Lips talks about their upcoming fourteenth LP, Juggernaut of Justice, and why it’s the most forceful, meticulously-crafted and personally-gratifying album of their career.
Tell me about Juggernaut of Justice.
Every recording is a documentation of your life at the time. Worth The Wait, which I call the darkest album of our darkest era, pertained to death because that’s what was going on in our lives. We’d lost our popularity and our record deals. I’d lost my first wife and Robb had lost his father. Our environment was loss. Now, with all the success and excitement the past couple years, we sit down to write and what do you think would happen? I don’t think I’ll ever be in exactly this place again. It’s permeated the writing in every way.
The title is very personal then.
That’s right. There are lots of things about this album that bring the word ‘justice’ to mind: to finally be surrounded by all the good things that can make a difference in your career; to finally have the opportunity to make it and to get our break… and the righting of all the wrongs for the first time in our career.
During recording, Robb played guitars that were ‘uncomfortable’ and you wrote music on the spot in the studio. Why experiment this time around?
I’ve always gone into the studio in a very regimented way and it makes you stubborn. This time I thought, ‘I’m going to approach vocals in the same way I approached guitar solos for many years.’ When you just spontaneously play it’s much more dramatic and effective because you’re doing it by feeling. When you plan a guitar solo, you only get what you plan and that’s very confining. So I’d come in with basic, fundamental ideas – like sketches – and I wasn’t locked into anything.
What was working with [producer] Bob Marlette like?
Here’s an example: I came in with a song called Going Deaf, and he goes, “No, man. That sounds really geriatric to me. Shave 40 years off and call it, ‘Turn it Up’ (laughs).
So a good producer challenges your work?
He’ll tell you with absolute honesty if it blows him away or if it doesn’t. That’s what you hire him for. If you don’t have that then you go on doing the same old, and it’s the songwriter’s duty to make it so that the producer likes it because he’s ‘Mr. Audience.’ Your own taste is just your own taste and it’s not objective. The best way I can describe making music is like when you’re hammering and you’re waking up all the neighbors. You don’t realize they hear it because it doesn’t sound that loud to you (laughs).
As the film shows, you didn’t really go away, so you can’t call this a comeback…
I like that. I like that a lot. Thank you! (laughs)
So would you call this a continuation?
Yeah. I feel as though I’m doing what I’ve always done and that hasn’t changed. The environment in which I’m doing it has and that’s a great thing because it’s all about… unleashing.
Is Juggernaut your best work?
Without any doubt. We’ve never worked with such a competent producer. We never had someone get down to the nitty-gritty in every aspect of the recording. It’s always been, ‘Whatever you like, let’s just get it on tape,’ and nobody ever really took a position. A real producer has to have a solid opinion.
And your listeners will hear the difference?
I’m anticipating that everyone will love every track because each song is so individually good. Some of course will think one song is better than another, but they’ll have to agree that the album wouldn’t be the same if any of the tracks were removed. It’s pretty remarkable. Every song is so individual and it’s all supposed to be there.
You start touring in May, is that right?
We’re going to be touring for the next year and a half. This album is fuel for the engine and it’s getting us going again. My feeling is that it’s going to do as much, if not more than the movie did, so I think we’re going to be really busy. At this point, I’m more worried about what we’re doing next (laughs).
Juggernaut of Justice is due out May 10. For more news on the band and their upcoming tour dates, visit http://www.anvilmetal.com.