Anvil! The Story of Anvil
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‘Anvil! The Story of Anvil’

A rockumentary (a rock music based documentary film) released in the year 2008, Anvil! The Story of Anvil is based on the real life story of the Canadian heavy metal band ‘Anvil’ that enjoyed reasonable success during the 80s era. The documentary was also the directorial debut of screenwriter Sacha Gervasi, and also features interviews of famous musicians who drew inspiration from and were influenced by the band, including the likes of Scott Ian, Slash, Lars Ulrich, Lemmy and Tom Araya.

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The movie starts with a list of headlining acts at the Super Rock Festival held in the year 1984 in Japan. You see the names of bands and artists like Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Scorpions and more, all of whom sold millions of records throughout the world, except one band: Anvil. Despite being extremely motivated and ambitious, Anvil never achieved the same kind of success as these artists. The singer and guitarist of the band – Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow is a truck driver at Children’s Choice Catering, and delivers food to institutions and schools every day. Robb Reiner, the drummer of the band is a construction worker. Both are pretty happy playing to a small but dedicated audience at a local sports bar, as also evident from the Steve’s 50th birthday party celebrations!

Kudlow receives an email from one of the band’s fans based in Europe, named Tiziana Arrigoni who is ready to work out a European tour for Anvil, offering the band around € 1500 per show. The tour begins on a high note at Sweden Rock Festival, where both the artists interact with Carmine Appice and Michael Schneker, but it soon starts going downhill from that point on. They fail to buy train tickets as all the trains are full and mess up their travel connections completely. Furthermore, they get lost somewhere in Prague owing to language issues and even end up in a fight with a bar owner who doesn’t want to pay as the band gets two hours late for the gig. As a result, you see them playing mostly to empty rooms and complaining about no promotions. They eventually run out of money and have to sleep inside a train station. Things get so bad that Robb Reiner refuses to play and expresses his intention of calling it quits. It is only when he’s persuaded by Kudlow that he sticks around and goes ahead with the tour. The last concert of their tour is Monsters of Transylvania Rock Concert, a heavy metal event scheduled inside a 10,000 seat arena, with a promised crowd turnout of around 5000 people. Only 174 show up.

Both the band members make their way back to Canada with empty pockets and five weeks off from work. You can see Kudlow talking about the financial difficulties being faced by the band, including the second mortgage he had to take and the homelessness of Glenn Five, the band’s bassist. Ivan Hurd, the band’s guitarist ends up tying the knot with Tiziana. Ironically, Anvil performs at the wedding reception of the couple with a few family members watching them politely. Apart from music, Robb Reiner is also passionate about painting and loves creating artworks focused on solitude as the main theme.

Kudlow admits to the fact that the more recent albums produced by Anvil haven’t been the same in terms of production value and songwriting as their earlier efforts like Metal on Metal. He dispatches a rough demo tape of their recent works to the ‘Metal on Metal’ producer Christ CT Tsangarides. The producer expresses his optimism about the new songs and decides to record the 13th album of the band titled ‘This is Thirteen’. However, the band must raise £ 13,000 for financing the recording. Kudlow returns to Canada and does all that he can to raise the funds. He even tries his hand at telemarketing and selling sunglasses, but fails to make even a single sale. In the end, Kudlow has to borrow the needed funds from his sister Rhonda.

They record their new heavy metal album in Dover, England spending almost more than a month there. An argument occurs between Reiner and Kudlow after spending many stressful weeks in the recording studio there, and it’s primarily about their respective recording qualities. Things get pretty ugly and Reiner threatens Kudlow once again to quit the band. However, they are able to patch up and conclude the recording of the album. Both of them are unsuccessful at marketing the album to any of the record labels, specifically EMI Canada. In the end, they decide to go the Internet route and make money through concert sales. Regardless of their inability to bag a good distribution deal, Kudlow considers their finished album and its recording process a success. It’s his firm belief that Anvil stayed true to its roots and continued to form as and maintain solid bonds of relationships with friends and family.

Just around that time Kudlow gets a phone call inviting Anvil to play in Japan once more. The band returns to the same place that marked the high point of their career. But their spirits get dampened as soon as they learn that they’re the very first act in a festival scheduled for three continuous days. What more, they need to take the stage as early as 11:35 AM in the morning! They go up on the stage expecting it to be a total disaster, but are pleasantly surprised by the large receptive crowd.

Sacha Gervasi, the director of the film Anvil: The Story of Anvil first came across Anvil in September 1982 when they played a gig in London at The Marquee Club. He introduced himself to the band members as the number one fan of Anvil in England. He loved the band so much that he became their roadie during their 1982, 1984 and 1985 tours. He became such a regular highlight of every Anvil performance that the band nicknamed him the ‘Teabag’, probably for his extreme fondness of tea! Sacha reunited with the band after a 20 long years and started working on the documentary film in November 2005.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil premiered at the 2008 edition of Sundance film Festival. It even won the audience awards at other prestigious film festivals of 2008 like Gallay International Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival and Sydney Film Festival. In addition, the film earned nomination for ‘Truer than Fiction’ category at the Independent Spirit Awards, 2009. The fact that Anvil! The Story of Anvil is counted amongst the most popular and widely appreciated biographical music documentaries (as can be seen at isn’t surprising at all!

VH1 Classic’s ‘That Metal Show’ supported the Anvil! The Story of Anvil documentary film right from its first season and had Reiner and Kudlow as the show’s featured guests in March 2009. As also reported by the CNN, the film brought the band a great amount of unexpected success.

VH1 played a key role in the success of the movie as it became its distributor in the United States and marketed it under their own VH1 Rock Docs Label. The band even hit the road with the movie, terming it as ‘The Anvil Experience’. The movie’s DVD version got released in North America in October 2009 and was received pretty well too.