Steve “Lips” Kudlow is the lead singer and guitar player for the band Anvil. After a period of mainstream obscurity the band was thrust back into the spotlight due to the award winning documentary “Anvil! The Story of Anvil”. The group’s 16th and latest studio album “Anvil is Anvil” comes out at the end of February and Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Lips recently about the album’s release.
Adam Lawton: Tell us about the new albums opening track “Daggers and Rum”
Steve Kudlow: I got a call from this guy to be a pirate in a play he was putting together. I thought it sounded like fun so I said sure. He cast me in the role of Captain Snarls and also asked if I could write a song to go along with the play. I ended up becoming super inspired and started writing. I had the music already and was trying to come up with a title. At first I was thinking “Swords and Tequila” (laughs). I knew that wasn’t going to work so I started to think about what I associated with pirates. The first thing I thought was rum, and then I thought about what they used as weapons. That’s sort of how the title came about. I did some more research on pirate music and what are called “shanties” which originated from musical plays. It was sort of mind blowing that I was being asked to make up my own shanty for this play. It was all pretty cool. The song really sounds like it came from a musical play.
AL: Was this one of the first songs you ended up writing for the album?
SK: Yes it actually was. It was the first song I had lyrics for. I had probably written a couple others at the same time and musically this was I think number 3 or 4. In the studio we called all the songs by their numbers and this one was done really early. Despite it being 3rd musically it was the first completed. Interesting enough song 2 as it was known as was actually one of the last ones to be finished.
AL: The album has 12 tracks listed but a 13th track is included as a bonus on some versions. Can you tell us about that?
SK: Truth be told there is no such thing as bonus tracks. We recorded 13 tracks and all 13 tracks are going to be released eventually. Considering 99% of people listen to music free on the internet these days there is really no such thing as bonus tracks because no matter what version of an album you may get it ends up out on the web for everyone. The “bonus” tracks were just additional tracks that needed to be separated for distribution purposes. We did one version of the album for people who pledged money towards its being made which of course is different from the one found in stores. By doing that we also were able to give the fans in Japan that additional pledge track. The Japan version of the album ended up being the pledge version and easily the most obscure.
AL: Do you guys have any special packaging or limited edition versions of the album planned for release?
SK: Most everything is going to be done in digi-packs. We also are going to be releasing the album in a clear double vinyl format which is going to be really cool. What’s great about the vinyl is it will also come with a digital version of the album so fans can put the vinyl away as a collector’s piece.
AL: Being 16 albums in your career as a band how do you go about keeping things fresh and new from album to album?
SK: I don’t think that is something you consciously do. I don’t really think about it in those types of terms. For me it not about wondering how am I going to come up with something but more so how am I NOT going to come up with something. (Laughs) Every time I get to express myself it’s exciting. It’s a hell of a lot of fun to make new songs. You have to make it that way because if it’s not then the end result isn’t probably going to turn out very well. Just have to have fun with and not waste time. Working with Rob (Reiner) he always wants the next part and to be able to keep going so that’s what I mean by not wasting time.
AL: Do you and Rob have the same relationship now as you did when you first started the group in the late 70’s?
SK: Absolutely! Our relationship is actually the most magical aspect of all this. You end up meeting someone and you find out they think the same way as you. I compare it to when people finish each other’s sentences. With Rob and I we finish each other’s riffs. We grew up together and have listened to the same music our entire lives so we have the same mind set on things. We are very in-tune with one another.
AL: How has the addition of Chris Robertson on bass helped the bands dynamics?
SK: Chris has been with band for about 2 years now however this is his first time actually recording with us. We are really blessed to have Chris and things just fell into place with him. At the time when we needed a new bass player we weren’t really out there searching for someone. We had a tour coming up in 3 weeks and we needed someone pretty quick. We had our friend Sal Italiano come on board for the tour and after worked with him and Jon another friend of ours through the “Hope in Hell” album. When it came time to find someone again I asked my friend Jon if he knew any one. He suggested this guy Chris as he was the guy who taught Jon how to play all of our songs. Chris came in and just blew us away. Sal did another tour with us and we had Chris along as part of the road crew. When the tour ended we had a one off show in Germany that we still had to do so I called Sal to confirm everything. While we were talking Sal stated he wasn’t going to be going. There wasn’t much I could say other than ok. Chris joined the band and here we are. Chris has a great sound and style and along with being a killer bass player he is a great back up vocalist. Chris is really great to work with and is honored to be part of Anvil.
AL: What type of tour plans are in place and has there been any more discussions about another Anvil film?
SK: We are currently out on the road in Europe with Udo Dirkschneider. We will be overseas until early April supporting Udo and then after that we will be starting a headlining tour in the U.S. in mid April. That tour is set to run through mid June. As for another film we have about 40 minutes or so of usable footage and it’s something we continue to work on as the band continues to progress.