I never compromised my music

“That’s good”, slips my tongue. “I’ve got what everybody else has without having to worry that my band has to … If had depended on my band, I had to live of somebody else’s income! My first marriage – a good reason why my first marriage did not last is ‘cause I did that! Instead of going and working a real job I depended on somebody else to pay my bills. What does that do in the long run? It fails. And that’s what happened. Once my first marriage failed I learned my lesson and ‘Ok, I gotta go out and get a job and supporting my music habit!’ Music habit is like a drug habit. You’re not gonna get drugs for free. You’re not gonna do your music for free. What you get is enjoying your life, ok?! And I am enjoying my music. So I am gonna go to work and I am gonna take my wage and I’m gotta pay for my place to live and I am gotta pay for my food and I am gotta pay for my recordings. And I am gotta pay to live. Just like everybody else. That’s what I give. A good portion of my life. It bought me a house. It kept my marriage alive. I have a family. I have everything that everybody else has. And now finally the big break-through that I’ve waited for and I kept the band alive and persevered all the adversary that you could possibly dumped at that I never compromised my music for one second to sell it out. I kept that integrity. If I’m gonna make it, it’s gonna be on my terms.” And it happened how he hoped it would, as we will see soon.

Lips in action

“Really adorable, your attitude, I mean.” – “But it doesn’t mean and people have to understand this, just because I did if they gonna do it it’s gonna work.”

“No, there is no ultimate recipe to success.” – “Ultimately there are a lot of things that took turns in my life. In my first few years of the band of course it was hardships, as I said I lived of my ex-wife. And during that period of time there was not money made either. And so we had the big chance or what we thought would gonna be the big chance and we got the band to a certain point. We got big people interested in the band. David Krebs and all the big record people. They were all coming to see us and we were signed to an independent Canadian label. When we had the chance we had our first three albums and a big manager, David Krebs who managed Scorpions, went to the major deals, the major record companies. Here we’ve got Anvil, they’re really good. Give us the first three albums for free. The Canadian labels says what you gonna need for free? This cost us thousands of dollars. And we gotta give it to you for free? And you can understand: why would they?”

The most important four years of the heavy metal history

I shake my head. Of course there was no reason. “Who would be insane enough when it cost you thousands of dollars and I am gonna give it to you for free? They would not take it. That’s actually greed. That’s the record company business.  That’s the business going fuck you to the band. Fuck you to the people who invest the money. So what happens? David Krebs, main manager, gets us out of the original record deal in hopes that he could get us signed to a record contract all fresh and new. But they want those first three albums. And they would not sign it unless they got them for free. So where did that leave us in 1983? With no record deal! No any of it. At the most important point. Now when you can actually start making it, no one there. Nothing there. But we continued. We didn’t put out another album for another four years. The most important four years of the heavy metal history.” – He is so excited now. His voice is louder than before and so engaged in the course of events so many years back. But then it is so incredibly interesting to learn to see all these events through Lips’ eyes. “And what happened in those four years? Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeath, all of that happened. And I am sitting there with no record contract and no possibilities, tied into that management which stopped me from going and getting my own record deal! So completely stuck in neutral and no way out of it. Finally, in ’87 I got released from the management and I went and I got another record contract and of course by then, a lot of momentum was lost on us. Not only the momentum was lost. Direction was lost. The guitarist that we had in the band – well, at the point a poison and it poisoned the whole thing. You’re going out even though you know we’re with David Krebs and you’re going out to interest deals at the time and he is drunk, wasted. The opportunity: you get one night and he chose that night to be drunk and to be an asshole. And that came and went.”

Lips tells a tale. His tale. Passionately but clearly digested. There is no aggression left. And then I utter a half loud curse not meant to be heard. But Lips does. “You know all little aspects. You got your fingers crossed but it did no good. Because when a big guy in your band is an idiot because he’s lost direction and that’s a poison. Now what do you do about it? You can’t do anything. So those opportunities came and went.”

The Cream Always Rises to The Top

“Of course.” – “But I did not lose faith because I’m …” In my mind, I bow before Lips. “… the bottom line the way I looked at it: the cream always rises to the top. And I knew that I have that magic. If I brought and made Anvil a first time I can do it again. But the next time I do it I am not gonna have an asshole in my band. And I have a confidence to go the nine yards to be able to stand in front of a crowd not worry about some drunk bun. Ok? And the other aspect I thought we made enough of an impact with the first three albums that at some point one of those fans is gonna grow up to be a record company executive or something special …”

I frown happily. “Yeah.” – “And that’s what my future got hold. I had to keep my band together and keep my head high and keep on the direction of my heart and follow it through without compromise and somewhere and somehow someway along that person will re-emerge. And I just like I thought it would, in 2005 I get an email and from somebody who came to see us at the Marquee Club in London England in 1982 who just happened to grow up to be a screen writer for Steven Spielberg. ‘I’m gonna make a movie about you!’ Bingo!” [Documentation: Anvil! The Story of Anvil]

“Amazing.” — “That’s why I said it. I did it the way I wanted to. With hopes and forethought where it was gonna go and how it was gonna go. And it went exactly as I planned. Like exactly how I planned it. Which is actually quite miraculous. How did I have that insight? I don’t know. It’s almost like a part of me. Like I lived it once before and I just knew the way it was gonna play itself out. I don’t really know. I don’t know how to answer that. But it was an intuition that I have had in me since the very beginning. I always knew I would be successful. That’s why I never quit. There was never really a doubt. I knew that I had just to keep existing, that I had to keep doing it and it will play itself out the way I want it to.  And here we are, 40 years in and I would say I am more famous today and more popular today than I have ever been in all the years I ‘ve been doing it.”

No Regrets in 40 Fucking Years of Anvil

“Perhaps, yeah?” – “What is a great thing! What a great way to end the story in that sense? I didn’t burn it out when I was 30”, I am frowning. Yet again he made a break and just when I tried to begin speaking Lips continues: “Aaaaaand it’s like a happy ending to a long story?! It’s funny. But there is not one thing I would change. Nothing. There is no regrets.”

Chris Robertson

The crowd begins to shuffle in for the show. But we’re still sitting there speaking. But as it gets louder around us it becomes harder to understand each other’s words. So I ask him about the community and how it has changed over his long career, pointing towards the audience and fans. “This is an important aspect”, Lips begins. “… and that has to be understood. People go: ‘how did you live through all the adversity and hard times?’ There were no hard times. Not really. ‘Cause after the first three albums we made such an impact in Germany and in Europe as a whole that there was enough of a fan base to keep Anvil going for forty fucking years! That’s the bottom line. It’s not necessarily just me wanting to do it. The people were there for me to be able to do it with! And that’s the really beautiful part! Particularly for Germany! Germany never lost hope in Anvil. Not since day one! They started listening to my music and they didn’t leave us and ‘oh we lost interest in you.’ We were always able to get record deals here. We’ve had record deals here all along and there’s always been an audience for what we do! And that audience has been a main stay and the reason ultimately that Anvil is still here, today!

The world has grown smaller, I think. “Yeah, it’s really as much the fans glory as it is mine. And I think that that’s an important thing for people to know! They deserve just as much thanks as I do.  Without Germany and without my fans in Germany and in general in Europe, Anvil would not exist. They would have finished in ’83 and it would have been over.”

“I used to see it a bit like a family …” – “It IS a family! It is a family.”

“I can’t think that this works in other major genres. Perhaps not even in rock and certainly not in pop.” — “No, pop music is many comings and goings. Metal music is a main stay. And it’s a real main stay when it’s bands that stay true to the fans.”

I’m Not Gonna Become Bon Jovi

“Definitely!” – “If you don’t stab your fans in the back they’re there forever! That’s a thing! You know, Anvil never sold out. So why would the fans lose faith in us? They wouldn’t. If a new Anvil album comes out they don’t even have to quash it. They go buy it. They’re not gonna be disappointed. Why would they be? They know me by now. I’m not gonna all of a sudden become Bon Jovi. It’s not gonna happen. It never did, never will and that’s just the way it is. So they can trust in their faith and in me. I am not gonna disappoint you. You know some of the fans were disappointed only in the opposite. In the opposite in that because through the 90s when there was absolutely zero chance of any kind of radio play, of any kind of recognition from that way. I get self-indulgent. Just completely and it became really, really complicated. Put the kitchen sink in it. It can be totally of hard core and when I am doing and it will be accepted. That’s a great feeling as a musician I can do anything I want so long as it isn’t commercial and sold out. The people will love that. And there’s been people: what happened to the good old Anvil with vocal harmonies? And you know like “Metal on Metal” or even the first album? There is nothing. You guys have become too heavy. And you know as an example the “Plugged in Permanent” album where we had an acoustic guitar being crushed between Anvil”, he laughs, “We’d become so heavy that some of the writers were: ‘It’s just too heavy’. So they made t shirt: ‘t o o   h e a v y   f o r   w h i m p s’.” I am laughing. Lips smiles at me and continues: “You know, we went completely the opposite direction that most bands when they continue they get more and more commercial and try more and more to be accessible like Metallica did. And Metallica – bless them, that’s fine – they did the Black album, they went commercial and everybody, all the sheep follow them now. That’s fine. That’s good for them. I’m not doing that. And I don’t wanna do it. I never wanted it. I’m never going there. You know, I’m not interested. I haven’t and I am still not.”

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O autorovi

"It has always been this way!" - I heard this phrase too often and it became the best reason for me to make it (whatever it is) my own way.

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