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Anvil finally arrives, three decades later

Fri., Feb. 5, 2010

Robb Reiner, left, and Steve “Lips” Kudlow of the band Anvil.  (File Associated Press)
Robb Reiner, left, and Steve “Lips” Kudlow of the band Anvil. (File Associated Press)

Canadian metal band brings its tale to the Knitting Factory

Playing to a packed stadium in Tokyo, a calamitous transcontinental tour, punchouts with sleazy club owners, attempts at a comeback record, guitar solos played with sex toys …

This is Anvil.

Or rather, “Anvil! The Story of Anvil.” A documentary about a Canadian metal band of coulda-woulda-shouldas.

The similarities to a certain classic metal mockumentary are eerie – right down to Anvil’s drummer sharing the same name as the director of “This Is Spinal Tap” – but Anvil’s story is a true one, about a band that was overlooked by fame until one of its former roadies-turned-moviemaker released a film about how the band was overlooked by fame.

Now the next chapter is being written with “The Anvil Experience,” a tour that stops Tuesday at Spokane’s Knitting Factory Concert House.

Guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner started playing music together in their teens and went on to play a key role in the birth of speed metal in 1980s, influencing bands such as Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica. Then they disappeared into rock ’n’ roll obscurity.

Released in 2008, “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” renewed the careers of the 50-something heavy metal family men who were still working day jobs and self-releasing records.

The film was met with critical acclaim, and Anvil’s 13th album, aptly titled, “This Is Thirteen,” was rereleased by VH1 Classic Records concurrent with the “Story of Anvil” DVD last fall.

Anvil made its first network television appearance in October, on “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.” Now the band – Kudlow and Reiner, joined by Glenn Five on bass – is playing its first major national tour in more than a decade.

The film stands as a prime example of what the rock ’n’ roll industry puts an artist through, according to Kudlow.

“At the same time, I take responsibility for our actions in the past,” he said in a press release. “We were just sustaining who we are. Now someone’s come along and brought it to a new level. Now we’re getting praise for never selling out and sticking to our guns.

“It’s a vindicating thing. We got our notoriety on our own terms. We’ve done what we want. Not what someone told us to do.”

Originally “The Anvil Experience” concerts were going to open with a screening of “The Story of Anvil,” followed by the band playing a live set. But Kudlow said with the success of the film and DVD, so many people had already seen it that the tour was going to be all about the music instead.

Tuesday’s show will be opened by local heavy metal powerhouses Lucid and Black the Sky.

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