Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow, frontman and co-founder of Canadian metal band Anvil, has seen it all and more in a career spanning 40 years. Talking with TEO before Anvil’s recent Australian tour, Lips was in a friendly and talkative mood. Then again, when isn’t he cracking jokes?

Having travelled from China, Lips made it clear he was happy to be here. “It’s like England but not—you have blue skies!” With that opening statement, it was clear that Lips was in fine form. Our talk turned to their last release Anvil Is Anvil and new album Pounding The Pavement and how they were financed by fans using Pledge fund: “it’s the first time we are actually in a profit margin after recording; it’s never like that. Usually, you’re in the hole for thousands of dollars.”

In the documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Lips is seen driving around in a van delivering food. Throughout it all, he maintains that it’s for the music. “I did hard labour and brutal day jobs through my 20s and 30s. Here I am in my 60s and I haven’t done a damn physical job in 10 years. I’m out making a living with my music, which is all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s not about making millions—it’s about making a living doing what you love.”

So after all these years, is Anvil finally getting their rewards? “Yes, it’s earnt!” Lips laughs. “We paid our dues, so to speak, and came out the other side. This is not a story of failure; it’s a story of incredible success. Against all odds [and] adversity, Robb and I somehow persevered and still we continue. We’re not AC/DC—truth be told, we never expected it or wanted it. I’m happy to be a hardworking musician—to be a never-ending source of metal music, without compromise, for 40 years. That’s the most incredible reward of all!”

Robb is drummer Robb Reiner, co-founder of Anvil and Lips’ best friend. Together they started the band called Lips, the pre-cursor to Anvil, releasing “our first album in 1980 as our own pressing before we did that Motörhead show in ’81. Those vinyls, if you can find one, are worth upwards of 1000 bucks apiece. It has become a collector item!’’

In the documentary, Robb and Lips are seen in a heated discussion during the recording of the 13th album, eventually concluding with Robb walking out. It would seem that since this band has been together for 40 years, there have been plenty of arguments just like this. “Truth be told, the altercation in the movie was two years in the making! The director was going, ‘I GOT IT! I GOT IT! I’VE BEEN WAITING AND WAITING! I’VE GOT IT!’ We were kinda looking at each other going, ‘what the hell is he talking about?’ We’ve had a heavy blow out and this guy is freaking out with happiness! It’s uncommon for Robb and I to get angry at each other as ultimately we both have the same goals. I can count on one hand the disagreements we’ve had over 40 years. Better than most marriages, let’s put it that way!”

While the documentary placed Anvil back into the metal community’s conscience, the band never actually left the scene. While talking, the band were preparing to release their 17th album which was released last week; the topic of changes in the music world inevitably came up. “In this day and age, there is no infrastructure. In a sense, there is no record company, no A&R man going ‘I like this, I’ll put it out and promote it.’ There’s no money. The digital age has removed the elements of making money from the music. Today it’s about t-shirts, meet and greets, everything else but the music. Luckily the thing about metal is the aspect of buying a CD becomes a collector’s item.”

So how do they stay motivated? “It’s like living and breathing, man. People ask, ‘why don’t you quit?’ But why would you quit something you love so dearly? I can understand quitting a job you hate, but not something you love. You find it; it’s either there or not. It’s not something you have to look for. It’s been an eternal longing and desire my entire life. It’s like why do I want to take the next breath? I want to keep surviving, living, that’s why! Why do I write the next song? To go on the next album so I can go out, tour and do what I love. Ultimately it’s what motivates you to be in love. It’s love itself. I think that in a simple answer, what motivates me? Love!”

Pounding the Pavement is out now.

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Photos: Peter Pap