Anvil's Steve "Lips" Ludlow On The Documentary, Sudden Fame, Meeting Ozzie Osbourne
They are the hard rockers from Anvil, the real-life Spinal Tappers who are the subjects of the new film that's being called the best rock documentary ever. Here, Anvil's Steve “Lips” Ludlow (pictured, right with bandmate Robb Reiner) takes questions exclusively from Uinterview's Neil Pedley.
- Q: Sacha Gervasi, the director of Anvil! The Story of Anvil, used to roadie for you guys, but that was a long time ago. Did you keep up with each other and develop the project over time or did he just come to you out of the blue and say: “Guys, I’ve got this idea?” - Neil Pedley
- A: Well, actually he didn’t keep in touch with us at all, since like '87. But it was really weird because I had almost like a premonition that something was about to happen, and what it was is that we had ended up going to Italy for this sort of festival and there were a lot of bands we knew. I was sitting in my trailer with the guys from Candlemass, and we kind of wondered what happened [to Sacha]. So when I returned home from Italy there was an email from Sacha, and before I had gone I had seen The Terminal and seen his name but never equated that it could possibly be him. So he invited me to come to Los Angeles and tells me not to worry about paying for the flight, that he would pay. So I arrive in Los Angeles, and he pulls up in this little Jaguar convertible that apparently used to belong to Sean Connery, and I was like, ‘Dude, what is going on?’ I was freaking out. But it was like not one day had passed, I gave him all our CD’s, and then a few weeks later he shows up in Toronto and says he’s going to make a movie.
- Q: Guys like Lars Ulrich and Slash were lining up to pay tribute to your influence in the movie. What has been the reaction from some of these other bands? - Neil Pedley
- A: They’re extraordinarily elated, just really, really happy. It feels like vindication or some sort or maybe it's more a celebration of something good happening.
- Q: Ozzy Osbourne enjoyed it didn’t he? - Neil Pedley
- A: Ozzy got his own personal copy and watched it a number of times from what I understand. And we were at some Awards show… the Classic Rock Awards… and [chuckles] I was sitting at the table minding my own business and somebody taps me on the shoulder. I turn around and it's Ozzy peering down at me from behind his blue glasses and he was like [adopts accent], “I love your movie, mate. You guys are great. I wish you all the luck in the world.” Then he walks to the stage.
- Q: The movie ends with a triumphant show in Japan. What was that like and what are the realities of being “Big in Japan” these days? - Neil Pedley
- A: Quite frankly, it was as much a surprise to me. I didn’t realize exactly what was going on because we’re not really informed. The record company is not going to tell you you’ve sold lots of CD’s. Even if you have they’re going to minimize everything so that you’re under the impression that you have no fanbase. I mean that’s what we were led to believe. We’d sporadically – and I underline that – sporadically released CD’s in Japan, but not everything.
- Q: If you had sold lots of records then the label might have to pay you some money. - Neil Pedley
- A: Absolutely! So did I really know how many fans I have? Heck, no. We hadn’t been there in a quarter of a century and we were sort of a legend – an obscure band that people never get to see. So what happens in parents tell their kids and you have a second generation of fans that you have no idea exists. The reality is that every band between us and the headliner have to pay to get on that bill so the record company wants some guarantee that these bands are being seen. So what the promoter did was take this “legendary” band and put it at the front. And it worked.
- Q: If 20 years down the line you ended up being remembered as those crazy guys from that kooky rockumentary, and not as say Anvil! The great Canadian rock band who make great music, would that bother you? - Neil Pedley
- A: Quite frankly I think the two go too closely, hand-in-hand, to separate that. I think it’s the same with every musician that one way or another people fall in love with the artist and you get to know their personality. Like Dave Mustaine from Megadeth has something of a persona as a nasty ill-tempered kind of guy, but when you talk to him as a regular person he’s a very nice person but there is something about his music that kind of conveys that too. One way or another someone’s personality is connected to their music. There are many, many examples of how someone’s personality can affect their career. Look at what it’s done to Mel Gibson.
- Q: Touching briefly on the subject of music piracy. Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes came out earlier this month and stated that illegal downloading actually helps smaller bands that don’t have big-label backing find their audience and ultimately helps them make money long term. What are your feelings on that? - Neil Pedley
- A: Well, that’s an interesting thing. I think that it can help you gain popularity and popularity can help you get shows, so that’s good. But on the other side of it music has now become this promotional tool that you have to get things like shows. You actually have to give away your music, and I think there is something ethically wrong with that. But that’s the way things are. I mean, what are you going to say about it? You can’t change it. It might not be the nicest aspect to give away your music for free but on the other side of it there are some advantages, but in the long run most people don’t end up coming to see the shows. In the grand scheme of things, it won’t help you make money, but certainly to gain popularity…
- Q: The movie has become something of a sleeper hit. You’ve got more exposure now that you’ve had in 20 years and you’ve just signed on to support AC/DC. Really it seems you’ve finally made it. Did you feel this was now or never? - Neil Pedley
- A: Absolutely and I felt that way from the first moment. In truth and pure honesty I felt that everything I was about to do was the most important thing I was doing ever.
- Q: Finally, what are some of the changes that have come about for you as a result of the movie? - Neil Pedley
- A: Oh, weird stuff, like people knocking at my door. People coming from out of town knocking at my door and asking to buy CD’s. [laughs] I’m going to have to take myself out of the phone book.
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