I recently interviewed Lips from Anvil, thanks to the wonderful Caitlin Reeves over at The End Records. If you haven’t seen Anvil! The Story of Anvil, then shame on you. Now you have homework. And hopefully, between that, and this interview, you will truly have an appreciation for one of the good guys in metal. And be sure to check out the new CD Hope In Hell. It rocks!
How is Sal (Italiano, bass) taking to life in Anvil? Did it help that he was a friend of the band first?
Lips: We’ve known Sal for many years, since the 80’s, and his band opened for us at L’Amour in Brooklyn. It was pretty seamless. The only change was, all of a sudden the sun came out. We had been having some dreary days, and now, not so much. The guy playing bass became very unhappy, and he quit. That’s it. I guess he had expectations that didn’t get fulfilled.
Juggernaut of Justice was really one hell of a record, as is this one, Hope In Hell. These last two albums seem more raw than This Is Thirteen. Tell me about the differences in working with Chris Tsangarides and Bob Marlette.
Lips: With Bob, I can go in and be finished with a song in two hours, and do ten times better a job than with C.T. I do one chorus, with harmonies and all, and then Bob places them all, so that they are perfect, and I don’t have to stand there all day trying to get it there. When you get to the last chorus of a song with C.T., you might as well be doing it the next day, cause you’re burned out from doing it (laughs). It just really helps when you work with someone who knows a lot about digital equipment.
“Badass Rock & Roll”, and “Flying”…these are such great songs. And it sounds like you guys are really having some fun on them. Is that fair to say?
Lips: Yeah, that’s it. The writing was just Robb and I. We’d get into rehearsal and just start playing, and writing songs quickly. Because that’s when the truest magic is, when you’re not overthinking things, and you just let them naturally flow. That’s what we did with our earliest albums, because we didn’t know any better (laughing)! It was just complete innocence.
For example, on “Flying”, we were in the heat of it, and I went to work on the solo, and Robb says to me, “Well, hurry up!”, because he didn’t wanna lose that train of thought, and if we had waited, it would have been a very different song.
(laughing) I can’t believe he said “Hurry up!”
Lips: I know! And I’m saying, “I’m trying! (laughing) I know what I wanna play, but my fingers aren’t responding fast enough!”
With regards to touring, what are the plans? I know you’re in Europe till Aug 10th. Are there any plans for a U.S. run?
Lips: We’re looking to put some kind of a package together. For me, the best thing would be to go on tour with Motörhead, that would be amazing. We did Club Nokia in Los Angeles a month ago with them, and it was incredible! What a combination! Because it’s exactly the same audience, and it was seamless. For the fans it was amazing to be out there and get pummeled for three hours! It’s something we’d hope for, but the thing is, we don’t know what kind of shape Motörhead is in, what with Lemmy just going in the hospital.
What are some of your favorite places to play?
Lips: Going to Tai Pei last Canada day was incredible. Believe it or not, there is a huge Canadian contingency there, and they host the largest Canada Day celebration outside of the country. It was really bizarre being in such a foreign place and seeing Canadian flags everywhere.
Other special places for Anvil are Holland, Belgium, Germany, and we have a really really big stronghold in Sweden.
What do you do to unwind, away from playing music?
Lips: Kayaking. I really like that. And bicycling. I love spending time with my wife. We like to travel, particularly to New York and L.A. We’ve bicycled all over New York City, and it was incredible. Probably the most detailed I’ve ever seen the city.
Anvil’s been around for a little over 35 years now. Why?
Lips: Part of it is because Robb and I started as kids. So in the most formative years we made the decision that we were gonna do it as a lifelong thing. It made it that much easier. Maybe it’s fate, maybe it’s meant to be, but a good portion, and a good reason why it’s lasted is friendship, and having the same goals and musical tastes. We’re genuinely excited to be up there playing. It’s singing, playing, and entertaining, and that’s what Anvil does.
Well thank you so much for doing this, Lips. Love the new record, and I hope you get down here to Texas on tour.
Lips: Hey no problem. We’ve had a good time talking, right? (I emphatically say YES!) When we get down to Dallas, get in touch with me for sure. Take care, Damian!
Hope In Hell is available in stores now.