The Anvil of Justice Speaks out - Lip's let's loose!!
Canada's finest metal band, the 1st to call themselves Speed Metal and that was even back in the later 70's, the band have continued through thick and thin with the good and the bad and all the shit that has thrown at them the band still manage to keep together and go from strength to strength over the last 2 decades or so. With the band's debut album 'Hard and Heavy' the band had success with the album which lead to one of the most talked about albums in metal history 'Metal on Metal', the album that started the whole Thrash/ Speed Metal movement. Most talked about album from the giants such as Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax. The band continued on with their 3rd album 'Forged in Fire' which led them to a European tour with Motorhead. The band have done yet another 10 albums before the release of their new album 'Juggernaut of Justice' which has just been released on SPV in the UK/ Europe and The End in the U.S. I managed to catch up with the band once more on their 2011 headlining tour of the UK when I met them in Sheffield (UK) when I was Lips the following questions. In the meantime check out this awesome new album.
Well Lip's it's been over a year since the last interview on the Saxon tour, so how you doing man? Let's start by asking you how successful the film 'The Story of Anvil' was for the band? It certainly has put the band back on the metal map right?
"Great to meet you again Jason, well the film has made us famous again (laughing), it's taken us a long time to get where we are now.
Having bad labels in the past really didn't help the bands profile much did it?
"Well actually I really don't look at it that way, I think we got exactly what we went after, we are not a commercial pop band so we could not have success of a major record contract or radio play so I think we got what a metal band should get in the underground cult status and I have been good with that but what happened a old English fan came along and made a movie about us. (Ed: I want to me in the 2nd one lol) Yeah Jason we will get on that one if we make another one."
Was there any parts of the film what were deleted that could of been in the film? The scene were you start to argue is very emotional, and really sad, does that part of the film upset you in anyway?
"No were got rid of the stuff we didn't need and I think we made the right choice. What is in the film was there for the film to work. (Ed: Do you still watch the film?) No I don't need too! The scene were we are arguing doesn't upset us, it's more comical as we watch it now it makes us laugh when we watch that scene."
OK moving let's talk about the last studio album 'This is Thirteen', what were the highlights of that album for you?
"Well doing another album with Chris Tsangarides was amazing and a wonderful experience, he is our brother!! It was great to hear his voice coming through on the talk back in the studio was a great feeling. I like the song 'Feed the Greed', 'This is Thirteen', 'American refugee', 'Game Over', they are my favourite songs."
Just how many tours did you do for that album Lips?
"God that tour lasted for ever Jason, we toured for almost 3yrs for that album, and it ended in late March in South America of 2011. We did a tour of the UK and Europe with Saxon in 2009, which was a great success and a headlining tour with Girlschool also on the bill last year 2010 and the Bang Your Head festival last year. (Ed: What other festivals did you do last year?) We did the Wacken festival which was amazing with 80.000 people and we went on after Slayer, which was totally insane!! (Ed: Did Slayer watch you live at Wacken?) I'm not sure but when we played in Japan at a festival he watched the whole show live and he is a great guy, he loves our band. Wacken is my favourite festival."
Let's move on now and talk about the new album 'Juggernaut of Justice', why the title for the album & were there any other titles in mind?
"Well when we were looking for a title for the movie I suggested 'Juggernaut of Justice', and Sacha Gervasi disagreed with me rather sharply but he suggested that I should use it for the next album. So I rethought it and decided to use it for the next album and the movie was a miracle in everyway for me as it just came out of left field for me and it was really unexpected and the way it turned out is completely amazing. It really made me think to what I should use for the next album cover, and with the graphic the seas had parted a little bit like Moses and the anvil was the way of the people and a juggernaut is an unstoppable force of power and there is also a political juggernaut when the will of the people. So the whole idea for the miracle was that the seas had parted and the people ate taking us to the promise land so that is were the idea came from."
So who did the art work for the album? What other ideas before you choose that one?
"The artwork was done by a guy called Christoph Schinzel from Germany who did the 'Back to Basics', 'Still going Strong', covers and we just wanted to use him again as he is a great graphic artist and a fan of the band. I was totally involved with the whole process of the album artwork, he also did the cover for 'This is Thirteen' as well, and for this album cover I went through photographs of the seas parting but I found the scene from a moving picture 'The 10 Commandments' but we couldn't use anything that was already used. So we had to create it from scratch so he was able to do that and the most difficult aspect of making that cover was getting the backs of people huge audiences taken from the front but we needed people facing the other way but it wasn't easy to find. A friend of ours helped us achieve this, by a friend taking pictures from festivals and we used that with digital inputs of people."
So I believe some of the recordings where recorded at Dave Grohl's 'Blue Room Studio's' in LA, where was the rest of the album recorded? How was it recording at Dave's studio?
"Well yes it was recorded at Dave#s studio and it is very well put together with some great equipment with a massive room for recording and that is great for drums so that you can get all the ambient stuff and get it recorded. When the drums were recorded we took the drum tracks to Bob Marlett's studio who has worked with Alice Cooper, Ozzy, Halford solo martial and many more.... We managed to get the album recorded partly at Dave's studio when we were up for an award at the 'Independent Spirit Awards' which is the academy awards for independent films and we won, and we were asked to play at the proceedings and the people at VH1 contacted Dave and asked him if he would like to come out and introduce the band and it which he freaked out and said there isn't anything better than introducing Anvil to the stage. He got out of his limo with a guitar case walking towards me I thought he was going to jam with us on stage to 'Metal on meta;' which I thought was great!! So he put the guitar down besides him and said this is a gift to you Lips, he said I was the only 1who used semi hollow Gibson guitars that would appreciate it & he gave me a Dave Grohl ES335 beautiful custom guitar which was signed and documented and then introduced the band which was very heart warming. After the proceedings Dave took us aside and insisted that we use his studio to record the next album. He told us we would clear the studio and he would give us a price that we could not refuse. (Ed: Did Chris get involved with this album at all?) No he didn't. Our manager insisted that we needed to change this a little bit they didn't feel confident in Chris doing this album because they felt that he had done 3 albums with Anvil in the past all of which were great but if we did another one it would only be what the others were, it would not be new and different and we needed something new and different for the new album. We came to realize that what our management was telling us was true and we had to take it to the next level. We need a new fresh boost of energy and which we maybe didn't have before."
Did Dave do any guest appearances on this new album? Also how long did it take to record this new album?
"No not at all he did not get involved with this new CD. The album took about 5-6wks to record and mix, a pretty normal length of time to record. (Ed: What about the writing side of the album did it take long to write the music and lyrics?) Well most of the writing was started back in 2007/8 when they were editing the movie and the reason why I started writing songs so early was because in my opinion the movie was going to be huge and we would not have time to write the music and lyrics and I don't think I could of been more correct. We wrote all the music etc and then it became a right dilemma to when are we going to record this? We were on the road for every and there were still more gigs, so we played what shows we had booked and in November of 2010 we went into the studio and recorded the album."
From the new album 'Juggernaut of Justice' which songs stand out for you and why?
"For me on a personal level it would have to be the instrumental 'Swing Thing', because Robb and myself are very much influenced by Big Band Swing/ Jazz such as Benny Goodman Glen Miller, when musicians had to really play well in order to get recorded. I guess in and around of the pre-production my father had past away I had inherited his car and along with his car came his tape collection and I started listening to all his Benny Goodman tapes and I was blown away by it all & I knew I had to do something like this one day. So one day I woke up and and I could hear a progression of chords all been done by horns that I could hear in my head. So I came into rehearsals and said to Robb & G5 that we should do an instrumental that should basically done on horns and I will transport it onto guitar and use use it as a metal song with a big band theme and we will add horns to the song. (Ed: Was you going to use keyboard horns or the real thing?) Well my 1st thought was keyboard horns because I knew it would be hard to find real horns players. I didn't think that real horn players like Benny Goodman were still around. We finished all the album and 'Swing Thing' was completed as a metal piece until I approached Bob our producer and told him we need horns for this song. He smiled at me and said 'Don't worry about it Lips, I'll take care of it'. He told me his wife can play all the horns, I didn't believe him at 1st but he told me that his wife can play them really well and that I should trust him. So I had to trust what he was saying to me, so I went home on a plane and after a week later he calls me and asks where I want to horns on the song? So I went through the arrangement and disgusted it with him and 2 days later I got the file in my email and I opened it up and listened too it and I thought I was going to pass out, it was just amazing!! It was incredible the way that Big band and Speed Metal as so beautifully done together. What is so amazing is the fact that I don't think any other metal band could of got away with it like we did, you need a drummer that understand what that music is all about, and my approach to the guitar solo on that song was that I wanted to play a guitar solo that sounded like Benny Goodman but done on a electric guitar and it was very free flowing like a horn player would play. I also like the song 'Paranormal', which is very Black Sabbath in sound very slow and maybe a distant cousin to 'Forged in Fire', 'Kiss of Death', or even 'This is Thirteen', something of that nature but even darker or heavier. I also like the song 'On Fire', which is very Deep Purple of Rainbow Orin tainted and each song on the new album or the songs on 'Metal on Metal' are template songs were you can build a band on that one song on the record. If you listen too songs on the 'Metal on Metal' like 'March of the Crabs' became Metallica, '666' became Slayer which is all previous to all these bands existence. There are a wide variety of songs on the new album which are all great demonstrations of each type of song and there all every different and unique unto themselves. I have a great deal of pride on this record."
How do you see this album Lips from those previous albums in the past?
"I don't think it comparable sonically and I think this album has surpassed anything we have ever done. Musically speaking it is Anvil true to form, but the production and sound has leaps and bounds beyond anything we have ever done. Put the 2 together & I think it is the great piece of work we have ever done. This is out 14th album and I am not 25yrs old anymore, I'm 55yrs old and proud of this album so very much."
What's your favourite past album Lips? For me it has to be 'Forged in Fire' just because I saw the band supporting Motorhead when I was 12yrs old.
"I think that album is a really great album, but I don't think it sounded very good. (Ed: I love that album and sometimes I just wish you would play other songs from that album instead of 'Forged in Fire', great song don't get me wrong Lips, but it would be nice to hear different songs from that album.) No I'm not really bothered about changing our set list live, at this point it is a challenge to ad new songs and to keep maneuvering and old songs its still old songs & I like to ad new songs, We have picked peoples favourites and the ones we perform the best are the ones we stick with."
Ok let's move on Lips, will there be a promo video or a live DVD for this album?
"I don't think the timing is right for a live DVD yet, I don't think we are big enough yet and what would be the point in doing a live DVD in a club? We are not big enough yet, so I want to wait until we become something worth reckoning & I don't think we are there yet. I don't think our fan bases is big enough yet and once we are there we will know when the timing is right & we need to be a headliner not a support or festival band. I don't think we will be doing a promo video either, we did apply for a Canadian grant but they refused us because they said we have a movie so why do we need a promo video? I guess they have a point when we have a movie about the band."
So what other labels approached you Lips beside The End Records?
"I have no idea? We have The End in the U.S. and in Europe it's SPV, our manager sorted that out for us. My manager is happy so if he is happy then I am happy. I have worked 30yrs to require a manager like Rick Sales & that is the magic which is the key to the door."
Rick works with Slayer right? I just wish Slayer would take you guys on tour as they seem to praise the band just like Metallica and Anthrax do on 'The Story of Anvil', talk is cheap Lips, I just wish these bands would have you as a support act, are they afraid you will blow them off stage haha!!
"Yes Rick does manage Slayer, I think when Slayer want us on tour with them they will ask us."
Before we come to an end, lets just talk about the tour with Alice Cooper in Canada, how was it for the band?
"It was a lot of fun, Alice is a great guy. The tour got started with managers, agents talking to one another and we had never met Alice before until now. I got along with him pretty well actually, he is a very nice guy. We played some arena with him and concert halls and his fans seemed to really like our music, so that was a big help for us."
I guess you sold a lot of merchandise at each show right?
"Yeah we did great, we are only allowed to sell a certain amount of merch each night, and you are only allowed to sell a certain amount each night and what we did was after the 4th show (the last one) we went outside the venue and sold our CD's outside which were cheaper outside (laughing) but nobody inside was buying them because they were hidden."
Question for you before we finish, why the hell haven't you been asked to play Bloodstock festival?
"I really don't know why we haven't seen asked to play it, we have been wanting to play that festival and Twisted Sisters booking agent told us that Bloodstock wanted us because the show was going through his connections and my management didn't want to do it. Bloodstock know my agewnt here in the UK but I don't know why they didn't approach him about it but if they had gone through the right channels we would of been playing there by now."
How excited are you to be playing Graspop festival? What other festivals have you been playing prior to this tour?
"Well I am really looking forward to playing Graspop, it should be a lot of fun. We have played some festivals recently such as 'Metal Town', 'Copenhell' and we have got a couple of festivals in Spain I believe with Dio's Disciples & The Rods."
As the new album is released shortly and your doing this UK/ European tour will you becoming back to the UK later on in the year once the album is released through SPV?
"For me Jason, it is unknown. Whatever the manager tells me is what we shall do. So I am hoping we will be coming back later in the year or early next year."
Well Lips, you're a fucking star man, regards to Robb and G5. Best of luck with the album sales and the forthcoming tours. Do you have anything to say before we come to an end? Take care Lips!
"It is always a pleasure coming to the UK, we have so many found memories here it is one of my old time favourite places and it is the home where metal began, and I just hope we can continue this relationship. Thanks for your support, Jason, always a pleasure meeting you my friend, stay metal!!
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