Sacha Gervasi's cult classic Anvil documentary celebrates its 13th anniversary

Yahoo Entertainment's Lyndsey Parker sat down with filmmaker Sacha Gervasi, along with the guys from the band Anvil, to discuss and break down the history of the group, and Gervasi's documentary about them that is celebrating 13 years since its release.

Video Transcript


- We're going to do it together. We're going to get there. We're going to be rock stars. It's a dream. But I'm going to make it come true.

LYNDSEY PARKER: First of all, cheers to you guys. Happy 13th anniversary.

SACHA GERVASI: It's the bar mitzvah. Some people were at the bris. We're at the bar mitzvah now.

LYNDSEY PARKER: I want to go back to when all you guys were basically kids. I didn't realize how far back the three of your connection went. And it's a great story. Sacha, you were there roadie when you were a teenager. And then you, years later, ended up making a movie about them and giving them a whole new second act career. So how did you guys meet Sacha?

STEVE KUDLOW: He was a cute kid that came to the door of our change room at the Marquee Club in London, England. He knew all about our music. And it was like, to us, it was a real novelty because we hadn't really had-- we never really talked to a foreign fan. He asked if he could take us out and show us around the city. And we went out. And he took us to all the different places in and around the city, particularly to Carnaby Street, where we could buy heavy metal stuff, which is studded belts and leather jackets and stuff like that.

SACHA GERVASI: When they came on stage at the Marquee, people were just stunned to silence by the level of metal. It was just like being crushed by a giant anvil. It was decimating, musically, show-wise. And so as Lips said, I just went into the changing room. I was like, I got to [BLEEP] meet these people. I went up to them. I said, I'm your number one English fan. And they'd never been to London before. So I said, I'll take you around.

And I did. And I took them back to my house at Abbey Road. And I opened the door. And my mother was there, classically trained piano player, hated anything like heavy metal. I'd been playing metal on metal all summer. It was driving her crazy. I had posters of Anvil on my walls. And then there they were, standing with me at the doorstep of our house.

And she looked at me and looked at them and was like, you've got five minutes. It was very satisfying to, like, really annoy my mother, particularly at the age of 15, you know, which is all you really want to do, is upset your parents.

STEVE KUDLOW: He began to tell us that he had family in Canada and so forth like that and that one day he's going to come and visit. We went, yeah, right, whatever. And I gave Sacha my address. And as it turns out, there's a knock at my door, and Sasha showed up, unannounced. He came up, knocked on the door, and I opened the door, and there's Tea Bag standing there.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Wait, you called him Tea Bag? Tea Bag's your nickname?

SACHA GERVASI: Well, that was funny at the time. Obviously it has two meanings. But at that time, it was just, he's English. He drinks tea. Call him tea bag. But what Lips forgot to mention was that when I was in London with them, they said they were going on the road the following summer and what was I was doing. And they invited me out on the road with them. And I actually showed up. And then they took me out on the road.

I went on the road with them several times. And we became close. And our families got to know each other. So there's a real personal connection that goes back, actually, to 40 years exactly, to this year, to 1982. So I think there's something magical about that.

LYNDSEY PARKER: So how did you, like, way over in England, discover them?

SACHA GERVASI: The first I heard of Anvil was on the front cover of "Sounds" magazine. I think it was April 6, 1982. And it was Lips holding a chainsaw, wearing a bondage outfit, clenching a dildo between his teeth. And the headline was, "Anvil is coming." So they weren't that obscure, to be honest. They became very famous, very quickly in England, to the point where they were added to the bill at the Monsters of Rock Festival, I think with Status Quo headlining or whatever at the time.

And they booked these Marquee shows, which were completely sold out. So I saw the image. Then I heard the record. Like Lars says in the movie, it's just the whole package came together because they were playing-- like, Robb's double bass drumming and the rhythms and the intensity was much darker and more crazy. It was really the beginning of thrash speed metal. If you listen to tracks like "March of the Crabs" and "666," and you really hear the genesis of that style of music. And I had never really heard anything like that before. It was just, like, so [BLEEP] amazing.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Obviously, years down the road, this opportunity to make the documentary came up. What were the circumstances in which he approached you to do this movie? And were you resistant at all?

ROBB REINER: It was pretty simple for me. Sacha, I trusted him as a friend. That was it. So it was easy. He just said to me, all you have to do is be yourself. And everything is going to be good. And I said, that's all I got to do? I said, that's going to be easy. And at the end of the day, he also did say that if there was anything that we didn't like about any of it, that we could remove it or change it. So we let him film everything.

STEVE KUDLOW: When Sacga approached me, I knew the answer to everything, to the point where we are even today. To me, it was an immediate answer to my lifelong dream. I recognize it as my ship coming in. And I knew that it would be probably the most important and significant thing I was ever been part of, but not only for me, but also more possibly even for Sacha than it was for all of us that this would end up being somewhat of a hallmark or something that we're going to be known for the rest of our lives, that we created this.

I was so positive thinking about it that I took it for granted the whole time during the filming that it was going to the Sundance Festival. I just took it for granted. It's going to Sundance. Of course, it is, right? Why wouldn't it be? It's a shoo-in.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Some of the stuff in the movie is sort of about how maybe the success or claim you should have gotten you did not get back in the day. The irony is this movie made that actually happen decades later.

STEVE KUDLOW: It's not so much about the big time. That's an unrealistic goal. My actual intention was to stay in the underground for decades and put out a multitude of albums. And if there was a time to cash in, it would be in the last closing years, if you understand what I mean.

The time to really actually become above ground is when you've put out 20 albums. Wouldn't it be better to actually have your big hit album after 20 albums? And then people have 20 albums to buy. And when all of our colleagues or people in the business are retiring, we're just digging in. Our business has just started. It couldn't have worked out in more of a positive way because

I don't know that you wouldn't have the same level of appreciation for what has happened if it had happened when I was very young. I also believe that I'm better for it in the long run in many, many different personal ways, in the sense that I was able to create a regular man's household, where I'm married, I have children, and I own property, that I have what everybody else had, and I got it, I attained it the way that everybody else does, by working regular jobs.

But at the end of the day, what ended up happening is my music, I retired into what my real passion was my whole life. And that's what the biggest difference is. So I'm not wasting away in retirement. I'm actually traveling all over the world and being a rock star.

LYNDSEY PARKER: So no retirement plans for Anvil any time soon, I guess.

STEVE KUDLOW: I haven't had a month off in nine years.

SACHA GERVASI: I think it needs to be pointed out that Anvil, Robb and Lips, have not worked any kind of day job since the movie came out. Is that right, guys?

STEVE KUDLOW: That's right.

ROBB REINER: Yep. The band is our official [BLEEP] day job.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Obviously, there's a lot of fans in the movie, like Lars, like Slash, like Lemmy. I want to know about some of the more surprising fans.

SACHA GERVASI: You know, it was Anthony Bourdain's favorite movie, as an example, or Chris Martin of Coldplay and Jay-Z. Dustin Hoffman, he came to the screening in LA the first premiere, the first premiere. And he was so touched by the family aspect and the Jewish aspect of the film. So Dustin wants to take you guys to dinner when you're next in town.

The high point for me was when I was invited to this lunch to the Beverly Hills Hotel for George Harrison movie. You know that documentary, "Living in the Material World?" Martin Scorsese directed that, right? Martin Scorsese came over. And he said to me, you made Anvil? I screened it in my screening room secretly. No one knew. It's one of the best music, movies I've ever seen in my life. Congratulations. It's unbelievable.

A band had a similar moment at the Classic Rock Awards when Jimmy Paige came up to Lips and Robb. Lips, what did what did Jimmy say to you? I can't remember exactly but--

STEVE KUDLOW: You've given us all hope.

SACHA GERVASI: The fans of this movie are far and wide because it's about not giving up on a dream. And who cannot relate at some level to that?