I’ve told friends that a musician can’t call themselves a true musician unless they know Spinal Tap by heart. It’s a movie. Last night I went to see a documentary that I had heard about called Anvil. If you haven’t heard about it then you’re not alone. It’s a movie about a band from Canada. A band that was the precursor to acts like Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer. They started in the early 80’s and of course are the apparent godfathers of a thrash metal on the more heavy metal side of things unlike say Black Sabbath.
When I first heard of the movie, I thought it was a joke. I thought it was a take off of Spinal Tap. I like to think I’m pretty well verse in recent music history, but of course there’s way more to learn than one can keep up with, especially when one is part of creating music history as well.
I did a little digging around before seeing the movie and found out that true enough they were and are a real band that has been around all that time. The movie kicks right in on a concert from back in their day and proceeds to tell the story of a man, his vision, and his side kick and the people that make up his world.
To put it mildly, there are now two movies that any musician has to know to call themselves a musician. Spinal Tap and Anvil.
Anvil is funny (although I think unintentionally), sad, and disturbing. The humor is seeing the nature of a guy who truly believes in his music, but that never made it to the big time despite being an influence on the biggest bands in the genre that came after them. The sad part is seeing a guy so dedicated to a sound and style that has long since become a part of the past and has not changed with the times. The disturbing thing is seeing the emotion and the pain tied into this eternal quest for stardom on a style that doesn’t produce stars like it used to.
What a contrast from sitting on panel talking about success (the night before), then watching a movie about missing the success (on a grand scale). If there is there is any bigger contrast, I’m not sure I’ve seen it.
Because of the story and how insane it was to watch it, I feel compelled to expose you to the sound of Anvil that sparked the bands that made that sound huge. As you’re listening now, you won’t think this sounds like thrash, I certainly don’t. But then I wasn’t there when this came out and changed the landscape for those bands.
It’s a wonder to see the movie and hear guys like Slash, Lars, and others talk about the members of this band and say how influential they were. That’s probably a much more powerful plug than I could ever give. If you’re a fan of metal, this is a band you ought to go explore. Besides, have you ever seen a guitar player play guitar with a dildo before? Lips did.
If you get a chance, see the movie. It’s definitely moving in many ways.