Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Up There

Movie: Anvil! The Story of Anvil, (2009)
Directed by: Sacha Gervasi

When San Francisco band Handsome Poets broke up in 2000 it was a crushing experience for leader Stephen Duffy and his partner.

I should know. That partner was me.

As any band member will tell you, you invest every ounce of your being in the experience. You live, breathe and sleep music- writing it, playing it, recording it, arguing and worrying about it.

You lay everything on the line: your time, money, relationships, artistry and dreams.

Then there's the never-ending bullshit which lies outside your control. Indifferent club owners, moody soundmen, crappy changing rooms and soundchecks, backbiting with other bands over money and who plays first.

You hustle management and pester radio stations, imploring them to play your record, endure humiliation and self-doubt as you nervously prostrate yourself on the carpets of record company A & R men.

But the rewards, when they come, are worth all the indignity and degradation.

Like winning a major song competition. Or hearing your record on the radio. Or playing for thousands of people, feeling the incredible rush that comes from a live show. The pats on the back from strangers who want to touch you simply because they saw you on stage.

Because, as my partner Stephen used to say: when you're up there you really know you're alive.

It all came back to me as I watched the marvelous Anvil! The Story of Anvil, the tale of the Canadian prototype thrash-metal band who after near-success endured thirty years of failure and ennui as they choked on their faded dreams.

Amazingly they survived, held together by the self-belief and talent of leader Steve 'Lips' Kudlow and his drummer and sidekick Robb Reiner.

The Story of Anvil is by turns hilarious, heart-breaking and inspiring. Each moment rang true with me, as it will with every rock musician, especially the superb denouement set in Japan.

It's one of the best rock documentaries I've seen. If you really want to know what it's like to be in a band, including the highs, lows and everything in between, this is the movie to watch.


Ken said...

I remember seeing you in GG Park. You were cool then. You're cool now.

Bit sqyiffy.

Kendo Nagasaki

Shiffi Le Soy said...


I blush at your kind words.