Welcome to the backstage of heavy metal. It’s made of hard work, extremely good luck, 1% of talent and 0.001% of glamour.
Metallica and Anvil. Some Kind of Monster and Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Two documentaries of two different heavy metal / thrash metal bands. One band made it to the stars in the late 80s and the early 90s, the other band did not.
Lately, I basically had to watch both documentaries, for strange reasons. No, Eternal Tears of Sorrow is not hiring a therapist for 40 000 dollars a month. (But yes, we’ve played at a festival in Romania…) 😀
There are some interesting difference between those bands and documentaries. The members of Anvil still believe in their band – and always have. Meanwhile, Metallica had to hire a therapist to solve their problems, of which some must have been the lack of confidence in the band and in their music. Maybe Anvil have had those problems, too, but there is a main difference between these bands. Anvil is still trying to “make it”, so to say, Metallica has seen it all, done it all, got it all. If you’ve reached your dreams and goals, everything you’ve ever imagined, is there anything you can do anymore?
Another big theme in both documentaries is aging. Both band consist of middle-aged men who have been playing in heavy metal bands for decades. They aren’t angry 20-year-old boys anymore. Hetfield and Ulrich (of Metallica) are fathers and will turn 50 next year (!). Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner (of Anvil) are 56. Is it different to rock at 20 than at 50? What makes you rocking and touring for decades? Is it ridiculous to have a rock’n’roll dream when you’re middle-aged? Does it make you another Spinal Tap?
Even for younger bands, it’s hard to keep up the attitude of an 20-year-old.
“You can hear that genuine enthusiasm and innocence on Angels Fall First and Oceanborn, ” Tuomas [Holopainen of Nightwish] sighs [talking about their two first albums]. “The touching naïveté that was lost somewhere along the way. After the success of Oceanborn, that innocence was lost forever.” (Once Upon a Nightwish by Mape Ollila)
Or what about Dream Theater? They had been around for 25 years until a co-founder of the band, Mike Portnoy, decided he didn’t have the spark anymore and asked the band to have a five-year break? The outcome: MP was fired and DT goes on as usual.
So many questions unanswered. But I suppose the ultimate question presented in both documentaries is: What makes an individual love music and his/her band so much he wants to go with it (seemingly) forever? The answer must be: music itself. Otherwise, you are in the wrong track. Despite everything that could happen to a musician or his/her band, music must be the only thing that counts.
(Yeah, and being true to yourself and all that stuff…)
So, are Anvil, Metallica and Spinal Tap (if they were a real band) and their attitude ridiculous or honourable and respectable? Or are the people who are laughing at them deep down just envying them? You know, they’re doing what they want and don’t want to be the “mundane rat race” but have dreams. Even at their age.
- Anvil! The Story of Anvil (cinemaburn.wordpress.com)
- Anvil: Irrelevant Again (metalsucks.net)
- Bassist Glenn Five Quits ANVIL (bravewords.com)
- ANVIL’s Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow On Departure Of Bassist Glenn Five – “It Is A Huge Improvement With Our New Guy, Both Musically And Personally” (bravewords.com)
- ANVIL Frontman: ‘I’m Addicted To The Endorphins That Are Released When I Play Live’ (roadrunnerrecords.com)