powerplay-anvil3A Day With a Hack, An Evening With Anvil

As soon as UK tour dates in support of Anvil’s new album, “Juggernaut of Justice” were announced, I behaved exactly like fanboy that I am and bugged our esteemed editor to let me be the Powerplay writer to cover them this time around. The saint that he is, or just to shut me up, the boss gave me the go-ahead to set it all up. Thus emails with PR people were exchanged and a time was arranged. By the time day itself rolled around, I was a writhing wreck of excitement. Just ask my girlfriend. The poor thing has to suffer this every time I interview someone I really admire. Thus, in tandem with the magazine feature, album review and live review, I’d like to offer you this look into the day itself, and how we do what we do.

I finalized a set of interview questions while grilling sausages and listening to the new album again that morning. Something I always do is to write more questions than I need, so that I have more to ask if other questions don’t really go anywhere. Getting the right mix of questions covering the past, present and future is tricky, and you can never be sure how an interview is going to go, so you try to cover all the bases that you can, whilst also trying to make sure the interview won’t take up half the magazine.

Before setting out for the domestic part of the day that’s of little interest to you guys, I assembled my interview bag. This consists of a battered messenger bag containing notepad, pen, dictaphone, batteries, deodorant and the tour manager’s contact details for the evening. My old housemate, Chris Dowson, would be my Plus One for the evening and would be taking some snaps to go with this piece you’re currently reading, and was also kind enough to offer to record the interview digitally alongside my trusty old tape recorder. Sorted.

powerplay-anvil2We arrived at Nottingham Rock City twenty minutes before the interview was due to start, and I called tour manager Dale Tomlinson to let him know I was around and ready when they were. Dale must be the most chilled and pleasant tour manager around, and his phone demeanour put me at ease. This was going to be a good one. The gig had been moved to the Rescue Rooms around the corner at the last minute, so we headed round there and discovered Lips and G5 sat relaxing with fans outside. Dale came and introduced himself and it was decided that Lips was the guy for the interview. Dale then had us all follow him deep into the maze-like corridors over the Rescue Rooms and towards the production office, where the interview would take place.

At one point Dale went on ahead to check if the room was free, leaving myself, Lips and Chris stood on a tiny dance floor that was being prepared for the club night later on, once the normals took over the place (The Rescue Rooms is a weird place- a really great live venue with the rather awkward addition of a Hipster/Chav bar on the side of it). A worryingly enthusiastic young lad was shifting tables away from the dance floor and loudly declaring “This will be a disco later!” at three people who really couldn’t give a toss. Thankfully Dale came back and rescued us from the tiny dance floor and took us upstairs to the top floor of the building. As we ascended, Robb Reiner appeared behind us with his netbook, and as we settled into the production office chatted to us about the passing of Peter Falk, star of Columbo. He wandered off to check his emails and the interview began.

For twenty-two minutes, Lips answered questions and told stories, and his boundless love for what he does shone through with every word. Here is one hell of a passionate musician, as you’ll discover when you read the interview in the pages of Powerplay Rock and Metal Magazine. As the interview came to an end, Lips posed for a couple of photos with me and we were done. As interview subjects go, he was friendly, interesting, eager to talk and thoroughly honest, just how we want it!

After watching the Anvil movie so many times and taking in their back catalogue, it’s kinda surreal to sit down with Lips and chat. You end up feeling like you’re in a deleted scene from the film, albeit one that doesn’t involve a freezing camper van or a venue with four people in it. It’s a similar feeling whenever I get to interview anyone, be it in person or over the phone. You spend years listening to their creations and seeing them in videos, and suddenly for a little while they’re yours to investigate and learn from. It has always been, and continues to be, a humbling and invigorating experience as a music fan and a writer. I love it.

powerplay-anvil1Interview over, Chris and I headed back downstairs, back over the stage Anvil would be tearing up later, and into the bar to mingle with the audience. This is something I love to do, as it means I get to meet our readers and talk about music, which as you know I’m rather fond of doing. The first face I see is that of Jack Sutton-Bassett, a young Anvil superfan that I know from Anvil’s various pages (all run by the inimitable Sister D, who is becoming a star in her own right on those pages). I talk to Jack about the interview and he’s stoked. Rob and G5 appear and chat with fans while I meet brothers Ian and Leigh, Powerplay readers from Bradford, who have a long history of seeing Anvil live and are just the sort of passionate music fans that we love having as readers. They bend our ear for a good while about all things Anvil, metal in general and how “Powerplay is about the only unbiased music magazine there is”. Thank you gents – we aim to please! We’re lucky to have such dedicated readers- it makes an already fun endeavour even more satisfying.

As gig time rolled around we headed into the venue itself and took up a spot by the stage. Anvil came on and played their hearts out, as ever. Being the metalhead that I am and not some stuffy journo (well, not *that* stuffy), I was throwing the horns, singing along and sweating with everyone else, and had a blast. As the show drew to a close and the band came out to meet everyone personally (which is an amazingly admirable thing to do), Chris and I decided to take our leave as other fans deserved their time with the band, and I’d certainly had my fair share that day.

Arriving home, we replenished our liquids and I started writing the intro for the interview. I listened to my tape and Chris’s digital files of the interview and started planning what to do in terms of making a coherent piece for the magazine. If I had included every word, the interview would have filled about four pages, and not everything said was relevant. However, what I had was the perfect souvenir of a wonderful evening, and a lot of work ahead of me that I couldn’t wait to get stuck into.

by Andrew Hawnt