DID YOU READ

Sacha Gervasi Lifts “Anvil”

Sacha Gervasi Lifts “Anvil” (photo)

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The story of “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” began in a London rock club in the early ’80s, where a teenage metal devotee named Sacha Gervasi first saw Canadian rockers Anvil. After the show, Gervasi went backstage and met the band, striking up a friendship with Anvil’s lead singer and guitarist Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner. Eventually, Lips and Robb invited the then-15-year-old to be a roadie on their North American tour the next summer. Asked what a documentary on his relationship with the band during that period might have looked like, Gervasi replies, “That would have been amazing. People would not have believed it. My 17th birthday party: Angus Young of AC/DC, Kelly Johnson from Girlschool, Lemmy from Motörhead. I was hanging out with these guys! I was this young precocious public school boy who was into heavy metal.”

The precocious public school boy lost touch with the band, but years later, Gervasi looked up Anvil, and discovered that Lips and Robb had continued to record and tour together, despite the fact that rock stardom had eluded them. Eventually, Gervasi became convinced he needed to capture their struggle on film, a project he believed in so strongly that he sunk his own money into it. His documentary follows Lips, Robb and their bandmates on a journey that’s both hilarious and touching. Early sequences follow the group on a disastrously Spinal Tap-ish tour of Europe, where they play 10,000-seat venues to audiences of 175, and where, after a particularly bad gig, Robb notes of Anvil’s travel woes, “I can sum it up in one word… two words… three words: We don’t have good management.”

But “Anvil!” is ultimately a genuinely moving tribute to a remarkable friendship between a couple of guys who’ve never given up their dreams. And after decades in the musical desert, the band — thanks to the escalating buzz surrounding the film — is suddenly in high demand. I spoke with Gervasi just before he, Lips and Robb headed off to a GQ photo shoot; Gervasi was also trying to figure out how to make time for the guys to appear the following morning on “The Opie & Anthony Show.” For the director, this was the whole point. “I wanted to do a good thing for these guys,” he says. “And it’s amazing. When your heart’s in the right place, you can’t really fail.”

The movie begins with metal heavyweights like Metallica’s Lars Ulrich and Anthrax’s Scott Ian talking about the band. You ask all of them why Anvil didn’t make it, and no one seems to have a good answer. I’m wondering why you think they never became superstars.

I think it was a combination of things. Anvil is notoriously too early or too late. In this case, they were too early. In 1982, they came out with “Metal on Metal” and while they were figuring out what direction to go in, they signed with this big manager named David Krebs, who managed AC/DC, The Scorpions and Bon Jovi. He was saying, “You shouldn’t be doing the hard stuff like ‘Metal on Metal’ or ‘666!’ You should be focusing on being like Bon Jovi.” The biggest manager in the business is telling them that if they want to be huge, this is what they should be doing. Meanwhile, Metallica, who were listening to [Canadian speed metal bands] Exciter and Anvil, took all of that and went bang! And while Anvil was arguing amongst themselves, I think there was a window that they missed. That’s my personal theory.

04072009_anvil4.jpgAt a certain point, you lost contact with the band. Was the idea of making a documentary about Anvil what brought you guys back together?

Not at all. In the summer of 2005, Anvil just came into my mind one night. I remember I was at the beach, just hanging out and listening to Metallica and I thought “That sounds so much like Anvil!” And I was like “What happened to them?”

I went online and discovered that the band had never quit. And I was like, “How is it possible that they didn’t make it and they didn’t kill each other?” I discovered ten albums I’d never heard of and saw photos from a show at the Horseshoe Tavern the week before. I was fascinated.

I wrote to the web site and got an e-mail back from Lips a week later. He was in L.A. It was as if the 20 years went by [snaps fingers] like that. I took him to my mentor, [screenwriter] Steve Zallian’s house — he was the one who introduced me to Steven Spielberg [who directed Gervasi’s screenplay for “The Terminal”]. I remember sitting in Steve’s kitchen and looking through the window at Lips explaining speed metal to Steve’s wife Elizabeth. I said to Steve, “He’s never given up. Why? Wouldn’t you just give up? He still believes he can make it.” It just suddenly hit me: It’s a movie.

“Anvil!” includes many obvious references to “Spinal Tap.” The one big difference — besides the fact that “Spinal Tap” is a fake documentary and yours is real — is that the director of “Spinal Tap” appears onscreen to lead us through the film. Did you ever consider putting yourself into “Anvil!” in a similar role?

I did. In an earlier version, I thought we’d just do “Spinal Tap” and we’ll freak people out because it’s real. So we did a version where I narrated. But the movie’s about these two guys. And by removing myself entirely, it just became obvious that that was what the film was. I just felt like it was an unnecessary filter.

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Inauguration Alternative

Bill Murray On Repeat

It's a movie "Murray-thon" all-day Friday on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs courtesy of GIPHY

Democrats, Republicans and Millennials agree: 2017 is shaping up to be a spectacle — a spectacle that really kicks into high gear this Friday with the presidential inauguration. Not only will the new POTUS swear in, but all the Country’s highest offices will be filled. It’s a daunting prospect, and to feel a little anxious about it is only normal. But if your anxiety is snowballing into panic, we have a solution:
Bill Murray.

He’s the human embodiment of a mental “Happy Place”, and there’s really no problem he can’t solve. So, with that in mind, how about we all set aside reality for a moment and let Bill take the pain away by imagining a top-shelf White House cabinet filled exclusively by his signature characters. Here are a few hypothetical appointments for your consideration…

Secretary of Defense:
Bill Murray from Stripes

His incompetence is balanced by charm, and dumb luck is inexplicably on his side. America could do worse.

Secretary of State:
Bill Murray from Lost In Translation

A seasoned globetrotter steeped in regional traditions who has the respect of the whole wide world. And he kills Costello in karaoke, which is very important.

Press Secretary:
Bill Murray from Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs, living together. Mass hysteria.” Dude knows how to brief a room.

Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Bill Murray from What About Bob.

A doctor-approved people person who knows that progress is measured in baby steps.

Secretary of Energy:
Bill Murray from Groundhog Day

Let’s be honest, this world is going to need a lot of do-overs.

Feeling better? Hold on to that bliss. And enjoy a healthy alternative to the inauguration brouhaha with multiple Murrays all Friday long in an IFC movie marathon including Kingpin, Zombieland, Ghostbusters, and Ghostbusters II.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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