Heavy Metal’s not for me. I don’t get it.
But a movie about a failed Heavy Metal band is one of the best things I’ve watched all year. I’ll add it to my list of inspiring films.
At 14, Toronto school friends Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner made a pact to rock together forever. Their band, Anvil, went on to become the “demigods of Canadian metal,” releasing one of the heaviest albums in metal history, 1982’s Metal on Metal. The album influenced a musical generation that went on to sell millions of records. But Anvil’s career took a different path – straight to obscurity…
Picking up on their story 26 years later, the film covers Anvil’s last-ditch quest for elusive fame and fortune. ‘Lips’, the leader of the band works in a factory processing kids’ school meals. Yet he still has not given up on his dream to be a rock star. It’s painful to watch them work so hard for so little.
At its core, Anvil! The True Story of Anvil is a timeless tale of survival and the unadulterated passion it takes to follow your dream, year after year. Anvil rocks – it has no other choice.
The film is charming, funny, fascinating and all good things like that.
But the reason I am writing about it here is that I also found it raised important questions for me about my own direction as we come to terms with yet another year passing without getting the South Pole expedition sponsorship we need. These questions include:
- Is it laudable to relentlessly pursue your dreams even when you are too old and balding to be a Heavy Metal star and it imposes frustration, sadness and financial struggle on your family?
- Is it laudable instead to concede that you have failed in your life’s dream and focus instead on making an alternate, happier future? Know when to walk away, know when to run…
- Lips believes that so long as he has written a great album the success is the same whether 10 people or 10 million people hear it. Is he right?
- If you’re not famous are you a failure?
- If you’re famous are you a success?
- Would I rather be famous (or, the way that applies to my life, would I rather be earning money more easily) or would I rather be doing stuff I’m proud of? I blogged about this question here.
I admire Lips’ dedication, his persistence, his optimism (“Everything on the tour went drastically wrong. But at least there was a tour for it to go wrong on“). And if I thought I would even listen to it just one single time I would buy an Anvil album as these guys deserve to succeed. I think. And what is ‘success’ anyway?
Anyway, I’m really pleased to discover that since the movie came out Anvil have headlined at some big events. Which, I guess, shows that persistence pays. As that heavy metal afficionado General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmany Melchett once said, “If all else fails, a pig-headed refusal to look facts in the face will see us through…”