artistic courage

I watched Anvil (2008) last night… what an amazing reflection on artists, and the power of faith in the face of negativity, rejection, poverty, arguments, and disbelief!

The heavy-metal band Anvil formed in the ’70′s and experienced a huge breakout in the early ’80′s just before the major metal bands exploded onto the scene. Interviews with select members of the “big” bands confirmed that Anvil was their inspiration during their own breakout time.

The spotlight quickly fell away from Anvil as the group suffered from poor production and managerial oversight, but they never stopped playing. They stuck together and released album after album after album. Two of the members split off and were replaced in the mid-90′s, and it’s still playing today.

The documentary followed the band’s attempt to reinvigorate itself in 2004-’05, to come together and support the 13th album. A European woman (Titziana Arrigoni) reached out and offered to book a 2-month European tour. What an opportunity! But the trip was plagued with poor attendance, shoddy advertisements, and disappointing payouts. It wasn’t long before the band returned to their hometown in Canada, to their drab jobs just trying to make ends meet.

The movie opened with shots from Anvil performing during their heyday, with the lead singer Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow rubbing a golden dildo along his guitar neck while he strutted across the stage in a leather harness and torn fishnet gloves.

And the hair! Full, drenched with sweat, flinging around in circles in the mosher’s classic head-bang sweep.

After the opening clips, we listened in on an interview with Lips as he drove through the snowy streets of his hometown on his way to delivering school lunches for a children’s catering company. His long, thinning hair sprouted from under a wool cap, and he discussed how to stay happy, how to live his life the way he wants to live it, instead of the way others want him to live.

He lives without regrets.

I admire his courage. He and his best friend & drummer Robb Reiner have been together since they were 14 and formed their band in high school. Forty years of partying, singing, crying, fighting, supporting each other. Going to each others’ weddings. Bar mitzvahs. Creating music and touring. Living and loving each other. Believing in each other.

The movie is about having courage and faith in yourself. It’s about never giving up on something you believe in, no matter how many people tell you that your art stinks, that you’ll never make it big.

Anvil is about facing rejection and turning the other cheek.

It’s about Christianity and Judaism and Buddhism and atheism all rolled into one. It’s about trusting yourself and being a good, loving person.

Courage is something we all have, but it’s how we face our own courage that defines us. Do we push it away, blocking its return to fight another day? Or do we step back to admire the faith and self-belief, and honor the gift of power?

What do you do when faced with courage?


*Additional image sources:

Anvil on Wikipedia

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