A group of 50 year old Canadian 80's thrash metal has beens tour Europe to play for whopping crowds of 174 people on a good night fully convinced that they are going to make their big splash in the music industry. It doesn't sound like the storyline of a highly acclaimed documentary, but that is exactly what Anvil: The Story of Anvil is. I wrote a post on the phenomenon that is the Anvil movie back when momentum was really starting to build around the film. At the time I really wanted to see the film but never made it to an indie theater where the movie was playing. Luckily my parents, who loved the film by the way, bought it for me on DVD for Christmas this year. I watched the film last night and was amazed at how good it was. I will admit that I can relate in many ways to the guys in the film. I have been really passionate about metal my entire life. In high school my band Mask of Sanity used to play shows for 15 people most of which were high school girls that thought Good Charlotte was heavy. Needless to say we received all but rave reviews. I also grew up playing hockey in Portland which was anything but a hockey hotbed. Yet I slugged my way through marathon like van and bus trips across the country and Canada fueled only by my love of the game and my parents love to see me succeed. As you watch the film you can see why I would be so touched by these goofy metalheads and their 30 year plus career through obscurity. However, what really touched me about the film were the lessons that transcend the comedic Spinal Tap-esque backdrop. Everyone can learn something from these guys and if everyone had a little more Anvil in them the world would probably be a bit better off. Here are the things I took away from this inspiring film.
1. Passion - The film shows Steve Kudlow and Robb Reiner's enduring love for the music they love. At times their passion borders on delusional, but I must say there is something really moving about people who so passionately undertake what they love to do. Not only does that passion serve as the catalyst for way they live their own lives, but that passion is infectious to those around them. When you are surrounded by a passionate person you cannot help but feed on that energy. That is why I loved my band and why I loved the game of hockey so much. I was constantly surrounded by people who loved what they were doing. Those who didn't love it didn't last very long. That is the great thing about passion is that it is a self regulating virtue. In order to keep pace with passionate people or within a passionate team/organization you must exude it yourself. People would rather be around someone who oozes passion than a talented individual who coasts through what they do. Just watch the film and by the end you feel like you know the guys, like they were buddies you grew up with your whole life. I attribute that feeling to their constant display of intense passion which opens the door for outsiders to see what these guys are really about.
2. Dedication - "It can't get any worse than it is right now. But if it does then at least we know we tried." That is a quote by lead singer Steven "Lips" Kudlow regarding the stage of the band as the film was being created. I thought that quote was great because it gave a glimpse into the bands optimistic nature, but it also showed that they are willing to do whatever it takes to continue to do what they love. I know that my hockey career was filled with plenty of obstacles, sacrifices, and life changing events that often caused me to question whether it was all worth it. But I persevered and remained dedicated because, like Lips, I knew that it was something I loved and over time no matter what happened I would look back fondly upon my journey. I think that is when you know you are truly are dedicated to something. You have an unwavering commitment to something because at the end of the day you would rather persevere hellish experiences doing what you love than suffer through the alternative. Perhaps that says more about optimism than dedication in that you have faith that over time you made the right choice by soldiering on. However, it is that act of soldering on like Anvil that truly embodies dedication.
3. A Lust For Life - There was a point near the end of the film where the band is reflecting on what life is all about and Lips says what it is all about for him. He says that life is all about relationships and the experiences you have. He talks about the most powerful choices are who you share your journey with and what you choose to do on that journey. I loved that! We all face adversity, challenges, and unexpected twists and turns. But one constant theme in happy people's lives is that they are surrounded by other good people on their journey. When you are watching this film you can just see that these guys love to be alive. In fact I think it is much stronger than a love for life; it is a lust for life. They need to feel alive. They crave it like an addiction. It radiates off the screen. I think they maintain that lust for life by keeping their simple philosophy in perspective regarding what they choose to do and more importantly who they choose to do it with.
If you haven't seen this movie then go see it today. Like NOW. You will laugh, you will be shocked, probably be a little touched, and most certainly walk away having learned something. I made the mistake of waiting far too long to see the film that takes a glimpse into a real life happy ending. Don't do the same! I have included a trailer below for those that still need further convincing.