Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lazy Sunday # 97: “This is How Much You Have To Love It”

Long before I ever heard Heavy Metal music, I was taking a drawing class from Ted Godwin, an artist whose work now hangs in the National Gallery as well as some of the most prestigious homes and boardrooms of the country.

It was a freezing cold Monday morning and most of us hadn’t dedicated much time to the still lifes we were supposed to have accomplished over the weekend. Ted moved from one flimsy sheaf of half-hearted attempts to another, finally staring over my shoulder at the bare minimum I had been expected to create. I heard him sigh quietly and move to the front of the class.

“I don’t know how to tell you all this.” he said, “But nobody else in the world really gives a fuck whether or not you make it. If you don’t care enough, why would anyone else?”


Flash forward about 10 years to Toronto. I lived across the street from a fleabag hotel near Edwards Gardens called “Larry’s Hideaway”. Larry’s was a four storey first stop for hookers and last chance to sleep inside for a lot of guys who drank or did too many drugs. But there was a ground floor bar that opened onto Carlton Street that booked the best bands in Toronto.

On hot summer nights, the passing streetcars were almost rocked off the tracks by bands that would go on to great success like Trooper, Crowbar, Kim Mitchell in his Max Webster incarnation – and Anvil. Over time, and due in no small part to the Juno rules that forced radio stations to make a third of their prime time offerings Canadian, all of those groups soon moved a couple of blocks down Carlton Street to open for Led Zeppelin and Rush or be headliners themselves at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Like most guys who fought being dragged to a disco at all costs, I probably saw each of those bands more often than I can remember. And then like Larry’s and most of the other live venues in the city, they just went away.

Flash forward again to the summer of 2008, and I hear that screenwriter Sascha Gervasi (“The Big Tease”, “The Terminal”) has made a documentary about Anvil called “Anvil! The Story of Anvil”. I’m not all that current with Metal anymore, and although I’d found Metallica’s “Some Kind of Monster” one of the best rock docs I’ve ever seen, I didn’t really feel the need to learn what had happened to a local band I hadn’t even heard of in 25 years.

More’s the pity.

Because flash forward one last time to this past summer, where my constant hop-scotching of the country landed me in three cities at the same time as Anvil, who were back on tour, opening for AC/DC.

I finally went out and found that documentary. And I’m recommending that you find it as well, especially if you’re a struggling artist or one who doesn’t feel you need or want to struggle anymore.

“Anvil! The Story of Anvil” is not only about never giving up on yourself and your dreams, it’s about not even considering giving up as an option. It’s about understanding that nobody else cares, not fans, not media conglomerates, nobody.

It all comes down to how much you care about what you do, how much you are willing to endure to get where you want to go. This is how much you have to love it played out in front of you. If you can’t make this kind of commitment, then find something else.

The road is never easy. But sometimes it can become pure Hell. And what this film shows you is how much it can hurt. This is how much frustration you can feel. This is losing to the maximum. And this is also how sweet victory can be when you keep caring and don’t give up.

For more on the film, you can find Sascha Gervasi’s interview on CBC’s “Q” here. As for Anvil, the first week of January, they embark on a 28 city North American tour. You can find out how close the band will be coming to where you live here. After that, they’re off to Australia just prior to release of a new album “Juggernaut of Justice”.

Will what you have to face be worth it?

Only you will ever know the answer to that. Because nobody else gives a fuck.

Enjoy your Sunday.

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