Anvil Chorus must be one of the most underrated bands of the entire American Metal movement. To achieve your highest goals in life, the timing needs to be just perfect. In the case of Thaen Rasmussen (guitars, vocals), Doug Piercy (guitars), Aaron Zimpel (vocals, bass), Phil Bennett (keyboards) and Joe Bennett (drums) it was not a case of too little too late but a question of too much too soon. When the band issued their first privately financed 7" single entitled »Blondes In Black« in 1982, there was no Bay Area Thrash scene in San Francisco yet (this came a good year later with Metallica making the first waves, plus Megadeth, Exodus, Legacy et al). In the year »Number Of The Beast« was released, the Metal world (even in the US of A) was still following the rules of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Although Anvil Chorus fitted in perfectly, their career was relatively short-lived, the band never really took off, as founder member Thaen Rasmussen explains: “I started the band in 1980 with Doug Piercy, Grant Williams, Michael Gallegos and Tim Montana.
Later we merged with friends of ours, the band Leviathan: Aaron Zimpel, Bill Skinner, Kenny Feragen and Rick Condren. In 1982 we hooked up with keyboardist Gere Fennelie and Joe Bennett. It came to a close in 1985 but there was a reunion in 1987 in San Francisco. The band just ran its course I guess, and with little interest from the record companies and certain people in the band wanting to do different things, it just fizzled out. We all wanted to record a full-length album, but it never came to fruition.”
Instead Anvil Chorus just recorded demos, supposedly three, in 1983, 1984 and 1987. Thaen Rasmussen corrects my story: “It was actually only two, 'the red demo' which there were two versions of 1983-84, and the next one never really was completed, even though the songs got out. They were demos for whatever we needed them for, and yes … for the fans!”
In the late 1980's there was a counterfeited version of the outstanding »Blondes In Black« single doing the rounds in Europe (especially Germany), did Thaen ever get to know who was responsible for this? “No, I'm afraid I don't,” is his answer. “I did see and sign a copy when I was on tour with Vicious Rumors a while back.”
After the split of Anvil Chorus Thaen Rasmussen “just tried to keep playing and writing – a few different projects and bands.” His college Doug Piercy, however, formed another legendary Bay Area band, namely Heathen. Was there ever talk of Thaen joining Heathen full-time at all? “Yes, there was,” he reveals. “I tracked on a couple of albums as you probably know but overall it wasn't my thing musically.”
Later in the 2000s there were rumors of another Anvil Chorus re-union show. “That was April 7th 2004,” says Thaen. “It was not really a show, more like an intimate gathering with eleven or twelve old friends at a studio. A one-off at that time. Around that time we started the process of recording stuff that would end up being »The Killing Sun«. We became a band again playing shows around 2006-2007 to 2012.” In 2010, Anvil Chorus even made it to Europe and played a blinder of a show at the prestigious Headbangers Open Air bash: “t was a great time! I was happy to finally get the band there. It was the first time for Anvil Chorus in Europe. I had been there a few times with Vicious Rumors.”
»The Killing Sun« is a superb collection of twelve of Anvil Chorus' best compositions. For a short time it looked as if there would indeed be a future for the band. Thaen Rasmussen: “We even started working on the follow-up album but didn't get past pre-production demos, when Aaron left yet again … I really don't think there'll ever be a second proper Anvil Chorus album, unfortunately.”