RUSH R30 30th Anniversary World Tour DVD
Neil Peart, one of the most proficient drummers and articulate lyricists in Rock history, generally prefers to let his band mates - and more significantly, his music - do all the talking. For the release of the historic, double DVD/CD Rush-R30 which is already slated to ship at double platinum status, Peart has taken some time to look back at what he, vocalist and bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson, have accomplished over the past 30 years.
When you started the band 30 plus years ago, did you have aspirations of grandeur? Did you ever imagine you'd reach the heights you have?
Neil Peart: When I joined Rush, in August of 1974, we were already entering into "Fairy Tale Land." The band had just signed a U.S. record deal, and it included an advance to buy all new equipment. I'll never forget how exciting it was to walk into a music store in downtown Toronto and buy our "dream gear." While Alex and Geddy were looking at Gibson guitars, Rickenbacker basses, and Marshall amps, I was picking out a set of chrome Slingerland drums. Driving away from there with all those treasures in the back of our truck was already a dream come true.
Do you remember your first concert?
Two weeks after I joined, we played our first show together in Pittsburgh, in front of about 11,000 people, then continued around the U.S., opening for bigger bands, playing club dates on our own, and even appearing on a few television shows. Eventually that first tour took us all around the United States and Canada, and that was pretty exciting too. Those were heady times, no question, and we were certainly fully engaged "in the moment." It's safe to say we weren't thinking too much about the future. A song we wrote around that time -- while riding in a rental car somewhere south of St. Louis -- was called "Making Memories," and sums up our state-of-mind pretty well:
You know we're having good days
And we hope they're gonna last
Our future still looks brighter than our past.
What were your goals in the beginning? How do they differ from your goals today?
My earliest goals were really just about playing drums - getting better, joining a band, playing at the local roller rink or teen dance. My goals expanded as my life did, and eventually I wanted to learn more about what drummer Bill Bruford once called, "Life beyond the cymbals." I started reading a lot, fiction and non-fiction, catching up on the education I had more-or-less "dodged" during my teenage obsession with drums and rock music. Later, I got interested in outdoor activities like cross-country skiing and cycling, and those activities incorporated goals of their own - traveling farther, building stamina and new experiences, and seeking out fresh adventures.
What was it like to view the footage for the second DVD of Rush 30? Did it take you back to a bygone era?
What that old footage does is make us laugh, really, at how we looked back then, and smile with a certain fond appreciation for our youthful earnestness and energy. We had a lot to learn - but we were learning it!
What do you think you have learned since the early days? How have you changed as a band?
We have learned so much, it's hard to begin to quantify it. But if anyone hasn't learned a whole bunch in 30 years, they haven't been paying attention.
From the band's point of view, we certainly worked on our musicianship first, then - armed with that increased facility and confidence in our individual instruments - expanded into paying more attention to songwriting, arranging, and production.
Rush has always been regarded as musicians' musicians. Is there a challenge in keeping the music technical, yet still making accessible rock songs?
There is a parallel track there: making the arrangements interesting and challenging stimulates and inspires us, not just while we're writing and recording, but for the hundreds or thousands of times we might play that song in concert. Along with that, there is our "natural" sense of what we find exciting in rock music, which we always trust that others might share too. That relation doesn't come from us as musicians, but from us as music fans. Two different things, but they don't need to lose track of each other.
You have written some of the most interesting lyrics in rock music. What inspired you to write mythic tales like "2112" and "Hemispheres?"
In simple terms, those early big pieces were driven by ambition. I was grappling with big, metaphorical themes and sweeping allegories, and it's another mirror of personal development too - start out with the grand principles and idealistic dreams, then gradually move on to more concrete, real-life applications of those principles and ideals.
After Permanent Waves, your lyrics became less rooted in science fiction. What triggered the shift?
Our music has always been a mirror of ourselves, our lives, and our interests. Any "shift" in my lyrics was thus a gradual, natural one - my reading expanded, I matured, I didn't want to do what I had already done. Those were reasons enough to keep trying different things, some successful, some not - but all sincere.
How have you, Geddy and Alex managed to stay together as a band for 30 years?
There's no easy answer for that, and yet it is basically a simple relation: we like each other, and we like working together. Still, nobody can choose to have an audience for 30 years - like dance partners, they have to choose you too. So we have always been delighted that as we pursued our goals in music, we managed to please enough other people to give us an audience. To say we'd be nothing without them is more than fatuous sentimentality - it's the plain truth.
Rush, L to R: Alex Lifeson (guitar), Neil Peart (drums
and percussion), Geddy Lee (vocals, bass guitar)
DVD Disc 1 - The Concert:
Disc one features the sold out concert that Rush performed in Frankfurt, Germany on September, 24 2004, during their 30th Anniversary World Tour.
Track listing is as follows:
(Finding My Way, Bastille Day, Anthem, A Passage To Bangkok, Cygnus, Hemispheres)
The Spirit of Radio
Roll The Bones
Between the Wheels
Heart Full of Soul
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
DVD Disc 2 - Special Features:
This disc includes bonus features including the following RUSH rarities:
ARCHIVE PERFORMANCE FOOTAGE:
Fly By Night - Church Session Video (1975)
Circumstances - Live in Studio (1978)
La Villa Strangiato - Live in Studio (1978)
Farewell to Kings - Live in Studio (1978)
Xanadu - Live in Studio (1978)
Soundcheck: Various Songs - Ivor Wynne Stadium (1977)
Freewill - Toronto Rocks / Rolling Stones Concert (2003)
Closer to the Heart - Canadian Tsunami Disaster Fund charity telethon performance on CBC television (2005)
Interview Footage - Interview with at Ivor Wynne Stadium (1977) - A Farewell to Kings Tour
Interview Footage (1981) - Studio interview at Le Studio, Montreal while recording the album Signals (released 1982)
Interview Footage (1991) Artist of the Decade (1980s) featuring all 3 members
Interview for release of the album Vapor Trails (2004)
CBC Television: Juno Award news report - RUSH induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1994)
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes