Friday, April 13, 2007

Rush on the Media

Rush Rolls Again
Jon Wiederhorn @ Onstage Magazine (Sep 1, 2002)

In their heyday, the idea that Rush might go five years between tours would have been unthinkable. For more than two decades the Canadian progrockers held the reputation of being the ultimate untiring road act. Proof lies in the band's four multidisc concert albums, which showcase their virtuosity perhaps more accurately and articulately than their well-wrought studio discs.

In 1997, however, the Rush touring machine ground to a screeching halt when drummer Neil Peart's daughter Selena Taylor was killed in an automobile accident on a highway between Toronto and Montreal. As if that weren't horrible enough, Peart's wife Jackie Taylor died of cancer about a year later.

Peart was devastated and unable to even pick up his sticks. He left Toronto, his home for many years, and lived as a nomad, traveling by motorcycle from town to town in a desperate attempt to bring meaning back into his life. Eventually he settled in rural California, where a ring of close friends helped him cope with his terrible loss.

For the next four years, Rush was eerily inactive. Bassist Geddy Lee released a solo album and guitarist Alex Lifeson produced a disc by nu-metal group Lifer, but fans of Rush had to settle for memories and the 1998 live album Different Stages, which featured two discs from the group's 1997 tour and a third disc of a 1978 performance at London's Hammersmith Odeon.

For a while it appeared that Rush was through. But last year, after falling in love and getting remarried, Peart decided that he was ready to start playing music once again.

“I remember we had a meeting where Neil said he'd like to try to do another record,” Lee says. “But he was still very tentative and not feeling very confident. So we said, ‘Look, we'll create an atmosphere that's loose and as intimate as we can get it. And at some point, if you feel you can't handle this or it's freaking you out or it's not working, fine. That's cool. So let's throw the schedule and deadline out and see if we can get back to work.’ And he was a real pro. Once he got in a position of working, he realized how much he enjoyed it.”

After Peart brushed up his chops and wrote lyrics for the band's new disc, Vapor Trails, he decided that it was time to fully resume his life as a musician. That meant touring.

Rush's 2002 show promises to be one of their most inspiring and exciting ever. According to Lifeson, the band will play almost three hours of material, including much of Vapor Trails and a handful of songs they haven't performed in over a decade. The music will be accompanied by a new high-tech light and video show.

Lee and Lifeson talked to Onstage just prior to the group's tour about a boatload of issues facing a band on the road: tour preparation, road survival, technology, show pacing, improvisation, onstage snafus … and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

More than five years have passed since you last toured. Are you looking forward to getting back on the road?

Geddy Lee: Until we get out there and play the first show it'll all be [both] strangely familiar and strangely foreign. There was quite an unusual atmosphere through rehearsals. I'm looking forward to it feeling different and fresh, but until we play one flawless show it'll be a little nerve-wracking.

Alex Lifeson: We're doing a lot of planning and changing a lot of things for the tour, and that's making things pretty exciting. I changed all my equipment, so I have all new gear this year just because I want the challenge of something fresh and new.

Did you miss touring?

Lee: I didn't, to be frank. One of the benefits of the difficulties of the last couple of years is I've become a true member of my family and my community. For someone who's spent his life since he was 19 on the road, that's a great benefit. So it's a little bit difficult for me to unplug myself from that and get back into the headspace to go back on the road. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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