rush400pix Brian Hiatt of Rolling Stone reports:

For years, Rush had an uneasy relationship with an oft-skeptical rock press. So fans got to know the band members’ diverse personalities largely from live shows, tour books, videos and drummer Neil Peart’s own prose. But as the band proved this month in their first-ever Rolling Stone cover story, they’re great profile subjects in a classic rock & roll mode, more than willing to get candid and irreverent. Here are some highlights more from their cover-story:

There’s a reason there are few, if any, unreleased songs from Rush’s studio sessions:

“That’s not how we’ve ever worked,” says Alex Lifeson. “The album is what it is. ‘We’re going to do eight songs. So let’s do those eight songs and concentrate on them and devote all of our time to them.’ Why would you write 20 songs and pick the 12 best? Does that mean that the other eight are just bullshit? You were wasting your time!”

Rush sometimes make up songs about crew members in their soundchecks:

“I provide the lyrics,” says Lifeson. “We had one that was great a few tours ago, actually quite a while ago, called Sex Boy. And it was this kind of cheesy, Euro-trash, electronic music.”

Lifeson originally planned to give a real speech instead of his infamous “blah blah blah” moment at Rush’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction:

“I was going over my written speech on the way over,” says Lifeson, “and thinking, ‘My brain doesn’t remember anything. It’s going to be awful. Might as well get up and just go blah blah blah. Oh! Wait a second!’ We were sitting at our tables and everyone else was doing their thing, and I told my wife. I didn’t tell anybody else, And Quincy Jones got up and gave his speech, which was a very long speech, but sincere. She leaned over to me during that speech and said, “And you’re going to go, ‘blah blah blah?'” And I said, ‘Stop it, you’re making me nervous!’ When we were walking up on stage, that was really when I committed to it. I thought, “Ok, I’m going to do it. This could be terrible. But I’m going to do it.” I think it was OK. I don’t know. I’m glad I did it, though. It’s the fucking Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! You should be irreverent, rather than thank your lawyer and your accountant and all that bullshit.”

While Rush were recording 1989’s Presto, Peart announced that he was going to quit touring:

“It was still possible then to foster the illusion that you could make a living without touring,” says Peart. “So I came to the guys and I said, ‘You know what? Let’s make records, no touring, I’m done with all that.’ But then the more I thought about it, the true test of a musician and especially of a band is performing live. The band we are was made by live performance. We built our own relationship, we built our relationship with fans, we built our tightness, our chops, from touring. So after much wrestling in my own mind I came to the realization that if I’m going to call myself a musician, if I want us to be a vital band, then I’m going to have to perform live.”

Lifeson was disappointed after he spent some time listening to a college radio station recently:

“It was all this contemporary music geared for that audience, and it was so disappointing listening to it. Really weak songwriting, insipid vocals and productions. It was really discouraging. I was sorry to hear that. You’re waiting for something to happen, musically. You’re waiting for some great thing. Like every generation or every decade seemed to have that big thing that carried it through. There’s nothing now, at least in rock.”

Lee originally wanted to be a guitarist:

“I had this attitude that nobody chooses to be a bass player,” he says. “The rest of the band decides that you’re gonna be the bass player – and that’s how it was for me. I was playing guitar in a basement band and our bass player’s mother wouldn’t let him play in the band anymore, so we had no bass player. So they all looked at me and said, you play bass. I said, well I don’t have a bass. They said, well go ask your mother if she’ll lend you some money. My mom loaned me 30 bucks, I worked it off in her variety store on Saturdays and I bought my Canora bass and that’s how it started for me. And then I fell in love with the idea of being a bass player ’cause nobody wanted to be a bass player.”

Read more at Rolling Stone.


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  • James K. on

    I saw them last month and they were PHENOMENAL! As for Alex’s “Blah, Blah, Blah” RRHOF speech, the best part about it was the confused looks Geddy and Neil had. That was priceless!

  • MetalMania on

    If you like Rush at all, do yourself a favor and get tickets to the R40 tour if they haven’t played in your area yet. The show is excellent, especially the 2nd half, and they are playing and sounding great!

  • Michael B on

    In regards to bands writing tons of songs for an album and picking the best, I like Rush’s attitude. I often wonder when I listen to an album, like about 3 out of the 12 tunes, then read that the band wrote and recorded 30 songs for the album, that if the balance of those songs suck worse than the ones they decided to put on the album, then why spend all that time recording them?

  • Brian Schuster on

    I really don’t know how to feel about the statement “You’re waiting for something to happen, musically. You’re waiting for some great thing. Like every generation or every decade seemed to have that big thing that carried it through. There’s nothing now, at least in rock.” I agree that rock music in the U.S.A is in a sad state as far as “visibility” goes, which is very unfortunate because there has been a number of truly great releases the last couple of years.

    Some that come to mind (many more I probably can’t think of right now):
    Rival Sons – Head Down and Great Western Valkyrie
    Monster Truck – Furiosity
    Crobot – Something Supernatural
    Scorpion Child – Scorpion Child
    Kyng – Burn The Serum

    In my opinion ROCK music does not have a lack of talent problem ROCK has a marketing problem. (by marketing problem I mean there is really NO huge outlet for ROCK music to be spoon feed to listeners, you know like MTV) Rock really has not been able to find its footing in the internet age we live in. Like Eddie talks about some artist debut big but then fade. The hype is there the first week with the hard core fans but again NO outlet to win over other listeners. That REALLY sucks because in a lot of ways some of these artists are making classics that are going unheard. So I think Alex Lifeson’s quote is right and wrong in my opinion. Anyway my two cents.

  • Kenneth Stratemeyer on


    You’re right about the marketing thing. Every form is music has become very pop-centric in the mainstream media.

    Also, rock did have a talent problem in the 1990s. That led a lot of young listeners away from the rock world to other genres like country, rap, R&B, etc. I’m 34, and it can be difficult for me to have conversations about music with people the same age as me because they’re not into rock, or they buy Mp3s instead of albums, etc.

    Things have gotten better since the 1990s and there are some good bands out there, but you really need to hunt and dig to find them. Maybe some of these bands out there now will influence the next generation and lead rock into another golden age, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    I’m also not looking forward to the time when Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Purple, Scorpions, Van Halen, The Who, Priest, etc aren’t around anymore.

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