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"New World Man"
"Celebrating 40 Years of Rush"
by Phil Wilding
photos by Matt Scannell
Click Any Image to Enlarge
With Rush mulling over their future plans, Neil Peart gives one of his most personal and revealing interviews ever,
discussing himself, his passions and his thoughts on Rush's future. Phil Wilding is all ears...
NEW WORLD MAN
The low clouds and mist have only just burned off as the Los Angeles sun struggles to assert itself along the Santa Monica coastline. The air still smells like rain and Neil Peart is just back inside from admiring the garden. The house is still quiet - like most days, he's the first to rise - and as we talk the intercom occasionally buzzes into life to check which part of the house Neil's in. His office, as it turns out. Neil's on the author trail, his new book, Far And Near: On Days Like These - a companion volume to 2011's well-received travelogue memoir, Far And Away: A Prize Every Time - is on the stands. There's also the matter of the day job as drummer and lyricist in Rush - stories and reflections from their Time Machine and Clockwork Angels tours make up the bulk of the book - and life as a dad the second time around. For someone so infamously guarded (he did write the lyrics to Limelight, after all) he's surprisingly open about his daughter, five year old Olivia, and the life he lives now out in California. Constantly restless and consumed by wanderlust he may be, but Neil Peart sounds like a man who's found home.
How's California this morning?
It's very good, we've had a bit of rain and so it all feels better.
This latest book seems more reflective than the first volume...
I suppose it's all about me as an audience. More and more I realise that's my presence in the world; I like to observe, especially in a moving vehicle and on the motorcycle, the world comes towards you like a show and I'm very tuned into that. A writing exercise that I always do, is that whatever I'm looking at, I think, how would I put this in words? A lot of Ghost Rider was written directly to a friend of mine who happened to be temporarily incarcerated at the time, so I was always looking at the world around me and discussing my feelings with myself in terms of a letter to him. That's very much the character of the book; I describe the writing as being a series of different letters to someone.
The new book reflects Ghost Rider in tone: it's a very honest, almost exposed read in some parts.
I do try and talk about my grief and what happened to me in the book because it helps people. Ghost Rider is by far my most widely read book and that kind of puzzles me, because the others are an awful lot happier to read, but there are certain people who have endured the same kind of experiences and loss as I have and found it helpful, so I do make the effort to share. I try to share those things to try and help people know they're not alone, because it helped me to know that I wasn't alone then.
You first started cycling while on tour in Utah in the mid-80s. What spurred that decision?
That was just a day off on tour and I thought, what can I do? I know, I'll get a bicycle! And that was the beginning of the two-wheeled world for me.
Most people would have just gone to the bar.
I can divide my touring life into two phases because I realised on the very first tour in 1974 that this was no kind of life, and there was much hanging out time and it was potentially so self-destructive. And I started reading then, I filled all the empty hours with the education that I missed, delving into all the genres. There was the book period and then in my thirties I got into bicycling and then into motorcycling and they became the escape from touring and the injection of life, freedom, engagement with the world, and it's still something that I love.
Do you remember making the transition from bicycle to motorbike; was it very clearly defined?
I was always afraid of motorbikes! I always said that when I grow up, I'll get a motorcycle and it'll be a BMW and it wasn't until my mid-forties that I decided I was as grown up as I was going to be and I started riding and then I started to realise that, oh, this would be a nice way to tour because bicycling had been great. On a show day I'd be jittery as I had to perform so I'd ride my bicycle around the city and go check out the local art museum, I had an outing and got an education along the way, so motorcycling was just a way to take that up a notch.
So instead of art, I could reach national parks and get out in the desert and the mountains, even the prairies. The world that I experience on the motorcycle is the real world. Between shows, I averaged it out, I travel about 500 miles riding and none of it is freeways or motorways.
Motorcycles, cars, an incredible Aston Martin like James Bond used to drive...
I showed people pictures of that and they say to me, 'oh, that's my dream car', and I say, 'It's mine, too!' I'm far from jaded about any of that and of course I appreciate it totally. I spend a lot of time around my cars and I've been doing a lot of racing this year in a series called the 24 Hours of LeMons. The cars have to be worth no more than $500, essentially it's a junker and you go endurance racing. Our racing team's called Bangers and Mash!
You've become quite the accomplished travel writer now.
I've been interested in prose writing since the 70s. I went to a shop in Little Rock and bought a typewriter and set out to write; I tried a novel, I tried a screenplay, I tried everything and then in the early 80s, I did a bicycle trip to China and I consciously decided not to take a camera with me but to try and capture the journey in words and came back and made that up into my very first travel journal. I realised that it was what I wanted to pursue and so it was fortunate. I worked on writing for 20 years before anyone saw it, which was so lucky; I wish I'd had the same luxury with music.
You and Kevin J Anderson collaborated on the Clockwork Angels novel. Was that a gratifying experience or so much toil or both?
Working on the novel was fantastic for me. We've just finished the graphic novel of it too with a comic book publisher called Boom! Kevin and I didn't want to leave that universe and he suggested we carry on with a lot of the lesser characters from the novel and flesh out their stories. The next one will be called Clockwork Lives. I'm not done with that project. I think it could be an opera in the classic sense; that would be fantastic.
You write constantly, lyrics too: tell us about your 'scrap yard'.
I collect bits all the time; if I have a nice line that I like, or a possible title then I note that down. Going back over your notes, I call it fishing in the scrap yard: that line goes with that and that could go over there, so much of our stuff has happened like that; I know that the Roll The Bones title had been in my scrap yard for a decade or more.
Your lyrics sound almost fantastical at times, but the reality is that you focus on very universal themes: you write about the everyman much more than you're given credit for.
I try to find that particular kernel in things, to find the universal. The other day I was thinking about our song Distant Early Warning, which is from... '83? And I was watching what my friends were going through at the time, work difficulties and marriage difficulties and what the world was going through at the time when the Soviets had just shot down that airliner, and all of that stuff was out there and I wanted it in that song and the little twist in that, the lyric: 'you sometimes drive me crazy, but I worry about you', and that is life, you know? That's one of the few times, out of all the songs that we've written, there are only a handful of lines that I could really replicate, you know, endlessly and that's certainly one of them.
Another one is that line from Presto, 'what a fool I used to be', because it's always true, oh, yesterday I was a fool, but not today! That's a song I would like to play live again; I hope we can someday. I love how we revitalised that song by performing it in front of an audience. There's another one called Hand Over Fist, which has the same personal and universal elements to it that I would really love to revive, because we've always said that if we could remake one album, an album that could have been so much better, where the songs are so much better than the record is, then Presto would probably be the one we would pick.
Two Rush tours feature heavily in the book - Time Machine and Clockwork Angels - were they very different tours?
Undoubtedly so, a different character even. Clockwork Angels was just so satisfying on so many levels, the music we were presenting and the way we felt we were playing as a band, the way it was happening, having the string players. Socially, I think people can forget the day to day of our lives: these new people came into our world and every day soundcheck would end with us going back to talk to them for a while, so that was a very fresh shot of novelty and enjoyment for us and entertainment, just the hanging out.
So you still miss touring with other people?
We used to have that with opening acts, you know? Someone sent me a picture of us with UFO the other day and we got very tight with them when they opened for us, musically and personally, it was really a treat. It was a good decision we needed to make to go on our own without an opening act, but I miss that part if it: I miss the socialising.
There are still no Rush dates confirmed yet - Alex suggested there might be, Ged wasn't so sure - but where do you stand on touring now? Does the idea of it still enthral you, or leave you cold?
It's a true dilemma, there's no right answer. People say to me, 'Are you still excited when you go out on tour?' Should I be excited about leaving my family? No, and no one should. It's as simple as that: if you put aside the fantasy of it, it is what it is and has to be done, and that's fine and I pour my entire energy and enthusiasm into it, but, of course, I'm of two minds about the whole idea.
Your write very lovingly about your daughter Olivia in the book: how old is she now?
She's five and again with the separation, it's heartbreak, I've been doing this for 40 years, I know how to compartmentalise, and I can stand missing her, but I can't stand her missing me and it's painful and impossible to understand for her. How can a small child process that? And there's the guilt that comes with that, you feel guilty about it, of course. I'm causing pain.
But part of you still yearns to perform?
Me, Ged and Alex all met together about a month ago now. I was in Toronto and we all got together and discussed things and playing was the activity that we all most wanted to do, though we've made no real decisions yet. We're all in our sixties and we did feel that with Clockwork Angels live we reached a prime that we're all very proud of and pleased with, but that is the hardest thing by far, performing. You can fiddle around in the studio until your dotage, but as far as going out there and playing, especially drumming, for me it's such an athletic undertaking, we really want to utilise that while we still have it.
From jamming with The Who to discussing the best wine you can buy for £50, to revealing just how good Alex is at golf and pondering whether there'll be another Rush album, Geddy Lee gets up close and personal with Phil Wilding...
Home in Toronto after a fleeting visit to London to perform both bass and vocals on just one song with The Who band for the Teenage Cancer Trust at the Shepherd's Bush Empire alongside artists like Liam Gallagher, Joe Elliott and Eddie Vedder, Geddy Lee is in remarkably good form. He's dodged jetlag, though he's no idea how, and is enjoying being home and becoming a grandfather for the first time. When Prog calls he's sitting by the window in his studio studying the clouds looming in over the city. 'I think," he says, "It looks like snow."
You recently played live for the first time in a long time with The Who band backing you up for The Who Hits 50 show. You cite Live At Leeds as one of your favourite albums: how nerve-wracking/exciting was it playing The Seeker with them?
Well, I admit that I was a little nervous walking in to the rehearsals as being in Rush is a kind of insular existence, but from the moment I arrived I was so welcomed and well treated by the band and crew that I relaxed right away and just did my thing...
It was the second time you met Pete Townshend - the first was when you picked up the Governor General's Arts Award in Canada - is it ever easy meeting your heroes, even as a rock star?
Well, it's always a little awkward meeting someone whose music has been such a huge inspiration on you for so long, no matter how much success you've had in your life. But you also have the confidence of that success behind you which really helps normalise those situations.
Talking of heroes, you also talk about Cream as being one of the most influential bands on Rush. You saw them as a young man - how influential on you were they?
Cream and The Who were the two biggest influences on me and my playing and writing from the earliest days playing high schools, and drop in centres. In our earliest form of a band we played Spoonful by Cream, which was our "big number" and basically just tried to imitate the guitar and bass parts.
You're a huge baseball fan - with the Toronto Blue Jays breaking your heart almost every season - and got to throw the first pitch out at a home game a few seasons ago: how did that feel?
Well, yes, I love baseball as is well documented and the last two seasons have had their ups and downs, but in the end have been disappointing. Throwing out the first pitch two years ago was a blast. I practiced so much and took it very seriously and was very relieved that I threw a good strike over the plate. My friends and family were even more relieved I think, ha!
You have an envious baseball collection and now a bass guitar collection, too; it's like picking favourite children, but which one were you most excited to land?
Well, the instruments are really quite inspirational to collect, as there is no more appropriate thing for a musician to collect, is there? There are quite a few of them that I have been really happy to acquire, but I think purchasing Bob Daisley's 1992 Tony Zemaitis Custom Bass from him was quite a cool thing. There are so few of them and getting one from his well-known collection and getting to know him a bit through our communications was very cool as well.
We've got a £50 to spend. What one bottle of wine should we go with? Not to collect, but to drink, and why?
That's a good question and of course it depends on your taste, but for a red wine, and for my tastes, I would try and purchase a good Beaujolais Cru from Lapierre or Foillard, great food-friendly wines and reasonable too. For a white I would look for a nice Sancerre from Francois Cotat.
How good is Alex Lifeson at golf, really? Jerry Cantrell said Alex was good, but that Alice Cooper is awesome in comparison. We're not sure if that's a compliment or not. And what about his prowess as a painter?
[Laughs] He is really quite good and he should be as he spends enough time at it! But I've never played with Alice so you'll have to take Jerry's word for it. He is an exceptional artist as well, a really talented guy. Who knew?
Neil says that one of the best things about having the string section on the Clockwork Angels tour was the camaraderie of other musicians on tour and it was like the days of playing with UFO and Primus. Do you miss having support bands to hang out with?
Well, It was fantastic to have such a variety of personalities along for the Clockwork Angels tour, really great players and lovely people, and a few have become pals. But as for an opening act, no, I don't miss having that because we get to play a longer show and start earlier and the show is the whole reason for putting up with all the travel in the end.
Clockwork Angels the album was such a high watermark creatively, that it could be argued (by an idiot) that it's a great album for Rush to go out on. Are there any Rush albums left in you or is that an impossible question for you to answer?
I certainly believe we have enough mojo to do another really good record and I still love to play and write, but that's something that I'm afraid only time will tell.
R40: CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF RUSH
From Taylor Hawkins to Steven Wilson, 40 famous Rush fans pick their favourite Rush songs.
What better way, we thought, to celebrate 40 years of Rush, than by asking 40 famous Rush fans for their favourite Rush song? So we did...
"I always listen to Rush with great pleasure. I always liked them because, in some way, I think they are very similar to Yes, one of my favourite bands. But they are a bit darker than Yes, as you can hear in songs like Red Barchetta, one of their most representative pieces, where you can hear a harder sound, thanks to the vigorous drums of Neil Peart, and keyboards aren't used to soften their sound.
"I would compare Alex Lifeson to Andy Summers of The Police. Neither are great guitar virtuosos but they have certainly helped to create their respective bands' unique sound."
"My favourite Rush song would have to be Jacob's Ladder from the Permanent Waves album. From the start of the tune in 11/8 (5/8-6/8), with the vocals coming in in 4/4, how could a musician not love this tune? Without sacrificing originality Rush have always had the uncanny ability to make odd time/odd meter into a catchy, radio-friendly experience. Take a big hit... put your headphones on and remember what 1980 sounded like."
"I choose Freewill! I love this song for so many reasons. It's inspired by Ayn Rand, who shaped my life with books such as The Fountainhead, Anthem and Atlas Shrugged. The statement that the song makes speaks for the individual as opposed to the masses.
"It's got great bass and guitar counterpoint; I love it when Alex breaks away from Geddy playing the main riff and starts playing chords.
"It has one of the best solos on the Permanent Waves album. I don't think I've ever heard Alex play so fast. The cool thing is, he plays chords in the solo as well as shreds! I still haven't mastered that solo; on my bucket list for sure!"
"The Twilight Zone is a little gem with a very strong lead guitar motif from Alex, Ged's verse vocals up in the stratosphere and then the chorus slipping into an eerie flanged vocal that is in the 'zone'. This is all held together by Neil's very concise, driving percussion closing with the airy guitar solo which makes this one of my favourite Rush tunes."
"My favourite Rush track would have to be Headlong Flight from Clockwork Angels, which is almost certainly my favourite Rush album. The track rocks right from the start with its huge chorus and superb instrumental, where each member receives their moment in the spotlight.
"As with the rest of the album, the song shows that Rush remain very much at the cutting edge of the genre, while keeping in touch with their roots. It's the perfect balance of past and present."
"For me it's Caravan from Clockwork Angels. It has some captivating, technical bass work from Lee, and riffs galore from Lifeson, which makes this a classic I return to regularly. Not to mention the insane solo/jam combination... Absolute genius!"
"The live version of A Passage To Bangkok off Exit... Stage Left is probably my favourite Rush moment of all time. I like this more than the album version; the feel is a bit funkier and some of the drumming is absolutely not of this world. Exit... Stage Left is probably my favourite Rush record, and this is definitely my favourite track from this record."
"Circumstances is my choice. I really love the complexity of the Hemispheres album and the various lengthy twists and turns within the first track, but Circumstances is more of a hard-hitting classic rock song. The main thing that stood out to me was the riff leading into the chorus, which really reminded me of Tool - one of my favourite bands growing up. They were responsible for name dropping bands like Rush and King Crimson, which led me to really exploring the 70s classic prog stuff."
FRANK VAN BOGAERT
FISH ON FRIDAY
"I'd choose The Trees from Hemispheres. This track has a gorgeous build-up, starting with a nylon guitar. Although one might expect this to evolve into a folky song, it twists into a fierce rock performance.
"I especially like the synth bass sound in the breakdown part. Also, as a youngster I was quite intrigued and wanted to know what instrument this was... turned out to be the mighty Taurus pedal. Also the lyrics in this song are quite engaging, as a statement in favour of equal rights for everyone."
JAIME GOMEZ ARELLANO
"It's very hard to choose one Rush song above all others, but I think I'd go for Working Man. The intro riff is probably one of the finest in music history. And Neil Peart, although not on this, remains one of my biggest influences as a drummer."
"I find myself in the odd position of being loosely known as a bit of a Rush fan. I'm actually not. They are delightful and engaging chaps, and their management are ludicrously hospitable. But I've just worn their T-shirtson TV a few times by virtue of a mutual acquaintance. I decided to go and see them in Amsterdam a few years ago. They were very good. And YYZ was as insanely complex as it was incredibly catchy. The feeling in the room for them and the affection in which they are held, can't fail to move anyone."
"Tom Sawyer is probably my favourite Rush track of all time. It has all the elements that makes them such a great band. With a great groove, several hooky riffs and a strong and anthemic vocal. The Moving Pictures album is by far an away my favourite album of theirs. And this is the prime cut from it."
"I really like Closer To The Heart. I love the simplicity of this song, and the overall feeling that runs through it. The lyrics - 'I will draw the chart, sailing into destiny' - are beautiful, and signify an empowering optimism that I'm really drawn to."
"I found Moving Pictures among a charity shop haul, and YYZ always stood out to me. It's a rare thing, a great rock instrumental. The opening riff sounds like the mighty Voivod five years early. It also has a great solo. I think Lifeson is a very underrated guitar player, he's like the prog Johnny Marr with loads of ideas and textures."
"I first discovered Rush when I was around 11 years old, after hearing The Spirit Of Radio coming through the wall of my older brother's bedroom. I was instantly drawn to the phasing guitar riff and drum fills. This is a classic Rush track taken from a great album, Permanent Waves. The musicianship on this album is so good, and Rush are still a great live band. This track is a flashback to my youth growing up in South Wales, listening to albums with my mates."
"My choice is The Analog Kid. On the Signals album, Rush demonstrated how they'd developed the ability to write concise pop songs - with The Analog Kid being a fine example. Propelled by a breakneck ear-worm riff reminiscent of current prog-pop genii White Denim, and lyrically a lot more uplifting and emotional than their earlier albums, this track still retains the fresh power trio sound.
"This is alongside the last vestiges of the chunky production which made Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves such essential albums. They developed this songwriting style over their consecutive albums, but with diminishing returns often due to the production typical of the late 80s and 90s which never did them any favours."
MIKE WEATHERLEY, MP
"It's Something For Nothing from the album 2112. Not only is this song on the album that defined Rush, and not only is the track a fantastic head-banging, air-guitar monster bit of metal/rock, the track also has the ultimate lyrics to live your life by. Rush have always been masters of a meaning in many songs, but this one really shakes things up with a huge message: basically, 'Don't just sit on your arse dreaming and waiting for things to happen - you have to go out and make things happen. Life is in your own hands...' I had the lyrics posted up above my desk for many years. An anthem played to a backdrop of screaming guitars. Love it."
MANIC STREET PREACHERS
"A Farewell To Kings is my favourite Rush album, along with Moving Pictures. Xanadu is one of the greatest instrumental sections of all time. The drumming's phenomenal and the bass playing is as funky and cool as anything. Geddy's got the strongest fingers. It sounds like he's whacking the shit out of that Rickenbacker, the hardest bass to play."
"The one Rush song I really, really like is La Villa Strangiato. And the version I particularly like is the one off the live album Exit... Stage Left.
"The second half of the song, where Alex Lifeson starts playing the atmospheric guitar solo on the front pickup of the Les Paul in A minor, is both beautiful and evocative. I remember learning to play the whole thing with my school friends Phil and James Hearley in their parents' attic when I was 16 years old.
"Of course the intro deserves a special mention as well, with the spooky guitar swells followed by what can only be described as a Spanish assault on the senses. The complex instrumental breakdown at the end displays the band's technical virtuosity, and particularly why Geddy always won Best Bassist year in year out in the rock mag polls. I sort of had Rush foisted on me as a youth by the brothers, but while a lot of their catalogue passed me by, this track stuck for all the right reasons."
"I'd go for The Camera Eye from Moving Pictures. For me, this is Rush continuing in the tradition of their incredible 70s epics, but achieving something more structured and lyrically mature. As with the whole of the Moving Pictures album, it strikes a perfect balance between the power trio format of the 70s and the more layered keyboard- dominated sounds to come. It's also got one of the great Alex Lifeson guitar solos - among so many!"
"For 14 years, I was under the same management company as Rush, and therefore was aware of their musical development at relatively close range. Their song Limelight caught me immediately, and still does to this day. It's so well crafted and at the time it stood apart melodically from their earlier work. To my interpretation, the lyric expresses something profound on the delicate subject of trying to balance fame with 'real life'. That's a tricky topic to put into perspective and still remain entertaining."
"I'd go for Between The Wheels from Grace Under Pressure. It has a powerful synth-bass presence, and some fantastic lead guitar playing from Alex Lifeson. This is a good, heavy piece, with interesting lyrics. Overall, a great prog rock number, from one of their best albums. Hawkwind toured with Rush in the States during the 70s - jolly fun was had by all of us."
"If I had to pick the quintessential Rush song, it would have to be La Villa Strangiato. When I was a teenager in the early 80s and in the heat of my deepest Rush influence, that was the benchmark for instrumental prowess. Not only for us drummers, but also for fellow bass players - that quick bass and drum breakdown - and guitarists - perhaps still Alex Lifeson's greatest recorded solo.
"As I also stated in the Beyond The Lighted Stage film, to us blossoming musicians at the time, La Villa... was the ultimate musical challenge to learn, as no other instrumental song in rock history had that level of technical precision."
"My favourite Rush song is Losing It from my favourite Rush album Signals. It's one of the most emotionally charged Rush songs and the guest electric violin playing from Ben Mink is incredible! Peart's lyrics are moving and the song is very melodic. Also, being a keyboard player, this whole album has the most early analogue keys of any Rush album and that really appeals to me."
"I'm a big Rush fan, and my favourite track is probably Marathon from Power Windows which, for me, was their last truly great album. We actually used to play that song in local pubs in the early days of Galahad, which raised an eyebrow or two as it was such a big sound, especially for the time."
"When I was about 12 years old, and beginning to discover music and exactly how much it meant to me, one of the bands most adored by the circle of music lovers in my class was Rush. I went along to a friend's house one weekend and heard The Spirit Of Radio and I was very moved by it. There was a lyric in this song which still makes my hair stand on end to this day: 'Emotional feedback/on a timeless wavelength'. Just beautiful."
MICHEL 'AWAY' LANGEVIN
"If I have to name one song that combines all the elements I like from Rush, it would be Natural Science from Permanent Waves. It's a multi-part epic with a sci-fi quantum physics theme, and a touch of militant environmental consciousness."
"Tom Sawyer shows the absolute ability of those musicians to be completely restrained when they want to be, and over-the-top unleashed when they want to be. It's clever, it's brilliant, it's everything a song should be coming from great musicians."
"The Camera Eye is my pick. It contains everything you want to hear in a Rush song. Their infectious use of synth integrated into their signature riff-driven sound - and what a riff that is! - embellished with Neil Peart's percussion wizardry, this is their last great prog epic.
"Its pacing and rhythm are catchy as hell. Yet it has an intense energy, and is lyrically captivating. To me, it's their defining moment, and I'm also so thrilled it featured on their Time Machine tour."
"I got heavily into Rush as a teenager back in the early 70s - yes, I'm that old - mainly listening to and being inspired by 2112 and Hemispheres. But in hindsight, my favourite album has to be Permanent Waves because, in my humble opinion, it simply has the best tunes.
"Their late-80s 'synthesizer period' was not my cup of tea, but for me, Counterparts was an excellent return to form. In fact, the song Nobody's Hero from Counterparts is probably my most treasured Rush song overall. I love the chord structure and the catchy melodies, coupled with Geddy's great soothing vocals and Neal Peart's thought-provoking lyrics about homosexuality and AIDS."
"For whatever reason unknown to me, Hemispheres is not regarded as a classic Rush album by many. But I can't disagree more. For me, it's the ultimate Rush album, and the first real prog rock record I ever got into. Sure, I knew about Pink Floyd and Genesis, but Rush were almost unknown in Australia, and that was kinda cool.
"Cygnus-X1 Book II: Hemispheres, the first side of the album, is quite extraordinary. It really has everything a prog rock album should have. It's all about mystery of the gods. What ultimately blew me away was the huge sound for a three-piece band. Geddy Lee's voice, of course, is something very unusual. The first side is officially one song swerving back and forth with changes and atmosphere. The first 12 minutes, with its twists and turns, leads to a spooky three minutes before they stomp back again into what is my favourite piece of Rush music, bar none.
"It made a huge impact on me as a teenager, and to this day still does. The song finishes with beautifully sweet lyrics showing all the sides of Rush that we love. Neil Peart really is a poet, and has the talent of making lyrics timeless. They seem as poignant now as they would have been when the gods were creating the universe."
"I'd go for 2112, despite its length. The track's so catchy and has some very heavy moments. There's a riff in there that's really powerful."
"YYZ sounded great when it first came out in the early 80s, and sounds even better when they do it live now. On the 2012 Clockwork Angels tour when they used the live strings it sounded massive. For me, this was the beginning of prog metal, and became a blueprint for a whole genre. Neil Peart is all over this track - he absolutely nailed it and really set a standard for others to aspire to."
"Power Windows is my favourite Rush album by far. The production is amazing and the use of keyboards is really tasty.
"The songs are so melodic. Marathon has all the best examples of this. It's a great song and the middle section solo just blows me away. A huge keyboard part drops in after a brilliant solo, and it's spine tingling. The drumming is amazing. Rush peaked with Power Windows."
"I remember hearing La Villa Strangiato by Rush, and it was the longest song I had ever heard at the time. I didn't even know bands were allowed to write songs that long at the time! I'd like to think La Villa Strangiato has inspired me to be open minded about letting songs grow, and breathe when writing songs with Periphery."
"I saw Rush play Xanadu live at their first ever UK gig. This was at the Sheffield City Hall back in 1977. It was the solitary new song they played on that tour, and as I already had the live album All The World's A Stage, which is pretty much what they played, the only thing I wasn't familiar with. But it stood out as an epic piece. It's 11 minutes long and musically meandering from quiet to very loud all the way through... Amazing stuff."
MIKKO VON HERTZEN
"I went to this music-oriented high school back in the day called Sibelius High. Moving Pictures was a big thing for us. There, we had band with my elder brother Kie, which was called Venus Flytrap, a prog band with time signatures that would throw off even ourselves occasionally. Inspired by the Morse code of YYZ, we started our gigs with this awkward instrumental piece of music which in fact was the Morse code of our band's name. We thought it was cool. I don't think many people agreed."
"There are two Rush tracks that had a big influence on me as a songwriter. The Big Money - I love the premise and drive of this track. Manhattan Project - this track was so powerful live and, for me, the imagery that goes with it is just brilliant. And scary."
"I've picked a Rush fave for this that has little to do with the classics. Today, my Rush song is one of the hits of my youth; one of the legendary songs on the Hear 'n Aid [famine relief] album. You know, when heavy guys used to care: Distant Early Warning. Not necessarily the best Rush song, but the best of the 80s."
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