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Neil Peart Q&A


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Most of you have probably seen this before. If not it's a good read and pretty funny.....


The following exerpts were taken from several issues of Modern Drummer, where Neil would frequently answer several questions that readers had sent in.


Q- We got hold of a concert tape from Cleveland in 1974. It has two songs that surprised us. The first was "Bad Boy". The second was (I'll call it) "Peace of Mind". We would like to know why these were never produced on an album and if they were originally from Rush.


A- You "got hold of"? You mean, you abrogated our rights, circumvented protective copyrights, violated international statutes, and supported piracy by buying a bootleg album, don't you?


Ah- I thought so. Never mind.


"Bad Boy" is an old song, written by somebody whose name fails to leap to mind, and a funky Toronto arrangement of it was played during our first tour.


The other one mystifies me. I don't possess that recording (not wanting to commit the moral outrages listed above), but it might have been either "Fancy Dancer" or "Garden Road", two original songs written before I joined the band, which we played on that tour but never recorded.


Well, why do you think we never recorded them?


Q- Can you tell me the name of the album by Jeff Berlin that Neil plays on? A- Yes I can. It's called Champions.


Q- What movie clip is shown before your performance of "Lock and Key"? A- The Last Mile.


Q- At the end of "Cygnus X-1" on album and cassette there is a heartbeat, but not on CD. Why? A-Don't know. Somebody must have goofed.


Q-Who "stars" in "The Body Electric" video? A- Ah -- me? No, just kidding. Actually I don't know. Some English actor.


Q- Is drumming as painful as Neil makes it look? A- Yes.


Q- How did "Mystic Rhythms" get to be the theme song for NBC's "1986"? A- They asked us. We said yes.


Q- What inspired the lyrics of "Lock and Key". A- Bad people and what to do about them.


Q- What is the basic theme of "Force Ten". A- I wish I knew.


Q- What is the significance of the album cover design, and who is the man juggling the fireballs in the photo? A- No real significance at all. We began with the idea which appears on the inner sleeve, then decided it would be graphically interesting to simplify it down to the image which appears on the cover, and let the full image be revealed in a secondary manner. Reverse reduction. The juggler -- the "fire-holder" -- is a character actor who appears in several films, notably Tin Men.


Q- What is the meaning and basic theme of "Tai Shan"? A- I wish you knew.


Q- Is the flute used in the beginning of "Tai Shan" a Hakumachi flute, or is it a synthesized sound? A- It's a sampled Shakuhachi flute.


Q- Why has Geddy switched back to the Wal bass? A- Hmm... Must be he likes it.


Q- What is Lerxst? A- I wish I knew.


Q- Who or what is Jack Secret? A- He wishes he knew.


Q- What keyboard parts are played by Andy Richards and why didn't Geddy do them instead? A- Andy Richards is a London session keyboard player, who has done a lot of great work, especially on the records produced by Trevor Horn. We brought him in to work on Power Windows, and then again on Hold Your Fire, mainly to contribute more inventive keyboard sounds for already established parts, and additional "special effects" keyboard bits. Little "sound events" to spice up the tracks. He's a specialist.


Q- Rhythm and bar-interchanges are of fundamental interest to the music of Rush. How close are you as drummer/percussionist involved with the composition of your songs? A- Good question. My involvement varies, but is usually restricted to the arrangement side of things. Geddy and the other Alex do all of the real composition, but I may sometimes contribute rhythmic or arrangement suggestions, or offer comments on the strength or weakness of different sections. And of course, the lyrics play a subtle part in the outcome of the music, and if they are written first they will often influence the mood, framework and character of the song.


Q- It seems your most popular hits are always the first song on an album. Is there any certain order that you go by when putting songs on an album? A- Always an interesting problem. It's not something we decide until very late in the recording and mixing process, once we have a sense of the "color" of each track. Then Alex constructs the "Omega Album-Order-Deciding-Device", which allows each title to be moved around, to see how different song orders "look". Then we argue about it, hit each other in the face with a glove, challenge each other to a duel, and whoever survives picks the order.


Q- I know that you like your songs to do the explaining for you but I just can't figure out what "The Trees" is about. Could you give me just a short explanation? A- It's an allegorical metaphor on human behavior. (You asked!)


Q- What is a glockenspiel? A- A glockenspiel is a keyboard percussion instrument, like a xylophone, with metal bars as keys.


Q- I have read references to two unreleased Rush songs: "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" (from Success Under Pressure by Steve Gett) and "Tough Break" (from Stories from Signals by Neil Peart). a- Will these songs ever be released? b- How can I hear or obtain copies of them? A- (a) Not likely. (cool.gif You can't.


Q- Does Neil play a synthesized marimba on "Mission"? A- Yes, it's the KAT mini-marimba playing a marimba sample in the AKAI S-900 sampler.


Q- Will Peter Collins most likely produce another Rush album in the future? A- We haven't really discussed that as yet, but it's entirely possible. We enjoyed working with him, and we feel he is good for our music.


Q- I have recently obtained a copy of a German album entitled "Rush Through Time", released on the Mercury label in 1981. I've heard of a limited edition album called "Rushian Roulette", but have never actually seen it. Do you know of this or any other foreign, or little-known albums that have been released by the band, and if so, where they might be purchased? A- There is no material which we have released which is not on our "regular" albums, except perhaps for a couple of live versions of previously released songs which appeared on the "B" sides of our hugely successful hit singles. I don't know about the second title you mention, but the first was released by the German company entirely without our knowledge or consent (not that they need it), and certainly contains nothing of any interest -- not even the cover, and certainly not that title. We wouldn't do that. Have you noticed that everyone puns with our name except us? (Whoops, I'm supposed to be answering the questions around here.)


Q- In concert why does Geddy sing: "Hey Cookie, it's a quarter to 8", instead of "Hey Baby it's a quarter to 8"? A- It's a secret.


Q- Who came up with the idea of playing the "Three Stooges" theme song before you come out on stage? A- It's a secret.


Q- Do you think you'll ever play the full version of 2112 or Hemispheres in concert? A- It's no secret. No. You can't go back.


Q- I would like to know why you wrote the words "to mold a new reality". How is it possible to mold a new reality? It does not seem possible because reality just is and there could not be another reality. A- So -- there's an Existentialist in the house. I'll call the Existerminator."No problem sir, we just give those guys a big shot of Logical Positivism, and they're as good as new."


That's a relief.


I disagree with you, Brandon. There's a new reality born every minute. (P.T. Barnum? No, he said the other thing.) Unless one is a believer in predestination (in which case I'll call the prestidigitator), or other puppet-like restraints on our powers, one is free to imagine and effect changes on the world. And if enough people do it, there are big changes.


These things happen. Anything can.


Q- Is there any possible way to obtain a "backstage pass" to a Rush concert when it plays in my town? If so, how, and if you are unsure, where could I find out about this? A- DON'T ANYBODY EVER ASK THIS QUESTION AGAIN. THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY. NONE!


Q- Where could I purchase a copy of the song "Battlescar"? A- (That's okay, I'm better now.) "Battlescar" was recorded for a Max Webster album, I forget which one right now, and I'm not sure if it's available in the US. If not, perhaps an import shop could acquire it for you.


Q- What is Geddy saying on "La Villa Strangiato" on Exit Stage Left? A- The translation was given in the credits...I guess you didn't buy it then, huh? Something about "baby needs new shoes." The real question that everyone, including Doug Trompak of Bull Shoals AR, is burning to know is: What was Alex singing in that song during the video for A Show Of Hands? Well, sorry to let you all down, but I'm afraid it's a non-story -- he wasn't censored or anything like that. His vocalizing was impromptu and unexpected, and his microphone wasn't turned on! Yep, as simple and dull as that. As for what he was saying, it was something like this: "La la la la la la."


Q- What does the title "Force Ten" refer to? A- The Beaufort Scale -- look it up!


Q- What is the Omega Concern found in Power Windows and Hold Your Fire? A- The Omega Concern is Alex's non-profit organization for Musical Scientists, devoted to the discovery of wonderful inventions. The Omega Stand, on which he plays his acoustic guitar, is one such, another is the stand which holds my rhyming dictionary when I'm lyric-writing, or the backlit lyric stand which Geddy uses in the studio to hold those lyrics. And, of course, not to forget the wonderful Album-Order-Deciding-Device.


Q- How was it decided that "Mystic Rhythms" would be the theme song to the show "1986," and how did the band feel about it? A- I don't know how they came to hear the song, but the show approached us and asked if they could use it. Of course, they didn't pay us anything, but they said they'd give us a credit. How did we feel about it? We thought it was nice.


Q- What is the meaning of the term "Gub." A- See Woody Allen's Play It Again Sam.


Q- Will Rush ever consider playing in Israel? You have a lot of fans here. A- Gee, maybe we've got a lot of fans in your house, but not in the rest of the country. Not to be crass about it, but just by way of illustration, I think our last royalty statement showed about six people who had bought our records there. Maybe thousands of pirated copies are sold in Israel that we don't know about? But seriously, sure we'd consider playing there, if enough people wanted to see us.


Q- Is the writer you describe in "Losing It" Ernest Hemingway? Is is more than a coincidence that Grace Under Pressure is a well-known Hemingway definition for courage? Is the dancer you describe any particular individual? A- Yes, the writer is old Ernest. I believe that the expression "grace under pressure" was actually coined by Dorothy Parker, to describe the attributes of a Hemingway hero, but I'm not sure. In any case, it seemed to describe the theme of the songs for that album, as well as the difficulties of like in the early '80s. The dancer is no one in particular, though partly inspired by the movie The Turning Point.


Q-I've heard some curious stories about "Mr Big and the Royal Jamaicans" in the Power Windows credits. Is there a curious story to this? A- A curious story? Afraid not. They're cigars!


Q- In the credits for Metallica's Master of Puppets, they thank Rush. Why? A- Honestly, I'm not exactly sure, though it was very nice of them. Geddy talked to them a bit about the music biz in general I think, and I talked to Lars once on the phone about his drum kit. I dunno. But it was nice of them.


Q- Is there any truth to the rumors that Hold Your Fire marks Rush's last studio album and tour? A- Yes. Absolutely the last.


Q- Will there be any more concept albums in the vein of Grace Under Pressure? A- Since Grace Under Pressure wasn't a concept album, I guess I could safely say there'll be others like it! In fact, every one since that album has had that in common -- it hasn't been a concept album.


Q- What is the significance of YYZ? A- YYZ is the aviation code for Toronto International Airport, and the song is loosely based on airport-associated images. Exotic destinations, painful partings, happy landings, that sort of thing.


Q- Which of your albums is your favorite? A- My favorite album is always the most recent I've done, and I have to think you'd be in trouble if that weren't the case. No, you wouldn't be in trouble, I would -- if I believed that what I was doing now wasn't better than what I used to do. Happily, I've never had that fear. (Though plenty of others have had it for me, and they never hesitate to write and tell me so in the rudest terms. Oh well, what do they know about my life and work? Zip.)


Q- What similarities can be found in the themes from Miller's The Crucible and Rush's "Witch Hunt". A- I'm not sure, I haven't read *The Crucible*. But I will one of these days.


Q- Do you guys think that your continuity (pretty phenomenal by rock standards) can be at all attributed to the fact that Alex and Neil are Virgos and Geddy a Leo? All your signs are very close together -- almost a mathematical precision. A- Gosh, I don't know. I don't really believe in astrology, but I don't discount it out-of-hand either. It's one of those things "Mystic Rhythms" talks about -- "we suspend our disbelief, and we are entertained." As long as the President isn't being guided by astrologers (I know, I know) then it doesn't hurt anybody.


Q- Can you tell me why Alex or yourself has never sung the lead vocals on any of the past Rush songs? A- Roger, I'll leave that to your imagination. But I am no threat to Luciano Pavarotti.


Q- In the 1987 Rush concert, you showed a video which depicted a death row scene (if I am not mistaken) for several minutes. I was interested in what B & W movie this came from. A- No, you're not mistaken. The movie was called *The Last Mile*, but I don't know where you'd ever see it. Maybe on the Late, Late Show on Channel 5.


Q- I can't find anywhere, anything about these things: a) Xanadu cool.gif Tobes c) a red Barchetta. Is it a fictitious car? From everything in the song, it could be from any time period -- past, present, or future. d) Narpets e) Didacts -- The closet thing to it being "didactic," which means "intending to teach." So are didacts people intending to be teachers? People with the intention of teaching? Or things intended to be taught?


a) See Citizen Kane and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kublai Khan." cool.gif My friend's Dad always said "colder than the Tobes of Hell," that's all. I don't know what it means. c) There is such a car, or at least a body style. It means "little boat" in Italian, but I would rather leave it timeless, as you have perceived it. d) Play anagrams e) Bingo -- a didact is a teacher.


Q- In July 1980 you recorded an album called Universal Juveniles. Can you tell me where I can buy one? A- No we didn't. Universal Juveniles was by the band Max Webster, friends of ours, and we played, together with them, on one song called "Battlescar." As to where you could get it, I can't imagine.


Q- I am interested in any information you could provide on two Rush releases named Red Vinyl. I believe Neil mentioned two singles that were not released with the first album, but separately. Is there any way I can obtain a copy or info on how to send for one? A- Ain't no such thing. Two singles of ours were released on red vinyl (I don't remember which ones), which must be what you've heard about. There were no singles released separately from albums -- everything we've ever recorded has been for, and on, an album.


Q- Lyrics can form perceptions in people's minds subtly. How did you decide to name Cygnus's ship Rocinante? From what I know, Rocinante was a pony for a fictitious Spanish Conquistador. (Like there ever was an English Conquistador!) A- Whoa -- I had to put this one in just because it has a joke in it. Nice one Mike! Let's have more jokes, people -- it makes a nice change from all this deadly seriousness. Anyway, Rocinante was Don Quixote's horse, and also the name of John Steinbeck's truck in Travels With Charley. I just liked it, that's all. Like your joke...


Q-Mike had another question too, but I didn't understand it: In Hemispheres, there are three gods who are fused, eventually, in a dream, or sphere. To me, the sphere is a brain, with Apollo forming the ordered portion, Dionysus forming the more creative side, and Cygnus (The Link) developing into the Cerebrum and Cortex, the moral judgement center. I also harbor the idea that the hemispheres are just that, east and west, divisions (or subdivisions) of man and his mind. Which if either is correct in your mind as long as your music inspires thought? A- Gee, um...yeah, that's it -- I don't mind as long as our music inspires thought...


Q- I read somewhere that there was some sort of educational program on poetry which contained a lot of Neil's lyrics and was being used in some schools. Can you give me more details about this? A- Right class-come to attention now; the lesson will begin. But no -- I think a few teachers have tried to reach their students by using song lyrics, ours among them, to illustrate things in their curricula, but as far as I know these are just individual efforts, and not part of an organized "program."


Q- What are the words to the song "Didacts and Narpets"? I have listened closely but the majority of the words are still a mystery. A-Okay, I may have answered this before, but if not, the shouted words in that song represent an argument between Our Hero and the Didacts and Narpets -- teachers and parents. I honestly can't remember what the actual words were, but they took up opposite positions like: "Work! Live! Earn! Give!" and like that.


Q- On your bass drums you have "Scissors, Paper, Rock." Why was this not used to promote the tour? Do you see "Scissors, Paper, Rock" as yourselves? A- The images from my bass drums came from the cover artwork of Presto, where it was a kind of "secondary" image appearing on the inside of the package, as we have often done before, like with the egg and clamp for Grace Under Pressure, or -- here's a hint for the analytical -- with the Hold Your Fire cover, where we confused everything by putting the secondary image first, so that the red sphere reflect the fireballs which appear in the main image, which appears inside. I know it's confusing, but we thought it looked nice. Of course, the scissors, paper, stone metaphor comes from the song "Hand Over Fist," but we thought it made a nice picture as well, and wanted to use it somewhere, plus I thought it would be a nice device for the drum heads. As to whether these three symbols represent us -- I'll never tell...


Q- Why isn't "he" at home in the song "Anagram"? A- I agree that "he" could be at home -- I guess he had to go out...


Q- During the last couple of years, artists like Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Sting, and Patrick O'Hearn have explored indigenous music from the other worlds. Also your music traces influences from these cultural worlds. Can you tell me why their music is so interesting and how it can fit into the music of Rush? A- Hello again Alex -- welcome back to our show! For me, one great thing about Rush is that there are no barriers -- any style of music is an "acceptable" influence, providing it's interesting, and certainly we have drawn from a lot of them. Personally, I am very interested in learning about different rhythms and trying to apply them to my drumming so that when I learn about Nigerian music, for example, it turns up as an influence in songs like "Territories" and "Scars." Sometimes the influences are even more subtle, like the instrumental section of "Superconductor" where I use a West African pop beat, or other times where I just use variations of a Caribbean or African rhythm. Or in "Tai Shan," where I built the drum patterns around the wood-block rhythm that the Buddhist monks use for their chants. Subtle, but a nice touch of authenticity, I think. Unlike some other artists, I am not interested in emulating the music of other cultures -- I like rock! -- but I do like to learn from other styles of music, and apply the resulting ideas in my own way.


Q- What made you decide to switch from Simmons electronic pads to d-drum pads. A- In a word: reliability...


Q- At the St. Louis show, Rush began their encore with "The Big Money," and didn't play "The Spirit of Radio," but at the June concerts, they played "The Spirit of Radio" to start the encore, and didn't play "The Big Money." Why? A- Early in the Presto tour we found that "Radio" was feeling a bit stale, so we put it aside for awhile. Then later we brought it back to alternate with "Big Mahoney," and eventually stayed with "Radio" as the better encore-opener.


Q- In my high school junior-year English class, our teacher played "Xanadu" for the class during our unit on Samuel Taylor Coleridge. She interpreted the instrumental lead-in as a sort of parallel to the violent imagery at the beginning of Coleridge's "Kubla Khan," from which "Xanadu" draws. Is there any truth to this? A- Sure, why not?


Q- Did Alex play a keyboard at the San Antonio show of the Presto tour (and if so what instrument was it?) A- Alex played a lot of "foot" keyboards throughout the show, but I think there was only one part he played with his fingers -- the lead line in the bridges of "Time Stand Still."


Q- My other question relates to the song "Force Ten." You told Charles Henault this title referred to the Beaufort Wind Scale, but Bill Banascewicz quotes Geddy as saying it referred to the "tenth" song that was "forced" onto Hold Your Fire. Which is correct? (Or is there truth in both?) A- My quote is correct in the literal sense, though Geddy's is certainly true figuratively.


Q- What is the real reason you switched from Tama (which is what I play and only because you played them) to Ludwig? If you could be specific because I read the Modern Drummer article and didn't see the reason for the switch. A- Well gee, if you're thinking of the same Modern Drummer article I am, in which I wrote about the choice, I thought it was pretty clear that I switched because I found, in a side-by-side test, that the Ludwigs sounded better. (What other reason-money? Drum companies don't have enough to buy me!) After the test, Tama assured me they could make a set which sounded "just like the Ludwigs," but that seemed kind of pointless!


Q- I recently got hold of Grace Under Pressure. I noticed that "The Enemy Within" was Part I of "Fear." I had already acquired "The Weapon" and "Witch Hunt," Parts II and III. Is this all of "Fear" or are there other parts that either haven't been released or are on other albums? A- Those are the only three parts of "Fear."


Q- 2112 (the song) sounds like it could be much longer. Was it cut down for the album; are there other parts and will they ever be released? A- The album version of 2112 is how it was designed to be; there are no other parts.


Q- I recently got a copy of Visions and read that "Oracle" from 2112 has never been played live. This surprised me and I was wondering if there was any specific reason for this.


A- It is true that "Oracle" was never performed live, though the reason is quite prosaic. Way back in 1976, when that album was released, we were still opening most shows, and our set was usually about forty minutes long. Thus, even from the beginning we played an abbreviated version, even leaving out "Discovery" as well I think, and then later we tended just to play "Overture" and "The Temples of Syrinx," to allow time for other songs.


Q- Who (what?) is Mongo? I would also be grateful for any tips on interpreting the lyrics as well, since their meaning has also eluded me. A- Mongo is a character in Blazing Saddles, and in one scene Sheriff Bart delivers a bomb to him, with the line "Candygram for Mongo!" Thus, Anagram for Mongo seemed natural. As for "meaning," that is really the wrong word -- it is, after all, a word game-think more of impressions, images, and an internal logic to each line, or each verse. What I was after in that, as in other songs like "Presto" and "Hand Over Fist," is more of a sense of "resonance": so that the listener might feel something, rather than think it. With some people it works; with others, it doesn't.


Q- Who transcribes the music for each album for the published song books? A- I don't know really; someone the publishing company hires.


Q- Does the band actually write out parts (in standard notation) in the studio, or do they simply work from tapes and memory? A- From tapes and memory.


Q- During the course of a tour do you change the show, or do you play basically the same set each concert? A- Strange name for a city that, Urbandale I mean -- sort of means "city-valley" doesn't it? Anyway, we do tend to settle on a selection of songs that we like and stay with it for the duration of a tour, with the exception of things like the above-named tradeoff between "The Big Money" and "The Spirit of Radio," or when we find a song has grown stale for us and we have to give it a rest for awhile.


Q- On my Hold Your Fire cassette, towards the end of "Tai Shan" I hear a female singing (Aimee Mann?) What is she singing? It is very hard to hear. A- It is indeed Aimee Mann in there, only she's not exactly "singing" anything-we took her voice from one of the other songs and played it backwards, just as a nice texture which gave an eerie, pseudo-Chinese sound. And no, this is not backward-masking, or whatever those lunatic call it -- there is nothing about the devil in there! Q- At the end of "Distant Early Warning" Mr. Lee sings "Absalom, Absalom." I am wondering if this is in reference to King David's son in the Bible, or the book by William Faulkner, or maybe another source that I am not aware of, but I am interested. A- Directly, the reference comes from the Faulkner book. After reading the novel, I was curious (like you) and looked up the name in the encyclopedia. Then, while writing that song, I had "obsolete, absolute" in there, and I thought how similar the word-shape was to "Absalom." Since one of the main themes of the song was compassion, it occurred to me that the Biblical story was applicable-David's lament for his son: "Would God I had died for thee," seemed to be the ultimate expression of compassion. And that's how it happened.


Q- Whose voice is on "The Camera Eye" that says "Let us through"? (I know it's trivial.) A- Trivial maybe, but at least it's fun! We were looking for an urban sound effect, and we ended up using a part of Superman, when Clark Kent is arriving at the offices of the Daily Planet amid the traffic and bustle of Metropolis. No deeper meaning, I promise you.


Q- John Steinbeck in 1959 said he had "not felt the country for 20 years." He had been observing the changes "only from books and newspapers." Do you think touring has helped you feel the country, or people, or places? If so, has this helped you become a better writer? A- I think touring can be a very broadening experience, though not if it's done in the usual rock band way. Airports, hotels, and arenas do not tell you much about a place; you have to make the effort to get out and see a city and the country around it, and try to meet people just as people, as a stranger. That takes some effort, but I think it's worth it -- since I started getting out on my bicycle I have acquired a whole new affection for America. And yes I think it's especially important for a writer; that is one reason I am always so concerned about my privacy, and avoiding the pointless constrictions of fame. The only way to learn things is to be an observer -- not the observed!


Q- Is the front cover of Signals a joke-to-be? A- Hmm. Not exactly sure what you mean by this. Certainly it was meant to be a humorous pun for other types of signals, but then it would be a joke-that-was rather than a joke-to-be, no?


Q- Are the "he" and "she" in "Superconductor" generic or are they real personalities? Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher as a guess. A- Nobody was specifically represented there, although I certainly had more "conventional" entertainment figures in mind, as opposed to politicians!


Q- During the Presto tour I saw you perform three times and I was even more impressed with "Scars" after having seen you play it live. I noticed that you had a pedal designed to trigger the snare during certain parts of the song to keep your arms free. Could you explain what the device was that accomplished this and how the pedal was set up? A- It's just a regular foot pedal really, made by a company called "Shark" which may or may not still be in business. Like a drum pad, it simply triggered a midi impulse into the Akai sampler, which then reproduced a sample of my snare (taken from "Grand Designs," as it happens, as are the tom samples used in the live version of "Closer to the Heart" last tour).


Q-1. What inspired the "Fear" trilogy, as heard in reverse order on the albums Moving Pictures, Signals, and Grace Under Pressure? Why were they recorded in reverse order? Q-2. What is the significance of the phrase "Now it's dark" at the end of the liner notes for Roll The Bones? A-1. I started with these two questions because many others have asked them too. The idea for the trilogy was suggested by an older man telling that he didn't think life was ruled by love, or reason, or money, or the pursuit of happiness -- but by fear. This smart-but cynical guy's position was that most people's actions are motivated by fear of being hungry, fear of being hurt, fear of being alone, fear of being robbed, etc,. and that people don't make choices based on hope that something good will happen, but in fear that something bad will happen I reacted to this the way all of us tend to react to generalities: "Well, I'm not like that!" But then I started thinking about it more, watching the way people around me behaved, and I soon realised that there was something to this viewpoint, So I sketched out the three "theaters of fear," as I saw them: how fear works inside us ("The Enemy Within"), how fear is used against us ("The Weapon"), and how fear feeds the mob mentality ("Witch Hunt"). As it happened, the last theme was easiest to deal with, so it was written first, and consequently appeared first on record, and the other two followed in reverse order for the same reason. A- 2. The phrase occurs in David Lynch's comedy classic Blue Velvet.


Q- Any plans to celebrate your 20th anniversary with a tour, records, videos? A- Yes indeed, we are giving that some serious thought. We can't think of another group which has survived for so long with the same individuals, and since those individuals are us, we think the occasion deserves some tribute. We haven't decided exactly what tribute yet, but we are thinking about the possibility of retrospective shows, live recordings, and videos. Later in the year we will have a clearer idea of what, exactly, we're going to do. But we're going to do something -- at least have cake!


Q- Is the boy on the Roll The Bones cover Julian Lee? A- Flavio, I'm only answering this because you're from Brazil. No


Q- Any reason why you used a single bass drum for the Roll The Bones tour? A- Just before recording Roll The Bones, I started changing my drum kit around a bit, to keep myself out of "familiar patterns." I had always wanted to try one of those "double pedals", a mechanical linkage which allows you to play with two seperate pedals connected to the same drum, and I found I liked it a lot -- the notes were cleaner and more even, and I could get rid of that big empty resonating chamber: the other bass drum. So I did.


Q- Are the references in Middletown Dreams to specific people, or are they allegorical? A- A bit of both actually. I was thinking of Sherwood Anderson and Paul Gaugin, a writer and a painter who found their "mission" late in life, but still followed them -- they dropped out of their jobs in insurance and banking, deserted their families, and took of to pursue a dream. Not that this was responsible behavior, you understand, but the theme of the song was the power of dreams, and I wanted to make the point that it's never too late, and it's not over until....etc.about those people, but were inspired by them as true-life examples. The young musician verse is more of a composite, based on so many small-town kids who follow that musical dream. An old story, but often enough a true one as well. (I'm here to tell you.) "Middletown Dreams" came to represent a kind of "litmus test" for me -- the way people interpret that song shows how they look at life. Although this was not intended, it appears that I left those little stories vague enough that some people interpret them as representing *failure*, and that I was writing a pessimistic song. I call this the "Tragic View." Whereas, as you can see, I was actually writing about dreams fulfilled, and this is called the "Romantic View."


Q. Inside the flap of your Roll The Bones tour program contains the morse code message "remember death." Why? A- This gets heavy, so bear with me... The cover art reflects a style of 17th century Dutch painting called vanitas, in which symbols, such as the skull (and also candles, books flowers, playing cards, etc.), were used to remind the good Netherlanders of life's brevity, and the ultimate transience of all material things and sensual pleasures. These paintings sometimes used a latin motto: "memento mori," which translates as "remember death." So, as you can see, this is basically one of those lame intellecto-jokes, the kind that make your brain hurt to think about (See also the line in "Cut To The Chase" -- "I'm young enough to remember the future." Like... What?) But afterall, if you're not a follower of Shirley MacLaine, how can you "remember death?" You can only remember that it's there. (And that's a big rip-off.)


Q- Since you quoted the line "Now I lay me down in dreamland," I assume that someone else came up with it. If this is true, which writer came up with it, and in what book or poem of his or hers can it be found? A- It's more a paraphrase than a quote, really, but it comes from a prayer which was stitched into a sampler above my grandmother's bed. It began like this: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep..." When I came up with the line for "Second Nature," I pictured it with a kind of self-mocking smile, of irony, and of facing reality rather than ideals, so I put it in quotes.


Q- Is it true that you guys were offered the sound-track for the movie Batman? A- No, it's not true.


Q- Is there any humor to be found on the cover for Presto? If so, please let me in on it. A- Isn't it awful when you have to explain your jokes? It's so awkward when the joke fails, and people insist you try -- no one ever laughs at the *explanation* of a joke. Anyway, the idea was that these bunnies are taking matters into their *own*, um...paws, and making *themselves* appear from the hat, and flying around in it. Go on -- laugh your head off!


Q- Could you explain "Part IV of the Gangster of Boats trilogy"? A- Um...part four of a trilogy, get it? See above.


Q- Any reason for your playing with your sticks upside-down sometimes? When I was starting out, if I broke the tips off my sticks I couldn't afford to buy new ones, so I would just turn them around and use the other end. I got used to it, and continue to use the heavy end of lighter sticks -- it gives me a solid impact, but with less "dead weight" to sling around.


Q- Is there any particular order to the numbers on the dice on the cover of Roll The Bones? A- No order -- just descending into chaos.


Q- Did you ever march drum corps? A- This question actually came to me through Modern Drummer a couple of years back, but with no address, so I'm hoping it will make it back to Roy through this forum. In answer to that long-ago question, no I didn't, but I have a lot of respect for the complexities of modern drum-corp playing, and of course, I started out with the same 26 rudiments they do, and sometimes use that style of playing when it suits the music.


Q- It's fairly well known that you've been influenced to a great extent by the writings of Ayn Rand. Knowing that her philosophy places a great deal of emphasis on individualism and creative integrity, particularly in the realm of art, how do you reconcile this with the fact that the music of Rush is written collectively? What happens if one of you has your heart set on a particular part, but the other two are dead-set against it? A- Well, I saved this one until last, and you can see why! Eric and other people often send long lists of questions, and I hope they understand that I just can't justify spending half a page on a complex answer for each arcane question (for myself or for the general reader) so I have to be selective. Since I'm giving my time to this as a service to others, I go about it in my own way -- like the selfish bum I am. Sometimes I choose questions which a few people have asked about, but which are unlikely to appear in an interview; sometimes I choose questions I think are interesting; sometimes I head off a growing myth and debunk it for you; other times I just say "what the heck" and answer any old one. So okay... For a start. the extent of my influence by the writings of Ayn Rand should not be overestimated -- I am no one's disciple. Yes, I believe the individual is paramount in matters of justice and liberty, but in philosophy, as Aristotle said long ago, the paramount good is happiness. My self-determination as an individual is part of the pursuit of happiness, of course, but there's more to it than that. In this particular example, working together with Alex and Geddy is a more important part of my pursuit of happiness than is my attachment to any line of lyric or phrase of music. Thus the conflict you describe would not arise -- if we disagree on such a detail, we work on it until it satisfies everybody, and if (very) occasionally one of us has to sacrifice a petty preference, they hey -- it's no big deal. Especiall when you compare such an issue against the satisfaction we get from the big picture, the sum of our work together, it would be foolish to sacrifice long-term happiness for a small difference in taste. I've said before that in regard to my own work, the lyrics, I am more often excited by the input from the other two than I am disappointed by it, and I certainly never feel compromised by it. And there you can see how complicated it is to identify and pursue happiness, and how complicated it can be just to answer one question (out of twenty submitted by the curious Mr. Simpson, though others often rival him.)


You see what I'm up against...


Bye for now, N. Peart


Wednesday, October 16, 1996 An in-depth interview with Rush's Neil Peart


Ready to test Echo on the road


By JOHN SAKAMOTO Executive producer, Jam! Showbiz


TORONTO -- This weekend, Canada's longest-running band kicks off its first tour in three years, in Albany, N.Y. Coming on the heels of Test For Echo, arguably the band's strongest album in 15 years, it signals a period of renewed activity for guitarist Alex Lifeson, bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee, and lyricst/drummer Neil Peart.


We recently had the opportunity to speak to Peart by phone from his home, and ended up in a lengthy discussion about everything from the new album to the Internet, CD-ROMs, Stanley Kubrick -- and the Monster Mash.


Here's how it went.


Q: I've been reading a couple of interviews with Alex and Geddy over the summer, and one of the things Alex was quoted as saying was, during that first week when you reconvened you wondered about the future and you thought maybe this was going to be the last Rush record. Did you sense any of that when you were first finding your way again after being apart for a bit?


Peart: No, but I must admit it's different circumstances for each of us though, of course, it's easier for me because I just try and have some work under development before I get there so I don't have to face a blank page. So I kind of work on my own. I was concerned because of the way they chose to work this time. Geddy and Alex were working on the pieces and then setting them aside, so I wasn't hearing any finished songs. I'm used to hearing that, within a week or so, there will be a couple of finished things they will be playing for me to get discussing and arranging on, but they didn't go that way so I was concerned only that I wasn't hearing anything and I wasn't hearing any of the words being sung to know if they worked or not as lyrics and I wasn't hearing any music to know what I was going to be putting drum parts to and with the whole re-development I've been through in my drumming in the past couple of years, that was really important to me. So I had that feeling but, certainly I didn't have any sense of negativity at all at this time. I think that was probably more true last time, that there was more friction and frustration, where this time everybody was glad to be back there and just finding a new chemistry I think, that was what was maybe triggering Alex's apprehension, because they did move to a new way to work and they hadn't worked together for awhile, and in the meantime Alex has done his own record (with his band, Victor), so everything was different between them, so I think that's probably a factor from his point of view.


Q: So what does happen when all three of you actually get into the same house, if not perhaps the same physical space, on the first day back after a very long layoff?


Peart: Everybody starts sorting out their stuff. Alex gets the whole recording situation working because he's the musical scientist and so he'll be getting all that going. Geddy will be fooling around with keyboards and getting all that working. Just gradually the work schedule will evolve where I pretty well start working right away. When I get up, I like to get my brain working when it's still good, and it's the same with them. They'll have breakfast and go straight into the studio and start working on musical bits. So the process is clear that when you wake up in the morning you know what you have to do, but the ways in which to go about that are the things that sometimes change. But as a general thing, in the past I would be hearing songs after about a week or so and we'd discuss them and say perhaps this part could be stronger or this part be shorter or longer ... there is a lot of talking with us, but it's worked so well after all these years that we can talk about a song and never play it and know how it's going to come out.


Q: How do you think that different way of working manifested itself in the way things turned out on this record ?


Peart: I don't think it did. It just kept things special for them because the arrangements and all those little divisions do get tedious and they slow down the momentum of working on fresh new things. And that's what they want to keep going: work on something fresh, put it aside, work on something fresh, put it aside and stitch them all together later which, at that point, once they had a number of things in rough shape, then we got together and started assembling some of the pieces and going through that process.


Q: You certainly don't hear the "stitching" on the album.


Peart: It's really not like that. I'll go in at night, if I can get into the studio, and work on my drum parts by myself and then I'll play a new drum part to Geddy and he'll play with it on his own and make a new bass part that responds to my input. So there is a kind of a slow improvisation going on, is the way I describe it. It's very organic, but at the same time I always used to hate the feeling of sitting in the studio and everyone trying to learn the song at the same time, trying to respond to each other's parts and communicate your part to the other players and trying to learn the song. And you always think you're taking too long or you're the one that's holding it up or ruining it or whatever. I really used to dislike that process. It was very painstaking. It would arrive at a good result, of course, but it was just too stressful. We eventually started spending time where I could go in every night once the songs are rolling out and drum every night and work on one song, the next night a different song, and keep the rotation going and keep passing new versions over to the other guys so they can criticize or respond or re-record their part. All through the whole process these days there is this kind of improv going on that I really love. I can go in there and just experiment, try anything in the world that might work without fear of messing someone else up or calling down criticism on myself for a part that doesn't work or isn't right for their part or something like that. I just prefer the politeness and the focus of it because I do love to rehearse. I'm one of the few musicians I know that really does love to rehearse. I'm right now, these afternoons, rehearsing on my own just going over the new songs and re-learning some of the old ones and preparing for when the whole band starts. It's just something I really like, whether I'm doing a recording, or a tour. I really like preparing by myself, even preparing for the preparation, rehearsing for the rehearsal. I just like it. I got into the mode the last couple of years of practising every day anyway, so that's become just a part of my life in that way, just to step it up a notch towards the tour, in this case, or a few months back to step up my rehearsing towards the goal of recording. As you know, there are different ways you can go about that, and it's become popular in the years for people to record at home. I just love the step. It's like the stage, going into the recording studio and today we make the record, that really is something special for me and puts me to a height of concentration, and usually the performance too, that I just wouldn't reach in our rehearsal room.


Q: You touched earlier on the evolution of your drumming. I didn't expect your drum parts on this album to be like the big band music you did on the Buddy Rich tribute album, but it's interesting just to hear, for example, how the Counterparts album starts out in terms of your drum part (loud and thundering) and how the Test For Echo record starts out (subtle and intricate).


Peart: It is very relevant just exactly in that way, because Counterparts was when I was starting to get frustrated and feel rigid. Now, my impression of that record is worse than the record is. I went and listened to it the other day because I was starting to learn those songs, and I was thinking this doesn't sound as bad as I thought. But I was down on myself for this rigidity, the time-keeping to me was -- as it got more perfect over the years -- metronomic, so that's different. One of the things I did this time was I worked with a teacher who specializes in that kind of thing, like a tennis coach would, watching the way you serve and your backhand and correcting and suggesting other more thorough ways. I just really started all over again, setting up my drums differently, holding the sticks differently, different heads, everything that I could possibly change, I changed. For instance, in drumming there is a matched grip and the traditional grip for the left hand where the stick is cradled in the hand. And where I played matched grip for the last 30 years, with my teacher's urging and of my own wish to really go all out and reinvent things, I went back to the traditional grip. I just devoted a lot of practice time over the last couple of years, so it has given me a lot more fluidity. So it's not what you hear at the top of the song -- it wasn't really influenced by the "big band" or the "jazz" approach, but merely the facility of so much practising in last couple of years. So I have a new sense of time, I have a much better pulse sense of time now, as opposed to being rooted to the linear, metronomic time.


Q: Geddy has said that he doesn't think there is a theme to this album, that it's much more a collection of songs then the last few a been, but added "Neil might beg to differ."


Peart: No, I don't think I would. You know sometimes it does happen that the themes would appear after the fact when I haven't been cognizant of them.


Q: But you don't think that the metaphor in the title track -- which you say means "Hello is anybody out there" -- that you didn't consciously try to develop that?


Peart: No, but I do think it crops up definitely from time to time here and there, no question of it, but that wasn't conscious any more than in Counterparts. That whole dichotomy metaphor was not consciously planned for it, it just seemed to be appearing. I find it's inevitable when you're writing a group of songs in a particular period of time that they reflect your state of mind, the things that are on your mind. I keep collections of little titles and ideas that I like, so it really reflects a couple of years worth of thinking, reflecting and collecting so it's inevitable that there should be some commonality, but I am surprised sometimes how strong the connections are, and that one that you mentioned is definitely germane to this one.


Q: Well I think the other subtext is perhaps denying the concept of destiny and embracing the idea of taking your fate in your own hands, even more so then you've written on some of the other albums.


Peart: Roll The Bones was definitely devoted to that. It's an interesting thought.


Q: There are a couple of specific places where you're talking about making the most of the time we have on this earth almost to the point where one might assume you had some personal epiphany over the last year and a half.


Peart: No not at all, in fact I can trace all those sources of those things. A friend of mine once wrote me a letter saying that he'd realized life wasn't about how much you could get out of a day, but how much you can pack INTO it, and I thought that was really cool and I used that of course in the song Time And Motion -- the boxcars in a train/Fill them up with precious cargo lines -- and the other one, Resist, has a bit of that flavor. But of course I took the Oscar Wilde quote ("I can learn to resist anything but temptation") and added that I can learn to resist. In other words, the exercise of will is the weapon against futility or helplessness. Maybe I can't resist temptation, but I can learn to get along with what I don't know, and I thought that was a really important distinction. In the case of Half The World, there was a line I ran into somewhere that said, "Half the world hates what the other half is doing", and I just thought it was beautiful, that one line. In many cases there is one little quote or one line that the whole thing is built from and they probably reflect a period of sensitivity to what's going on around me. So the thread that you're chasing there may exist, but I certainly wasn't conscious of it.


Q: It's funny, in Dog Years, which is a very funny song, even in that you're talking about "We get it backwards/And our seven years go by like one," and so forth.


Peart: That came from a columnist in the New York Times. She was riffing on about things and she said she's getting tired of living in dog years, where every seven years seem to go by like one and I thought it was a beautiful little image, and that happened to be right after we got together and we'd been a bit celebratory. I of course, was a little wasted the next day (laughs) and thought, I'm not going to be able to do anything but I'm a professional so I'll sit down and try and Dog Years is what came out of that state of mind. I wasn't sure at the end of it if it was stupid or smart, but I liked and, like you said, it definitely made me smile too so I passed it along to the other guys and they had the same response. That was just an example of sitting down not in the right frame of mind for creative work but forcing myself to go through the motions and something different came out of it.


Q: Given the theme of the title track, is that why you've used the graphics from Stanley Kubrick's 2001 throughout the package?


Peart: The funny thing on that is we wanted to use that theme where they find the model that's on the moon, but we wanted to put our Inukashuk in there, and they wouldn't let us do it. They were quite amenable to letting us use the original image, which I thought was nice enough, but they wouldn't hear of us (altering it). We had actually done a version of it with three astronauts on it to reflect our three guys that keep appearing here and there as the stone-carvers and the mountain-climbers, so we had a version of that with the Inukashauk under the light and the three astronauts in the foreground. They made us change it, so that's how that came about. We figured that image was still relevant to the song.


Q: The Inukashuk is the big stone statue on the front cover? Peart: Yes.


Q: Aside from being kind of a joke about all the snow you say you encountered while recording Test For Echo, how did you settle on that particular image?


Peart: I was up in Yellowknife last June on a motorcycle trip across the country, and there's one of those Inukashuk above the town overlooking it, and I was quite taken with it. I bought a postcard almost exactly the image you see on the cover, although this one's been carefully made to incorporate the other elements (three tiny climbers). I just came back with this postcard and I thought of "test for echo." I thought that's exactly what these men mean when you're out in the wilderness. I had a friend who was hiking out in Baffin Island and he told me when you've been hiking for a few days and you come across one of these things, it's such an affirmation that there's life out there. Again the same thing: it's an echo -- the word Inukashuk means "in the likeness of a man" -- and that's the feeling a traveler in the Arctic would get, that it was a sign of life. The same with the satellite dishes. I was kind of referring to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the test for echo going out that way.


Q: The phrase "Being geniuses together" (one of the signs the band plastered on the wall of the recording studio during the Test For Echo sessions) was the title of a book by writer Robert McAlmon about life in Paris in the '20s. Is that where that slogan came from?


Peart: No, but I have that book. But it was just Geddy and Alex amusing themselves. We had a whole slew of these ridiculous inspirational slogans hanging around the studio, some of them unrepeatable but all equally goofy, so they came up with that on their own. I certainly do know the title that you've mentioned, and I've always loved it for that irony.


Q: What about some of the other slogans you can mention?


Peart: There's one we worked into the cover art: "If you want something done right, just forget it." But we had all these up on the wall just to lighten the atmosphere.


Q: What about one you can't mention?


Peart: I'll tell you it. You probably can't print it, but it's funny anyway: "I'll shut up when you f--- off."


Q: I was curious about the line in the song Totem: "I've got twelve disciples and a Buddha smile/The Garden of Allah -- Viking Valhall/A miracle once in a while." Where did that come from?


Peart: I've always been curious about all religions, and the Totem idea came from the Freud book "Totem And Taboo", which I ran across at the Chalet studio where we were working just in the bookshelf in the living room. I had been kind of rediscovering Freud by way of Jung and getting to understand the really deep stuff he was dealing with as opposed to some of the pop psychology that we were fed growing up, and I thought Totem And Taboo was such a beautiful title because it's what we fear and what we worship. Totem being what we worship and Taboo being what we fear. What a beautiful, embracing metaphor. At one time, the song Resist was called "Taboo" because I wanted to have the two little set pieces of what we fear, and in "Totem" I was just trying to appropriate all religions because that's what I found looking around at different religions and different systems, is that they all have something good. So I thought why not have them all? The "Buddha smile" is a nice thing, and I'd like to have 12 Apostles ... it's all great. It was really just a kind of tongue and cheek, all the good things of different religions. And the ' elements of the ethics of angels and demons came from a writer called Ella Quenna, who once drew a great parallel between the good goofy and the bad goofy, just like in the Disney cartoons there was a good Goofy on his shoulder telling him to do good things, and a bad Goofy telling him to do bad things. I like that as far as angels and demons, which I think all of us definitely do have.


Q: Where did the concept behind the song Video Vertigo come from?


Peart: That's a Pye Dubois idea. He and I have co-written a fair amount over the years (e.g. on Tom Sawyer). I always like working with him because it takes the boat to a place that we wouldn't get on at home, and a lot of that kind of imagery comes from him and I try to impose order on it (laughs). My sense of structure, I guess, around his kind of street poetry. So a lot of that imagery came from him. I drew it into the things we've been seeing on TV the last couple of years. The O.J. trial going on for a year and a half -- I'm shocked by that. Why do people care? I couldn't figure it out. "Does anyone else think this is weird" is what I kept feeling about things like that. The celebration of the criminals is nothing new, it goes back to Robin Hood or even earlier of celebrating the daring counter establishment type. But I just thought it was getting a little too far with the gangsters, so I kind of wanted to poke at that too. And the other side too that these guys are pretty tough until they face the jail.


Q: I found the song Virtuality really interesting because I'm aware of the experiences you've had with the Internet, which were negative ones, in particular the whole Modern Drummer letters experience. (NOTE: Peart used to personally answer the letters he got each year from fans who read Modern Drummer magazine. After someone mentioned this little fact on the Internet, the volume of letters increased tenfold, and Peart had to abandon the exercise.) But I find it odd in the context of the theme of the title -- "Is there anybody out there" -- and trying to not feel alone, since that is one of the ostensible raison d'etres of the Internet.It's the perfect manifestation of people's need in the 90's to see if there is anybody else out there. Yet you have a really negative take on the Internet.


Peart: Yes I do, in the sense that I was poking fun at it. Though, because all of the claims that I make in the song -- "I can save the universe in a grain of sand" and all that -- the subtext, of course, is "No, you can't". Another line goes, "I can smell her perfume, I can taste her lips". Of course, "no you can't". That's what I was getting at. I just felt compelled to kind of puncture it a little bit. I spent a lot of time rewriting and rewriting, probably from my own demand and also Peter Collins, our co-producer, kept wanting to take me a level further, so when I came up with the astronauts and the different ways of describing the shipwrecked mariners or the waving. ("I'm a castaway, standed in a desolate land/I can see the footprints in the virtual sand"). I particularly like the two vagabonds waving from passing trains. That's really how it seems to me. It's not real contact. I love letter-writing, for instance, it's one of my favorite forms of communication.


Q: But don't you think that, given the way things are going in the'90s, this may be the ONLY contact possible for a lot of people who don't want to feel like they're alone out there?


Peart: Not when it gets better. At the moment it really isn't there, and I thought the claims being made for it were so far-fetched, and I'm particularly down on the idea of virtual reality itself being anything more then a game. As a compulsive traveler, every time I go to a place ... like I was in Sicily earlier this year thinking, how would anyone capture Palermo on virtual reality. Or I was down in Tunisia and I travel a lot in West Africa too and all these places, if they did it, they'd dignify it and they'd take out the stink. And that's what's makes it real.


Q: Do you think there's any legitimacy to the argument that, for a lot of people, they don't have the means or the hope to ever experience Palermo and maybe, even given all its faults, this is the only way they're even going to come CLOSE to it?


Peart: Yes, but I don't think it's a good way. I think a

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fake is not a hope and it's not a substitute. It's a pale substitute and again it becomes a demystification. I hate what's happening with the (Disney movie of) Hunchback Of Notre Dame. It's destroyed for all time now, because one can never read that book without it being a cartoon. There is a whole dark side to faking things and making theme parks out of the world. The world isn't like that and you can't hope to understand West Africa without going in there and suffering and getting dysentery, and walking through the snowy cities and dealing with it on the level that it is. If you can't do that, it's much better that you read a book about it that tries to convey it. Like the one I'm publishing this year. I think there are ways to convey these things, and certainly the imagination has to be part of it, but virtual reality requires less imagination. Again, I'm just puncturing it. I do believe in a lot of things, it will be a wonderful game, it will be a wonderful entertainment, and the Internet itself, when it does really get what I would like it to be, it will be both useful and a possible source of ----- .


Q: And your book, which you mentioned fleetingly a few minutes ago?


Peart: Yes, I have a book called The Masked Rider. It's about a trip to West Africa and a whole lot of other stuff woven into it too, of course. One thing I really like about travel writing is, there's nothing that doesn't fit. Whatever you want to do -- autobiographically or philosophical asides -- everything fits into it a big baggy pants of travel writing. The publishing came about in an interesting way. There is a writer Leslie Choyce, who wrote a book called "The Republic Of Nothing", and every year or two I try and write to somebody and tell them I appreciate their work. Sometimes it's a writer or a journalist. One time it was a TV weatherman. Someone whose work I like and the way they do it. So I wrote a letter to Leslie to tell him just how much I loved the book. That's all really, that's all I wanted to tell him, and he wrote back saying I'd won his nice guy of the month award. He could tell that I could put a couple of words together and did I ever think about publishing anything? I sent him a couple of writing samples, and among them was a self-published version of this book "The Masked Rider". He got excited about it and wanted to publish it and, unknown to me, he has his own publishing company, The Pottersfield Press. So we got working on that.


Q: When did you put your self-published version out?


Peart: About five years ago. It's something I've done to develop the craft over the years. Whenever I travel, I keep notes and tapes and photos and try and turn them into a book. I've done six or eight of them over the years, just as a learning process and as a good way to develop the craft of pitching words together. That one, strangely enough for me, represented the turning point, the only one I could look at a year later and still like it. I thought I was reaching the point where I wanted to see about publishing and I'd made a few attempts without much feedback from the publishing world, so I've been approaching it legitimately and getting some magazine articles published in the last couple of years.


Q: When will this be out?


Peart: In October, I guess.


Q: Back to Test For Echo. The one verse that that really struck most is in Totem, and it's the quartet that goes, "I believe in what I see/I believe in what I hear/I believe that what I'm feeling/Changes how the world appears." Are you a solipsist? Because you can almost read this as, you can only really know yourself and that's all that exists.


Peart: No, people get so trapped in the moment, that if it's a bad moment, then life is bad. That's what I was getting at. If people are in a bad mood, the world looks dark. I was expecting the solipsism of what I see in everybody around me really. Seeing everybody --- to that degree that your mood dictates how the world looks and if your a cynic, the world looks pretty nasty, if your an optimist the world looks pretty sunny. That can very from day to day as much as from character to character so that's what I was seeing in people around me really, just drawing on that suddenly their whole reality seems to change by mood shift or by some chance of nastiness in the morning to set their day.


Q: What's being said in the (otherwise) instrumental "Limbo"?


Peart: Oh, it's from the ('60s novelty hit) Monster Mash! That's another weird thing. I'd been stuck on Monster Mash and we were trying to use the Internet to get the words because I couldn't remember them. One of the guys on the production team is an Internet preacher. So I said, "Here's your chance, go get these lyrics for me". Well, he went onto the Internet and found the lyrics -- but they were wrong! In all the jokes of that, our co-producer, Peter Collins, went out and bought the CD that had a compilation of some funny songs like that. We got to listening to it, thinking about how funny it was and decided to put some samples of it in there. That's Igor going "Goo mash goo".


Q: So, that's one of you guys doing that?


Peart: No, no it's from the record. We had to get special permission and pay money and everything. You think it's so strange, when you just want to make a joke, and people want you to get permission and pay money. We got into that in the past. When we made our 'Exit Stage Left' live record we wanted to have (cartoon character) Snagglepuss's tail on there. You know, 'EXIT STAGE LEFT', with a picture of just his tail. Forget it! They wanted all kinds of legal hassles and tons of money. We always do make the effort, though. In 'Counterparts we were able to use the Three Stooges. This time we're able to use the 2001 thing which surprised me. At the time I thought, we'll never get it but we might as well try. But something as simple as Snagglepuss's tail, the whole burocratic thing throws up a wall.


Q: There were reports on the Internet that there was a 12th song or a 13th song slated for Test For Echo at some point?


Peart: No. Actually, never in our history have we ever written a song and not recorded it, or recorded it and not put out it on the record. We figure if we go to that much trouble, it's going on there.


Q: How about a CD-ROM track? Was it ever discussed at any point?


Peart: Yes, that's something we're really interested in doing. Sorry do you mean an enhanced CD (a regular CD with one track devoted to video material)?


Q: Yes.


Peart: Again, to me, that's a cheap version of something that can be really good. I wanted to hold off. We ARE working on a proper CD-ROM about Rush. We actually have people working in the basement of the office, digging up videos and bits of information and all kinds of trivia being put into it. We really want to make it something that exploits the potential that CD-ROM has.


Q: So you're talking about a history of Rush, basically?


Peart: Yes, but with so many little side trips, and so many bits and pieces in there and little bits of my writing will show up in there and bits of other people's activities outside. We really want to make it a compendium. So, we're taking our time about that of course, because it is going to take a lot of work. I love CD-ROMs, I find them the most beautiful resource and I'm totally in favor of them. I think they are fully realized already, which I don't think is true about the Internet. In any case, that's something that we really want to do. But I feel the enhanced CDs, myself, are just a bit of a joke. They are not really a CD-ROM at all.


Q: It does always seems like an afterthought, for the most part.


Peart: Yes it does, it can't add anything to the music. I kept saying to the record company, "We spent eight months making this record, we spent two months on the cover art, in two weeks you're going to put something on a CD-ROM format that's going to be worthy of conclusion in that package?" I don't think so! That's really what it came down to, it couldn't add anything worthwhile. We just kind of mixed it based on that.


Q: So do you think we're a year or two from seeing something like this? Peart: I would guess, yes. Literally there are people digging through stuff. I wasn't exaggerating. It is going on, but it's going to take time.


Q: Any thoughts on the recent Rush tribute album, Working Man?


Peart: No comment. I don't have any thoughts about it. It's not a tribute album at all, as far as I'm concerned.


Q: Okay. In terms of the tour, have you started whittling down material? Are you going to make some hard choices, or are we going to be seeing medleys and so forth?


Peart: Yes, we opened up the scale a bit ourselves by doing "an evening with" for the first time.


Q: So, no opening act?


Peart: Right. So we're going to have more time. We're actually opening up the vault a lot more than we've done before and making room for ourselves musically in terms of the presentation of the show. I think it will be really interesting and it will force us in a different direction. We're going to have two openings and two endings (laughs), which is going to be really interesting. We've been passing lists of old songs back and forth.


Q: Does that mean we actually might get to hear "Cygnus" in its entirety?


Peart: Well, I don't know. It's been discussed, but nothing's engraved yet.


Q: In terms of stage production and so forth, is it going to be something fairly elaborate?


Peart: Oh certainly! Why bother if we weren't going to do something on every level like that. I think the visual side is really important to us all as long as it happens AROUND us, and as long as we can just be playing in the middle of it. We like to have lots going on for people's entertainment, and it certainly doesn't compromise the music in any way because it doesn't really involve us.


Q: Will the live show carry on the theme of the graphics for Test For Echo?


Peart: I'm certain to some degree it will. There are many powerful images there, so I'm sure we'll want to re-use them.


Q: Lastly, what about Canadian dates?


Peart: Unconfirmed as yet. We're thinking of doing the tour in two segments, one part late this year and the other part in sppring and early summer of next year. We may leave the Canadian one until the weather gets better. Again this isn't nailed down totally yet, but we're thinking May and June is when we might be coming. (NOTE: SRO Management says there's a possibility of Canadian dates in mid to late December but, contrary to all the rumors, nothing has been booked yet.)


Q: So not even Toronto dates late in the year?


Peart: Again, we want to do something different. We're not going to do the Molson Centre in January.


Q: Well, thanks for you time, Neil. It's a really terrific album, and we're looking forward to seeing it on stage.


Peart: Thank you, my pleasure. It was a very enjoyable talk.



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What was up with his brief "It's a secret" answers? How odd for someone so well spoken, unless he just didn't really give merit to the question. It kinda reminded me of the David Byrne self interview on the Stop Making Sense DVD where half his answers were "I'll tell you later."
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WOW...I had to take a break from that and finish reading War and Peace! rofl3.gif

Great posting Riv. Thanks, a lot of cool info there.

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QUOTE (kbomb106 @ Jun 7 2005, 10:44 PM)
What was up with his brief "It's a secret" answers? How odd for someone so well spoken, unless he just didn't really give merit to the question. It kinda reminded me of the David Byrne self interview on the Stop Making Sense DVD where half his answers were "I'll tell you later."

Give the poor guy a break! He can't constantly wax poetically. Like Geddy said in "The Boys in Brazil," "He's a normal, every-day guy. He just has a big brain." wink.gif

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QUOTE (sullysue @ Jun 8 2005, 09:04 AM)
QUOTE (kbomb106 @ Jun 7 2005, 10:44 PM)
What was up with his brief "It's a secret" answers?  How odd for someone so well spoken, unless he just didn't really give merit to the question.  It kinda reminded me of the David Byrne self interview on the Stop Making Sense DVD where half his answers were "I'll tell you later."

Give the poor guy a break! He can't constantly wax poetically. Like Geddy said in "The Boys in Brazil," "He's a normal, every-day guy. He just has a big brain." wink.gif

He's also a world-class smartass. laugh.gif I love it. rofl3.gif

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QUOTE (GhostGirl @ Jun 8 2005, 07:21 AM)
QUOTE (sullysue @ Jun 8 2005, 09:04 AM)
QUOTE (kbomb106 @ Jun 7 2005, 10:44 PM)
What was up with his brief "It's a secret" answers?  How odd for someone so well spoken, unless he just didn't really give merit to the question.  It kinda reminded me of the David Byrne self interview on the Stop Making Sense DVD where half his answers were "I'll tell you later."

Give the poor guy a break! He can't constantly wax poetically. Like Geddy said in "The Boys in Brazil," "He's a normal, every-day guy. He just has a big brain." wink.gif

He's also a world-class smartass. laugh.gif I love it. rofl3.gif

He really is! Is so quick to quip! sarcasm.gif

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QUOTE (sullysue @ Jun 8 2005, 09:47 AM)
Hey, GG. Is it just me, or are you sensing a little twinge of jealousy here? confused13.gif


Oh, no jealousy...


After all, why would anyone be jealous of a tall, muscular, talented, brilliant, insightful guy who rides motorcycles and is married to a woman 20 years younger?



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QUOTE (GhostGirl @ Jun 8 2005, 10:10 AM)
QUOTE (sullysue @ Jun 8 2005, 09:47 AM)
Hey, GG. Is it just me, or are you sensing a little twinge of jealousy here?  confused13.gif


Oh, no jealousy...


After all, why would anyone be jealous of a tall, muscular, talented, brilliant, insightful guy who rides motorcycles and is married to a woman 20 years younger?



Well, hell... now I'm jealous of her! mad.gif

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QUOTE (sullysue @ Jun 8 2005, 10:14 AM)
QUOTE (GhostGirl @ Jun 8 2005, 10:10 AM)
QUOTE (sullysue @ Jun 8 2005, 09:47 AM)
Hey, GG. Is it just me, or are you sensing a little twinge of jealousy here?  confused13.gif


Oh, no jealousy...


After all, why would anyone be jealous of a tall, muscular, talented, brilliant, insightful guy who rides motorcycles and is married to a woman 20 years younger?



Well, hell... now I'm jealous of her! mad.gif

I know, my friend....I know...



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QUOTE (sullysue @ Jun 8 2005, 10:04 AM)
QUOTE (kbomb106 @ Jun 7 2005, 10:44 PM)
What was up with his brief "It's a secret" answers?  How odd for someone so well spoken, unless he just didn't really give merit to the question.  It kinda reminded me of the David Byrne self interview on the Stop Making Sense DVD where half his answers were "I'll tell you later."

Give the poor guy a break! He can't constantly wax poetically. Like Geddy said in "The Boys in Brazil," "He's a normal, every-day guy. He just has a big brain." wink.gif

I think he was joking, as if to say "not everything has to have meaning"

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QUOTE (CanEHdian @ Jun 8 2005, 08:20 AM)
QUOTE (Drumnut @ Jun 8 2005, 09:40 AM)
Why so smug? Hmmm, must be Canadian. sarcasm.gif  icon_alienjig.gif





This was a sarcastic response to an article that someone ( icon_alienjig.gif ) posted on TRF a while back about Canadians being smug. No harm intended, only sarcasm.


This thread...

Edited by Drumnut
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QUOTE (Drumnut @ Jun 9 2005, 09:25 AM)
QUOTE (CanEHdian @ Jun 8 2005, 08:20 AM)
QUOTE (Drumnut @ Jun 8 2005, 09:40 AM)
Why so smug? Hmmm, must be Canadian. sarcasm.gif  icon_alienjig.gif





This was a sarcastic response to an article that someone ( icon_alienjig.gif ) posted on TRF a while back about Canadians being smug. No harm intended, only sarcasm.


This thread...

I know..I was just bein' Cheeky smile.gif

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I still love the fact that he comes right out and says that the Ludwigs just sounded better than the Tamas. I still have my huge Ludwig Super Classic Blue Shadow kit to this day. It's almost impossible to find a full set of these anywhere on the internet these days. Almost makes me want to sell them:) Edited by presto123
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Thanks for the bump. I re-read all of that. Reading something like this makes yiu realize how much he really has changed.


For the better or worse? I thought some of his answers in this old interview sounded kind of douchey. He's much more gracious in interviews now IMO.

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I actually read all of the first two posts... I could read his stuff all day long. Some of his answers are pretty funny. I like his direct approach too.


As Kim Mitchell would say... "That's Neil."

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