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With a Rush and a Push...

Over the course of their three decade-spanning career Canadian power trio Rush emerged as one of prog rock's most tenacious outfits, although given short shrift by critics (especially here in the UK), they are also rare visitors to the pop charts with tracks like ‘Spirit Of Radio’ and have built their impressive and devoted fan following through virtuoso performance skills and a commitment to regular touring. With their new CD/DVD package R30 currently flying off the racks TotalMusic-Online' Andy Basire managed to pry some responses from the generally less than vocal drummer and lyricist Neal Peart

Formed in Toronto, Ontario (’68), Alex Lifeson (born Alexander Zivojinovich) and vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee (born Gary Lee Weinrib), initially linked up with drummer John Rutsey in an effort to emulate the power trio Cream, honing their skills on the Toronto club circuit before releasing their debut single, Buddy Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’ in 1973 and an eponymously titled LP followed in 1974. However it wouldn’t be until Rutsey was replaced by drummer Neil Peart, who supplied the science fiction and fantasy themed lyrics, that the band would really begin to hit their stride as prime movers in the prog rock scene. Nowadays Neil sees those early lyrics as the first steps on the road to self discovery
“In simple terms, those early big pieces were driven by ambition. I was grappling with big, metaphorical themes and sweeping allegories, and it's another mirror of personal development too - start out with the grand principles and idealistic dreams, then gradually move on to more concrete, real-life applications of those principles and ideals.” Which would explain the move to less esoteric lyrics After Permanent Waves?
“Our music has always been a mirror of ourselves, our lives, and our interests. Any shift in my lyrics was thus a gradual, natural one - my reading expanded, I matured, I didn't want to do what I had already done. Those were reasons enough to keep trying different things, some successful, some not - but all sincere.”

Although never a huge band in the UK Rush have nevertheless been prolific in other European territory’s (most notably Germany where the live portion of the new DVD was filmed), but Neil can still recall those first stumbling steps on the road to a lifetime career.
”When I joined Rush, in August of 1974, we were already entering into ‘Fairy Tale Land’, the band had just signed a U.S. record deal, and it included an advance to buy all new equipment. I'll never forget how exciting it was to walk into a music store in downtown Toronto and buy our "dream gear." While Alex and Geddy were looking at Gibson guitars, Rickenbacker basses, and Marshall amps, I was picking out a set of chrome Slingerland drums. Driving away from there with all those treasures in the back of our truck was already a dream come true.”
How about your first gig together? “Two weeks after I joined, we played in Pittsburgh, in front of about 11,000 people, then continued around the U.S., opening for bigger bands, playing club dates on our own, and even appearing on a few television shows. Eventually that first tour took us all around the United States and Canada, and that was pretty exciting too. Those were heady times, no question, and we were certainly fully engaged ‘in the moment’. It's safe to say we weren't thinking too much about the future.”

But a future was exactly what Rush would have and thirty years on they are still easily filling huge concert halls (the DVD live show is taken from the band's $21-million grossing, sell-out 30th Anniversary World Tour) and releasing platinum selling albums. Neil puts this incredible longevity down to several things
“We like each other, and we like working together. Still, nobody can choose to have an audience for 30 years - like dance partners, they have to choose you too. So we have always been delighted that as we pursued our goals in music, we managed to please enough other people to give us an audience. To say we'd be nothing without them is more than fatuous sentimentality - it's the plain truth”
They may be about as critically acclaimed in the UK music press as David Hasselhoff but like most prog outfits Rush have given up ever having a reasonable ride at the hands of the UK print media, and even the most cursory listen to ‘R30’ proves that Rush are not only incredibly fine musicians (still) but also hugely inventive and innovative songwriters.

Rush R30 the double DVD package (and deluxe 4 disc DVD/CD set) is out now on Sanctuary Visual Entertainment, more info on the band is available at www.rush.com

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