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Subject: 11/29/90 - The National Midnight Star #114  ** Special Edition **

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          The National Midnight Star, Number 114

                Thursday, 29 November 1990
Today's Topics:
                 Rolling Stone Interviews

[ Here are three Rolling Stone interviews/articles, thanks to Jimmy 
  Lang and/or Meg Jahnke for sending this along (I'll let you fight 
  it out between you :-) )                                :rush-mgr ]

>From _Rolling Stone_ - June 26, 1980

"Rush's heavy-metal message hits the radio"
----------------- Chicago -----------------
    "I can't stand it," says Geddy Lee, lead singer, bassist and
keyboardist for Rush, before a show in Chicago's 11,000-seat
International Amphitheatre, "when you listen to someone from the
record company telling someone else how intelligent you are in front
of you: 'But really, they're an _intelligent_ band.'"
    Lee is reacting to questions prompted by _Permanent Waves_, the
band's latest album (and its fifth gold one). After years of
notoriety as heavy-metal conceptualizers, Rush abandoned the
sidelong opuses they'd been known for in favor of shorter,
accessible songs for _Waves_. "It was time to come out of the fog
for a while," says Lee, "and put down something concrete."
    What they ended up saying was pretty startling. "The Spirit of
Radio" (which, as a single, just missed the Top Forty) and "Natural
Science" carve up the record industry as a pack of charlatans; "
Freewill" takes on Yes and other guru-rock mythologizers; and "Different
Strings" slaps back at much of the critical abuse the and has taken
over the years. Here's a dinosaur heavy-metal band, sounding like
New Wave philosophers.
    "It's a bit angry," admits lyricist-drummer Neil Peart about
_Waves_. "But it's not focused at anyone in particular. 'Stop
bullshitting' is the message. I think there's a big difference,
though, between Rush and the Clash, because we're not saying that
those things suck, just that they're being done poorly."
    Rush was formed by Lee and a high-school buddy, guitarist Alex
Lifeson, in the late Sixties as a hard-rock band of the Led Zeppelin
school. Their first album was privately released in Canada on Moon
Records in 1974 but did so well in the US Midwest as an import that
Chicago-based Mercury Records signed the Zep soundalikes. Peart
replaced Rush's original drummer for the group's first stateside
tour and gradually turned them in a more cerebral direction, one
that incorporated philosophy and science fiction. The full-blown
concept album _2112_, released in 1976, marked the band's evolution
into spokesmen for a lost generation of Seventies rockers,
influenced by groups as disparate as the Who, Cream, Procol Harum
and King Crimson. Touring incessantly, Rush captured a surprising
chunk of the concert-going audience.
    The band is aware of the contempt music-industry insiders and
critics have for them, but their success has made the slings and
arrows a lot easier to bear. "We've always played as well as we
can," Lee explains. "In the early days people started liking us even
though we didn't consider ourselves good musicians. With every
album, we get a little better. When we wrote _Hemispheres_ [their
next to last LP], we couldn't properly play it because it was
overambitious. Part of the difficulty in recording it was learning
how to play it. _Permanent Waves_ benefited so much because for the
last two years we tried experimenting with other instruments, other
ways of looking at what we do."
    The banner hanging from the balcony at stage left in Chicago's
International Amphitheatre reads CHICAGO FREAKS LOVE RUSH.
    Rush fans roar their approval as the first crashing, sustained
chords of "2112" open the show. For over two hours, the group blasts
out crowd pleasers from their eight albums, using background visuals
for several numbers, most spectacularly for the long space opera
"Cygnus," a science-fiction tale that took two albums to work out.
However, the audience cheers loudest when Rush plays several numbers
from _Permanent Waves_.
    "The Spirit of Radio," the leadoff song on _Waves_, has probably
gotten more airplay than Rush's entire catalog put together, and
it's brought them a whole new audience. But the 40,000-plus
die-hards who packed into the former Chicago slaugterhouse over four
nights to cheer their hereos needed no convincing. "We give the
audience the same credit we give ourselves," says Peart about the
nature of the band's appeal. "If an idea sounds good to us -- it
it's exciting and makes us think -- theoretically it should have
that effect on other people."
    "There are so many different elements to our music," adds Lee.
"One element is heavy metal: It's raw, it's energetic, it's loud and
it's bone-crushing at times. There's people, I'm sure, who come to
hear us just for our lyrics, and some who come for Alex's guitar
playing or my bass playing or Neil's percussive abilities. It's
difficult to say one reason it righter. All you can say is who you'd
rather play for."

						-- John Swenson
*		Article 2					*

>From _Rolling Stone_ - May 15, 1980
"Rush's heavy-metal sludge"

The Forum
Los Angeles
March 10th, 1980
   In one way, Rush is a lot like Shaun Cassidy, Teddy Pendergrass
and _Super Vixens_: its audience is made up almost entirely of one
sex. In Rush's case, it's nearly all males -- or more precisely,
judging from this crowd, nearly all sixteen-year-old males with long
hair, faint mustaches and adrenalin to burn.
   This audience is the kind that has stuck with Rush for six years,
steadily increasing the Canadian trio's box-office potency. This
audience also reacts more feverishly to its old favorites than to
anything from _Permanent Waves_, the current Rush album, which took
an immediate leap into the Top Ten.
   Rush, of course, knows all about this audience. At the Forum
concert, the band emphasized its old material, introducing each song
and noting which album it came from. Even "The Spirit of Radio," the
song responsible for garnering most of the FM airplay that has made
_Permanent Waves_ so successful, was given a graceless, hurried
performance and an unimportant position near the middle of the set.
  Rush's patented sledgehammer epics, such as "Hemispheres," "2112"
and "Passage to Bangkok," try to mesh mystical, literary lyrics with
elaborate rock & roll suites but they only succeed in turning
everything into heavy-metal sludge. There were a few exceptions,
though, most notably "Free Will," the punchiest, most straight-
forward rocker on _Permanent Waves_. Also, it's hard not to be
somewhat impressed by the fact that only three musicians can create
such a massive, leaden sound.
   For the record, those three are drummer Neil Peart, who writes
all the band's lyrics and takes fewer solos than might be expected;
guitarist Alex Lifeson, whose mile-a-minute buzzing is more numbing
than exciting; and bassist, keyboardist and singer Geddy Lee, whose
amazingly high-pitched wailing often sounds like Mr. Bill singing
heavy metal. If only Mr. Sluggo had been on hand to give these guys
a couple of good whacks...

						-- Steve Pond

*               Article 3                                       *


>From _Rolling Stone_ - May 28, 1981

[ Thanks once again to Meg J. for transcribing this. ]

"Rush: power from the people"
 Ignored by critics and radio, this
 hard-rock trio went straight to the fans

------------ Montreal -------------

    There are two schools of thought on the Canadian power trio Rush
-- for and against. Tonight, at the massive Montreal Forum, Rush are
playing to yet another sold-out house and the lines are clearly

    Taking the affirmative position are 14,000 French-Canadian fans,
many of them wearing Rush T-shirts and scruffy denim jackets with
the band's logo stiched across the back. They are vigorously pumping
the sweaty, smoky air with their fists and yelling themselves hoarse
as guitarist Alex Lifeson, drummer Neil Peart, and bassist-singer
Geddy Lee roar through a two-hour set packed with tracks from nine
of the group's ten Mercury albums -- including their latest best
seller, _Moving Pictures_. When Lee announces that the band is
recording the show for an upcoming live album, the cheering and
applause seem to shake the Forum to its foundation. And by the end
of the lengthy encore, "La Villa Strangiato," the audience looks
almost as exhausted as the musicians.

    But one fan's meat is another man's poison. In the next
morning's _Montreal Gazette_, reviewer John Griffin roasted the
group mercilessly: singer Geddy Lee -- whose banshee wail could pass
the Memorex test -- "sounds like a guinea pig with an amphetamine
habit"; axeman Alex Lifeson, a master of high-volume licks, "is
ordinary at best"; and Neil Peart's heady philosophical lyrics are
summarily dismissed as "cosmic." Griffin signs off with one last
slap, describing Rush as "one of the most tedious rock bands working
the arena circuit today." The fans at that concert must have found
it hard to believe this guy was at the same show.

    "Yeah, I saw that review," Geddy Lee sneers in disgust. In the
thirteen years since he and high-school buddy Lifeson -- whose
blond, angelic features make him look like Botticelli's idea of a
rock star -- founded Rush, Lee has seen a lot more like it. Sitting
in the back seat of Neil Peart's black Mercedes, which the drummer
is racing across the Quebec-Ontario border on the way to that
night's gig in Ottawa, Lee shrugs his shoulders. "I saw the headline
[RUSH: POMP-ROCK TRIO HOT ON TEDIUM] and threw it away," he
continues in a near whisper, a marked contrast to his bloodcurdling
singing. "I didn't have to read it to know what it said. Hey, the
reviews we got in Toronto [their hometown] last week were the first
favorable ones we'd ever gotten there." Bad reviews have been a way
of life for Rush since Lee and Lifeson, both twenty-seven, and
Peart, 28, first started touring America in 1974, hot on the heels
of their Led Zep-alike debut, _Rush_. Now, despite the longstanding
scorn of many critics, as well as radio station program directors
who deemed the group's brand of progressive aggro-rock unfit for
airplay, Rush are finally enjoying the fruits of seven years' labor
on the road. Last year's _Permanent Waves_ cracked the Top Five and
even sired the band's first major hit single, "The Spirit of Radio."

    But the big payoff is _Moving Pictures_, which peaked at Number
Three barely a month after its release, aced out of the top spot
only by REO Speedwagon's _Hi Infidelity_ and Styx's _Paradise
Theatre_. Already gold and certain to go platinum, the album has
also set off a chain reactio: older albums like _2112_ and the live
_All The World's a Stage_ have gone platinum in its wake. Rush has
now sold more than 10 million records worldwide.

    Compared to earlier Rush epics like _2112_, _A Farewell to
Kings_ and _Hemispheres_, with their twenty-minute concept pieces
and serpentine rhythm changes, both _Permanent Waves_ and _Moving
Pictures_ are paragons of heavy-metal commerciality. Five of _Moving
Pictures_' seven songs clock in at under five minutes; the rougher
edges have been shaved off Lee's voice; and on one number, "Vital
Signs," the band even takes a shot at a Police-style reggae shuffle.

    "The difference," Lee explains, "is in the organization of the
music. We learned a lot about composition and arrangement in makeing
_Hemispheres_. _Permanent Waves_ and _Moveing Pictures_ are the
result of application, of saying, 'Okay, we know we can do this and
we learned all this. Now let's see if we can make a song out of it
that'll really have a lot happening in it.' It's not just that the
songs are four minutes long so they can get on the radio. It's the
quality of those four minutes."

    But the real secret of Rush's success is that they simply
eliminated the middlemen. When FM radio stations ignored them, the
band took their cause directly to the people, touring America with a
vengeance and often playing as many as 200 concerts a year.

    "At our heaviest," figures Lee, "we were touring seven months of
the year and recording tow months. We'd have maybe a total of a
month off -- and never at one time. It was hard, but we felt we had
to do that because we weren't gettting exposure any toaher way.
Besides, we enjoyed playing, and what better way to learn your craft
-- to refine what you're doing -- than to _do_ it?"

    As musicians, Lee and Lifeson have done all their growing up in
the public. They first met in ninth grade and soon became veterans
of the local basement-band scene. Together with a friend of Alex's,
drummer John Rutsey, they cut their teeth at high-school parties and
church dnaces with a repertoire heavy on Cream, Hendrix and Led
Zeppelin covers. In the early Seventies, the drinking age in
Ontario was lowered from twenty-one to eighteen, enabling Rush to
hit the more lucrative bar and club circuit in and around Toronto.
"That was really the point where we became professional," says
Lifeson, "in the sense that we were all dedicated to doing that and
only that."

    Dedication, of course, was not enough to make it in Canada. "It
was ridiculous," Lee grins, recalling some of the problems Rush ran
into. "We played a pub night at a local college, and they kept telling
us, 'Don't play too loud, we can't hear the beer orders.'" At one
gig in Oakville, Ontario, they were fired after only half a set when
neighbors complained about the noise. The band's awesome volume (Lee
first developed his Robert Plant-like screech simply so he could be
heard over the instruments) and their heavy-metal leanings won them
few friends outside the province. "All the years we were plaing bars
and schools, we never left Ontario," Lee says. "We couldn't even get
a club tour of western Canada. All of our prehistory took place in
Ontario. We couldn't get gigs anywhere else."

    They couldn't get a record deal, either. The band's manager, Ray
Danniels -- who got his start booking school dances for Rush when he was
sixteen -- released their self-titled debut album in 1974 on the group's
own Moon label after it had been turned down twice by every major record
company in Canada. Later that year, though, the album began getting
considerable airplay in Midwest heavy-metal capitals like Cleveland and
Detroit, and Mercury Records signed Rush in the US.

    Rush's first American tour almost ended before it began when John
Rutsey quit after a falling out with Lee and Lifeson. Neil Peart, another
Toronto native who had previously tried his luck as a drummer in England,
stepped in at the eleventh hour, and Rush hit the touring trail with the
enthusiasm of kids given the run of a candy store.

    "The strategy was, 'There's a gig. We'll go play it,'" says Lee. "If
you look at our routing plans for those first four years, it was totally
nonsensical. One time we went from Gainesville, Florida, straight up to
Allentown, Pennsylvania."

    "We went everywhere we could," says Danniels. "I was always more
concerned with the cities we hadn't played than the ones we had. My
philosophy was, if you can drive to it, do it. It was the drive-till-you-
die philosophy."

    And Rush did just that. Lifeson remembers renting a car in Toronto on
the pretense of driving it up north for a few gigs. Instead, the band took
it to the States for several weeks of shows opening for Kiss and
Aerosmith. "We brought the car back with 11,000 miles on it. It didn't have
any hubcaps left, the radio was smashed, the mirror was gone. It was
ruined. They were quite surprised."

    The pressures of constant touring, overwhelmingly negative reviews and
no airplay, and the unspectacular sales of their third LP, _Caress of
Steel_, had taken their toll. "No one could believe it was going so badly,"
says Lee. "Then we realized how stupid we were. Because of all these people
putting pressure on us, we were looking at ourselves through their eyes.
>From then on, we knew exactly what our direction was going to be, and we
were determined to have success strictly on our own terms."

    Rush have had their way ever since, although at no small cost. They
tour with mor than $600,000 worth or stage, sound and lighting gear in a
caravan of four trucks, two buses and a camper. Lifeson says last year's
_Permanent Waves_ tour was the first time the band came off the road with a
profit. More recently, Rush had to foot the bill for the cover art for
_Moving Pictures_ -- estimated by designer Hugh Syme at $9500 -- because,
according to Ray Danniels, their record company refused to pay the full

    "We are not excessive," insists Neil Peart. "If something has our name
on it, we try to make it as good as we can. We always think of the ideal
Rush fan. When I'm writing lyrics or when I'm playing onstage, this ideal
fan is watching every move I make to see if I make a mistake or if
something is not as good as it should be. You just can't escape that

    As Peart pulls his Mercedes behind the Ottawa Civic Center, where a sea
of denim and Rush insignias is forming almost three hours before the doors
will open, Geddy Lee tried to find a few kind words for rock critics.

    "You'd have to be a fool to ignore constructive criticism," he says.
"We've changed things in our music that were pointed out to us some years
ago, things about feel or a tendency to sometimes sound forced. But a lot
of critics believe they are the resident experts and they make the decision
on what's valid and what isn't. I think that's horseshit."

    So, apparently, do the fans, who have made Rush and fellow heavy-metal
whipping boys REO Speedwagon, Styx and AC/DC the rules of the charts. And,
as Ray Danniels points out, "when it came to concert reviews, critics
almost always made the mistake of also criticizing the audience. If an
eighteen-year-old reads a review that says, 'Rush were puke, they were
shit, they were garbage, they have no talent' and ends with something like,
'The audiences were foolish enough to buy it,' that person thinks, 'Yeah?
Well, fuck you.' And that's what's saved us in most cases."

    "We know we're doing well when we can sit back and say, 'That's a good
record; the audience applauds for it, they like it,'" concludes Lee as he
heads for the arena's dressing room. "To make records people enjoy and that
we enjoy playing -- that's our measure of success."

						-- David Fricke

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