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Subject: 12/11/90 - The National Midnight Star #127  ** Special Edition **

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          The National Midnight Star, Number 127

                Tuesday, 11 December 1990
Today's Topics:
                      Alex Interview
---------------------------------------------------------

From: wolf@xenitec.on.ca (Dave Wolf)
Date: Sat, 24 Nov 1990 19:45:35 EST
Subject: Alex Interview

I managed to tape the interview Alex gave at the Artist of the Decade
ceremony in Toronto on Nov. 20 1990.

The interviewers are John Derringer and Steve Warden from Q-107
in Toronto. We join in as they are discussing the menu for the evening and
Alex comes up.

JD: .......smoked salmon and pink smoked trout fillet......
SW: Lovely
JD: ......with horse radish and mustard cream...
SW: Hi Alex.
JD: Hi Alex.

AL: Hi.

JD: Alex Lifeson.

AL: Are we having something to eat?

SW: We're just going over the menu.
JD: We're going through the menu here. O.K.then we get to the opening remarks
now this is the part that really starts to get to me .......

                [some menu discussion deleted]

JD: ....boneless breast of chicken with diced apricots, you got to be a fan
of that.

AL: I love breasts!

[laughter]

JD: Me too, it's fun. We'll get along just fine!

                [more menu discussion deleted]

JD: We had Bryan Adams here a few minutes ago and now we're joined by
Alex Lifeson. How are things Alex?

AL: Things are great!

SW: Excellent.
JD: Good to see ya.

AL: Good to see you too.

JD: It's been a... well.. what a long strange decade it's been I guess..
the 1980's.

AL: Yah. When we first heard about this we wondered which decade.

[laughter]

AL: It's been a few for us almost.

JD: Actually that is one of the differences we noticed, and mentioned to Bryan
Adams is that when 1980 came around both Bryan Adams and kd lang were unknown
where as by 1980 Rush was huge not only here in Canada, but in the rest
of the world as well. So, as opposed to being found in this decade it must
be nice to see that you've been able to carry on for another ten years and
get this kind of recognition from the industry.

AL: It certainly seems incredible to us. I mean I don't think we ever
expected, ah, to be around in 1990 still doing what we're doing. As a
matter of fact we're in the studio now working on the new record, so,
it just keeps going on and on and on for us.

JD: It must be even more strange in your situation with Rush in that
when the band started out the critics slammed you, the industry itself
wasn't really behind the band. It was your fans that did it for you,
and it's your fans that you've seemed to have the allegiance to
over all these years, yet it must be kind of strange to see that now
the industry has embraced you the way they have.

AL: Yes. I guess it's nice. But for us Rush was never a band that,
well you know, we're not really a popular top forty band. We never had
the hit singles that a lot of bands end up having and we had to work
very hard touring and we work very hard on our music and we have a
very good relationship with our audience that has developed over
the last, ah, fifteen or sixteen years that we've been touring. And,
I mean, it's very nice to have this recognition certainly, but um, I
think the recognition you get from your fans is a lot more important.

JD: You guys are working, I guess on the pre-production stages, or the
very early stages...

AL: No, the very early stages. We've been working for two weeks now. Um,
we're working on the new record. We'll be working until probably the
middle of December and take a break then and get back into it in the new
year. Start recording the end of February, hopefully finish by the
end of June. Have a few weeks off in the summer and then possibly
start touring some time in the fall of next year.

JD: You guys have changed quite a bit over the years 1980 through
1990, ah..

AL: Yah, about twenty-five pounds.

[laughter]

JD: On the plus or minus side?

AL: Unfortunately on the plus...

SW: You still bowl a mean game Alex!

AL: Well, thanks.

JD: But, ah, with Moving Pictures in 1981 and now up to what you're
doing in 1990, a couple of changes in between, a couple of live albums
in there as well. And you guys have always kind of used the live album
as the end of one stage, I guess and the beginning of the next, if I'm
not mistaken.

AL: Right. It gives us some breathing room. Um, at least you have
something that's current and released. You can get away from it, and
I think that's important for us. Before we recorded Presto we took
seven months off and for us it was unheard of by a factor of three.
I mean we never took more than a couple of months off between touring
and recording and we just *really* had to get away for a good length of
time. Really divorce ourselves from being in a band, from being
musicians, from, you know, the whole thing. We came back very enthusiastic
when we started working on Presto. Um, we were just really excited when
we came back to work and it was like a breath of fresh air for us.
And it's carried over, the tour was really great. We really enjoyed
ourselves really for the first time since...Moving Pictures or Signals
tour. It was a much better paced tour, we had a lot of fun, the shows
did really well. I think it was one of our better shows, from a staging
standpoint. We had a great time and we suddenly remembered how much we
really enjoyed touring and we sort of lost a bit of that over the years.
Ah, and it's carried over into this record. We started working, we've got
about four or five songs in fairly decent shape at a fairly early stage...
um, and look forward to continuing that and going back out.

SW: If I can ask something similar to what I asked Bryan Adams, how
has success affected Rush and, and your music? Has success had an impact?

AL: Well, it depends on your definition of success. We've always felt
success well in that we've been able to play the music and write the
music that we want to. There was really only a brief period during
Caress of Steel that they was really any kind of.... um... any problem
...ah... with regards to support from... all the powers that be. I mean
management, record company were very.. ah..worried with Caress of Steel
but for us that was a very transitional record. It was a very *important*
record for us. But it certainly wasn't a very commercially accepted
record. Um, of course then we went on and 2112 came out after that and
everything went great and everybody was happy and we've been free to do
whatever we want. So, we've had quite a great measure of success in those
terms. Um, if you mean does financial success change your music? Then,
well, it is always easier when your bills are paid, to not have to worry
about that aspect of your life.

SW: I was more concerned about the creative side of it. I mean.. uh..
when you have a success behind you, does that influence the way you're
going to go from there? Or....

AL: Oh, no, it doesn't! Um...

SW: Do you say..you know....

AL: No no no no, no no. We go out of our way to avoid..... [chuckles]

SW: To avoid repeating yourselves?

AL: Yeah. It's ah ...... We don't ever have anything written in advance.
We don't.... well, very little written in advance. We might have a few
ideas floating around, we don't have anything, ah, thematic ah, in advance
it's ...... We arrive at the studio and start writing and it goes wherever
it goes. So ....

JD: One of the things that separated Rush, Alex from a lot of bands
ah, has been the fact that it seems like you guys aren't into the
trappings of the rock and roll world. And when you mentioned touring there,
the question came to mind that you guys haven't been the "out partying
all night, being nuts, being crazy, the women..."

AL: Not lately anyway!

JD: O.K.!

[laughter]

SW: They bowl late at night, I can tell you that!
JD: But that's it! But, that has been something that ah, that has separated
you from a lot. And I wonder if there had ever been a time when you guys
considered packing it in because of that, back in the touring part of things.
When you get on the road, and, and, and you don't want to be there. You've
got families and children and stuff. I mean you guys seem to be really
family oriented, really home oriented, and ....

AL: Yeah, we are and we've uh, I think we've grown to deal with that.
I mean it's part of the job so you just learn to accept it. In the earlier
days of course it was a little easier. It was all a very exciting thing and
you know, the band was growing and developing from the live aspect and
ah, it was quite exciting. But I think we reached a point in the mid-eighties
where ....... it was ....... the same old thing almost.

JD: [snickering] ....Sorry!

[laughter]

AL: A little lull there. Um, I think probably the Hold Your Fire tour
was the toughest tour. We ... Geddy was ill for a lot of the tour, um,
I remember Neil having the flu for a few weeks. And we all had our own
little problems. It was very difficult coping on that tour. And I think
that's why we really needed to have that break that we did. I think
that's probably the closest we've come to, at least stopping touring.

SW: Are you surprised by the band's longevity?

AL: Yeah! Of course! I thought ... In 1974 when we signed our American
deal and started touring America uh, I thought, if we lasted five years
and had the chance to record another five or six records in that time
we were really, really fortunate. But, uh ... Here we are!

JD: Something that ....

AL: Ten years later!

JD: ..... I mentioned to Bryan Adams just a few minutes ago when he
was here, and I think it's, ah .... fair comparison to draw between
the two of you, is that instead of deciding to play Canada, to play the
bars, although you certainly did that here in Toronto when you were
first starting out in the early seventies. But you decided to really give it
the big shot and go to the States and really slog it out and it worked
for you, but what would you recommend to a band these days who is in
the situation .... Although the industry has changed so much.

AL: Times are .... so different.

JD: They really are.

AL: Yeah.

JD: But, what would you say to a band who you think "had it" in 1990,
what route should they go?

AL: It's very difficult. It's a whole different scene. When we were coming
up, um, it was possible for a band to get on to a two, three or four act
show as an opener. Play for twenty minutes and do the whole run of dates.
Come back a few months later with another band as maybe a special guest,
do the whole run. Come back, start headlining small halls. Work up to
the five thousand seat, seven thousand, and do the arenas. And that's
what we did. We just kept touring and touring the same places, over
and over, around and around. That doesn't really exist anymore, it's
very tough to .... for young, uh, bands to get *on* those types
of tours. Um, I think the promoters are much more concerned with selling
tickets so they end up getting two very strong bands. So ... that...uh..
that area of opening is very, very tight and very difficult for a lot
of bands. All you can do is persevere and practice and stick to your
guns.

JD: Do you still practice?

AL: Uh, I don't practice as much as I used to when we're not working.
I used to play all the time. I practice a lot less. Typically before
we went into the studio I started playing on a regular basis a month
before we went in for at least ... uh ... two or three hours a day.
For a tour I practice about five or six hours a day for about a
month before.

SW: I think the question that everybody *really* wants an answer to ....
ahem ... Alex, is uh ....  Will Rush be going back to that mid-seventies
image with the jump suits and the platform boots?

AL: Yes. As a matter of fact we brought our housecoats tonight and ...

[big laughter]

AL: ..... our scarves.

SW: That was one of the great looks.
JD: It certainly was!
SW: When you look back on stuff like that, and on what you've done
and the different images and stuff like that, I mean do you sort of
chuckle?

AL: Oh yeah. And I cry too.

[laughter]

SW: Alex, it's been a pleasure thanks very much and .....

AL: Thanks Steve.

SW: ..... congratulations.
JD: Thank you very much Alex.
SW: Good luck.

AL: Thanks John.

JD: All right, thank *you* very much. Rush. One of the artists of the
decade, the *group* of the decade in Canada. Q-107.

[... and into Show Don't Tell.]

----------------------------------------------------------

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