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Subject: 04/30/91 - The National Midnight Star #229  ** Special Edition **

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          The National Midnight Star, Number 229

                  Tuesday, 30 April 1991
Today's Topics:
          RUSH PLANNING NORTH AMERICA SPRING TOUR
             The Premiere Progressive Rock Trio
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Here are two articles submitted by list members; hope you enjoy them!

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                   RUSH PLANNING NORTH AMERICA SPRING TOUR
                              by Mary Campbell
                           AP NewsFeatures writer


     Rush hopes its spring North American tour will be "a treat, not a treat-
ment."

     The tour goes from mid-February into April, with Mr. Big opening concerts.

     Rush hasn't been in a hurry to get back on the road. However, the fact
that "Presto", its first album on Atlantic Records, was in the top 20 best-
selling charts in December and January, makes the Canadian trio more eager.
Vocalist-bassist Geddy Lee says, "We're so happy with the way this album turned
out, we're happy to go out there and tour it.

     "We've been doing this with this band for over 15 years now. I feel more
and more need to have more and more time to myself, for my family, for my life,
outside this band. The whole prospect of long tours doesn't make me extremely
happy any more. I like to play, but I need more of a balance in my life."

     Their previous album, "A Show of Hands", in 1989, was live, recorded
during the tour after "Hold Your Fire", the last studio album, released by
Polygram in 1987.

     Rush has found it difficult making live albums that don't sound like tape
recorders are running, Lee says. "We figure the way around it is, every tour
you're going to record a number of shows. You hope you'll get lucky and forget
the machine is running and give a performance that is as natural as if it
wasn't.  You're trying to trick yourself into forgetting you're recording an
album.

     "A lot of tracks on 'A Show of Hands' were from the last show we recorded,
in Birmingham, U.K. The second-to-last night we also did a video shoot and
there was [sic] a large number of cameras on stage.  What I think happened was
the next night the cameras were all gone so it almost felt like nothing was
happening.  Everybody relaxed. Everybody gave a very loose performance in re-
lief that there was no camera pointed at us."

     When Rush began, Lee says, "We played more aggressive music. I think it
was a function of our youth and the style of music we liked and what was cool.
We still like aggressive rock. I think we still play it. It is just a bit
tempered now by other influences. We grew up listening to power bands. I think
power would be a little narrow in its description of Rush now. But I feel this
album is a powerful album."

     Probably Rush's most decided change, Lee says, was from "Moving Pictures"
in 1981 to "Signals" in 1982. "We changed the focus from guitar-dominant to
adding more synthesizers. We went from a three-piece to a four-piece, though we
are only three people. We experimented with that for quite a few albums, up to
this album where we made a decided shift back.

     "It felt really good to go back to writing as a three-piece and using
technology just to enhance moments as backdrop to a fundamental three-piece
sound.  There were a few moments we couldn't resist sneaking back into it. By
and large it's written as a three-piece record."

    As for his singing, Lee says he went through a period of screechy singing
and another where he tried to lower his range and screech less.

     "To me, singing well is a lot more of a priority than it used to be. I
used to be another instrument in the sound. A lot of material in this album
was written around vocal melodies.

     "We wanted the emphasis on this new album to be strong vocally, melodic-
ally, and emotionally."

     Rupert Hine produced "Presto" with Rush. "The point of using a new pro-
ducer every once in a while is you learn some new tricks", Lee says.

     He quit smoking in 1983. Even so, he says, he has had trouble keeping his
voice healthy on the last tour, in 1987 and '88. "I don't know if it was winter
or getting older. I find I have to baby my voice more than I did when I was
younger."

     If there's any wisdom to pass on, Lee says, it is, "The more time you take
for writing, the better. That's your script." Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson
write music, and drummer Neil Peart writes lyrics.

     "Presto" was completed ahead of schedule. "I think it was because of the
amount of preparatory work we did. You have to make sure your songs are really
sounding good even at the rough demo stage. And you've got to be careful you
don't overdo to the point you don't have a feel left for your songs. Then
you're in good shape, I think."

     Lee says Rush enjoyed working with Hine and engineer Stephen Tayler. "The
longer you're in the business the more you realize that the time you spend
working is not apart from your life. It's part of your life. You want to make
sure you're using your time well.

     "It's a lot more rewarding when it's pleasurable."


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

		The Premiere Progressive Rock Trio
		By:  Lance Laskosky
		From:  Only Music magazine

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Canada's finest musical export continues to please their diehard fans with more
creative exploits on its 14th album, Hold Your Fire.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

	"Metamorphosis is a good word to describe the band, we're a constantly
evolving thing," says Geddy Lee, the bassman/singer/keyboardist for Rush.
"This is a transitional point for us, sort of a point of arrival in a sense
that we've been striving to achieve over the last three or four records has
finally come to rest in Hold Your Fire."
	Gone are the early days when Rush had a more metal edge and
concentrated heavily on marathon, fantasy-oriented musical pieces.  Instead,
they have veered towards a more modern sound integrating keyboards and
influenced by reggae and new wave rhythms.  "We've developed a new outlook as
far as our method of production, a way of looking at a song and not feeling
like we're restricted by any boundaries or limitations of a three-piece band as
far as arranging songs in the studio," says Lee.  "I'm very happy with the
point we're at and the way we're making records now.  We're confident that we
can make better records and are more aware of what good songwriting is than
before."
	The modification began with the departure of longtime producer Terry
Brown (affectionately known as "Broon").  Lee recounts the change in great
detail.  "It was really a necessary thing, not out of any disrespect to him
(Brown) or any problem in communicating with each other, but a matter of our
band falling into a dangerous rut.  We could anticipate his input and structure
our music around that.  The making of Signals (Brown's last project) was very
difficult.  At the time, we wondered if some songs could not have been better
if they were treated in a different way, but we were confused as to what our
direction should be.  We were so close to Terry, he was IN the band almost, and
he wasn't objective anymore.  We wanted to put ourselves in a kind of "shock
treatment," some kind of outside attitude to make us less insular and maybe
help us learn more about what we were doing.  We need someone with new ideas
and a new point of view to point out things in our music that weren't growing
as rapidly as we'd like, ways of writing songs that maybe we hadn't thought of
using.  We felt like we weren't getting that, because our relationship had
gotten too comfortable," recounts Lee.
	"Since that time, I think we're growing in leaps and bounds and it
shows in the sound of our new record.  It's been a maturing process.  Grace
Under Pressure was a very difficult record to make, when we left Terry we were
really babes in the producing world.  We talked to so many people who were
looking for that magical person with all the answers who simply didn't exist.
Working with Terry spoiled us because he was a very honest and responsible
person and we were running into all these people who were horrible.  We ended
up doing the record with Peter Henderson and we were sort of compromising,
because we really hadn't found what we were looking for, but we couldn't wait
any longer and had to get on with the record.  Peter worked really hard and
gave 150 percent, but at the end we were left feeling cheated.  We went through
this wrenching experience and felt that we still hadn't found what we were
looking for, but I think we found him in Peter Collins.  At least when we found
him, our expectations were more realistic.  We'd gone through this growing
stage, this education and awakening about how to make records.  Peter's
priorities were the necessary priorities:  song structure, arrangement,
objectiveness; that classical style of producing," Lee adds.
	One of the most unique characteristics about Rush is their ability to
cohesively mix elements of hard rock with classical overtones and lyrical
references to Shakespeare, Hemingway and Fitzgerald.  "When we look for
influences, we look for those that are tried and true as opposed to trendy.  I
think there are certain things about the classical form that have worked for a
certain reason.  I like to think of our music as being orchestrated rather than
simply arranged.  We've always leaned towards a more bombastic classical sound,
the dramatics of it appeal to me," notes Lee.
	On Hold Your Fire, Rush incorporates several new elements into the
music, including the background vocals of Aimee Mann ('til Tuesday) on "Time
Stand Still," a tune likely to give the band its first hit single.  "We knew
that the part she sings on was a feminine part.  We didn't want to use a
keyboard or have Alex or myself sing it, so we started looking for a female
singer.  It's a very attractive opportunity for us to work with a female
singer.  We just looked until we found a voice, that was suitable.  In
listening to Aimee's last record, we loved the way she sang, so we just asked
her," Lee explains.
	Is this likely to become a trend?  "I'd doubt it, but you never know.
It depends on the material.  I'm glad to say we don't feel uncomfortable making
those kind of decisions.  If we feel a song can benefit by putting a 30 piece
string section on it, then we do it.  The same thing goes for having a choir,
or a brass band or female singer or whatever it is.  I think that's really
healthy for us because it's making us look at our songs in a more objective
light and not with a preconceived notion of what a Rush song is supposed to be.
We've eliminated that look at production."
	As with many of Rush's previous albums, Hold Your Fire isn't a typical
concept album, albeit it surrounds the central themes of time, nature, instinct
and temperament.  Those ideas were the brainchild of drummer Neil Peart, who
writes the thought provoking lyrics while guitarist Alex Lifeson and Lee put
them to music.  Whereas the central theme of Power Windows was power, Hold Your
Fire focuses on time.  For instance, "Time Stand Still" focuses upon how the
richness of a period in time rests in its remembrance and how one experiencing
a wonderful time wishes it could go on forever.
	Many of the tracks on the new album have interesting stories behind
them.  "Force Ten," the first single released, was ironically the last one
written.  Pye Dubois (who used to write for a group close to Rush, Max Webster)
sent lyrics to Rush and "Force Ten" particularly stood out to Neil.  Says Lee,
"He played with it a bit until he was happy with the result and showed it to
us.  At the time we had nine songs and wanted to get ten tracks on the record.
Peter felt we really need one more rock song, so when these lyrics came by, we
were excited about it."  In the tradition of "New World Man," "Vital Signs" and
"Natural Science," some of the band's most popular songs are those put together
almost as an afterthought.  "We wrote 'Force Ten' one afternoon in three
hours," says Lee.  "Those songs to me are always my favorite because they are
spontaneous and fresh.  It gives the album more variety and balance."
	"Mission," one of the strongest cuts on the new album, has an
underlying philosophy behind it.  "It basically grew out of a conversation Neil
and I had about the kind of people we consider ourselves to be, people who
always knew what they wanted to do in their lives and always had this ambition
and desire, but couldn't make a choice as to what to do.  It was always very
clear that we had to do what we do - whether we were a success or a failure -
we knew we would always play music in some way.  'Mission' also looks sadly at
the people who have never really been sure what they should be doing and have
never had a clearcut idea where to put their creative ability to [reach] a
final, ultimate conclusion," notes Lee.
	According to Lee, the music for "Lock and Key" was written
simultaneously with the lyrics and they fit together like a glove, without any
forethought.  "Tai Shan" developed from Neil's three week bicycle tour of
China.  Tai Shan is a holy mountain he climbed to the top of and wrote his
thoughts and feelings down as he was sitting there, which became the song.
Topping off the album is "high Water," which to a devoted fan may sound vaguely
familiar.  It contains a chord progression that can be found on "Bacchus 
Plateau" from the epic "The Fountain of Lamneth off Caress Of Steel.
	As of late, Rush has strayed away from the longer instrumental numbers,
to concentrate on a variety of new techniques.  "They just became to easy to
do, a little boring," says Lee.  We felt like we were just doing the same song
over again, just changing the words.  It's real hard to write a good song, and
that seems to be of more interest to us than writing a 10 or 15 minute piece
with movements all strung together.  That comes to us too easily, therefore
we're drawn away from it.  Anything you can do too easily isn't that much of a
challenge.  I think one of the reasons we got away from doing long concept
pieces was it started to be so didactic, we were preaching."
	Many longtime fans have become disgruntled with the band's omission of
several older tunes in concert.  On many of the past tours, Rush would open the
show with "2112" in its entirety, which later became shortened to merely
"Overture and "The Temples of Syrinx."  But as lee puts it, you can't play
everything.  "As a player, you're always most excited about your new material
and your challenge lies in reproducing it live.  You want to give the show a
facelift every year and have something to give the fans at the same time.  We
haven't gotten into any in-depth discussions as to how we're going to approach
it this year, because we don't know what to keep and what to drop and still
keep it under three hours.  For the majority of our hardcore fans, I'm sure
three hours would be great, but in practical terms, you can't really do that so
it's always a struggle to get the set to two hours and feel that we have a show
that gives people their money's worth," says Lee.
	So how do they decide what stays and what goes?  "It's a constant
reexamination of what songs people enjoy playing," says Lee.  "Sometimes
someone in the band will say, 'I'm sorry, I just can't play that song anymore,
it's too boring.'  So what can you say?  You can't go on stage and do something
that's boring because you're not going to play it well and that's not fair to
the song or to the person who really loves that song.  The other criteria is
'what haven't we played in a while, is there something we keep getting response
to in conversations with people?'  I know a lot of people attach themselves
to a particular era of ours, like 2112, Moving Pictures, even Caress of Steel.
We loved all of them when we made them, but now it's ten years later."
	Unlike many bands, Rush isn't concerned with seeing their pictures on
the covers of their albums.  Instead, the feature unique designs by Hugh Syme,
Hold Your Fire being no exception.  Although the band has become more
individualistic in nature, the cover doesn't signify the three members as
separate entities.  "It's an abstraction that can be taken in so many different
ways," says Lee.  "Basically, you get a good feeling about the artwork, there's
something that clicks about it.  The three balls, geometrically and physically
create a tension in the way they're suspended.  They relate to the balls of
fire, as it relates to holding your creative fires.  It's all a play on those
thoughts and everything associated with them.  Sure, you can look at it as
three people, three balls, but it's all that and more."
	If past history is any indication, Rush is due for a live LP with its
next release.  "We haven't made a 100 percent commitment to it, but I think
it's very possible," notes Lee.  "We recorded about eight shows on the last
tour and we'll probably do the  same this time."
	Rush built its following on the road as one of the foremost touring
bands around.  Their stage shows feature state-of-the-art lighting, video
projections, and lasers.  "We'll have an expansion of what we've done in the
past," says Lee.  "We've improved and diversified our film portion of the show,
rearranged and incorporated new laser effects, changed the lighting system and
changed sound companies.  There's quite a few changes that seem big to me."
	The fact that amazes the average listener about their concerts is how
three guys can make so much music.  "That's a question that's on my mind
lately," states Lee.  "This album is going to be very difficult to reproduce
live and it's going to be a real challenge to pull it off.  It's very tempting
to add another person, every year I get closer and closer to saying yes to
that, but at this stage, we believe we can pull it off.  If we fail, maybe next
time around you'll  see another guy banging on the keyboards."  As it stands
now, Lee remains a musical Jack-of-all-trades.  "Sometimes I feel more like a
choreographer, because so much of what I'm doing is being sampled, but it's
still a matter of being able to press the right button to start it all at the
right time.  We're using so much electronics, sometimes it's easy to go
overboard and just play the tapes, but we're trying to avoid doing that and
feel that if we have hands on control it's still part of the performance," he
adds.
	To say that Rush's fans are dedicated is an understatement.  Even
though they have only had one Top 40 single ("New World Man"), ten of their
albums have gone platinum and the last seven have made the Top 10.  "We haven't
had that monster ten million seller, but we've probably sold as many records
spread over 12 different albums," notes Lee.  "Maybe that's been a blessing in
disguise, it's kept us sane in a way and kept the band popular, because we've
never been overexposed.  We've had a long career, solid and steady.  We always
do well at the box office and our records always sell."
	Apart from the album sales, concert dates and critical acclaim, nothing
motivates the band more than the genuine inspiration they receive from making
music.  "The great feeling that you get after you've written a song makes you
want to write another one, it's like an addiction," Lee says.  "Probably one of
the purest moments of satisfaction a person can have is when you've created
something out of nothing.  That particular moment is inspiring and the thought
of that makes me light up.  Bathing yourself in a warm glow of appreciation
from the audience and feeling the energy and positive encouragement is
overwhelming and makes you feel wonderful, but the creative moment
satisfies you entirely.  We have a very dedicated audience and they've
kept us alive these years and allowed us to do all this experimenting
through their support."

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

To submit material to The National Midnight Star, send mail to:

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The contents of The National Midnight Star are solely the opinions and 
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opinions of the authors' management, or the mailing list management.

Copyright The Rush Fans Mailing List, 1991.

Editor, The National Midnight Star
(Rush Fans Mailing List)

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End of The National Midnight Star Number 229
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