How did I get into RUSH?
As a child I was fed a diet of “parentally influenced” music which in the most part consisted of thematic classical music - The Planets, Peter & the Wolf etc. that type of thing. We were always encouraged to let our imaginations run riot with this sort of music and let our minds wander to the music and imagine whatever we wanted. Imagination at this age, for me anyway, revolved around battles with dragons and other associated monsters. So music for me was always associated with imagination and story telling.
My first encounter with Rush came via a record token for my twelfth birthday and a trip to Darwen hi-fi (now long since deceased). Stood in amongst an array of vinyl, for some reason - and to this day I have no idea what it was, I ended up in front of the rack for Rush. The first record I picked up and subsequently bought was “All the worlds a stage”. I have no idea why I picked this record - I actually don’t think I even bothered to look through the rack, I simply bought the first record I picked up, probably because I was hooked by the cover picture of a stage shot. I got home and put my new purchase on. I can’t remember much about listening to side one, but side two - half way through 2112 it suddenly dawned on me that the music was telling a story - a story about a battle and that was it, I was hooked. Since that day Rush has been the soundtrack to which the events of my life have been played out.
Favourite RUSH material?
Whilst I own, like and appreciate the entire Rush back catalogue I am definitely biased towards the earlier material - I cannot begin to imagine how many times I have listened to 2112 through out my life. As a teenager I had a small tape recorder that I connected to a timer switch and set it to switch on and play a tape of 2112 every morning to wake me up. This happened every day for a very long time, interspersed with short bouts of being woken up by “Wondrous Stories” by Yes. Sad I know, but there you go.
In my opinion the most underrated record is Caress Of Steel, a completely monstrous record. I have mixed views of Presto & Roll The Bones depending upon when people ask me about them. I suppose it’s all to do with where you are in your life at the particular moment the record is released. Certainly works for me!
Biggest challenge of being in YYZ?
Surviving long periods in the same room as Tufty our drummer!! Only kidding. The biggest challenge of being in YYZ and for that matter playing Lifeson’s guitar parts, is nailing the sounds. Lifeson has used some amazing tones throughout his career. Getting this wide array of sounds requires a wide array of equipment - hence the monster rack that I have to lug about. Most of Lifeson’s playing is also a little left of centre; he plays things that you would not necessarily expect him to do, mostly due to the odd signatures of the songs. His solo’s are very challenging and have gone through marked evolutions, most of his earlier stuff is fairly well structured and composed whilst his later stuff evolves in a rather unusual way - I think this is fairly common knowledge but for those who don’t know I explain it.
When Lifeson is called to do a solo he records a mass of tracks one after another, each one evolving slightly or taking a complete direction swing. After Alex has finished he leaves the control room and Geddy and Neil take over. Geddy and Neil listen to each take and pass comments on each solo, like this bit on this take, but I like that bit there etc. All the relevant “nice bits” are then bounced to a separate track and edited together to make one continuos solo. Alex then learns this solo and plays it as a single take.
When Alex was asked about whether Geddy and Neil ever ended up with something that he would have never come up with he said “Yes, but I’d have got there in the end, it just takes less time”.
Other influences besides RUSH?
I listen to wide range of music, but I would have to admit to being a guitar head, and what’s worse a guitar head he has a liking for Prog Rock. For people who have never checked out bands such as the Porcupine Tree, Spocks Beard & Shadow Gallery then do yourself a favour and check them out as soon as possible. Amongst my current list of favourite players are : - Andy Timmons, Steve Lukather, Tim Pierce, Alan Murphy, Steve Rothery and Frank Dunnery.
Coolest RUSH moment?
Personal - I am very lucky in the fact that in my line of work I get to work with a lot of great players - one being Mr. Lifeson. My coolest RUSH moment was Alex calling me up to wish me a Merry Christmas.
Musical - Probably too numerous to list but briefly - Discovery from “2112” and the end section of “Natural Science”. In fact, thinking about it, it’s way to difficult to create a meaningful list, as it would go on for a long time, so I’ll not bother.