The room in suburban Toronto was dimly lit with bead lights, lava lamps, and candles. Patterned rugs, guitars, amplifiers, and drums were scattered about the floor. The guitarist, bass player, and drummer locked into a fast blues jam, a relaxed acoustic number, a traditional rock anthemAs the music spiraled out, the air filled with the sounds of feedback, backwards guitar, electric twelve-string, and electric sitar. The lava lamps vibrated on the straining amplifiers. Everything was ... very ... beautiful ...
It was April of 2004, but Geddy, Alex, and I were channeling back to 1966 and 1967, when we were thirteen- and fourteen -year-old beginners. We thought it would be a fitting symbol to commemorate our thirty years together if we returned to our roots and paid tribute to those we had learned from and were inspired by. We thought we might record some of the songs we used to listen to, the ones we painstakingly learned the chords, notes, and drum parts for, and even played in our earliest bands.
Ironically, I first heard many of these songs as "cover tunes," played by the local bands around St. Catharines, Ontario, in the mid-sixties. The Who and the Yardbirds were both introduced to me that way. A couple of years later, my own first band, called Mumblin' Sumpthin' (from a "L'il Abner" comic, I shall forever have to explain), played Cream's "Crossroads" and the Blue Cheer version of "Summertime Blues."
At the same time, across the lake in the suburbs of Toronto, Alex played "For What it's Worth" in his first band, The Projection, and later, with Geddy, they also played "Mr. Soul," "Shapes of Things," and "Crossroads," in early versions of Rush, and other bands with names like Dusty Coconuts, Waterlogged Gorilla Fingers, the Wild Woodpecker Revue, and the Aquiline Dimension of the Mind (depending on the day).
The other tracks on this collection are songs we liked from the era that we thought we could "cover" effectively (meaning not too many backing vocals), and have some fun with. The music celebrates a good time in our lives, and we had a good time celebrating it.
GEDDY LEE - Bass Guitar, Vocals
ALEX LIFESON - Guitars (electric, acoustic, mandola)
NEIL PEART - Drums and Cymbals
Produced by David Leonard and RUSH at Phase One Studios, Toronto - March/April, 2004
Recorded by David Leonard at Phase One Studios, Toronto - March/April, 2004
Mixed and Engineered by David Leonard at Phase One Studios, Toronto - May 2004
Phase One Pro Tools recording by Michael Jack, Assistant - Jeff Muir
Mastered by Stephen Marcussen, Marcussen Mastering, Hollywood.
Management by Ray Danniels, SRO Management, Toronto
Executive Production by Anthem Entertainment - Liam Birt and Pegi Cecconi
Feedback Equipment Care and Feeding by Lorne Wheaton and Rick Britton
Art Direction, Illustration and Design - Hugh Syme / Photography - Andrew MacNaughtan
Thanks to everyone at Phase One Studios - Barry, Donny, Mike, and Jeff and everyone at SRO - Ray Danniels, Pegi Cecconi, Shelia Posner, Shelley Nott, Anna LeCoche, Cynthia Barry, Rayanne Lepieszo, Any Curran, Bob Farmer, and Randy Rolfe.
As always, we thank our families for their patience, support, tolerance, and love.
Extra Special Thanks to Jason Sniderman, for planting the seed, research, and endless encouragement.
For technical help & contributions, our thanks to Saved By Technology - Jim Burgess & Ted Onyszczak; DW Drum, Sabian Cymbals, & Promark drumsticks.
© 2004 Atlantic Records © 2004 Anthem Entertainment
"This is the first time we have gone out [on tour] when we didn't have a project that we felt passionately about. We've been very successful not trading on that cliche where you're depending on your past. After I thought about it a while, I decided it's quite an accomplishment to stay productive for 30 years as a rock band, and having this cover project made it OK. It gave us something to occupy ourselves creatively and helped justify it to me....We had no plans to do an album of any kind at first, then somebody approached us about doing the tour. A friend planted the idea: Wouldn't it be fun to play a few songs that we liked when we first were learning our instruments and release an EP." - Geddy Lee, The Charlotte Observer, May 28, 2004
"We always talked about throwing a cover or two into the encore just for fun. When we put this 30th anniversary tour together, we realized that we didn't have enough time to do a proper studio album. A friend of mine suggested, 'Well, maybe you guys should dip into your past. Play some songs you used to play when you were in your formative years. Just record them quickly for fun, not overthink it, and just put out a little EP to celebrate where you were as opposed to where you are.' We thought it might be a way to juice us before the tour, so that's what we did." - Geddy Lee, The Columbus Dispatch, June 2, 2004
"Anthem/Atlantic recording group Rush has unveiled details of their upcoming new collection, dubbed Feedback. This unique set sees the renowned trio - Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart - celebrating the band's 30th anniversary by performing cover versions of eight rock classics from the Sixties. Feedback is slated to arrive in stores on June 29... Feedback marks the first time that Rush has recorded songs by other artists and writers. Included are such groundbreaking staples as Buffalo Springfield's 'For What It's Worth' and 'Mr. Soul,' the Yardbirds' 'Heart Full of Soul' and 'Shapes of Things,' and the Who's 'The Seeker.' Feedback also features versions of two songs which defined the heavy rock power trio tradition that gave birth to Rush - Cream's explosive take on Robert Johnson's 'Crossroads' and Blue Cheer's still-extreme rendition of Eddie Cochran's 'Summertime Blues.'..." - Feedback Press Release, Rush.com, May 14, 2004
"I think about covers from time to time, it would be fun. Of course, I would always choose a Who song if I was going to do that type of thing. That might be a fun thing for Rush down the road, to interpret somebody else's music." - Geddy Lee, Jam! Showbiz chat, Thursday, December 21, 2000
"'Geddy, Alex, and I were channeling back to 1966 and 1967, when we were thirteen- and fourteen-year-old beginners,' writes Peart in the liner notes to Feedback. 'We thought it would be a fitting symbol to commemorate our thirty years together if wereturned to our roots and paid tribute to those we had learned from and were inspired by. We thought we might record some of the songs we used to listen to, the ones we painstakingly learned the chords, notes, and drum parts for, and even played in our earliest bands'." - Feedback Press Release, Rush.com, May 14, 2004
"We called the project Feedback because when Geddy and Alex were working on demos, they decided to have feedback and backwards guitar on every song." - Neil Peart, Soundspike.com - July 30, 2004
"There was talk of doing a tribute record in our honor, and we really weren't that keen on the idea. We thought that it made more sense to do a tribute to some of the bands and music that we grew up with as 12-, 13-year-old kids learning to play guitar. And that ended up being just so much fun. We just had such a ball doing that." - Kansas City Star, June 11, 2004
"We talked about maybe doing a couple cover songs making them available on our website but once we got into it, we fell in love with the idea. We were having so much fun that we expanded it to 8 songs and if we'd had the time, we could easily have done 12 or 13 songs and made a full album." - Alex Lifeson, Epiphone.com, July 29, 2004
"We wanted to do something we could price specially and make it more like a gift, like a birthday present in a way, rather than do one of these big expensive box sets that becomes an onerous thing on our fans. We wanted to do something that was fresh and fun, and that wouldn't be a big stretch for someone to check out." - Geddy Lee, Las Vegas Sun, July 16, 2004
"Unlike the exacting conditions under which Rush usually records, Lifeson says Feedback was a more relaxed affair, with the trio playing together in a studio decked out with lava lamps, candles and carpets." - Cleveland.com, June 4, 2004
"We were working in new territory because of the time constraints. It was almost completely recorded live, although we did go back and add a guitar solo or vocal overdub here and there...After this tour we'll be starting work on the next Rush album. Recording Feedback was incredibly refreshing. We'll probably use some of the techniques we learned when working on our next album." - Geddy Lee, The Arizona Republic, July 10, 2004
"Lifeson says, the band 'Rushified' the enduring tunes, giving them their own edge. 'We didn't want to copy them as they were,' he says. 'We didn't see the point. We changed some of the songs around, gave them different character'." - STLToday.com, June 9, 2004
"I guess our criteria was to pick songs that we played at one time and the ones that really moved us. Like 'For What It's Worth,' by the Buffalo Springfield, for example, is probably my all-time favorite song. And 'Heart Full of Soul', you know, I don't know how many people recognize that song. That's a great arrangement we did of that. I know that's Geddy's favorite song. 'Summertime Blues' is pretty straightforward. It's kind of a cross between Blue Cheer and The Who. It's got that real great summery feel about it, and it's that youthful abandon. We have our style, and if we can put a little bit of that in some of these great songs from that era, you know we're not afraid of anything." - Alex Lifeson, Kansas City Star, June 11, 2004
"We combined the Who's and Blue Cheer's versions of 'Summertime Blues,' and ended with me playing the innovative drum pattern from Blue Cheer's 'Just a Little Bit,' from Outsideinside, which I had never forgotten." - Neil Peart, RollingStone.com, October 21, 2009
"(The Yardbirds') Heart Full of Soul, I think, is one of the best things we've ever recorded. Makes me wonder if we should have stopped recording." - Geddy Lee, The Columbus Dispatch, June 2, 2004
"The criteria was that it had to be something that we could call our own, but at the same time we wanted to pay homage to the people we liked without wrecking the song. That was the No. 1 rule: we couldn't wreck the song....We wanted to do a Jimi Hendrix song, because he was so influential. But you can't touch Jimi, man. He's untouchable. We put together a rough version of 'Manic Depression', which is just an awesome song. But you put my voice on that, and it just sounds all wrong. You put this skinny little white guy from Canada on there, and it's just not the same vibe." - Geddy Lee, Rocky Mountain News, June 28, 2004
"Not Fade Away" was the first song we recorded - I forgot about that one. That was back in 1973, the first time we went into the studio. We should have recorded that one (for the new EP), too...The only way to convincingly record someone else's music is to make it your own in some way. Sometimes you're more successful than others...You're imposing your own style of playing on anybody's material. We tried a few Led Zeppelin songs and Hendrix songs, but those groups' personalities are so indelibly etched in the songs, it just doesn't work for somebody else (to attempt them)." - Geddy Lee, The Charlotte Observer, May 28, 2004
"We sort of toyed with the idea of including a Beatles song, or two Beatles songs - maybe 'I Feel Fine' or 'Day Tripper'. We sort of jam out on that a little bit...There was some stuff that seemed sacred, that didn't seem right, and ('Manic Depression') was one for sure - it's such a personal song for Hendrix. And instrumentally, it sounded fine, but with Geddy's voice, it sounded too alien and weird...going through this stuff for Feedback, I realized how much of me is Jeff Beck and especially Pete Townshend. When I list the people who inspired me as a kid, I usually say Eric Clapton and especially Jimmy Page. But really, I think Townsend's probably one of the biggest influences I ever had - really taught me something about chords and how to create a big guitar sound without turning it up really loud." - Alex Lifeson Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 16, 2004
"Our vision was 1966, when we were teenagers. We just decided to pick songs from our youth that we liked and make a tribute album to the people we grew up on. For instance, we did 'Summertime Blues' and kind of combined the arrangements of Blue Cheer and The Who, and did Buffalo Springfield's 'For What It's Worth,' and this other obscure '60s band called Love, a song called 'Seven and Seven Is.' All of us loved being freed from the material--in other words, not being responsible to think it up. And we did it our own way, of course, but we paid a little due respect to the times. We called the project 'Feedback' because when Geddy and Alex were working on demos, they decided to have feedback and backwards guitar on every song." - Neil Peart, Soundspike.com, July 30, 2004
"The ultimate test was going into the studio three or four weeks ago to record ["Feedback"], which is kind of a tribute album to our youth. We recorded songs by The Who, The Yardbirds, Buffalo Springfield, Cream, and that sort of thing, to put out as an anniversary celebration of our own. I used the new drums [the DW R30 tourkit] and the new [Paragon] cymbals and just couldn't believe how well they worked in the studio. Both [drum tech] Lorne [Wheaton] and I were so pleased. I got to do things like play the downbeat on the bell of a ride cymbal, stuff that I'd never do. I'm able to pull out more uses of the tools, I guess is one way to put it. I was able to find new ways to use the cymbals because of their potential, and noticing right away the character of the crash cymbals as a punctuation mark; this suddenly had a whole new presence to it." - Neil Peart, "After Class With The Professor", DrumMagazine.com, July 17, 2004
"...there are Zeppelin songs that we wanted to do, but we felt that you just can't touch Zepellin, in some ways. Same with Yes. There are more old Yardbirds songs that we could've done, I suppose. And the Who songs go on forever - just the greatest songs ever. We toyed with the idea of doing 'I Can See For Miles.' We toyed with the idea of doing (Zep's) 'Good Times, Bad Times.'" - Geddy Lee, Fender.com - December 20, 2005
"The '60s hippie-pride standard 'For What It's Worth' gets another airing here, but unlike Ozzy Osbourne's stupidly shiny take, Rush does the song proud, starting in a mellow vein and getting stormy at the end-just like the '60s itself. It helps that Feedback includes a second Buffalo Springfield song-Neil Young's 'Mr. Soul'-along with a pair of Yardbirds covers that help locate this record's heart somewhere between Sunset Strip and Swinging London. Like a lot of the covers albums on this list, Feedback is too thick and overplayed, but Rush comes closer to getting the low, gritty vibe of a song like The Who's 'The Seeker' than a lot of its supercharged brethren. Most unlikely cover: At a glance, Love's 'Seven And Seven Is' would seem to be a nutty choice for Rush, but it fits well into Feedback's free-love/bad-trip spirit." - "Six Unlikely Cover Albums By Overqualified Hard Rockers", The A.V. Club, June 21, 2006
GEDDY LEE bass guitar, vocals, synthesizers
ALEX LIFESON guitars, vocals, synthesizers
NEIL PEART drums, cymbals, electronic percussion
Management by Ray Danniels, SRO Management Inc. Toronto
Tour Manager & Tour Accountant - Liam Birt
Production Manager - Craig Blazier
Production Assistant - Karin Blazier
Road Manager - Donovan Lundstrom
Artist Liaison - Shelley Nott
Concert Sound Engineer - Brad Madix
Lighting Director - Howard Ungerleider
Keyboard Technician - Tony Geranios
Drum Technician - Lome Wheaton
Bass Technician - Russ Ryan
Guitar Technician - Rick Britton
Stage Monitor Engineer - Brent Carpenter
Carpenter - George Steinert
Security Director - Michaei Mosbach
Nutritionist - Bruce French
Derivative VJ - Marcus Heckmann
Concert Rigging - Brian Collins, Frank Aguirre, Jr.
Concert Sound by MD Clair Bros. - Jo Ravitch, Beau Alexander
Lighting by Premier Global Productions - Rich Vinyard, Andy Garanyi, Keith Hoagiand, Jamie Grossenkemper
Video by BCC Screenworks - David Davidian, Bob Larkin, Adrian Brister, Greg Frederick
Rear Screen Projection by Spin Production - Norm Stangi, Lisa Batke, Mikkel Groesland, Paristu Rezaie - Nick Perks, Steven Lewis, Luis Torres
Live 3D Animation by Derivative - Greg Hermanovic, Ben Voight, Farah Yusuf, Garrett Smith, Rob Bairos
Lasers by Production Design - Scott Wilson
Pyrotechnics by Pyrotek - Kevin Hughes
Director of Visual Production - Allan Weinrib
Trucking by Ego Trips - Arthur (Mac) McLear, Tom Hartmann, Jon Cordes, Michael Gibney, Don Johnson, Jeff Wiesner
Buses by Hemphill Brothers - David Burnette, Lashawn Lundstrom, Marty Beeler, Sam Mitchell
Tour Merchandise - Pat and Kelly McLoughlin, Alex Mahood
Booking Agencies - Writer & Artist Group International, NYC, / The Agency Group, London, / S. L. Feldman & Associates, Toronto
Art Direction, Tour Book Design and Digitai Illustrations - Hugh Syme
Photo research, Editing and Archiving - Andrew MacNaughtan
Assistant Editor - Jeff Harris
Photographers - Fin Costello, Andrew MacNaughtan, Deborah Samuel, Dimo Safari, Carrie Nuttall, Philip Kamin, Bruce Coie, MRossi, and Yousuf Karsh
visit our site at www.rush.com
I didn't know if I should write some sort of story, or tell a joke, or list my equipment like Ged and Neil did, but in the end, I chose to go the gear route. It's like two weeks before the tour and, as always, we're down to the wire.
I did ask my wife to help me with it, though, and she was a terrific help, as usual. She's always been into amps and delay units and string gauges, and never lacks giving some sort of helpful advice.
The conversation went something like this:
"So honey, I'm thinking of using the Hughes & Kettner Zentera modeling amps and the Triamps again this year, as I was very happy with them on the last tour."
"It's just that the Audio Technica AEW R5200 wireless system sounds so good through the Behringer MX602 mixers. It helps make the T.C. Electronics G Force sound great and really widens the T.C. Electronics Spatial Expander."
"The spatula what?"
"Now, if it wasn't for the Custom Audio Japan power supply and VCA units connected with the Ground Control Audio Switcher, I don't know what I'd do. I'd have no Cry Baby Wah Wah."
"Wah what? That's how a grown man talks, wah wah? Where are my cigarettes?"
"I'm also taking out a bunch of guitars again. Four Paul Reed Smith CE Bolt Ons, 3 Gibson Les Pauls, 2 Fender Telecasters, a Gibson double-neck, ES 355 and SG, Taylor and Gibson J150 acoustics and my trusty Ovation Nylon."
"You wear nylons now? Where's that stupid corkscrew when I need it?"
"Here it is. So where was I? Oh yeah, here's the schematic layout Rick drew of the routing, post radio via Axces splitter pre effects, and if you notice here at the...Honey? Honey?"
Just about everything in my workshop is new and different this tour - everything but the drummer, really. (And the equally aging, but invaluable, drum tech, Lorne "Gump" Wheaton.) Even the drum riser had to be rebuilt, after it was demolished during loadout after the Rio de Janeiro show (fortunately the last show of the Vapor Trails tour). Upended on a flatbed truck, the riser was being ferried to the semi-trailers outside the stadium, when the driver failed to notice that his load was higher than the exit. Just like in a cartoon, the whole big assembly flew off the back and went "boom."
After that Rio show (I've been dying to tell this story somewhere), we also had to leave behind the carpet that covered the stage (40' by 24', with the Vapor Trails logo in the middle). It had absorbed so much rain over those three shows in Brazil, it was too heavy to ship back to Canada. Apparently it finally dried out, decorated a Brazilian home awhile, then appeared on eBay.
But I digress.
The biggest news is the cymbals. In September of 2003, I had the fascinating experience of visiting the Sabian factory in Meductic, New Brunswick, and working with cymbal master Mark Love on the design of my own line of cymbals, called Paragon. The results have been extremely gratifying, first in how well they work for me, and second in how well they've been received by other musicians. I play a 22" ride, 20", 18", and two 16" crashes, 13" high-hats, 14" "x-hats," 8" and 10" splashes, and 19" and 20" China types.
The drums are also brand, spanking new, a special "30th Anniversary" kit created for me by the good people at DW. As we worked together on the design, we aimed to create the drum-set equivalent of the "dream cars" displayed at auto shows, a showpiece that was also the ultimate expression of craftsmanship. John Good carefully selected the woods and laminates, even the grain direction, for maximum tonality, and the shells, as always, were timbre-matched to complement - and compliment - each other musically. Additional thanks to Don and Garrison for their overview and detail work, and the finish was developed with master painter Louie and transfer-designer Javier, partly inspired by Keith Moon's "Pictures of Lily" kit, to represent the "dream drums" of my youth.
The sizes are the same as the old red sparkle kit, 22" bass drum, toms 8", 10", 12", 13", two 15", 16", and 18". I have been favoring either the DW "Edge" model snare drum (indoors) or the DW "Solid Shell" (outdoors). The hardware is plated in 24-karat gold this time, rather than brass, and the heads are DW's own design, which have lovely feel and resonance.
DW also put together custom shells for the Roland V-drums, to give a nice completion to the electronic side of the shop, which also includes a MalletKAT, K.A.T. trigger pedals, and a Dauz pad, all running through a Roland XV5080 sampler and Project X Glyph hard drives.
Bringing it all back to basics, and keeping it real (not to say primitive), I continue to beat on all that with Promark signature model drumsticks.
Well, it's time for me to list my equipment for this here 30th Anniversary Tour. So I guess I should start with what seems to be the single most popular piece of gear I own - the Maytags. (Geez, you'd think I'd have a sponsorship by now!)
I have to confess that I don't even know what their model number is, or even what vintage they are! I really have to get onto that - I mean, a professional musician should know everything about every piece of gear he or she uses on stage. Like, we're only as good as our tools, right?
I've been lucky with some of my gear. I found my Fender Jazz Bass in a pawn shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and I found my Maytags in a used appliance store in the outskirts of Toronto. Even luckier because they were in such good shape - and three of them to boot!
But lately I have been pondering whether or not to carry on with them for this tour, or to try something else. Something, er?different. You know, keep evolving, so to speak, looking for that perfect setup. The ultimate piece of gear, know what I mean? I think I owe it to my craft to keep searching for perfection in technology.
I know, I know, what you're going to say - "Don't mess with a perfect thing, man!" "People love them, man!"
Well you could be right, but I just can't give in to the vox populi, as it were, tempting as it may be to keep up with the status quo (hey, not bad - two Latin references in one sentence!). I just gotta be me and keep looking for the certain, special, something that will make my little corner of the stage a little more special.
As I write this, I am looking at alternatives. Other appliances? Perhaps. Speaker cabinets? Nah, never.
Hmm...Hey, wait a minute! Maybe I can pay my respects to the past, and still move forward!
Just give me a few days to work this out. Why, that's so crazy it just might work...
Anyway, see you out there somewhere!
Oh, right...I also use a few other bits of stuff. Like a few Fender Jazz Basses with maple necks and Badd-Ass bridges. An Avalon Tube direct box, a Sans Amp R.B.I. bass preamp, and a Palmer speaker simulator. For keyboard noises, and sounds that you can hear and wonder where the come from, we use Roland XV-5080 sampler-synthesizers, either played on keyboards or triggered my me, Alex, or Neil via footpedals or drum triggers.
All very scientific stuff, you know...