TOM SAWYER PLAYS
The new Moving Pictures L.P., side one, track one called "Tom Sawyer", lyrics Pye Dubois and Neil Peart and music Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, and Geddy's in the studio with us to do the Premier on this...this is number eleven now?
How many is it? Ten?
I don't know. Something like that.
Something like that. Long time now. It's about the fifth one we've done like this.
I don't know if I'll live through another or not...We'll continue in just a moment...Due in the stores tomorrow, and Geddy's sucking on a cigarette and sucking back some Dom Perignon. We all know you rock stars suck 'em right back.
You're a bad boy.
That's how you get that rasp in your voice.
Do you believe this guy?
Has your voice been changing over the past few albums?
Well I'm getting older, aren't I. It's supposed to change!
Kinda late in coming through, isn't it?
Well us rock singers live forever, don't you know that?
I don't know where that one came from. We were talking about the new album, and we're gonna move on to track two on side one which is a nifty little story about a nifty little sports car.
Yes, the tune is called "Red Barchetta".
Barchetta? Is that how it's pronounced officially?
Oh yeah, it was made in the late forties, early fifties.
So already it's an extinct sort of car?
Oh yeah, it's a gem. And the story is really inspired from a story that Neil read in Road and Track a few years ago that sorta dealt with an Orwellian type of situation where driving was prohibited at high speeds in certain kinds of cars and he sort of took that idea and put it into his own story about a guy whose uncle has preserved this Barchetta for years and years and years and years in this country farm where he lives and it's very much a, you know, Big Brother type of society and very well patrolled by police and stuff, and this guy sneaks out to the country every Sunday and takes this car for an incredibly exciting, sensuous ride through the country and on this particular journey he gets spied by a couple of air cars who turn to police and they chase him down.
Air cars? Little hover mobiles?
Gleaming alloy air cars.
Has Neil ever been behind the wheel of a Barchetta?
No, I don't think he has.
It's purely fantasy, purely fantasising about it.
I mean it grows out of his love for driving top down at fast speeds and he's a car collector himself and he's right into the car as...
So it's kind of a combination of that and in a way the "2112" theme actually.
Yeah, it's you know, when you talk about a car you're talking about something that relates to everybody as a sort of a vehicle that gives everyone excitement and also sort of takes you and infers freedom, you know, you get behind the wheel and you go. It's a great vehicle for sort of...double entendre there eh?
Hey, that was a pretty good one!
It's an exciting story, and we put a lot of music to it.
A very straightforward little tune. Just listen to the lyrics closely and you'll hear what the story's all about.
RED BARCHETTA PLAYS
104 CHUM F.M. the "Red Barchetta" and the new Moving Pictures L.P. and you're hearing it for the first time in the world on CHUM F.M. and Geddy Lee's in the studio with us to talk all about it. A lot of new sounds on this album. Your bass even. A lot of new bass textures. I don't know how to put it into words really but...
Well, I mean, the whole session like I said before, we were really going for something special sound wise as far as using state of the art gear and really utilising the 48 tracks and being very microscopic about how we recorded it and we spent a lot of time working on the synthesiser sounds and you know, really...
How long were you in the studio all told then?
About two months and a week, something like that. We lost about a week and a half due to problems, but again they were just...those were the kind of problems that it took...you know, the studio had never been 48 track before, we've never used 48 track before, we'd never gone digital before so they were just familiarisation really more than anything else. All in all, it's still a wonderful studio and we did get great results.
The 48 tracks have a lot to do with all those additional sounds like being able to tryout one texture on one track and tryout another...the same few bars in another way on another track.
What it really did for us was...we were able to get a bass and drum sound that we like, put it on one 24 track, and uhm, I don't know if the people out there understand the process or recording to that degree but on one of the 24 tracks we recorded or bass and drum tracks and then we transferred from one machine to a couple of tracks on the other on a fresh piece of tape and then we took the original bass and drum tape and we put it away so that we would not lose any quality in running the tape over and over again because the more you run a tape the more quality you lose the more oxide you lose. This might be getting a little technical but anyway that was the process we utilised and it enabled us to preserve the bass and drum tracks to as close to the original sound as possible and that was really the whole concept behind this album was to try to preserve the sounds as much as we could the way they were originally recorded because as most albums are done, by the time it gets to the consumer through the various means and methods of tape copying and mixing down onto another piece of tape and dubbing this and that, you end up losing a lot of quality and so we wanted to avoid that loss of course.
White [sic] was what using the digital process was all about too?
That's right. With digital we were able to maintain the multi track sound, the sound that you remember best, rather than lose it into an analog mixdown which you usually do.
Which has to be frustrating.
It is frustrating but it's always been the only way to do it so no-one's ever thought, I mean it's always been "Oh that sounds great" because that's all that you have...
Cause that's what you had to put up with.
But when you compare the digital with the analog all of a sudden you go "WOW. You mean I can settle for this instead of doing that".
Provided I want to pay a little more money in the making of the record.
Yeah, but I mean it's...
It works out toward...in the end.
Sure, it's well worth it to preserve the quality. So from that point of view that's how the extra tracks carne in handy not so much that we had 48 tracks now and we could start putting on millions of things, because we didn't do all that much more overdubbing than we normally do, we just did it...
You just had more room to keep the sound cleaner.
We're at 6.33 here in Toronto with the world premier of Moving Pictures and Geddy is in the studio with yours truly Rick Ringer to talk about it, and we're moving on now to track three on side one which is an interesting little instrumental called...
Which if you're a traveller at all, you would recognise.
Yes, if you've travelled at all you would know that when you're corning back to Toronto on your little baggage tag it will say YYZ.
Which is strictly the Toronto airport code in aviation slang. Is there gonna be a lot more aviation slang showing up in your music now that Alex is a pilot?
I think it's inevitable!
Where did the instrumental come from? Was it a studio jam creation, all three minds working together?
No, we wanted to do a short instrumental. After we did "La Villa Strangiato" on Hemispheres we really enjoyed working in an instrumental framework, so we wanted to do a shorter one, a little more concise one for the past couple of albums and we decided that now was the time to do it and basically it's a rhythmic tune. It was written by Neil and myself, by the large and was just a lot of rhythmic ideas that we'd had floating around and wanted to put something together and we tried to emulate the feeling of the international feel of an International airport, namely Toronto International 'cause that's the one we fly out of all the time, and like the opening of the tune starts with this very bizarre rhythmn and all that is is the morse code for YYZ translated into bass, drums and guitar. So we threw a lot of different little things to emphasise some of the different moods of the airport.
Is there any story line, per se, that we should be thinking of while we're listening to this?
Not really, no, I mean an airport is sort of a door to many, many places. That's basically what the tune is about.
Okay, "YYZ" from Moving Pictures, side one, track three Rush on CHUM F.M.
There you have the DO DO DO DO DUH DUH DUH...What was it exactly? Hum it for us Ged.
What does this guy want from me?
You sing for your living, c'mon, sing for your supper!
I'm on a coffee break.
I wanna get it right. What is it...DO DOODL DO DO, what is it?
(Sings opening bass part to YYZ) I'm not gonna do this. This is crazy.
Now that's the morse code for YYZ, which is Toronto International airport. That's what that one's called and that's track three, side one, Moving Pictures. You wanna tell us what that crashing sound was in there. All of a sudden there was...
If I explain what it is then people are not gonna use their imaginations, they'll know what it is.
It's a sound. I'll tell you later, pal.
But there is a clue in the credits on the inner sleeve. There is a clue if you look at the credits. We'll come back to this cosmic causticness after this. (SHORT BREAK) Yes, yes, we're back with Moving Pictures and Geddy Lee in the studio to talk about it. I should mention that later on over the course of the evening we are goona have ten copies of this new album, autographed by Dirk himself to give away to some ten lucky people on zee phone. So you stand by, okay? We're going to move on to the next track which is called "Limelight" and it's the first single from the album as a matter of fact too.
I guess so, yeah.
I know it's a standard question but the single, it doesn't really mean anything to you. It's icing on the cake, I guess at this point.
We have a very simple attitude. We write the songs, we make records, we make albums and if there's any songs after the album is made and that somebody thinks are suitable for radio airplay one way or another then, go ahead, you know, if they release it, that's fine.
But mainly you're making...
We go in to make albums, we don't go in to make singles.
And you're making those albums for yourselves and your fans.
That's nice. Okay, the last album Permanent Waves of course, got a lot of radio airplay on AM and FM both. In fact it was your first top five album in the States on the old Billboard chart there. Does that still play any kind of a factor in the back of your mind that "Geez, it would be nice to surpass that or to at least equal that sort of success with it?"
Well, everyone wants success, I mean, it's human nature to want to be successful in what you do, I mean, how it affects what you're doing I guess is very subliminal in a lot of respects.
The back of the mind, as I was saying.
You know, perhaps, but I mean the bottom line is you really need to make a great record, you know, you're going in to make a good album and you're going in to be faithful to your own integrity and faithful to your own standards of music that you've set for yourself, and that comes first and foremost, so that's what you're going to do, you're going to make some good music that you can get off on yourself. At the same time feel very proud of it if someone decides that they want to get off on it as well.
And the song is about?
The song is about different ways of looking at what the limelight represents. One way being a personal way and one way being the way lots of people look at it, so it's a sort of an internal song in some respects but it poses a couple of questions and gives a couple of answers from our point of view.
Okay, "Limelight" track four side one.
Oh, there's Geddy jumping up in the air and a flashpot going off and...
Calm down. (MUCH LAUGHTER)
That's "Limelight" and that's the end of side one of Moving Pictures here with our world premier of it on CHUM F.M. in Toronto, home town of our favourite band and yours - Rush. Geddy is here in the studio. You're coming back March 23rd and the 24th now, I'm told.
Yes, I'm told that there's another date been added.
There is another date at the Gardens, and it'll be great to have you back here because a lot of people missed you last year.
Well, it's gonna be good to play Toronto, it's been a couple of years since we were here.
Although you did step out on stage with Max on New Years Eve.
Yeah, I did ham it up on New Year's Eve. That was my Bob Hope cameo appearance. (LAUGHTER)
Anyway. What happened to the live album?
Oh, it's still there.
It's still there, cos it was last fall or last summer you were talking about the next one was gonna be a live album.
Originally it was going to be a live album then somebody put a bug in Neil's ear about maybe we should not do a live album and he got thinking about it and he got real fired up about it and he talked to us and we got real fired up about it and we said "Hey yeah! Let's cancel all our plans and do a studio album" so it was some of the sort of excitement of changing horses in midstream that led to this album being...
Did you feel you had good new studio material in you at the time or were you kind of taking a chance on that?
Well we felt creative, I think that's the simplest way to describe it. We were jamming a lot and good things were coming out so everybody sort of felt, "Hey, maybe the juices are happening now".
You didn't feel dry so might as well go with it. But you do have some things on tape already. Is that correct? Live I'm talking, some concert things on tape.
It's easy to change your mind but not so easy to change your plans.
Right, you get the mobile truck booked...
Plus we thought it would be a good thing to record that particular tour because every tour is different and there'll be some material that we did last year that we won't be doing any more, so when we went over to Britain, we recorded about ten dates so we've got about 50 reels of tape sitting around somewhere.
Something like that we have to sift through plus we're going...
At about 30 IPS let's see, that's...
Yeah, so we're going to record some more dates on this tour and make a compilation of two tours, two different continents a real wide variety of live recordings.
So it'll be a much different live album than "All The World's A Stage" was 'cause that was a pressure live album, wasn't it?
Three nights and bang, bang, bang and it was mixed and it was gone but everyone's really into making this live album a special one so...
So at this point that's the next, if you can look that far ahead...
Unless we change our minds again.
Which you've been known to do.
There's something quite exciting about changing your mind because in this business you have your life sort of planned out for you for the next two years and to all of a sudden say "We're not gonna do that" and everyone has to cancel everything, it's kind of exciting, you know.
Nice feeling of power there, yes. Pulling the strings instead of having somebody pull your strings.
You could say that.
I don't know if one should have or not.
I don't know what you meant by that, but (laughs)
No, what you were just talking about, having things mapped out for you and having things so definite as to, well you're going to be here and then you're going to be there and then you're going to be doing this and then you're going to be doing that and...
Throw caution to the wind and let's not do that.
Didn't somebody write that once, that's a good line. Throw caution to the wind. Write it down! New song on the next album, which will be a studio album.
You're doing an album?
Wanna help me out? Wanna be my backing band? [Kim] Mitchell was in here, he said I could come up with him some night.
Is that right? He'll invite anybody on stage.
A combination of you and Max Webster, it'll be dynamite. (STARTS SINGING)
Watch out folks, he's had some champagne!
Let's roll on to side two. I was gonna talk about the cover but we'll talk about that later. Side two is a much different sort of mood than side one.
Oh yes. Well there's all kinds of stuff on side two. The first track called "The Camera Eye" and it's basically a, how would one put it, looking through the lens at two different cities - a big city like...
One of them is New York, it looks like.
New York and London were the two cities in particular we're talking about, but they relate to a lot of different cities, and they're just sort of...Neil wrote the lyrics while he was walking through both those cities on different days. He didn't write them as he was walking, know what I mean? (MUCH LAUGHTER)
Bump into a lot of people that way! Oops 'scuse me, oh, I'm sorry. I'm just writing a new song here...Oops sorry!
Are you done! Can I talk here!
Go right ahead, it's your show!
He sort of remembered these observations he'd made on these walks about big city life and about the different feels and different rhythms that...distinctly different rhythmns that the two cities have but yet at the same time there are similarities. We decided to put sort of an orchestral piece together dealing with that and that's "The Camera Eye".
Lots of keyboards in this one.
There are some. Stretching out a bit.
Are you gonna be able...Are you still making your albums so that you are gonna be able to alternate between your bass and keyboard on stage and keep the concert sound in the arrangements?
On this particular song I only play bass on about half the song and the rest of it is all done with Oberheims and foot pedals and synthesisers and stuff.
You're learning a lot about your keyboards and stuff, your little toys!
Well they're wonderful instruments, you know, they really are wonderful instruments and they're the instruments of the future and I think any modern musician has to make a point of getting to know instruments like that. It just helps for your all round musical sensibility really.
So here we have the longest piece on the album, "The Camera Eye".
THE CAMERA EYE PLAYS
Big Ben! Yes, there we have "The Camera Eye". And we're gonna move on to the second track on the second side as well as hear a little bit of conversation about the digital process that this album was recorded with.
Yes, by means of magical studio equipment we have the spirit of Broon with us.
How did you guys come together with Terry Brown anyway? How did you first meet?
Gee, he's just been there for years!
Just as far back as you can remember! It was sometime, I had my rattle in my hand!
There is a story. When we did our first album, we did it with another producer and we did it under very tiring circumstances, I think we were playing at the Gasworks in town here and after the gigs at the Gasworks we'd move into an 8 track studio, I think it was at Eastern Sound and we'd record all night long so needless to say we were not in the best frame of mind to record plus we didn't have very much recording experience and unfortunately the producer handling it didn't really lead us properly, I guess is the most polite way to put it. So we had a problem. We had an album that had some really great tunes on it but it just didn't sound right and one of our managers knew Terry Brown for a long time and had great respect for him and said well how about we take the tapes to Terry and see what he can do? We played the tapes for him and he liked the stuff that was on it but he realised what the problems were and he booked a couple of days into his Toronto Sound studios - the late lamented Toronto Sound - and we just worked non stop on the record and we recorded a couple of new tunes that weren't on the original first album like "Finding My Way" and "Here Again" and we just did a blitzkrieg session for either 48 hours or 3 days, something like that and we came up with what is the first album. And we hit it off so well and we had such great respect for the guy FOR YOU, BROON! I mean, like, the guy's O.K. you know!
Don't take this too seriously Broon! Don't let this go to your head!
I gotta admit, you know, the guy's alright. So we just have never felt the desire to go elsewhere. He's just everything we need, he supplies for us.
He's become a very integral part of your studio workings. He's not actually engineering anymore, he hasn't the past couple of albums, this one and the one before.
No he's not actually doing the bulk of the engineering, he keeps his hand in.
Though he probably peers over the engineer's shoulders quite a bit and whatever. Anyway, you did this one digital. This is the first time you've used the digital process and Terry was in a while back and he went through a fairly thorough explanation of what recording digital was all about...
(TAPE OF TERRY BROWN EXPLAINING THE DIGITAL PROCESS)
TB: Basically it just logs a bunch of numbers which are relevant to the frequency response of the track you're putting on. Now I won't go into details because it's too complicated and I don't understand it myself. So basically what it does is aside from some facts and figures which are discussable and there's an awful lot of discussion going on about frequency response of digital records and what have you, it basically records a flat frequency response from zero to 20,000 cycles, it doesn't have any humps or bumps in it, you don't use a line up tape to set up the machine and it either works or it doesn't with these things so you know if they're not functioning properly then they turn themselves off. So basically what you get is you're getting first generation mixes off the console. So with this album we used a computer to mix and we went 48 track and by doing that we preserved the quality of our original bed tracks, they just sat in a cupboard while we were doing overdubs and when it came time to mix we pulled them out again, so they're being played for the first time since they were recorded, which preserves all the top end the fidelity of the tracks and they're not getting worn out going back and forth over heads for weeks and weeks on end.
So there's no tape involved in this process at all?
TB: Well, you use your original analog tapes in order to provide you with all the information you've recorded but once you mix it down, which would be like a two track - left and right of a stereo mix i.e. a record or a two track tape it's going on to a digital 3/4 inch Sony machine, in this case a Sony, and it preserves all the clarity and the transparencies that you strive so hard to get which you normally lose when you go to two track tape because it squashes and compresses and you lose frequency response and the low end rolls off, however slightly it's still present and you lose some of the qualities that you go for, whereas with the digital you don't. Then we flew all the gear down to New York and we cut the record from the original digital mixes so really what you're getting is first generation, right off the monitor mixes, so that everybody who buys the new Rush album is basically getting what we heard in the control room and we heard it on many, many systems and it's deadly accurate so if you don't like it it's 'cause we did it wrong. There's absolutely no way you can blame the equipment.
Is this the first time you've worked with digital equipment?
TB: Yeah, it's a relatively new thing. There's been a few albums done, as you know but this is the first time that I've ever used it and I didn't know anything about it and the only way I could find out about it really was to use it and experience what it does and how it works and this particular system I must admit, I was amazed. We compared our digital mixes with our analog tapes, I mean, it was astounding the difference. I wouldn't even have considered using the analog tapes. They were horrible by comparison.
So it's gonna be difficult for you to go back to your conventional mode...
TB: I hope I don't have to. I'm gonna start bugging record companies for bigger budgets and go digital 'cause it means definitely a world of difference.
Will it be more expensive that way?
TB: Yeah, it is. We sunk a lot of money into the digital end of things 'cause it took us longer to mix than we anticipated, we had to move to New York to cut, and in doing that we tied up a cutting room at Masterdisk in New York for about five days plus all the digital equipment. So the extra expenses is amazing, but the results, I mean, it sounds exactly like it did the day we mixed it.
(END OF TAPE)
That was Mr. Broon!
So if you don't like it, you can blame Broon!
If it doesn't sound right, we did it wrong, he says. That's a great line.
He did it wrong!
That's Terry Brown, who is the co-producer with Rush of the new Moving Pictures album, which you're hearing for the first time right here on 104 CHUM F.M. here in Toronto with Rick Ringer and Geddy Lee. We're moving on to side two, track two now, an ominous little piece...
Yes. This is part three of uhm...(RICK MAKES GHOSTLY NOISES) Hello? (laughs) This is part three of...
Just trying to set the atmosphere here!
Can I talk here? This is part three of a trilogy that Neil has written dealing with fear and we didn't want to use all three parts on the record because we felt it was too much time devoted to one particular mood, and when you talk about fear it's hard to be happy, you know, so we used one piece as the piece, it's called "Witch Hunt" and it deals with how people react to fear in different ways, in this particular instance vigilantes, uhm I guess is the word.
The Ontario Censor Board could stand a listen to this.
Yeah! They should bloddy well listen to this!
"Witch Hunt", side two, track two, Moving Pictures from Rush.
WITCH HUNT PLAYS
Meaning of Joan of Arc, well it's actually a photograph.
You're not supposed to give these things away.
Well, I mean, you can look at it and you know it's not a painting, and there's one, a very famous dog picture, a bunch of dogs sitting around playing poker, and then there's one a framed version of the original "2112" Rush man. What's he called officially?
The man in the star.
The man in the star officially.
Officially known as The man In The Star!
And they're walking up a very stately old building which indeed is old City Hall...
Up the steps there, and there's some people standing by the side crying, kind of, they look like an immigrant family.
They do, eh?
Yeah, to me anyway, standing there crying at these pictures being moved. It's pretty abstract. I thought Permanent Waves cover was strange but this is very strange!
Well, strange is good.
This is true. Anything else you have to add about that now that I've described the...
What can I say! People will see it for themselves, you know.
Okay, glean what you will from the cover, done by Mr. Hugh Syme. Well we're down to about the second bottle here, although this is a disgrace considering what we've consumed in past premiers here.
I don't mind admitting to that.
We're getting old, Ged.
You're getting old, Rick! I'm getting younger.
Okay now, so we've gonna move on to the final track of the new album.
This is, I think it's an important song for us because it's probably the most, single most different tune we've ever done on a record. I guess the best way to describe it is contemporary it's a lot by a lot of the positive things that are going down in music right now, a lot of the new fold of people that I've come across and had a lot of uhm...
You refuse to use the term "New Wave"?
Good for you!
You know, there's a lot of electronic things going down that are very interesting, a lot of rhythmic things that are happening that are interesting, the whole introduction of Reggae into rock music is, I think, a very positive one because it's so soulful and so emotional and it was highly influenced by a lot of those things and it came together in the studio, wrote it in the studio, was one of those tunes that we save as sort of a spontanious thing. Neil had the lyrics, he worked on the lyrics for a couple of days and we wrote the song in one day and recorded it the same day.
Isn't that amazing, 'cause on the last album, "Natural Science" was the one that worked out that way.
"Witch Hunt" also to a large degree we wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote in the studio 'til we got it right.
Yet your wouldn't know it to listen to them, I don't think, how some songs are worked at for a long, long time and then others come together in literally a matter of hours.
That's right, yeah. It happened once before. It happened with "Twilight Zone" on 2112. That was a song that at the beginning of the day, we decided that we needed another song for the album, so we wrote the song. Neil had some lyrics hanging around and we stuck them together with the song and we recorded the song, all in one day and "Vital Signs" was very similar.
Okay, here it is, "Vital Signs", final track of Moving Pictures.
VITAL SIGNS PLAYS
That wraps it up, the world premier, the fifth in a row, I do believe for you and I together on CHUM F.M.
And may I propose our official toast, being that no-one has done it as yet. We won't get a very authentic clink...
Wait a second, I'll make a clink (says clink).
Yes, very nice, very nice, and the toast is to the continued success of Toronto's own Rush, and their Moving Pictures L.P. and the up coming concert tour and to all three of your personal lives too.
Well, that's real appreciated.
'Cause I know there's a lot of people behind the scenes too, you know, three man band but there's a lot of people on the road with you and a lot of people in Toronto...
There's stacks. There's Slider, there's Liam, there's Jack, there's tons of 'em.
Yup, there's Herns.
Musn't forget Herns.
We musn't? Oh, yeah, right!
Anyway, once again congratulations on a very fine effort indeed. And good luck to you, and where are you going now? The tour starts when exactly?
Well the tour starts next week.
NOT tonight, for good reasons!
We're in rehearsals this week and part of the next week and then the end of next week we do our first show in Michigan and then we wind our way right through the U.S.A. and Canada for the next 6 months.
Another "Drive 'til you die" tour?
Well, we're trying to plan it out a little easier, this time.
Fly 'til you die!
Still driving. We're not gonna die this time.
1981. So, let's see. March 23 and 24 are the dates here in Toronto and we look forward with great anticipation to you coming back and playing for us.
Well, it's gonna be nice to play in Toronto again 'cause it's been a while since we've been here.
Since Varsity Stadium in late Summer '79, as a matter of fact. So I would imagine a lot of the new album on the tour, in the new set?
If not all of it?
If not! A good portion of it to represent it.
That's good. And it's out tomorrow in the stores and it's called Moving Pictures. Anything else you'd like to add, say to Toronto before we move along here?
Everybody's got to elevate from the norm.
That sounds like a good closing thought and thank you again very, very much, Geddy.
It was a pleasure.
Yeah, it was wonderful!