When the Canadian rock trio known as Rush completed the latest of its tours a year ago, it was time to settle down and think about recording a new album to follow up the highly successful LP, "Permanent Waves."
Maybe they felt a little lazy at the moment; perhaps the ideas just weren't there. Whatever, it was finally decided that the next album should be one of those live "best of ... " affairs.
So with this in mind, we taped 10 dates on our English tour," said Geddy Lee of Rush, which will give a concert at the Spectrum tonight. (All tickets have been sold.)
So Rush - which includes Alex Lifeson, lead guitar, and Neil Peart, percussion, in addition to Lee on lead vocals, synthesizers and bass - retreated to respective homes in Toronto for a period of rest from the rigors of rock 'n' roll.
What resulted was a new studio album titled "Moving Pictures," the hottest Rush LP yet released. On the Billboard best-selling album chart for 12 weeks, the album peaked in the number-three spot and was listed in the seventh position last week.
"We just decided at the last minute not to release a live album at this time." Lee said. "It wasn't that we suddenly realized we had a lot of ideas. I guess we just felt that our brains were working at the time and we should get together and work, on some new material."
With this in mind, Rush moved into a farmhouse near Toronto and devoted two weeks to the task at hand.
"When we finally went into the studio, we were pretty well prepared." Lee said. "Usually, we come off the road and just blitz into the studio, working up the songs as we go along. That's kind of a high-pressure way of doing it, though. But it can work out, too. I guess it just depends on circumstances. I think we only wrote two of the songs in the studio this time, though."
In the past, before Rush became a big-time act, the trio was able to work up much of its material while on tour.
"We can't do that now," Lee aid. "Back when we were a support band, there was always so much time just waiting around. We'd finish our set and then have to wait around for the headliner to play before going back to the hotel. So working on new material was a good way to kill time."
Rush - like so many of the groups that have hit the top of the best-selling charts in recent times, such as Styx and REO Speedwagon - is from the old school, playing hard-headed rock with touches of heavy metal. And like most of the other groups currently selling large numbers of albums and filling the big arenas, Rush went through a lengthy period of "paying dues."
Rush's first album in 1974 was released on the group's own label in Canada. "But before that, Alex and I were together for five years, playing in various bar bands," Lee said.
Shortly after the release of that debut LP, Peart replaced Rush's original drummer and eventually emerged as the group's chief lyricist.
"We had a pretty good idea from the start concerning the direction we wanted to take," Lee pointed out. "Heavy rock, since most of the groups we liked back then were the English heavy-rock bands.
"But it wasn't easy for Canadian bands back then. Most of the big record company offices in Canada were just branch offices and no one wanted to take a chance on signing a new group - especially since heavy rock was not fashionable on the AM radio stations."
As a source of pop-music talent, Canada has opened considerably since those days. This is especially so with Toronto, where many of the Canadian pop performers now reside and most of them record. But Lee still does not see Toronto's evolving into an international pop mecca.
"There's a large club scene in Toronto where musicians hang out when they're in town," he said. "But it's not likely to ever become anything like London or New York. In Toronto, there are about 10 recording studios compared to maybe 100 in London and New York."
Rush tours about half of every year - mainly in the United States and Europe, in addition to Canada, of course.
Concerning the reaction from audiences in various parts of the world, Lee feels that they all generally respond to the same thing.
"The difference is that they respond in different ways," he added. "In Canada, audiences tend to be more reserved, a little self-conscious; in England and throughout Europe, they usually get fired up when it's time to get fired up: in America, they're more demonstrative - they get fired up right at the beginning and stay fired up."
For Rush's next album release, well, it may be a live one, but then again, maybe it won't.