For over a decade, Rush has logged thousands of miles touring and as a result is one of the most experienced touring acts in the world. In the band's beginning years, radio airplay and general industry support were hard to come by and Rush's fiercely loyal following was built the hard way - one concert at a time. And with so many people around the world buying the band's records, radio eventually had to play Rush albums, like it or not.
This emphasis on touring has developed the Rush team into a very efficient unit and the band and crew bring the best possible show to their fans in every performance.
Rush's current Grace Under Pressure tour started in May and ends in December. It includes approximately 100 concerts in Canada and the United States including Hawaii and the band's first tour of Japan.
Rush's manager, Ray Danniels of S.R .O. Management, says tours are planned primarily in support of album releases and the first dates usually start about one month after release to ensure radio airplay support. Rush primarily plays indoor venues and since many of the fans are students, most dates are planned during the school term to capitalize on word-of-mouth promotion. Most bands of award-winning stature would only play the largest markets, but Rush does concerts in secondary markets on every second tour because the band's members feel that much of their support has come from these areas, Danniels says, and in many cases the fans resent bands that only play the larger cities and will refuse to travel great distances to see them.
Danniels, who was previously a booking agent in Toronto, coordinates tour dates himself with the agencies and speaks to most of the concert promoters before concert dates. U.S. dates are handled by ATI in New York, Canadian dates by The Agency in Toronto and European dates by The Agency in London (no business connection). Danniels discusses with the promoter such things as ticket sales, promotion -and with input from Rush - the choice of opening acts. The latter are chosen for their musical compatibility with Rush, their drawing power and the market being covered.
To ensure the best possible performance, Rush's contract is accompanied by a comprehensive contract rider designed by the band, Danniels, the crew and S.R.O.'s legal counsel. Bob Farmer. The rider, which is contained in an 80-page spiral bound book, lists personnel supplied by promoter, security, load-in, stage, facility lighting, power requirements, pyrotechnics, lasertechnics, staging, dressing rooms, catering, sound check, show, accompanying acts, tickets and passes, merchandising, settlement, advertising and publicity, indemnity and insurance and general provisions. As well, there are diagrams, charts and forms to illustrate several of Rush's requirements. Everything imaginable has been covered in the rider and though some of the requirements may seem extreme, Danniels maintains they are necessary for the band to give its best possible performance and are not unlike those of other major touring acts.
All publicity for Rush's tour is coordinated by Marilyn Harris, publicist for Anthem Records, S.R.O.'s sister company. Harris, who has been at Anthem for three years, oversees all publicity for Anthem's six acts and previously worked freelance and did publicity for Ontario Place and The Music Shoppe, Ray Danniels' old booking agency. She coordinates all media activities including radio, newspapers, TV and magazines and authorizes press and photo passes. In Canada, she deals with the media directly and in the United States, all media are handled by PolyGram Records. Newspaper articles and record reviews are arranged before tour dates and interviews are conducted both prior to concert appearances and while on tour. The band members don't usually do TV and radio station appearances and avoid autograph sessions. Most of the phone interviews are done by Neil while Geddy and Alex handle video show appearances.
Before each tour date, production manager Nick Kotos contacts promoters to assure that the rider requirements have been fulfilled and that he is made aware of all peculiarities of the halls. Most are venues that Rush has worked in the past and he is familiar with. In some cases, unfamiliar halls are visited in advance. Things he considers are hall size, seating, staging area, power, structure, loading, union and safety requirements, attitudes of buildings' managers and the concert promoters. All these factors are noted in an eightpage advance sheet.
Tour accommodations are arranged by Howard Ungerleider, the tour manager, who also coordinates dates with Rush's management and helps arrange the best routing. Twenty five rooms are booked in a first-class hotel and arrangements are reconfirmed throughout the tour.
Before the tours start, material and set arrangements are determined by Rush and Ray Danniels and the show is rehearsed for about two weeks in a rehearsal studio. Four days of dress rehearsal take place in a concert hall, usually the first venue on the tour. The next few dates are usually in secondary markets; any bugs in the show are worked out then.
Since the homes of band members and crew are scattered throughout the United States and Canada - most of the crew members live in the United States - team members generally fly to the first gig for rehearsals. Throughout the tour, the band and crew travel in three luxury buses and gear is transported in four tractor-trailers and two 24-foot trucks. In Japan, a smaller crew will be used and equipment is being supplied by Japanese companies.
Load-in commences at 8 a.m. and the rigging for sound and lighting is assembled and breakfast is served for the Rush crew. The lighting grid is assembled on the stage beginning at 9 a.m. and is lifted into place above the stage. In his role as security chief, Kotos meets security personnel at 10 a.m. and stage manager Liam Birt ensures that all technical requirements detailed in the rider are looked after. A production office, dressing room, settlement office, food room, hospitality room, crew room and tuning room are provided for band and road crew. The P.A. gear is assembled beginning at 11 a .m. with the Meyer main P.A. being flown above the stage. Band gear is set up at 1 p.m. and then lunch is served for the crew. Howard Ungerleider, who is also the lighting director, arrives at 2 p.m. and oversees the focusing of the lighting gear and the set-up of the screen and projection equipment. Sound engineer John Erickson checks the P.A. gear prior to the band's a rrival. Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart arrive at 4:15 p.m. for the 4:30 sound check. Following the sound check, while the opening act's stage gear is set up, all mixer settings are dictated onto a cassette unit and prior to the performance are reset according to the tape. Dinner is served at 5:15 p.m. followed by the sound check for the opening act.
The opening act begins at 8 p.m. and performs till about 8:35 and Rush takes the stage at about 9 p.m. Each of Rush's members has his own personal technician who sets up and maintains his gear and looks after breakdowns etc. during performance. Any problems are quickly taken care of and in most cases the audience never knows anything was wrong, The monitor mix is looked after by Steve Byron, a partner in Toronto company Band Aid, and an experienced technician and sound engineer. Rush's set ends at about 10:30 p.m, and the crew immediately begins the tear-down and load-out in preparation for travel to the next date. Depending on the tour schedule, the band will often leave after the gig and travel directly to the hotel in the next city and the crew will follow after load-out.
In my travels with Rush and their crew, I found them to be down-to-earth, hard-working and among the most professional in the business today, As Ray Danniels puts it, the band, management and crew are all part of a family and the crew members work as one, seemingly without any direct supervision. Most of the crew members have been with the band for years, some from the beginning, and know their jobs inside out. Each one is a perfectionist and an expert in his own area and all are committed to providing the best show possible for Rush fans. Danniels says that each member of the Rush team is treated with respect, paid well and as a result the rapid turnover which runs rampant with most bands and crews is not a problem for one of the few rock acts that actually makes money on the road.
Supplied by See Factor, New York
Midas PR40 split mixing console - custom designed for Rush
- 48 mic inputs
- 24 line inputs
- 8 master outputs
- 16 auxiliary outputs
Meyer MSL3 speakers
Crest 4000 and 3500 power amps totalling 40,000 watts
dbx parametric EQ
Loft parametric EQ
Klark Teknik graphic EO
Lexicon Super Prime Time
Lexicon PCM61 digital delay
AMS 1580 reverb unit
Eventide 941 harmonizer
Marshall time modulator
Loft 440 delay line Hanger
Ursa Space Station
Scamp noise gates, auto pan, auto double track, parametric EQ
TASCAM 122 tape deck
TEAC V95RX tape deck
Fostex, Sennheiser, Beyer, Neumann, Shure, Calrec, Countryman, Isomax, AKG
Midas PR40 30 x 12
Klark Teknik EO
Crest power amps
Side fills - Meyer UPAs, 650 R2s
Drum fills - Meyer UPAs, USW sub woofers
Front - Meyer UM1s
Supplied by See Factor
96 x 46 channel AVO console
80 channel LOVO matrix console
Kliegel Performer 2.2 computer
16-channel colour max controller
750 hornel par lamps
150 aircraft landing lights (ACLs)
22 Berkey 5-degree lamps with colour changes (colour maxes)
6 Berkey 20-degree lamps with colour changes (colour maxes)
6 short throw Lycean lamps (spots)
RDLM lighting grid (Rapid Deployment Lighting Modules) - each module is 7 feet six inches x 7 feet 6 inches x 7 feet six inches, 24 inches tall containing 36 lamps and weighs 250 pounds.
2 6x9 lecos
16 ACL lamps
6 strip lights behind projection screen (6 colours each)
144 x 288 patch bay
2 Lado custom guitars
2 modified Fender Stratocasters
Ovation Adamas acoustic guitar
4 Marshall 2 x 12 Combos
Taurus bass pedals
Delta Lab switch pedal
2 Morley volume pedals
Korg switch pedal
Korg SD30000 digital delay
Ibanez HD1000 harmonic delay
2 Yamaha E1010 echo units
2 Loft 450 Hangers
Roland SDE3000 digital delay
Delta Lab Supertime Line
MXR noise gate
MXR distortion unit
MXR power convertor
Roland RE301 echo unit
Custom digital switching unit
Nady Wireless system
2 Oberheim OBXA synthesizers
3 Oberheim DSX sequencers
Steinberger 12 bass
2 Rickenbacker 400 1 basses
Fender Jazz bass
Ampeg V4B 2 x 15 amp
2BGW 750C amps
Thiel 2 x 15 bass cabinet
Furman PQ3 equalizer
Yamaha M406 mixer
Taurus bass pedals
Alembic F2B preamp
2 Furman P03 equalizers
MXR noise gate
MXR power converter
Ashley SC40 preamp
API 550A equalizer
2 Yamaha E1010 echos
Loft 450 Hanger
Nady Wireless system
Roland TR808 Rhythm Composer
3 Oberheim OBXA keyboards
Oberheim DSX sequencer
PPG 2.2 synthesizer
Roland Jupiter 8
12-inch, 13-inch, 15-inch, 18-inch closed toms
6-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch concert toms
2 x 24-inch bass drums
Slingerland 5 x 14-inch snare
8 and 10-inch splash, 13-inch hi-hats, 2 x 16-inch crashes, 18-inch crash, 20-inch crash, 22-inch ride, 18-inch pang, 20-inch China
2 SD5S Brains, 4 Simmons drum pads, Simmons program pad, 2 Simmons Clap Traps
Slingerland 5 x 14-inch snare
Tama 18-inch bass drum
22-inch ride, 16-inch crash, 18-inch crash, 13-inch hi-hats
BGW 750 amp
Loft 401 EQ
Yamaha MC2404 24-channel mixing console
Custom Octagonal motorized drum riser
Howard Ungerleider is the tour manager, tour accountant and lighting director. He is from New York, has been with Rush for 10 years and currently resides in both New York and Toronto. He was previously an agent with ATI in New York and has worked with Savoy Brown, Fleetwood Mac, Badfinger, Utopia, Rod Stewart and Brian Auger. He coordinates tour dates with management, assists with routing, books hotels and is directly responsible to the band and management for tour dates. He works very closely with Nick Kotos and Liam Birt on rider requirements, looks after crew wages and expenses and takes care of the final settlement with the promoter. As lighting director he is responsible for the design of the lighting system and laser effects, the overall lighting operation during performance, and with Geddy Lee, designed the rear screen effects which were produced by Nelvana films.
Nick Kotos is the production manager and security chief. Nick, who lives in Los Angeles, was a master electrician with a lighting company and has worked with Rush for six years, exclusively for the past three. He looks after all advance technical arrangements with the promoters and works with Liam Birt continually during set-up to ensure that all of Rush's technical requirements are met. As security director, he coordinates security matters with building security people, oversees safety precautions, is responsible for the security of the band, crew and equipment and is responsible for the issuing of all passes.
Liam Birt is stage manager and crew chief. He has been with Rush for twelve years and started with the band after finishing school. He looks after scheduling and organization of set-up, oversees expenses and supervises the stage crew. Many of his functions and that of Nick Kotos overlap and the two work closely.
Kevin Flewitt is Rush's personal assistant. He has been with Rush for five years and was previously with Triumph and the Battered Wives. Kevin, in conjunction with Rush's publicist Marilyn Harris, looks after all contact on the road with the press and photographers. He takes care of all of Rush's comfort needs - supervises all catering, checks on dressing rooms, checks on set-up for the band and arranges for cleaning of the band's stage clothes.
John Erickson is Rush's concert sound engineer. He personally designed its touring P.A. system with See Factor, the sound and lighting company used by Rush and some of the world's top groups. He has been with Rush for four years and was previously with Max Webster and bands in the Calgary area. He has learned his craft on the road over the years and tests out the P.A. during set up, conducts the sound check and looks after mixing chores during Rush's performances.
Jim Johnson - lead guitar technician
Larry Allen - drum technician
Skip Gildersleeve - bass guitar technician
Tony Geranios - keyboard, synthesizer technician
Steve Byron - monitor mix
Lee Tenner - concert projectionist
Sound Crew: Jim Staniforth, Bill Fertig, Jason McRie
Lighting Crew: Frank Scilingo, Jack Funk, Ed Hyatt, Ray Neindorf, Ethan Weber
Laser Crew: Craig Sprederman, Phil Valdivia
Riggers: Bill Collins, Tim Wendt
Transportation: Tom Whittaker, Paul Lynes, Billy Barlow, Red McBrine, Mike Nervi, Dennis Cricket, Arthur MacClear