Hello there ladies and gentlemen, it's time for another exciting episode of "Twenty-Five Questions", in which I try to answer the questions which you, the members, have submitted to the "Rush Backstage Club" over the past year or two. And so, without further ado, let's get on with the game!
A. With the ever-growing popularity of CDs, I'm sure more albums win be appearing on them. As always, it will be a matter of demand.
Q. On Caress of Steel, By-Tor is the good guy, but on Fly by Night, he is the bad guy. Why is this?
Q. What do By-Tor and the Snowdog stand for?
Johnson City. TN
Q. Why in "The Return of the Prince" does By-Tor defeat evil yet in "By-Tor and the Snowdog" he loses?
A. Well gee, guys, we just invented those characters to have a bit of fun with - as a lyrical vehicle for some musical meandering. They're really not all that Important, and the fact of whether By-Tor should be a good guy or a bad guy just never mattered to me. I guess he's like all of us - sometimes he's good, and sometimes he's bad!
A. I wouldn't discount the possibility of another long piece, but lately we have been more intrigued musically with taking the experience that we learned by doing those pieces, and applying it to different forms. We felt that "Hemispheres" was as far as we could take that form, and were compelled to move on. Lyrically, once I had already established all those "big ideas" - the larger abstract themes. It came time to apply them in concrete ways to more concise considerations. Thus our more recent albums represent the real life applications of those same ideas.
A. That's a funny question. I've had a few lately from people who are so sure that what they hear is correct, that they disbelieve what I've put in the lyric sheets! Imagine! People have quoted me whole verses of what they hear, as opposed to what's printed, sure that they are right and the cover (me) is wrong. Scary stuff, these egocentric individuals. I assure you, other than perhaps dropping an "and" or a "but", we take greet care to make the lyric sheets accurate.
A. Well you wear gloves so as not to get splinters, you take a piece of 1/4" plywood, and smack it down hard on the top of a wooden stool. Very demanding, technically? took years of practice.
A. The Mini-Moog was one of the first synthesizers to be developed by the Moog Company. It is small, monophonic, and not particularly sophisticated, but has a good fundamental sound that is hard to duplicate otherwise.
Q. Is Geddy doing some work with Chaka Khan? Will this affect his work with the band?
Spring Valley, NY
A. HA-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha !!!!!!! (You're joking. right?)
A. When the first album was released on a small independent label in Canada, she got hold of an import copy and played it a lot on her show. Consequently a lot of interest developed, and the attention of record companies and agencies was attracted.
A. The voices in "The Necromancer" and "Grand Finale" were done by yours truly, while Terry Brown did "Cygnus". The effects were created using digital delays, flanging, and who knows what all!
A. It means something like: "as the hour ends the day, the author ends his work".
A. This song simply describes the phenomenon of the sun breaking through the clouds in visible rays, as it sometimes does after a rain or on a cloudy day. The actual name seems to be one of those traditional names for natural things which has probably been around for ages. I think Geddy actually suggested the idea to me, after hearing his mother-in-law use the name. It had a nice sound to it, and of course the event itself is a beautiful and inspiring one.
A. No, Alex was not involved In "Northern Lights". I am not involved in doing a solo album with Steve Smith, although we both appear on the "Champions" album by Jeff Berlin. Our private lives, especially our families, are jealously protected, and are something we generally keep to ourselves. Sorry!
A. Ah yes. This goes back to the "bad old days" when all we did was tour, and consequently had to do most of our song-writing on the road, with acoustic guitars and notebooks in hotel rooms. Not the best method of composition, you may imagine, but the only one available to us at the time. Those cities represent the places in which those songs were written.
A. That's kind of a complicated question to answer. Of course we have played those songs on many tours, and people who have seen us a few times have seen and heard those songs performed. Sometimes we grow tired of playing older songs, and can no longer give them the commitment necessary to perform them excitingly and honestly, to give our audience (and ourselves) new songs to enjoy, and naturally we think that our newer songs are better, otherwise we'd stop working at all. Often we choose a song that we haven't played for a while to resurrect for a tour, and "Limelight" has been brought back for the "Power Windows" tour.
A. This story, which inspired "Red Barchetta", appeared many years ago in "Road and Track" magazine, and as far as I know, that is the only place it has been published.
A. Yes, we did. It's on the "Through the Camera Eye" video anthology.
A. Well John, I've been avoiding most of the questions that ask for explanations for deferent songs, as really the song is meant to do the explaining for me! But since you ask so nicely... "Tom Sawyer" was collaboration between myself and Pye Dubois, an excellent lyricist who wrote the lyrics for Max Webster. His original lyrics were kind of a portrait of a modem day rebel, a free-spirited individualist striding through the world wide-eyed and purposeful. I added the themes of reconciling the boy and man in myself, and the difference between what people are and what others perceive them to be - namely me I guess.
A. When Hugh Syme was developing the multitude of puns for the cover, he wanted the guys "moving pictures" to have some "moving pictures" to be moving past the people who were "moved" by the "pictures" - get it? So he asked us to think of some ideas for these pictures. The "man descending to hell" is actually a woman - Joan of Arc - being burned at the stake (as per "Witch Hunt") and the card-playing dogs are there because it was a funny, silly idea - one of the most cliche'd pictures we could think of - a different kind of "moving picture".
A. Lotus land as it appears in "Free Will" is simply a metaphor for an idealized background, a "land of milk and honey". It is sometimes also used as a pejorative name for Los Angeles, though that was not in my mind when I wrote it.
A. That's a good question Jack! Before I ever knew who or what Absalom was, I always loved the sound of it. I had thought perhaps it was an ancient prayer or something. There is a book by William Faulkner called "Absalom. Absalom", which, again, I loved the sound of. I wanted to put it in the song, as a play on words with "absolute" and "obsolete", but I thought I' d better find out for sure what it meant. So I called my wife and asked her to look it up in the encyclopedia. When I learned the real story, and its Biblical roots, I decided that it was still appropriate, as it was the ultimate expression of compassion, which is what the song was really about. "Absalom, Absalom. My son. my son. Would God I had died for thee". (Now don't anyone go reading any religion into that!)
And that's it for this year folks, t enjoy these opportunities to clarify things that people are wondering about, it's one of the big reasons to carry on doing interviews, as well as the reason why I continue to write things for the concert program. I hope those whose questions didn't reach me, or weren't answered, will understand that it is difficult to find time at all for things like this, and I tried to pick the ones of wider interest or more thoughtful origin.
I wish you all the best in the upcoming New Year, and hope that each of you will find a way to communicate your own thoughts and feelings, as writing has been for me.
We are presently in rehearsals for our upcoming "Power Windows" tour, which begins next week in Portland, Maine, and I hope to be seeing many of you from the stage of your nearest arena!
Bye for now -