Rush - Hold Your Fire

By Neil Peart

Rush Backstage Club Newsletter, January 1988; transcribed by Kathy View

November 5, 1987 Providence, RI

Hi Folks! We?re just starting out on our Hold Your Fire tour, and thought this would be a good opportunity to get to some of your questions once again. Last year was a busy year for us, and I haven?t had time to do this lately. But keep those questions coming in, I like doing this and will continue to whenever time (and good questions) permit.

I hope we?ll be coming to your city on this tour, but if not, please understand ? it's nothing personal. We always have to miss somewhere out there if we ever want to get another album made, not to mention preserving some semblance of a home life, and it's a painful decision when we know people want to see us in a place we just can?t get to.

Why we have just returned to play in the Maritime provinces of Canada for the first time in about seven years and played in Newfoundland for the first time ever, so you see, we re mean to everybody on an equal opportunity basis! We?ll get to you.

On with the show:

Q. How did you get the effect of the choir on the song "Marathon" for the Power Windows tour?

Mark Johnston,
Los Alamitos, CA

A. Well Mark, in the simplest way possible; we used a real choir. We put the sound of the choir, which we ha recorded for the album, into the keyboards, and so when Geddy plays the keyboards in that part, he plays the sound of the choir.

Q. I. Will you please explain the cover for Grace Under Pressure and how it ties in with the title.

II. Do the books "The Big Money" and "Grand Designs" (both by John Dos Passos) tie in with the two songs from Power Windows?

David Grayson,
Cincinnatti, OH

A. Well, in answer to the first question, once again in the simplest way possible. The serene and peaceful bottom part of the picture represents "grace", the turbulent and troubled top represents "pressure". Thus; "grace" under "pressure", or "P" over "G". The humanoid figure is just a symbol relating to the two conditions, but also relates a bit to "The Body Electric."

As to the second question, the only connection is in the titles. I am a big fan of Dos Passos? stylistic ability, his poetic approach to prose, but the ideas presented in the songs are quite different from those which he exemplified.

Q. Would it be possible for you to give me some information regarding the eventual release of older albums on Compact Disk?

Brian D Wood
Pullman, WA

A. Gladly! As of now, all of our albums are available on CD.

Q. When you play the song "The Weapon" on the Grace Under Pressure videotape, you have a stick flip worked into the rhythms you are playing. Is this to keep time steady or to have fun?

Rany Polo,
Whippany NJ

A. Drummers just want to have fun!

Q. In "The Big Money", Power Windows, what instrument is it that makes that "wow" sound after Geddy sings: "Big money make no sound?"

David DeGrace,
Bartlett, IL

A. Well, I had to go listen to that one to make sure! That would be the amazing Andy Richards on synthesizer.

Q. In what album did you think you performed your best drumming? Will you ever write a book, maybe even on the history of Rush?

Kyong Yup Chu,
Fort Lee, NJ

A. In answer to the first question, I think my best drumming appears on the album I haven?t recorded yet! In other words, I haven?t got there yet.

I would like to write some kind of a book someday, but there are plenty of histories of Rush around now, I haven?t really got anything to add. If anything at all in that line, perhaps a collection of the biographical writings on the band I have done over the years.

Q. Could you please tell me whose the face is of a man on one of Alex?s badges? The same face can also be seen on a large poster in the studio on the "Through the Camera Eye" video, but is just not clear enough to read the words around it.

Can either Alex or Geddy give any information on a track called "You Can?t Fight It", which was pressed in 1973, and why was it not on the first album "Rush"?

Mark Lilly,
Doncaster, England

A. The handsome face you refer to belongs to Henry Spencer, the "hero" of the very weird movie called "Eraserhead". It was the first film made by David Lynch, later to go on to fame with "The Elephant Man", "Dune" and "Blue Velvet". We thought it was a very funny movie, though some find it a little, ah, disturbing!

The song you ask about was the ?B? side of the very first Rush single, and didn?t go on the first album for the same reason that ?A? side didn?t ? the band didn?t like it anymore!

Q. How do you feel about Ayn Rand and Objectivism?

Ted Tomaszewski,
Clark?s Summit, PA

A. Pretty good. How do you feel about them?

Q. Is "Vital Signs" about individuality or pressures to conform or what?

Sandy Mueller,
Plymouth, MN

A. Yes.

Q. I would like to know what are some of the more interesting books you?ve read to inspire your song writing, as with "Anthem" by Ayn Rand and "Powers Of Mind" by Adam Smith.

Angelo DiPronio,
Fort Wayne, IN

A. Well, lately I'm never inspired by any one thing, and usually try to pour a bucketful of ideas and images into every song, so the actual inspirations can be pretty oblique and hard to track down. They come from conversations sometimes, or something in the newspaper or on TV, or more often just from watching the way people behave, and thinking about why!

Q. What does "Inspired by the Spirit of Radio in Toronto, alive and well (so far)" mean?

Kevin Ceragno,
Fort Lee, NJ

A. There is a radio station in Toronto called CFNY-FM, who were in the late ?seventies just about the last of the truly "free" radio stations in North America, playing all kinds of weird stuff. Their slogan was (and is) "The Spirit of Radio", hence the dedication. The song was inspired by the idea of how special radio can be when it's presented by "real people", and not by chart numbers and "demographics". In spite of becoming a little more formatted over the years (hence the "so far"), they remain the "alternative" radio in the area.

Q. In the Moving Pictures tour book, you said that "Witch Hunt" was the "production number" of the album. This freed you from writing it so that you could play it live. But "Witch Hunt" was performed on both the Grace Under Pressure and Power Windows tours. How were you able to play it live?

Sam Barry,
Morongo Valley, CA

A. Quite simply, technology has grown so much since that time that there was no longer anything preventing us from reproducing it, so we thought it would be a good challenge to try playing it live. Plus we were able to perform the "Fear" trilogy all together for the first time, which was kind of neat for us.

Q. I. When you write the lyrics, does the melody come from you or the band?

II. Which writers have inspired you more ? Thomas Pynchon, John Barth or Tom Robbins?

III. Were you in any other bands before Rush?

IV. Are you guys going to write for any movie soundtracks in the future?

V. Which album was the most experimental?

Roger Cardenas,
San Antonio TX

A. I. From the band.

II. None of them really though I like the novels by Tom Robbins and John Barth and I admire the writing ability of Thomas Pynchon, though his books don?t really move me.

III. Yes. No one you ever heard of.

IV. Possibly-Though we have no such plans at the moment.

V. All of them are experimental really, in the sense that we never know what we?re going to come up with until it's done!

Q. Do the more compassionate or worldly lyrics of recent material underline a shift away from your strong right wing views expressed in "2112" and "Anthem"? Would the band feel uncomfortable performing "Anthem" in the age of Live-Aid with "Live for yourself, there?s no one else, more worth living for, Begging hands and bleeding hearts will always cry out for more."

Ian Harris,
Kent, England

A. Oh boy! I?ve been saving this one for last, so anyone who?s bored already can go watch the TV news or something.

This one could only have come from England-I doubt if anybody over here knows (or cares) what "right wing" means.

As a matter of fact, the term dates from the French Revolution, when the Royalists sat on the right side of the French parliament, while the Republicans sat on the left. So, in that sense, I have never had any strong French Royalist views expressed in any song. Ha ha.

But really, my world-views have grown onward and outward over the years, but they haven?t changed. I still believe in the sanctity of the individual, in freedom of action without harming anyone else, in a person?s right to be charitable (or miserly) as they choose, and all that good stuff.

As to the second point, do you really believe that whole Live-Aid circus was an act of selfless concern for suffering humanity? If it were simply and truly that, it could have been done quietly, with all those sanctimonious and self-righteous people doing something good for the world without the attendant spotlights on their oh-so-humble and sentimental altruism.

Don?t get me wrong. I'm no cynic, and I have no doubt that "Sir Bob?s" motives were honourable, but didn?t you notice that only the "In Crowd" were invited to participate? Or that anyone who resisted the "invitation", like "Tears For Fears", were publicly and viciously maligned for their lack of "charity"?

I can easily illustrate the reality with a story from my own experience. A year or so ago, I had the idea of getting rid of a few spare drumsets by means of an auction, and I wanted the proceeds to go to the "Foster Parents Plan." If you?re not familiar with that agency, it's a self-help aid program started by an Englishman during the Spanish Civil War to help refugee children, and later spread to the world, helping children as well as their families and communities. You "adopt" a child in a poor country, contribute to their health and education, and write back and forth to them as penpals. it's a wonderful thing.

I got excited about the idea, thinking that other musicians must have spare instruments sitting around that they might donate to such a cause. And then the little idea grew into a great big dream. I envisioned a satellite network across North America, tied into MTV and Canada?s MuchMusic, with people phoning in to bid on all this great stuff, and for a great cause. Why, it could even become a monthly affair, with the proceeds going to different worthy causes every time. Fantastic!

Getting really excited now, I started to contact people, and asked our office to try to turn the wheels of our great "Entertainment Industry". And what do you think happened?

Absolutely nothing. It just wasn?t hip anymore. So what's new?