Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee on Rockline for A Show Of Hands

Rockline, February 6, 1989, transcriber unknown, edited by pwrwindows

Bob Coburn: The triumvirate of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart has given us one of the most potent and powerful trio's in the annals of Rock N Roll. And now Rush has released another live album, their third, featuring the band at the peak of their powers in concert. It's a pleasure for Rockline to welcome from Rush, Geddy Lee. Geddy, good evening and welcome.

Geddy: Good evening. Nice to be back.

Bob: Nice to have you back again. And also with you tonight, making his first Rockline appearance is Alex Lifeson. Alex welcome to the program.

Alex: Thank you!

Bob: First question I want to ask you two gentlemen tonight: now the band has been around for so long now, and has such a rich history, how do you go about choosing what you perform live? There's so much to pick from!

Geddy: Well it's a difficult decision. You know we have so many albums and every time we write a new album it's another 50 to 60 minutes of music that we have to try and squeeze some of it into our shows. So, inevitably it's a very difficult decision to decide which ones are gonna go, which one's are gonna stay. But, we usually try to keep the ones we enjoy playing the most and then remember also the ones that seem to be perennial favorites.

Bob: You must have faced an almost even greater challenge in trying to figure out what was going on A Show of Hands the double live record?

Geddy: Yeah, it was really tough. But, we knew that we didn't want to repeat many things that were from the last couple of live albums. So that gave us three or four records to work from. Sort of post Moving Pictures, and with the exception of "Closer to the Heart", it all is pretty recent material.

Bob: Now I understand you have a full length concert video forthcoming, and that has an entirely different song configuration. How did that happen?

Geddy: Do you want to answer that one Lerxst?
Alex: I don't know anything about it. Oh! Really? When is it corning out? Is it in colour?
Geddy: [Laughs] I better explain it then. The whole decision making behind that was, the album is a compilation of many different shows from different parts of the world. And obviously with a one night performance you can't just pick and choose which songs you like and which are your favorite songs. You sort of have to present a complete show, beginning, middle and end; because it's a one night's recording. So basically we tried to do a condensed version of the show.

Caller 1: When fans of Rush are introduced to your music there is a wave of emotion that causes the listener to become kind of obsessed with the music. They begin to find themselves musically centered with Rush, never wanting to listen to anything else. There seems to be a sort of a cult following of fans that are always at the record stores first, never missing a show, etc. My question is this: how do you as a group respond to such an overwhelming chemistry which you have with your fans?

Geddy: Well, Alex? [laughs] What do you say?
Alex: I don't know, but that was a great question.
Geddy: I think that's a tough one to answer. Whenever you're approached by fans in an over-enthusiastic way, you're sort of taken aback and a little embarrassed and you just try and deal with it in sort of a reasonable and polite fashion. I think when you're actually in a band you try to concentrate more on the work at hand and what you're doing, than the kind of response that it's getting from the audience. Although you appreciate it and it is very important to you, that kind of feedback you get back from the fans, especially when it's good. But I think you have to try and keep it in perspective and remember that the ongoing work is the important thing.

Caller 2: How do you guys feel towards not getting as much press as other rock groups did?

Alex: It's never really concerned us that much. We've had our share of press over the years. We're not the type of band that perhaps is visually sensational, to put it mildly. We don't fall into the same category as a lot of other bands like, say, Bon Jovi or something like that, where there's a real publicity thing about a group like that. We've always been more concerned with the music rather than the image of the band, thankfully! And it doesn't really concern us that much either way I guess with press.
Geddy: I think those things are there if you want to chase them, and I think a lot of times we would just rather not.

Bob: On the other hand, it's not like you've been ignored by the print media either. You've gotten your fair share.

Caller 3: Geddy I was wondering if you've ever considered using a fretless bass? And Alex I was wondering if you are ever going to sell or exhibit any of your paintings?

Geddy: Well, which question shall we deal with first Lerxst?
Alex: Well I'm doing a painting of a fretless bass, that I was hoping Ged was going to play. [Laughter] My painting, unfortunately I don't do quite as much as I should, because I'm really a novice and an amateur, but...
Geddy: But he's a genius.
Alex: When we're in the studio, that's the ideal time for me. During basic tracks where I have a lot of free time, and you're in a really creative mode, that's really the only time I do any of my paintings. But so far they've only gone out as gifts.
Geddy: To me!
Alex: Yeah, to Ged actually. He's the owner of a couple.
Geddy: Yes, and they are fine paintings. Especially 'Sitting on a Cactus' is one of my favorites. As far as the fretless question, I have used a fretless in the past, but unfortunately it's not the easiest instrument for me to play. So, I don't really have a lot of confidence using it on stage or on record, but I play around with one at home.

Caller 4: To what extent did existential writer Ayn Rand play, as an influence on the band's music? And how did it manifest itself in the early music in comparison to, maybe the stuff that you've done in recent years?

Geddy: Well I think you have to go back to Neil's formative years. I think she was a big influence on him at some point of his life, and he read the things that she'd written and felt some sympathy and empathy towards what she was talking about, could relate to them. And at different stages in our career and in our lives I think we've all read Ayn Rand's work and what she had to say. And I think have taken out of it what we can but I don't think you could call it an overwhelming effect on our lives to this point now. I think it's one of those things that affects you at different stages. As you grow you get interested in different authors and you have more to learn from a different variety of people. I think that she was somebody that influenced myself at a certain stage, but, one of many people I think, when I look back now.

Caller 5: Hold Your Fire was the biggest production album you've released to date. Even you Alex, you've taken a front seat at the keyboards on top of your guitar and Taurus pedal responsibilities. Do you think that Rush, as a band, has become as busy as it wants to be onstage, or do you intend your next album to go deeper into post-production?

Geddy: Well that's a tough question to answer, being at such an early stage of writing. But, I can't imagine us getting any busier on stage than we already are. Quite the contrary. I like to be able to loosen up just a bit so I can have a little more time to play bass, which I really enjoy playing a lot, and I sometimes feel a little confined behind the keyboards. So I am a little torn between the love to play bass and desire to have all the wonderful sounds that the keyboards can provide.

Caller 6: My two questions are: I've unfortunately heard of a rumored break-up of you guys; I sure hope that's not true? And have you guys ever considered doing any movie soundtracks? You guys seem to have a lot of good lyrics, and seems like a movie soundtrack would be really good for you all.

Alex: Break-up? Nobody told me about the break-up. Oh! Great, now I don't have a job. Fantastic! Excellent! Well I guess I'll just go! [laughter]
Geddy: I forgot to tell you Lerxst, before we came here.
Alex: I don't think we're gonna break-up, for at least a couple of weeks, at least.
Geddy: And if we do we're not gonna tell anybody.
Alex: As far as movie soundtracks, I think both of us would love to get involved in something like that. It's a much freer kind of composing than what we're doing right now, and you have an image that you're looking at that you're writing to. So, it could be quite exciting.
Geddy: Yeah, I think we'd really like to do that some point. We have had opportunities, but, unfortunately it's never really worked out with our schedules. I guess we're just waiting for the amount of time and the right script, and the right person to ask us.

Caller 7: My first question is, after you disband, heaven forbid, will you release those promos and video's that you shot back in 75, 77, 78, Fly By Night, you know those songs?

Geddy: Boy! That's a really strange question. It's really hard to plan what's gonna happen when you're gone. Those are the things you just never think about and I think that your impression of what is in the vaults, is probably a lot greater than what the reality is. I don't think that there's that much stuff that really hasn't been released. So, again it's not something that we really think about a lot. So I really couldn't answer that question.

Caller 7: My second question is for both Alex and Geddy. What were your favorite tours and why?

Alex: Favorite tours? The Power Windows tour was a really great tour.
Geddy: Yes I would agree.
Alex: The pacing was right on the tour, we went to all the nice places, the tour was a good tour on its own. We came to the end of the tour and everybody still felt healthy. It was the end of the tour for sure, but, we felt a lot more positive and in good spirits when we came off that tour. And a couple of the earlier tours also have left a great impression for the excitement and for those dreams that came true at that time. To get out on the road and be playing on a big stage, lots of people, playing with bands you always looked up to.

Bob: And you agree with that Geddy?

Ged; Yeah, absolutely. I think the Power Windows tour was a particularly enjoyable one. I agree with what Alex said about that, but also in my mind I would have to say that the first tour was just so exciting, and you never thought you'd get there. And at the same time you never thought you'd get there again! So, I think a lot of that tour is very clear in our minds. And also the first tour that we headlined, first time we actually got to step out from the special guest spot or the opening act spot and do our own show, I think that was a very exciting time.

Caller 8: I'd like to say congratulations on what is, correct me if I'm wrong, Rush's first single by-line production credit, A Show Of Hands! In a previous interview Geddy, you mentioned what a learning experience it was to speak to so many different producers, when the three of you as a group where planning to work with someone, besides Terry Brown, with as far as production is concerned. What specifically in terms of ideas for the future of Rush, or recording philosophies in general, did Peter Collins have that made the three of you make the collective decision to say "Hey, we'd like to work with him," and why was it that Peter Henderson only produced Grace Under Pressure?

Geddy: Yeah, I think it is actually, thank you. Well, that's a long and involved answer there. I think to start with Peter Collins was the kind of producer...both these questions sort of tie in together. Originally, when we started looking for a new producer, after working with Terry, we decided we wanted to work with someone who didn't come out of the "school of engineering". We wanted to get a "song" producer. More of a guy who wasn't technical, but has his sort of focus on the music and songwriting, and to help us get a different perspective on that than we'd had in the past. Our search was exhaustive for Grace Under Pressure and we never found exactly that. We had some other people that were lined up to do the record, and at the last minute they sort of bailed out. To make a long story short, we ended up deciding to go with an engineer, just to do that record, and that's why we chose Peter Henderson. He was a very good engineer. All along we sort of intended only to do that: get Grace Under Pressure done and on with the look. So then we kept on looking and when we discovered Peter Collins. He just had all the prerequisites that we looked for. He was fundamentally sound, he was very responsible, he knew a good song, and he wasn't afraid to tell us when he didn't think we we're at our best. He encouraged us to try to improve our song writing and to point out those areas that he felt were weak. I think we learned a lot in the world of arrangement and production from him.

Caller 9: I noticed that you had an additional musician, Andy Richards, playing keyboards on your Hold Your Fire album. Is there a possibility that the great Canadian power trio will become a four-some?

Alex: I don't think so. We've often thought about that, especially in the past around the time of A Farewell to Kings, really. We decided whether it was time to get a fourth member in and do the things that we wanted to do: expand the sound the way that we wanted to and add that extra dimension to it. But decided to take it upon ourselves to learn to play the other instruments, to get the other textures, while not disrupting the chemistry that we have between the three of us. So we spent all this time trying to do it right. I don't think we're gonna get somebody else now.

Caller 10: Whatever happened to John Rutsey?

Alex: John's still around. I see John quite often, he gave up playing shortly after he left the band, and went into body building. He competed on an amateur level for a while, doing that for a few years, and has sort of been in and out of that. But he still works out, and I work out with him a few times a week at a local gym here, Gold's here in Toronto.

Bob: There you go, and of course John, the original drummer for the band.

Caller 11: With your new CD live album, I was wondering if you planned to do any studio double albums?

Geddy: Well, right now we're in the process of writing the next studio album. We started about a week ago, and hopefully in June we'll start recording it. Hopefully before the years out you'll have a new studio Rush album.

Caller 12: I was wondering why you haven't played "Freewill" on your last few tours? The song kind of deals with not believing in God, and I was wondering if maybe your ideas changed?

Geddy: First of all, I don't think that song is about not believing in God. The song is about freedom of choice and Freewill, and you believe in what you decide you believe in. That's what really the song is about. And secondly, the reason we haven't played it is, we played it for quite a few tours in a row and we sort of got a little burned out on it. So we're giving it a rest, but you never know when it might come back.

Caller 12: My other question was, I noticed in the sleeve for Hold Your Fire, there's a couple of symbols from like, there's the fire hydrant from Signals, televisions from Power Windows, the number fifteen, which I guess represents that Hold Your Fire is the fifteenth album. I was wondering if that was something just thrown in, or, if there was some kind of reason for that? If all the albums are represented on that somehow?

Geddy: Yeah, there's a few references to albums, but it's really nothing more than just sort of a whim.
Alex: A graphics thing.
Geddy: Yeah. It's like one of those graphic things. Like graphic artists like to do, refer to other records, and I think it also makes the cover more interesting when you have something to look for.

Bob: Yeah it sure does, and it's something to hook you into there.

Alex: Did you find the secret phone number there?

Bob: [Laughing] Don't do that to him Alex.

Alex: You can win a million dollars!

Caller 13: Now that you've been in the music business for a while, do you enjoy touring as much now as before? Or do you prefer recording in the studio at home, where you can be with your family?

Alex: They're two different things, touring and recording. They're both very difficult in their own ways. Touring now is probably not as satisfying as it was in the early days, because it was exciting and it was a new thing. But, after fifteen years it does become a bit of a grind, and you lose some of the excitement. I don't think it's so much the playing as it is sitting in a hotel room, and then sitting in a dressing room, and sitting in a bus and all that. You try to make it the best you can. Geddy and I play a lot of tennis, or go to movies, catch a show, whatever, to make it a little more interesting. But, it has dulled a bit over the years.
Geddy: But, I think it is very important to add that, it is how you tour. The longer you're a band together the more tours you do, the more aware you have to be of how quickly the interest can wane. The worst thing about it is if you're going out on a tour and you're tired and missing your family and all those kind of things, you don't play your best. So I think you have to balance it so that you are in a good state of mind all the time you're on the road. And if that means playing a few less dates per tour to keep you fresher, then I think it's worth it because those performances that you give will all that much better.
Alex: Yeah that's true. If you get yourself down it's very difficult to recover from that, especially when you have an eight month tour looming ahead of you.

Caller 14: Three quick questions for you gentlemen tonight, if you don't mind? First of all. Alex, have you been posing in any Speedo swimwear lately?

Alex: No. I won that bet.

Bob: Let's stop. Let's fill everybody in. You made a bet, and part of the bet was if you didn't lose 20 lbs in a certain amount of time, that you would have to pose in a Speedo, and then it would be published in a major periodical. But he lost weight so...

Alex: So I lost 187 lbs.
Geddy: And I must say Alex. You look marvelous. You really do.
Alex: That's only one leg. [laughter]

Caller 14: My next questions roll together I guess. First of all, do we have a new producer lined up for the new album? Second and third, if you care to comment on these, do we have a new label lined up for you guys? And, what about the rumours that Neil is gonna be joining The Who for their next album and tour?

Geddy: [Laughing] Well that's news to him I'm sure. Let's see, one at a time. First one, no, we don't have a new producer lined up for the next album, we're in the process of talking to them. Second question, we have no comment at this time. And as far as Neil joining The Who, I think that's news to him.

Caller 15: When you were selecting what you were going to put on this album, why did you exclude Toronto from your live recording?

Geddy: Well we'd done a lot of live recording in the past in Toronto, and we figured that it was time to record some audiences in different parts of the United states and overseas. We thought we'd go south.
Alex: We also filmed a special on the Grace Under Pressure tour that was done here in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens, and there was a live sound track from that as well.

Caller 16: First of all I'd like to ask Geddy: you have a unique and excellent style of bass playing, and I was wondering when you're writing a bass line, are you trying to make a statement about your bass playing, or do you just try to write a bass line that fits in the context of the particular song that you're writing?

Geddy: Yeah, I think it's really the latter. You're just trying to write a part that suits the song and enables you to play something that is interesting and you won't get bored with. I think what happens is after years of playing you develop your own style, and that's the kind of thing that becomes sort of inevitable in whatever bass line you choose to write. Whatever melodies come out, there seems to always be something that is uniquely you, in what you're playing.

Caller 16: Secondly, I'd like to ask you guys, two of my favorite Rush songs are "La Villa Strangiato" and "YYZ"; I was wondering if we'll hear another instrumental song from Rush?

Geddy: I think that's very possible.
Alex: Yeah, we talked about this just recently; that we'd like to do another instrumental song on this next album.
Geddy: So we'll try and do it.

Caller 17: My first question is for you Alex, and being a great guitarist that you are, I'm surprised nobody has asked you this question yet. What is your favorite guitar solo and what was the hardest one to put down on record?

Alex: My favorite solo? It's a little difficult; there are so many. No there are parts of solos, or there are some solos that I really like, but I like most of them. It's like if you have fifteen kids, which one do like the best? "Limelight" has always been a favorite of mine, and the solo from "Mission" I've always felt captures an emotion which is probably the most characteristic thing about my playing. The second question, I remember the solo in "Camera Eye" being very difficult to get. It had been a long day, worked very, very hard working on this solo, couldn't find a direction, couldn't find anything. I turned to Terry and said "Terry, I just got to get out of the studio for some inspiration." And I went outside, and there was a full moon out, and I thought "I'll walk out there, and I'll look up to the moon and try and get some inspiration." And I looked up at the moon, it was a big full moon, and as soon as I looked up, this big cloud came in front of the moon. And I went "okay, thank you." Went inside and said, "maybe we don't really need a solo here." [laughter]

Caller 18: What happens to a lot of your technicians and stuff? On some of your live albums you see crew chiefs and stage left and stage right and what have you. What happens to these guys down the line? Are they kind of temporaries, or are they permanent with you?

Geddy: Well a lot of the guys have been with us quite a long time. A few of them disintegrate along the way, but, generally we try to keep the same people together. A lot of our closest crew members have been with us for quite a while.

Caller 19: I noticed on your last album in "Time Stand Still" and "Mission", and some songs like that, that possibly you're coming to a middle-aged crisis as a band, and you're reflecting upon your past experiences and that maybe you're a little depressed about some things. I was wondering if you could talk about that?

Geddy: Well I wouldn't call that depression at all. I think there are certain things you go through in your life the older you get that you have to deal with, and actually it almost seems in a way that your eyes are opening wider and wider the older you get. I don't think it's a depressing thing, it's just the things you go through in life and they help you grow. Sometimes they're not always pleasant, but you get over them.

Caller 20: Geddy, you said a long time ago that you wanted the band to achieve something musically that Ayn Rand had in her novel Anthem. Do you believe that Rush has reached their goals? I believe so.

Geddy: I think it would be presumptuous of me to compare anything that we've done in that same light to a great novel like that. But, I feel we've done some good things. But I always feel that there's a better thing around the corner, so I just keep plugging away.

Bob: Thank you gentlemen. Thanks for being on tonight, really enjoyed it.

Alex: A pleasure.
Geddy: It was great fun as always.

Bob: And good luck with the new album, we'll look forward to hearing it. And continuous success with the live album. Rush my guests on Rockline tonight!