Bob Coburn: Tonight it's an evening with the drummer and lyricist for Rush, Mr. Neil Peart. Now, you know we've been blessed recently with a series of first time appearances on Rockline by some of the pre-eminent figures in rock 'n' roll; tonight that trend continues as we welcome the man who wields the pen and the sticks for Rush - Mr. Neil Peart. Neil, good evening and welcome. How are you tonight?
Thank you very much, I'm glad to be here.
BC: I'm glad to have you there Neil. Neil's in Philadelphia, I'm in the Hollywood Rockline studio. Let me first of all congratulate you on 'Roll The Bones', your observations on life are beautifully stated throughout the CD and life is kind of a crap shoot isn't it?
It certainly can be, yes. It struck me more, the more I thought about it - how lucky or unlucky you can be every day.
BC: Take a chance, roll the bones. Now, somebody told me for years you've been known in rock In' roll as Neil Pert, and I was told the pronunciation is "Peert" is that correct?
That's it, that's correct.
BC: So it is Neil Peart, here from you shall be known as that name.
Hopefully so (laughs), although I can answer to anything.
BC: You know, Rush to me is one of the only few bands who really do seem to grow between releases, and I'm kind of curious - after seventeen years, what is it that makes Rush still a viable band? is it something as simple as the chemistry between the three of you or something a little too complex for you to explain?
A combination of the two probably. It's both simple and complex. First of all, fundamentally of course, we do still get along really well and that's fundamental. I think it has a lot to do with the equal amounts of input and satisfaction we get out of what we do. Everyone gets to contribute: myself writing the lyrics, the other two guys writing the music; so there's an exactly equal amount of collaboration. Not like in many bands where one person writes the songs, so the other guys might feel a little overlooked or frustrated. At the same time, the amount of satisfaction that comes back for the three of us is equal: when we hear a song finished or hear a finished record as a total thing, we all feel the same amount of satisfaction.
BC: I don't know if it's just my ears, but the record sonically sounds a little different to me. Not quite as many keyboards; the bass from Geddy sounds a little bit different. Is that just me, or is that what happened with this CD?
Yes, I would say it sounds different, but it's difficult sometimes to quantify the reasons why that should be so. I think the songs sometimes dictate the sounds that it should take and, for instance from a drumming point of view, I didn't specifically set out not to use electronics this time but it just happened that the songs didn't necessarily require it. So I found I was nearly always using acoustic drums and that affects the sound. And the songs dictate how many keyboards they should have in them. At this point, really for us, we're through the experimental stage where for years we tried keyboards here just because we hadn't before. But at this point, having done those things, now we apply the different colors available to us according to what the song demands rather than what our sense of experimentation demands.
BC: Well, it seems that every rock 'n' roll band has a sponsor these days and I notice you guys too on this CD...this CD is brought to you by the letter B... (both laugh) I like that, I got to tell you, it's for someone who watches Sesame Street, not out of choice...
It started on 'Power Windows' about three of four of the songs on that album, the title started with M. So we noticed that coincidence and that record was brought to you by the letter M, and it's become a running joke for various reasons.
BC: Oh, that's great. We're gonna start tonight with 'Dreamline'. What brought up the now famous line "we're only immortal for a limited time".
I just started thinking about that quality of life that most people go through when they are young, and for some people it lasts even longer, but they are suspended in this invulnerability. You know, nothing can hurt them. Something bad might happen to other people but never to them. Other people might face tragedies but their lives are going to be singularly blessed no matter what they do or how much effort or how little effort they exert their lives are for them. But other people are doomed to disappointment on that belief.
BC: Unfortunately that is the case sometimes. 'Dreamline' from 'Roll The Bones' on Rockline.
BC: We have Tony on line one in Guelph, Ontario, a listener of Q107 in Toronto. Tony you're on with Neil.
TONY: Thanks a lot man!
TONY: Thanks Neil, I can't believe this man.
Hello Tony in Guelph, come in please!
TONY: First of all I wanna thank Rockline for making this broadcast possible. I've never been on the show before but I figure if I'm gonna be on I may as well be on with the best.
BC: Tony, you comment on that and I have to tell you that I read a lot of mail that comes in and about one out of every five letters is a Rush letter. It's amazing.
TONY: Well my question is: I know you do a lot of travelling and I was just wondering if there is any particular place in the world that has had a really lasting effect on you as a writer, or if you've met anyone who has done the same?
Good question, but a difficult one. I kind of think the travelling has more to do with me as a person but then of course that rebounds into a tremendous effect on me as a writer. So it's difficult to trace that, and in a direct sense I very seldom write about specific travel or a specific event; other than in the case of for instance 'Tai Shan', which was about a visit to China and I used climbing the mountain of Tai Shan as a symbol for what I felt about the Chinese people. But I think, even more powerful have been travels I have had around Africa, which I haven't really written about directly in songs. But at the same time an experience that big with so many people living under such different circumstances and in such a completely different culture from ours has affected my understanding and tolerance a great deal for people who are different than I am and who have different values than I have. And suddenly I'm a lot less judgmental I think, because I have seen the value of other ways of living, and seen that you don't have to be as goal-orientated as I am for instance to be happy. So I can say, this is my choice, that's their choice and they both equally address the pursuit of happiness which to me is the ultimate good. Second question...
BC: I'm glad to hear you say that. Once you leave North America you find out there's another way to live and a different way to do it. What else, Tony?
TONY: I was just wondering why you don't get credit for writing any of the music? Surely you contribute to creating the rhythm of the song and all the drum fills and rolls are your creations, are they not?
Yeah, but traditionally the composing of music is considered to be a melodic undertaking and that's what Geddy and Alex are doing in their room while I'm in my room working on the lyrics. And they both, too, have a great influence on the lyrics, of criticizing what might be improved on and it helps me a lot when I come in and present them with an idea and they say "well this part isn't clear enough. I like what you're after but I think you could nail it down a little better". And that tends to be a positive response that sends me back happier. So it would be like saying that they should get that amount of credit for the lyrics when I still in fact have to go back and do all the work. And the same as if I contribute a drum part and it adds to the arrangement of the song or influences the dynamics; it's still the melodic structure of the song that is composed by Alex and Geddy. It's not a thing I have conflict with because as I stated at the onset I'm very happy with the amount of input I put in creatively and I'm very satisfied by my reward for that, so there's no need to quibble.
BC: Tony, thanks, good start. We're gonna move on to New York and speak to Holly. Holly you're on with Neil.
Hi Holly, Happy Christmas! couldn't resist it...
HOLLY: I actually have two questions here. First one: you stayed with the same producer for a long time. How do you know when to move on?
I guess it's a question of growth. When you're beginning you have so much to learn and Terry Brown at the time had a lot more experience than we did. And he knew a lot and he was our teacher and mentor and in many ways another member of the band for all those years. But, I guess we'd squeezed him dry in the nicest sense and we felt there was more to learn from different styles and different people in music, which in subsequent choices that we made production wise were based on that. Somebody who still was interested in the song first because certainly, by those days even we'd learned the technical side of recording well enough that we knew how to create a record that would sound good, but we wanted the song input and the musical input and somebody else's angle on it. So that's what I think has contributed to the change which I think we'll continue to go through too. When we need somebody else's input...we'll always want somebody there. I think the change can always contribute more to us when it comes from a fresh ear and a fresh set of ideas.
BC: Anything else tonight Holly?
HOLLY: More on a personal note; the song 'Ghost Of A Chance', I was just wondering when you wrote it, were you involved with anyone?
(Laughs) Yeah, myself! No, I was just thinking about it as the overall theme being 'chance' - the chance in relationships, how rare it is to find someone with the chemistry to begin with, but also I chose the words carefully, saying "find someone to love and make it last", because I think really making it last is an act of will and an act of discipline and takes more than the first hormonal charge of lightning to make it endure. So the answer to the question is yes, but the thinking of it went far more universal than just thinking about myself, because as a master of principle I don't really like songs about self revelation or people who write whole albums about their divorces and stuff like that. So my ideal is always to find a point of personal feeling and try and make it universal whether it be anger or love or happiness or inspiration; I want to take those things myself and try and find a metaphor or a set of images that will allow other people to share them in their own experiences so, yes and yes!
--ROLL THE BONES PLAYS--
BC: Mike's on the line in Chicago. You're on the Rockline Mike.
MIKE: Hello Neil!
Hi Mike, how are you?
MIKE: Just perfect, say I was wondering, last time Geddy was on somebody asked him if Rush would consider doing a soundtrack for a movie and Geddy eluded to the fact that if the right screen play were available then you would. My question to you is: what kind of screenplay would that be and, if not, would you consider writing your own screenplay.
If only I knew how. It's very much a separate discipline I think that I would be very reluctant to get into without learning a whole lot about it. I think Geddy's answer still stands, that we would be interested in it, but it would mean a sacrifice that would be hard because the focus of this band has been so linear from record to record and from tour to tour, that we have remained pretty much loyal to the creative growth of Rush. And if we were to make a soundtrack album we wouldn't consider it a Rush album because we would want to be free to go off into atmospheric ideas or things that a good soundtrack musician creates to supplement the action on screen. So it would make it necessary for us to do a little sidestep I think from the main thrust of what we do. So, that's the reason why we would be a little bit resistant unless we were convinced I guess that the project was worth making that sacrifice for, because I think we would see it as a sacrifice of devoting our time to a Rush album as opposed to a separate ambition.
BC: We have Mike on the line from Cheshire, Connecticut. You're on with Neil.
MIKE: Hello Neil.
Hi Mike, how are you?
MIKE: Good. Let me just tell you I think you're the best drummer and lyricist ever!
Well, maybe the best in this room.
MIKE: Well, I have a couple of questions for you tonight. The first one is how did you become involved with Rush after John Rutsey left? Did you know Geddy and Alex beforehand?
I didn't actually know them personally, but we had a mutual friend who recommended me as someone who might be suitable to the band and the music. From then it was the usual audition thing, and we got along well so we got together and here we are now.
MIKE: Okay, I know you guys have a strong international following across the whole world; I was wondering how you plan your tours, like how much of the world you're gonna cover?
That's a difficult thing to do. We layout the parameters of how long the tour should last and in what increments we want to work, and in terms of how many shows we want to do a week and how many weeks we want on the road without getting home and that sort of thing. From then on it really becomes our manager's job to sort it out and fill in the dots as it were, and it is hard to fulfill all the commitments. I've often said that we could just basically tour the U. S. every time and it wouldn't be any trouble to fill in the blanks, but we try to do Europe every second tour, and once for our own indulgence really we played Japan. To go further afield than that would really be indulgence, and every time it's at the expense of a part of N. America basically. The time we went to Japan for instance we missed a whole chunk of the Pacific North Western United States. And if we'd been to Europe on previous tours we've had to leave out parts of Canada or the U.S. So, if we go somewhere else to make those people happy, inevitably someone back here is left out, so it's a difficult thing to do. But essentially we just try to be as fair about it as we can.
--SPIRIT OF RADIO PLAYS--
BC: Lisa's on the line, patiently waiting to speak with Neil. She's in San Diego listening to Rock 102.1. Hi there!
LISA: Hi, how is it going?
Hi Lisa, it's Neil here.
LISA: My question is: what was the inspiration behind '2112', and if you are surprised at how popular the album is today?
Inspiration behind it...it's difficult to trace those lines because so many things tend to coalesce and in fact it ended up similar to a book called 'Anthem' by the writer Ayn Rand, but I didn't realize it while I was working on it. And then eventually as the story came together the parallels became obvious to me and I thought "Oh gee I don't want to be a plagiarist here" so I did give credit to her writings in the liner notes it is explainable in a sense because that album came out of a time of turmoil for us, where a lot of people were trying to tell us what to do and how to commercialize our music, and how we ought to be doing this and doing that. Basically for us '2112' was a statement of rebellion, "we're going to do it our way." And as soon as we announced we were going to do a sidelong piece we heard "well the record company doesn't want that". And our response was "we're not making it for the record companies, we're thinking and making it for ourselves". So I think that sense of rebellion and the sense of repression that we felt from those around us came through the music. And it has such a strong sincerity about it because we really did feel that way at the time, that it was us against the world. So perhaps that inherent emotion still communicates itself.
BC: It remains very popular, Lisa thanks for the call. We're going to speak with Dan in Thunder Bay Ontario. Dan you're on with Neil Peart.
DAN: Congratulations on the new album Neil, good evening!
Oh, thanks Dan all the way from Thunder Bay.
DAN: The show was once again a blast.
DAN: A couple of quick questions here. The new album is about life and death and the chance we have to take in between. It seems you've been dealing with death in some form or another since 1984 and 'Grace Under Pressure', a very dark album. I'm wondering if maybe your music is a release, how you deal with mortality or maybe some comment on that? Also the deaths in 'Afterimage' and 'The Pass', are they related?
What a pleasant subject on this rainy night in Philadelphia too! I guess each of us deals with mortality in one sense or another, whether it's direct or not, and just working back on the questions: no, 'Afterimage' is a specific tribute and an elegy to a personal friend of ours, whereas 'The Pass' is a more general statement that giving up is not noble essentially. I didn't want to address the specific idea of any one suicide or anything like that. It was just about how to accept failure. In fact it's a common topic for me; 'Bravado' is about the same thing really, how you deal with failure is get up and try again rather than saying "oh, I failed so I gave up!" That was the essence of it there. I think for me the subject tends to be life and how to deal with it rather than death. And mortality is something I'm curious about in songs like 'Losing It' or as you mentioned on 'Grace Under Pressure'. But that was a response to other people much more than anything in myself. That was in the early 80's when economic times were not unlike they are today, and I was seeing my friends having a lot of difficulties with their relationships and I couldn't help but respond to that. I couldn't just say "well my life's okay, I'm happy", I had to care about the people who were around me, both the ones I knew and the rest of them in the world I didn't know. So in some ways that record was very much a response to the times as I felt them at that time. So I don't really have a preoccupation with death, in fact this album is the perfect example of that immortality that I address is something that I still feel. I feel I'm on the upward curve and I'm still improving and nothing has happened fortunately to me yet to convince me that I've hit the hill yet, let alone crossed it. I think that's much more than hopeful optimism and one of my mottos lately has been "you hope for the best but plan for the worst". I guess I try to balance idealism with realism in both of those senses, so my idealism is apparent, but sometimes I do look at realism and see what I can learn from it.
BC: We go from Thunder Bay to Tokyo Bay. We have Colin on the line. Colin here's Neil for you.
COLIN: Hey Neil, how's it going?
Colin, from Thunder Bay to Tokyo Bay, what a leap. Hi!
COLIN: Yeah big change. I got a question going back to the topic of '2112', I was wondering if you had any plans to do another concept album?
I don't have any plans to, but I don't have any plans not to either. It's something that would depend upon the idea and the necessary amount of excitement about the idea really. When we go in to work on writing we don't establish perimeters and say "right, we're gonna write ten five minute songs". We just really start working and what emerges is in some ways spontaneous; controlled spontaneity I guess. We try to manage it along the way and organize carefully and all of that. But at the same time we don't start out with any limitations or any lack of limitations. Really it's just what comes out. So I think if I came in with an idea strong enough lyrically to convince the other guys that it was worth major work like that then it could happen. But we don't feel a limitation in five minute songs anymore; we think that's a comfortable length that lyrically I can say what I feel and musically we can say what we feel we need to. And as individual musicians we can satisfy ourselves instrumentally. At the same time to answer your question it could happen but we don't know.
BC: Well you certainly accomplish a lot in 5 minutes and 13 seconds of this next song. This song is a tour de force for me. This is just an outstanding piece of work. This is called 'Ghost Of A Chance'.
--GHOST OF A CHANCE PLAYS--
BC: Okay we have a call from Tom in Cincinnati. He's a listener of WEBN. We welcome him to the program, hello Tom.
TOM: Hi, how you doing' Neil?
Hi Tom, I'm doing just fine thank you.
TOM: I just want to say I recently saw your show in October in Cincinnati and I thought it was great.
Good, yeah I enjoyed that one too. I happen to remember.
TOM: Yeah it was really good especially the mix of songs at the end.
Oh, the mother of all medleys!
TOM: It was a really nice surprise to hear 'Xanadu' in concert.
Yeah, it's fun to do also.
TOM: I wanted to ask, on 'Moving Pictures', after the song 'Red Barchetta' there is a statement that says inspired by "A Nice Morning Drive" by Richard S. Foster, and I've been looking for this book or poem since the album came out and can't find it anywhere and I was wondering if you knew where I could find it or could get it through Rockline or something?
No. I've had a lot of questions about that, in fact I get letters from librarians because people go to the public library and some try to track it down. In fact it comes from the magazine 'Road & Track', published around the mid 70's I think. I had to go to them to find out because I remembered the story but I couldn't remember when or where or who the writer had been. They in fact sent me a photocopy of it because it just hung around in my memory. The song "Roll The Bones" is a perfect example of that: about 15 years ago I read a short story by a science fiction writer called Fritz Lieber and it was called 'Gonna Roll The Bones', and I loved the phrase and stuck it in my notebook and it sat there waiting for a home all these years, and then finally when I was thinking about chance so much on this record, finally 'roll the bones' came up and smacked me in the face and said "use me, use me"?
BC: I'm here, remember me?
(laughing) I'm an old idea but I'm still good!
BC: Tom thank you. Let's move on to Plano Texas. We have Mike on the line.
MIKE: Hi, Neil.
Hi Mike how are you?
MIKE: My question is, I remember reading the book 'Visions', when you were 18 you took a trip to England and toured with bands such as Thin Lizzy. How did that experience affect your outlook on the music industry?
(laugh) Very darkly unfortunately! Being at that age of course I was wildly naïve and had great hopes of finding fame and fortune in London where the streets were paved with gold and where my favorite bands were from. But of course I went there armed with a list of booking agencies and started slogging through the rainy streets from office to office getting rejected until I finally had to get a real job because my money ran out. Basically I worked there on a semi-professional basis and so I learned a couple of things from that. First of all I could do other things to earn a living rather than play drums which was a good thing to learn, and also that I preferred that I'd rather play in a band part time that played the music I liked as opposed to playing drums for a living if I had to play polka's or something. So that was important. I was 18, it was the first time I'd lived away from home and suddenly I was far away and into the working world and paying rent and so forth, obviously to anyone that is a pretty major experience.
BC: So what've you got against Polka's huh?
(Laughs) Nothing! they're great to dance to, but the drummer doesn't have much fun.
BC: Mike, thanks for the call. We'll stay in Texas, head a little south to Austin. It's Amy, a listener of KLBJFM94. Amy you're on.
AMY: Hi, Neil.
Hi Amy, welcome.
AMY: I was wondering, being an engineer, I have a technical question for you.
AMY: On the last few tours I've noticed that you wear headphones sometimes and sometimes you do not. What are you listening to?
Okay, good question! This tour for example I wear the headphones in two songs: 'Time Stand Still' and 'Roll The Bones'. Basically it's to keep in sync with the film track, because we have your namesake Aimee (Mann) doing background vocals in 'Time Stand Still', so we have her up on the screen and singing on the soundtrack. And then on 'Roll The Bones' of course we have Mohawk skeletons up on the screens; well basically I'm just playing to a sync track staying in time through those two songs.
BC: That's just a click track you hear in your headphones to keep you in time?
Yeah, in meter just so that when those things appear they're in time with us.
BC: Exactly. That often happens when you stage something like that. I know The Wall, when it was done in Berlin, the whole show was done with click tracks so they could stay in time with all the special effects.
I think that would be awfully difficult to be so tightly disciplined through the whole show where you can slave to the tick as we call it. I don't mind it in short doses, for a necessary cause it's okay, but live it's sometimes nice to have your own responsibility because the hardest thing for a drummer is to keep the tempo right. It's something I'm constantly re-examining from show to show, and it affects so many other things. And let's face it, it's fundamental as a part of my job, to keep the time right.
BC: Amy, thanks a lot, this is called 'Bravado'.
BC: Eric's in Lake Elsinore, California. Eric you're on Rockline.
How you doing?
ERIC: Oh, pretty good. I've got a couple of questions. First a really quick one. On 'Roll The Bones' you've got a guy who sounds like he's almost rapping. It can't be Geddy because the voice is about 8 octaves too low. (everyone laughs) Who is that?
It actually is Geddy, but we went through an awful time trying to decide who was going to do it. From a lyricist's point of view I really wanted to write something structured the way better rap music is with the word play and the internal rhymes and everything, so I brought the other guys round to it. We thought about different ways of approaching it, whether we should get a real authentic rapper, and while we were recording the vocals in England we even tried using a female voice to see what sort of effect that would have, and different treatments on Geddy's voice and so on. Eventually it became apparent that the most pleasant to listen to was this affected version of Geddy's voice that manages to lower his voice altering the timing where in years previous a harmonizer would always slow down the voice so you get a kind of HAL in "2001" effect. But eventually we just decided that Geddy too, when he had that voice it affected his delivery and it had the right kind of attitude, this really cool off-hand delivery that we were looking for. And that eventually too became exemplified by the skeleton in the video and in the live show. So it was basically a musical decision, when you put the headphones on and listen to the song this was the sound that was the most enjoyable to listen to.
BC: Bassist, vocalist, keyboardist and now rapper: Mr. Geddy lee! (laughter).
BC: MC Geddy Lee! (laughs). Eric what else tonight?
ERIC: What was it like for you to come into a band that was already established because they did a first album without you? You played the drums and began writing the lyrics almost as though you took over, not to sound negative but you had all this creative control. What was that like, to come into an almost established band and re-establish it?
It wasn't as clear cut as that at the time. Obviously it was just a series of events of us getting to know each other as musicians and what our strengths were individually and compositionally and so on. So, it was almost by default for instance that I started writing the lyrics because I hadn't been writing lyrics previous to that. But neither of the other guys were interested in doing it so I thought, well okay I've always liked reading, I'll give this a try. So it became an accidental thing. And then getting involved in the arrangements and so on was a pretty natural growth and there was a catalytic thing between the three of us too, each of us musicians who allowed the others to do different things. In fact the first day we ever played together the basis of the song 'Anthem' was one of the things we sort of jammed on, and the chemistry was apparent just from things like that. We had something to offer each other in musical energy, I guess the whole being greater than the parts was apparent right there. And that was the birth of a song on day one. So it wasn't a calculated thing at all, just us finding each other and, like I say, our strengths and where we could best help each other.
BC: You must have been a voracious reader, do you still find time for it?
Oh absolutely, there are so many books, so little time.
BC: We have a call from the home territory for Neil right now, listener of Q107 in Toronto in Richmond Hill Ontario is Rowe. Good evening Rowe.
ROWE: Neil, how're you doing?
Very well thanks, how are you?
ROWE: I was gonna ask you how serious were you guys about recruiting a forth on stage band member? Because I've noticed on previous tours 'Presto' and 'Roll The Bones' Geddy especially seemed to be enjoying himself because he was so occupied with the keyboards.
Yeah it has been a constant matter of inner debate certainly for Geddy and for all of us. Everyone's so darn busy on stage now that sometimes it's hard to have fun. But we were nervous about the chemistry of adding a fourth member and we're pretty proud to have been a trio in the sense of what we can accomplish as three guys. And thus we've decided to deal with that certain kind of limitation in live work, but at the same time we can structure the show around that. The earlier part of the show will have more demanding parts where Geddy and Alex are pressing things with their feet and hitting things with their fingers, and I'm sending off some keyboard samples too, behind the drumkit, and we're sharing the labor as much as we can. Then toward the end of the show we structure it so that a lot of that drops out and the songs are less demanding technologically and we can have more fun. So basically the serious part of the show comes over, and we feel that certain pressure lifts and I think the audience feels it too, so that by the time we get to the end of the show and into the encore it's evident that everyone's supposed to have fun now and that the hard parts over with. So, it is a difficult decision to make but we like being a trio so we've decided we'll have to deal with it.
BC: Rowe, thanks for the call. Time to give the 'Big Wheel' a spin.
--THE BIG WHEEL PLAYS--
BC: We have another call from Patrick in Detroit.
PATRICK: Mr. Peart!
Yes, hi Patrick.
PATRICK: A couple of quick questions, first regarding your tours. Why does Rush choose to perform music from every release with the exception of 'Caress Of Steel'?
Nothing deliberate really. It's just a kind of intuitive choice of songs that we can still feel comfortable with playing, and there isn't really one on there that we would resurrect comfortably and enjoyably for ourselves. So it's not really a deliberate ignoring that the way some bands have ignored albums that they feel were overlooked out of bitterness or whatever, but for us it is too hard, there are so many albums for us to represent, each one of them in a two hour show, so we select little bits that we think would be fun to play and the audience might like. What can I say? We just try to find enough new songs and an interesting selection of old songs and if they get tired we retire them. Or in the case of this tour we brought back 'Limelight' because we felt we could have fun playing it again. And basically it's just a case of sincerity, whatever we feel we can relay to the audience.
BC: Patrick, there you go. We're gonna move on because we're gonna run out of time. We're gonna talk to Jeremy in Atlanta. Jeremy you're on.
JEREMY: Hi, Neil.
JEREMY: My question is who or what is the "Gangster Of Boats..."
It's strictly an inside joke in the sense that the other two guys keep threatening that if I don't come up with an album title in time they're gonna call it 'Gangster Of Boats' for reasons better known to them. And then the joke in that it's part four of a trilogy so...
BC: It's nice to hear you do an instrumental again too.
Well, as I mentioned in some of the writing I've done about the record, we always intend to but our best intentions seem to get derailed by... Well I come in with some words and the guys have just written a piece of music that happens to marry to it perfectly and away we go. So the instrumental gets robbed.
BC: Does Geddy ever come to you and say "these are great lyrics Neil, but I don't think I can sing them".
Oh, absolutely. There's a lot of feedback I get there and what you would call for another fifty cent word the euphoniousness of it has become very important, and he and I work very closely to make sure a line says what I want it to say clearly but also is it as good as possible for him to sing? Is it as comfortable as possible and also the breakup of the line in terms of vowels and consonants affect a singer a lot. And it's something I'm learning about all the time in the craft of lyric writing. So, I certainly get a lot of feedback from Geddy on that and there are words that look good on paper and sound good in my head but certainly do not fall off the tongue readily for him; that input I'm glad to get because in the end it sounds better.
BC: Well euphony's such a wonderful thing especially when compared to cacophony. We have Yoko on the line in Tokyo Bay; Yoko here's Neil for you.
YOKO: You haven't been to Japan for a long time. Do you have any plans to come over?
It could happen, it's hard to say. I think I mentioned earlier, that for us it's kind of an indulgence to do these things for ourselves, to go to interesting places and that because we're kept so busy just by the size of our audience in Canada and the U.S. We went there before and had a really nice time and I think it's possible we'll go back again, but we don't have any immediate plans to. This year we plan to go back to Europe because they're mad at us for not going there for the last five years. (Laughs) You can't please everybody.
BC: Yoko thanks for your call. Brian's on the line from Saskatchewan, hello!
BRIAN: A quick question here. I notice that a lot of your songs and now with 'Roll The Bones', you deal with astronomy and space. I'm very interested in that and I'm just wondering to what degree do you and the guys have an interest in that?
I guess just amateurish fascination with it. I think you might be referring to the opening verse of 'Dreamline' which has an interesting history. During the last tour between Cincinnati and Columbus we had a day off so I bicycled up that trip and got there after a hundred miles, all tired and sweaty and sat down and ate dinner and watched Nova. And there was a program on satellite imaging and they were literally making a road map of Jupiter and they were talking about rivers that they'd been able to map under the Sahara, which used to be a tropical rainforest. So just the imagery of that captured me; I guess it has to do with astronomy but dealing with space for me is the final frontier! But it is just fascination you know. When you lay on the ground and look up at the night sky you can't help but be carried away; 'Mystic Rhythms' is another song too that addressed that particular feeling of smallness but at the same time, spiritual greatness, that you're a part of all that wonderfulness.
BC: Brian, thank you. Ken's on the line from Illinois. Hi Ken.
KEN: How you doing Neil?
Fine thank you.
KEN: Oh great. In the band's spare time does everyone tend to stay away from each other?
(laughing) Not much actually. In fact when we're on the road Geddy and Alex will be out most of the time playing tennis or will see each other to have dinner or just have a drink after the show or something. During the off time when we are actually on holiday everyone will be off to different parts of the world or getting to know their own families again. So we don't stay apart out of antipathy or disliking each other or anything, but by having different lives, which are of course a healthy thing for the relationship.
BC: Sam you get the honor of being the last caller to Neil Peart tonight.
SAM: How you doing?
SAM: First of all I'd like to say Rush has been one of my favorite bands for the last ten years. My first question has to do with the longevity of Rush, what you might attribute to your continued success and how long can we expect to see new Rush albums in the future?
Ha-ha, it's always difficult to answer the question about why we've lasted so long, but certainly it has to do with personality, temperament and the level of satisfaction I think as I said earlier. None of us feels like we have to get outside the band to assert ourselves or make a solo album. Myself as a drummer for instance, there has never been a style of music I've wanted to play that I haven't been able to do in Rush music, whether it's been African music or reggae or big band jazz, whatever I like. And if it fits with the other guys it works, there are no limitations. As far as the future goes actually we're feeling exceptionally hopeful that... We recognized during the making of this record that it is something that will satisfy us creatively for a long time, so we certainly don't see the end in sight.
BC: Sam thanks for the call, thanks to everyone for calling tonight. Now, you've done 90 minutes on Rockline Neil. Did you have a good time? Did you enjoy talking to all your fans?
Yes, I'd like to thank you very much and everyone who called in. It has been a really good experience.
BC: Now, I was told that you hadn't done live radio in some ten years, is that the case?
It could be something like that yes. I've done recorded ones after the show or during the afternoon, but it's hard to haul me into a radio station in the afternoon these days. There are so many other things to do.
BC: Well we hope you come back and that it's not ten years from now.
Thank you I'd like to come back.
BC: Alright well you have the opportunity to come back anytime and please give our best to Geddy and Alex, and good luck for the rest of the tour, and we hope to see you soon.
Thank you I will.