The World Album Premier of 'Counterparts'

Broadcast October 14, 1993, transcribed by Meg Jahnke and

[Medly of: The Spirit Of Radio/The Big Money/Show Don't Tell/Fly By Night/Closer To The Heart/Tom Sawyer/Freewill/A Passage To Bangkok/New World Man/Roll The Bones/YYZ]

SW: Now into their third decade of making music together, those are the unmistakable sounds of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, better known as Rush. Welcome to the world premiere of the brand new Rush album, Counterparts. I'm Steve Warden, coming to you from Rush's home town of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Over the course of the next two hours, in addition to hearing this very powerful new album, you'll be treated to a first for one of these radio album launch deals -- exclusive commentary by all three members of the band, including as a special fall bonus, Geddy Lee's championship baseball prognostications. Stick around, we'll get started with Rush right after this.

[commercial break]

SW: Welcome back to Toronto. I'm Steve Warden, and this is the world premiere of Counterparts, the brand new album from Rush. In the last few weeks, over a couple of separate interview sessions, I had a chance to spend some time with Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, and as we go through the album, you'll hear various comments from all three; some of them surprising, some hilarious, all of them revealing in one way or another.

We begin with Geddy Lee's assessment of the sonic direction the band chose for Counterparts, an almost deliberate move back to capturing the basics of bass, guitar and drums.

GL: It was about as deliberate as we ever get. When we start making a record, we really don't know what the hell we're gonna do; we go in, and just see what starts coming out. I think there's been a few frustrations, in retrospect, over the last couple records. Not in the material, and certainly not in the quality of the songwriting and performances, but mostly in a sonic thing.

I think there were a few tracks on the last record that the style of production that we used suited very well. And there were other few tracks that seemed in the final result when we wanted them to kick a bit more, to have a bit more power, it really wasn't there to get out of the tracks. And I think that stuck in the back of our minds, and throughout the tour hearing those songs live, and feeling how much more power they had live, cuz I think about three of the tracks on the last record just sounded, at least to us, really killer live. And we thought, "Hm... we're not capturing one element of our band. There's some element that we do, that is natural to the way we play, and it comes out live, that we're not grabbing on record these days."

So it was a concerted effort to grab that, and we wanted a complete change of scenery, complete change of engineers, production, everything. And even though we interviewed a lot of young producers, and talked to -- got so many people to work with on this record, we turned to Peter Collins in the end, who we had worked with before, for a couple of reasons: number one being the fact that he is very much a different producer now than he was when we worked with him last. We've always been friends, and we've always had a great respect for his way of doing things, but since working with us last he's worked with a lot more American bands: Queensryche, and so on. And we felt he was different producer now, with the same priorities, which we liked. And talking to him it was kind of like an instant, "Let's do this record together" as soon as we talked. We knew it would be great, so, and he agreed with the vision of what we saw; and his comments, criticizing the last couple records, sonically anyway, were very much in line with the direction we wanted to go, and we thought, "Bingo! Here you go, this is what we need."

SW: And then you introduced in a different element in the engineering side.

GL: Yeah, and we decided, "Well, what do you wanna do for an engineer?" Cuz when we worked with Peter Collins last, he was kinda teamed up with Jim Barton, who has since gone on to be a producer in his own right, and a very good one. So it was kind of like, "Who do you work with these days?" And he goes, "Well, I work with lots of different people." And so we sat down to kind of a laborious but interesting search, and we had tapes from, you know, producers from all over the world -- I mean engineers from all over the world that we were listening to just for a sound. And in the end we settled on this "caveman" character: his name is Kevin "The Caveman" Shirley, and he's a South African by way of Australia, whose tape was really raw, and it had a very natural sound to it. And we thought, "This is good. Let's get this raw attitude in the bed tracks and primary stages of recording and let's bring someone different in to mix it that maybe has a different, and a bit more of a sophisticated flair; a bit more of a high-tech attitdue."

So we were after the best of both worlds. And from my point of view, it worked a treat. We brought Michael Leflough from Australia to mix it, and I think he was great -- both guys were great. So it was a very happy marriage and I'm really pleased with the result.

SW: Did you see it as a bit of a risk though?

GL: Yeah, it was a bit of a risk. But you know, when you've made records for the many years that we have, you do have a certain confidence that you'll be able to pull it out. There are risks, but you know what the risks really are. And there were a few times we were going, "I don't know about this, some of these sounds are pretty raw." But we just had confidence that it would all work out, and thankfully it did.

SW: Was it also kind of challenging yourselves? You know, you mentioned having made so many records. Is it just something that you had arrived at, it was like, "Let's just try this, and maybe trigger something in us that we may not otherwise get."?

GL: Absolutely correct. I think the hidden benefit of working with someone like Kevin was that he challenged all our conceptions, all our ideas about how to make records. He questioned, he said, "Well why do it this way?" You know, he's a kind of character that had very little respect for a lot of music that's been made, and a lot of ways people make records; a highly critical character. And I think that was good to have that element in the room. You had to keep it to a check, to a certain point, you didn't want to suddenly be involved in a very cynical, critical way of making records. But, I think having someone that challenges you to make sure you're doing things the way you should be doing them.

He is from a school of engineering that doesn't believe in grabbing bags of EQ, and tweaking this knob, and tweaking that one. To him, it's "Well, your instrument sounds good out there. Let's get the right mikes and let's record it. And if there's a problem with the sound, more likely it's a problem out there with the source of the sound, as opposed to trying to fix a bad source." And there was a lack of complacency that was created; he was fired up, he was energetic, and I think we found that quite infectious, kind of carried over.

[ "Between Sun And Moon" is played ]

SW: "Between Sun And Moon", that's Rush from their brand new album Counterparts. And we have more to come in just a moment.

[commercial break]

SW: Welcome back to the world premiere of the brand new Rush album, Counterparts. I'm your host Steve Warden in Toronto. Time now to meet drummer/lyricist Neil Peart. He's normally the most retiscent member of the band when it comes to publicity, but always a true gentleman, who provides incredible insight into this band's creative process. Now on the last record Roll The Bones, Neil explored the concept of chance; so I asked him what was on his mind this time around.

NP: Roll The Bones as you outlined had the element of chance as a theme, and that was when I starting thinking about it, and just grew, and so many elements of chance appealed to me and inspired me to write about them. So Roll The Bones had that concept in common. This record didn't really have that; it was a selection of individual themes that I didn't really associate at the time. I was thinking certainly about gender differences, and I've been reading Jung so I was interested in the anima, the female spirit within the male, etc.

So that intrigued me, and the "Nobody's Hero" idea -- I'd been thinking alot about the nature of heroism and what was good and what was bad about it, and the idea of a role model, and people I'd known in my own life who were important to me as influences but weren't important to the rest of the world. So that concept of a role model but not a hero, if you like. So that was one separate set of influences, and all these things I really saw, and to some extent still see, as quite separate themes -- duality became the only unifying theme, hence Counterparts, but there really wasn't a germ as chance was in Roll The Bones that sent me on a unified quest.

SW: So in the beginning then, in starting to put the songs together, is that okay that things are disprate, or do you try to find a thread?

NP: No, no, the thread is entirely accidental almost always. Albums like Power Windows or Hold Your Fire it was completely accidental; after the fact I went back and realized that, well, I've been writing these songs lyrically over the same period of time, so it wasn't surprising that I was on the same fixations. And I look at my notebook of collected scraps and ideas for a period of a year or two, and I notice threads. And that is so helpful, because when I do sit down on lyric-writing day, I find the threads and I say, "Okay, I was thinking about that six months ago, and then last week, and those two ideas I'll stitch together." So it tends to happen very naturally and step by step like that, and only really in the final analysis most times, can you see what the associations might have been.

So this time I remember the earlier songs that I started on lyrically were the "Speed Of Love", for instance, I was caught on that phrase and interested in writing more songs about love rather than songs of love. And "Nobody's Hero" is one of the earliest ones, cuz again that was a theme of my thinking over the last two years, and many conversations with friends around the country and so on; you get talking about the nature of heroism. So that was one that just was a growing crystal, I guess, over a year and a half or two years, and then the song was fairly bursting with input by then.

SW: Why had you been thinking about heroes and heroism?

NP: From so many things. What I mentioned before whether or not it's good, you know, the idea of having heroes. For a lot of young people if their heroes are in sports, or in the entertainment world, they tend to be sold and bought as perfect. Hollywood, I think, probably invented the idea of demigods and the deity of an actress or the deity of an actor. And then sports took it over too, and the sports deities until they get old or sick or whatever, they are superhuman. And that seems like all very well and doesn't really hurt anybody, and maybe it inspires young people, but I kind of think it's discouraging too. Because when you're growing up, you're painfully aware of your flaws and your limitations, and I think perhaps you can feel too distant from any ideal of perfection.

A role model is to me the opposite of a hero, in a sense, or a counterpart if you like, in the sense of the definition of counterpart is both duplicate and opposite. It's one of the reasons why I was intrigued by the word so much. So a role model is good, because there's no aspect of deity or superhuman perfection about it, it's just, "That's the direction I want to go and here's a person doing it the way I'd like to do it." I thought that was a lot more healthy, and also the nature of heroism, again something I've touched on before in songs like "Limelight" and even more recently in "Superconductor", was the nature of fame and how it affects the people in it. I've been involved, of course, in that world for a long time, and watching other people affected by the nature of fame and the nature of that kind of deification. And it really isn't healthy for them either, so I started thinking, "Well maybe this idea of modern, 20th century western world heroism really isn't so good."

So, that was part of the thinking, and like I say, one idea is never really enough, so I had the other concept of people that had been significant enough in my own life to merit, almost the idea of heroism, to me. They had changed my life and prevented me maybe, in the case of the first person "nobody's hero" for instance, about the first gay person I ever knew, who was such a great role model, and almost occupies a heroic space in my life, because he prevented me from ever being homophobic or for thinking there was something sick or unnatural about it; because I just knew him, and worked with him when I lived in London, and went to his parties and it was all just very casual, and I guess I was young enough not to be already prejudiced, so he occupied an important part of my life. And then as the song dictates, we drifted apart geographically, and then when I found out that he had died of AIDS it was like this hole had been left, and yet at the same time, this glowing example had been set by him. So, it's certainly not like his life was in vain, but his heroism was in a very small arena.

[ "Nobody's Hero" is played ]

SW: "Nobody's Hero", from the brand new Rush album Counterparts. As most Rush fans probably know, drummer Neil Peart supplies the words, while Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson sculpt the sound. And in the case of Counterparts, sculpting the sound meant showing off the goods of this very intense, very very impressive power trio, with lots of rock and roll guitar right up front. And it was a concept that Alex Lifeson had no trouble warming up to.

AL: This is something that we discussed on the last tour a number of times; about having to focus more on the three-piece, and kind of recapturing some of the energy that we used to feel as a tighter three-piece unit I think, before we brought keyboards into a more predominant role in the picture of our music. Certainly the style of recording that Kevin Shirley, who was the recording engineer, used was very very direct, and captured the least amount of resistance from the speakers to the tape machine. It was just a matter of plugging into the amp and miking it; I wasn't really encumbered by any effects, we got into some things later, but certainly for the bulk of the guitars and for all the bed tracks, it was just straight ahead.

I sat in a studio for the first time in 12 years and recorded guitars out there, which I've always stayed away from, figuring that in the control room you have a sense of control. There's immediate communcation; if you want the monitors down they can go down, if you want them up they can go up. So, I really wasn't into doing it, but Kevin talked me into it. And after a couple of days getting used to it, it was great! You could feel the wood of the guitar vibrating against your body, and it was more susceptible to that really cool feedback, and it was your own little world; it was a little bit of an escape. I don't think I'd go back now.

GL: Can I ask you a question?

AL: Yeah.

GL: Did you actually say, "encumbered by effects"?

AL: Yes, Ged, believe it or not I actually said that.

GL: Did you actually said that phrase, or have you been possessed by some sort of logical devil?

AL: I've matured a lot in the last couple of months.

GL: Say Hallelujiah!

AL: You know something, you get into a particular way of doing things, and it's very comfortable, and you get a little resistant to change sometimes, especially when it comes to sound of a guitar. I mean, I like to think this is my own particular sound, one that I've developed over a number of years. For that reason alone it's time to change it; you know, and mix it up a bit. And I have been very resistant to this kind of an approach to recording the guitar; I always thought that we could get power and size and total depth in a number of other ways. But, I have to say that after doing it this way, there's only one way to get a really great electric guitar sound, and that is to plug the thing into the amp and turn it up. And the shortest distance from the guitar to the amp is the best and the most effective.

GL: This is not the guy I've known for the last 13 years. I don't know who this imposter is, but get him out of this control room!

AL: Doh! You are a liar! Fake! Imposter!

SW: When you say that you wanted to get back to a more kind of simplistic, you know, bass-guitar-drums trio sound. You talked a little bit about that on Roll The Bones as well. Do you think it's been kind of a gradual process?

AL: I think so, we've certainly aimed for it, but...

GL: Yeah, but I think as Alex was saying, so much is to do with a style, and the way the engineer hears things, and like we were talking about earlier, there are a number of songs that are kind of more subtle, and more textured on Roll The Bones I think required the kind of production they had, but there are other songs that really, I think, the style of the song and the style of production were not in sync. And the way that Alex had described recording these instruments was more in keeping, I think, with the spirit of some of the ways that we have been writing in the last few years.

SW: What were you doing on "Double Agent"? There's that kind of...

GL: We were losing our minds, is what we were doing! "Double Agent" was a complete exercise in self-indulgence, and really, it was one of the last things we wrote on the record, and we just kind of -- we'd written all these songs that were heavily structured, and, you know, were crafted and meticulously worked on: this note and that note, and this is a song we just wanted to kind of get our yah-yahs out and just have a bit of a rave. And really, it's one of the goofiest songs I think we've ever written, but I'm quite happy with the result. In its own way, I think it's an interesting little piece of listening.

[ "Double Agent" is played ]

SW: Rush, "Double Agent". And we'll continue with the world premiere of Counterparts in just a moment.

[commercial break]

SW: Welcome back to Counterparts, the world album premiere with Rush. I'm Steve Warden. The next song we're going to hear is "Animate" -- a song that makes excellent use of some wicked Geddy Lee base guitar. As Geddy told me, they employed some unusual equipment to get the base sound that they were after.

GL: We set up the gear I had in the studio, and The Caveman went in there, and he looked at all this high-tech gear and he said, "You know, I saw this old beat-up amp head that was lying in the corner yesterday. Do you mind if we plug that in?" So we dragged it out, and this is literally an amp that was found in the garbage that one of the assistants at Le Studio had repaired, it was an old tube amp, and plugged it in to all these speakers we had, and he turned it up to like, 15, and the thing was like... I thought it was going to explode. So, we used a combination: my regular DI setup, my regular setup, and plus this exploding amp setup, and you know, he made it happen. It sounded great, I had a tremendous amount of energy, and all the explosion sounds of it kind of disappeared in the track, so you're not really aware of the fact that it's an amplifier on the verge of death. But what you are aware of is the power that's coming out of the speaker, so that was a great benefit.

SW: We'll hear Geddy Lee's driving bass guitar sound in just a moment on the song "Animate", but first, Neil Peart on the song itself. It's a track that not only displays Rush's awesome musicianship, but also delves into the duality theme that was on Neil's mind.

NP: I hope that it's going to be clear that it's about one person. It's set up on purpose a little bit vague to sound like it might be about a relationship between two people, and almost a love song in a sense. But, that became such a cliche certainly through the 80's, of the modern sensitive man, and it was wrong in many ways. I draw upon my research, if you like, on this, everywhere from Karl Jung to Camille Palia, about what the modern man was supposed to be. And to many people in the 80's, the modern man was supposed to be a woman, and you know, to be sensitive and nurturing, and all, and to completely lose the masculine side of the character, the "animus". So, just in the reading about that and the thinking about that, and observing certainly people around me, and how they behave and how the pretended to be... how they pretended they really were, and so on. It became a bit of an act of men pretending to be more sensitive than they actually were, and sometimes women pretending to be more aggressive than they actually were.

So, it was basically pleading for a balance of that; I feel that, yes, men do have a large female component to their characters, as it can only be. It's natural, again as counterparts we are both duplicates and opposites. The Oxford dictionary definition of the word includes both of those things. So, that's definitely true of genders as well, and in the song I was trying to get at the idea of that you can be both strong and sensitive; you can be both ambitious and soft, really, but not to deny either and to keep them in balance. So the dominance and submission metaphor had to come into play, but I used it again of a person dominating himself, in this case, because it's a man. He's dominating his softer side, but at the same time he also has to dominate his "a" words -- the aggression, and the ambition, and the traditional biological male things, which in spite of all modern sociological changes, we are in the last 20 or 30 years of sexual revolution, trying to change tens of thousands of years of human evolution: really, men as the hunter and woman as a nurturer.

So, those things have to be recognized, and yes we can change them, we've changed a lot of things. You know, we used to be comfortable with slavery and call ourselves Christians; that's changed now. There are definitely changes we can make in acting more civilized, but at the same time it's foolish to deny that which courses through our veins. So the song really tries to reconcile that very complicated and also very topical thing.

[ "Animate" is played ]

SW: "Animate" -- that's Rush from Counterparts. And we'll be back with more of the world album premiere...right after this.

[commercial break]

SW: Continuing now with the world premiere of the latest Rush album, Counterparts, I'm Steve Warden. Now before anybody gets too hung up on the suggestive aspects of the song "Stick It Out", maybe a little clarification from lyricist Neil Peart might be in order.

NP: That was just a play on the words really, "Stick It Out" meaning both a kind of arrogant display but also the endurance thing. It was the pun on both of those, really. Again the duality in the song is a bit leaning both ways. The sense of forbearance of holding back, and also the idea of fortitude to stick it out, to survive. But that was more of a piece of fun, that song I would say, both lyrically and musically, it verges on parody, and that was one we just had fun with, and the guys certainly did too about stick it and spit it out and all that was just a bit of word play.

[ "Stick It Out" is played ]

SW: "Stick It Out" -- the first single from the new Rush album, Counterparts, and this is the world premiere of that album, coming to you from the studios of Q107 in Rush's hometown of Toronto, Canada. I'm Steve Warden. Now given the heavy nature of the material on this album, I asked Geddy Lee if that had any great effect on how he approached his vocals on this recording.

GL: Well our style of writing has changed a lot over the years. Particularly the last few years, we seem to be serving the melody of the song. In the past our songs were mostly instrumentals that had vocals on top of them. Now they're very much songs written around lyric and vocal melody. And the instrumentation serves and supports the melody. Supports the feeling and the mood of the lyric. In a sense the music is a slave to the vocals and to the lyric, which I think is very appropriate for where we seem to be at at the moment. For a lot of reasons it leaves me far more range as a singer. It gives me much more emotion to play with so that I can write a melody first, sitting there with just bass and vocals and a lyric sheet in front of me, and I'll keep working on that until I get off on it. There's a particular feedback I look for now when I'm writing a vocal melody, and if I'm getting that feedback, I'm getting a charge out of singing it, then I feel like I'm on the right track. And with the rest of the instrumentation we then try to take that feeling and expand upon it.

[ "Everyday Glory" is played ]

SW: Rush and "Everyday Glory" from Counterparts. Some of the most interesting comments that drummer Neil Peart had to make when we spoke, had to do with the new bands on the scene today, and the return to of a more organic, stripped down approach to making music. I asked him if Rush has been influenced at all, by the new rock of the 1990s.

NP: We always respond to the times around us. Through the 70s we were definitely influenced by New Wave music, and by the ska and reggae influences on pop music of the time, even into electronic dance music and new romantic music of the early 80s. All of that found its way into our music. And world music throughout the 80s, that found its way into our music too. We are a sponge. We don't try to hide that and we're perfectly open to new influences all the time and love them, and love being inspired by them. In this case yes we are reacting to the times around us but only in the most healthy and honest way of saying "we're going forward with our evolution which does tend to be a pretty straight road, but that doesn't mean we aren't drawing in traffic from the side roads beside us."

Certainly we didn't feel so alone, suddenly, as a guitar rooted band, and playing real drums. In the 80s, just from a drumming point of view, it was getting kind of worrisome, because everything you heard on the radio was programmed drums, however well done. And all the bands and all the records were using sampled...even if there was a real drummer, it was sampled snare drum and sampled bass drum, and there was no technique being demonstrated at all. Drums were well relegated to the background in the 80s, even in so called "rock music" of the time, it was really "light metal" and was programmed as can be in both senses of the word: musically programmed and also radio programmed.

So it was worrisome, and I starting thinking, what's happening to the real drummers, all the young guys that are playing through the 80s and learning and they have nowhere to play, no bands to play in unless they were bar bands or something because the atmosphere precludes it right now? And then suddenly in the 90s all these bands were coming out. Matt Cameron from Soundgarden, suddenly here's a great drummer. And Dave Abbruzzese from Pearl Jam, suddenly a great drummer. And this band Live got a drummer called Chad Gracey again playing great drums. Somehow they weathered that time and came out of it with a fresh message for drumming in the 90s. And that was really kind of affirming to me too just from the craft of drumming alone even apart from being a member of Rush. So as a band I think yes, we were feeling isolated throughout the 80s, because of that we were one of the only rock bands out there playing real instruments and playing rocks songs in front of rock audiences. So there was a sense of maybe being alone and a bit even of an anachronism. But then when those bands came out and yes they would say in interviews "we grew up listening to Rush", and it was such an affirmation, just such a spark of "yay we're not alone!" And there's no generational or age-factor there now because we're both bands making records and doing tours in all of these cases. So there really isn't a divide. We've been doing it longer, yes, but we do have the same values. Those bands are concerned about playing well, about getting better, about writing good songs in interesting ways and being original. And all those concerns are exactly the ones we've always stood for. So it's like the torch has been passed, everything's good.

[ "Alien Shore" is played ]

SW: "Alien Shore" that's Rush, and we'll have more of the Counterparts world album premiere, right after this.

[commercial break]

SW: Hi, I'm Steve Warden and we're back now with Counterparts, the world album premiere from Rush. We're joined by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, and at this point we have the instrumental track from the album queued up, it's called "Leave That Thing Alone". Now Rush fans will probably make a connection between this song and "Where's My Thing?", the instrumental tour-de-force that was on the band's last album Roll The Bones. But as Alex and Geddy told me, there really isn't much of a connection between the two songs.

GL: Only that the fact that they both have "things" in the title.

AL: Yeah, and they're on our records.

GL: The "things" are different are different things.

AL: It's not the same thing.

GL: It's not the same thing. Really, you have to say, "It's just not the same thing."

AL: No, no... it's just a... thing.

GL: It's a different thing.

AL: A totally different thing

GL: Yeah.

AL: It's some thing though, it's...

SW: So how did we end up with another instrumental?

AL: Oh, they're so much fun to do.

GL: Yeah, they're fun; it's like recess; it's like somebody blew a whistle, let's do an instrumental! Yeehah!

AL: They're very spontaneous, they get written quickly, the ideas go down very very quickly, and the nice thing about this particular instrumental is that there's a tendency to be very flashy when you do an instrumental; it's you're kind of a release to be a showoff. But I think on this song, the melodies are very very strong, and it's something that touches you more emotionally.

GL: Yeah, I think this is one of our best ones, I'm really happy with this one.

AL: Yeah, I like listening to it.

GL: From two points of view, as Alex said, the chorus melodies especially the guitar melody, I think is beautiful. I think no matter what style of music you want to call it, I think it's a great melody. But the other thing that I like about it is the rhythmic attitude of it, which is very different for us, and it's an area we keep playing around with and experimenting with, and learning how -- "how do white Canadians learn to play funk music?" These are continuing experiments in that area, even though it's not funk music by any funk player's standards, for us it's got more of that rhythmic attitude which is a lot of fun to do. And sometimes I think it comes in reaction to having written tense, very structured, meticulously put together songs, and here we are at the end of that, we're going, "Let's just have some fun! You know, let's bring these riffs together." And we always have a riot when we put these down.

AL: We kind of feel sorry for Neil cuz he's not really included. We don't even let him in, actually, when we're working on those things. We give it to him and that's it.

GL: But then he gets to have his stab at it, and usually there's two or three suggestions that he will have that will change the arrangement a bit here and there, so, he gets his turn, but he has to work alone, so it's not as much fun.

AL: And then he wrecks it with the drums.

GL: Yeah, that! That's the other thing.

AL: There's the other thing with all our songs.

GL: Oh yeah, there's the other thing.

[ "Leave That Thing Alone" is played ]

SW: "Leave That Thing Alone", that's Rush from the new album Counterparts. Now unlike that song, our next track "Speed Of Love" features words. And not only that, but they're words written by someone other than Neil Peart. It's a rare collaboration between Neil and his old pal, Pye Dubois.

NP: Yeah, in the past, "Tom Sawyer" of course was co-written with Pye, and "Force 10" on Hold Your Fire was too, and I really like his style of writing. It's inscrutable to me, sometimes, as I think it is to other people too, but at the same time it has a certain power in his images and writing. And also, there was some strange symbiosis that seemed to affect the songs; when Pye was involved in "Tom Saywer" and in "Force 10" it made them somehow a little different musically, you know, his percolation through me. I would get his ideas and then I would add mine to them and structure it as a Rush song, and then pass it along to the other guys. Even through that chain of events, somehow there was some outside influence that was good, so we've always kind of kept the open door to Pye's ideas. Anytime he had anything to submit he would send it along to me, usually scrawled in an exercise book. And in this case that was one that we all responded to some of the images in his presentation, so again I went to work on it, shaped it up into the kind of structure that we like to work with, and then added some of my own images and angles on it. And so it went.

SW: And is that something you enjoy just as a change of pace? Having another input?

NP: Yeah, I'm a happy collaborator really. Obviously we couldn't have stayed together, the three of us, for 20 years if we weren't happy collaborating, and it's the same way lyrically. I do like working with someone else, as long as they're equally open about it. I'm always concerned with Pye, "Do you think I'm wrecking up your work?" because theoretically when he finishes it, he thinks it's done. So, if I come in and start changing things around, and adding and subtracting things, it could seem a bit presumptuous, I guess, so I'm always concerned about his feelings on that. But he seems comfortable with it too, so it's just like he said, it's just turning out a good tune that counts, that's what matters to him. So, it's just a nice thing to do, to have somebody else's input. I've done it in the past even with Geddy and Alex, who put ideas together in words, and the song called "Chemistry" on Signals was like that. They just wrote down a bunch of images and ideas and gave them to me and I stitched them all together into an organized thing. So that's always a kind of a fun way to work, I like that.

[ "Speed Of Love" is played ]

SW: Album Network's world premiere of Counterparts from Rush will continue in just a moment.

[commercial break]

SW: Welcome back to the world premiere of the brand new Rush album Counterparts. I'm your host Steve Warden in Toronto. If the first half of this album is "in your face aggressive", the second half seems to be for the most part, more melodic. Geddy Lee told me that it was a real challenge to organize the order of the songs on this record Counterparts.

GL I think this was one of the hardest records to sequence that we've ever put together. It was much easier in the old days when we had two sides, and now that you have one side, boy it's really tough. Alex made this most magnificent...

AL: Oh, please!

GL: ...artistic creation, you know, form follows function to the end...

AL: Sort of a storyboard.

GL: You know, he does this board, and he lists every title. It's like on a magnetic board where every title can be moved around, so you can play around with the sequencing. On each of these little boards is a fantastic drawing representing the essence of the song as Alex sees it, which is convincing us more than ever that he's a sick human being. We played around with so many different combinations and it was really tough, so this is the one order that I think just seemed, when you're listening to an hour's worth of music, and considering how much aggressive music was in there, we felt it was kind of a nice way to ease you out of the record.

SW: "Cold Fire"'s one of my favorite tracks. Can you tell me a bit about that?

GL: Um, "Cold Fire". That song went through many permutations.

AL: Yeah, that actually one of the songs that we had a bit of a problem getting into lyrically, working on it from a musical point of view.

GL: Yeah, it was hard to know the approach, and that was a song that we felt..

AL: That's right! Actually we had a few rewrites of this musically.

GL: We rewrote that song quite a bit. And thankfully, I think Peter Collins' presence really pulled that song together. He came in and he pointed out certain strengths in the previous versions of the songs that we had, and he really helped us reorganize that song. It wasn't until he got there, I think, that we finally locked in on a feel for those verses that enabled Alex to play those great kind of steel guitar lines -- steel guitar-like lines -- that he's playing, and enabled me to open up harmonically. I was having trouble with the verses, you know, it's a tough song, when you're dealing with this issue of male/female relationships, which is such a foreign subject for us to deal with, in a song. You want to make sure it doesn't sound trite or hackneyed or you're not just doing yet another -- who needs another song about relationships? It took us a while to get the right mood, and I was really happy with the mood we ended up with in the verses, and I think, oddly enough, as much as it was a nightmare, that song for me, when I hear the record now, I think the verses are one of the strongest parts of the album, in that song.

AL: Yeah I think there's a great balance between the romantic picture on the one side, and how the music is sympathetic to those lyrics, and then the other point of view which is much colder...

GL: Much tougher.

AL: ...more based in reality. And the contrast between the lyrics and the music, and how they support each other, I think really worked out successfully on that song from what Ged said was a very difficult song for us to work on.

[ "Cold Fire" is played ]

SW: This might sound crazy, but because of the subject matter of the song, and also something about the feeling, and Geddy you mentioned Alex's guitar sort of a steel guitar sound, I thought with a slightly different treatment, this could be a country song!

GL: It could be, actually we did a very slow country version of that song, that we do have on tape somewheres...

AL: On 8-track.

GL: ...and maybe when we're dead and our manager is exploiting our remains, he would probably release to some country-western thing.

AL: It's a cold fire.

GL: It's a cold fire, and it translates real well, so any country fans out there...

AL: We'd be beholden to you if you wrote it.

GL: ...if you wanna do that song and make it into a big country hit, we'd be appreciative of the check.

SW: The Rush world premiere special of Counterparts continues after this time out.

[commercial break]

SW: Back now with the conclusion of Rush Counterparts, the world album premiere. To wrap things up, we'll have one final song from the album, a track called "Cut To The Chase"; but before we get to that, a final thought or two from Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. During the last Rush tour, the band seemed to have a definite air of rejuvenation about it; now, facing what will be a 20th anniversary tour to kick off in January, I asked if that euphoria and that sense of renewal were still with them.

GL: Oh, I think that happy phase wore off pretty quickly, and that's it..

AL: Yeah, we feel like that again, now, for at least this week anyways.

GL: That happy phase lasted about 10 days I think, and then we were renewed and reborn and... I think after so many interviewers asked us how we felt about being reborn, we felt like we were not reborn anymore.

AL: How come I don't wanna be reborn?

GL: All we wanted to do was fight. So this record we had some pretty darn good fights, and I felt much better.

AL: Got a lot out of our systems.

GL: Yeah, got a lot out of our system. Mondays Alex and I would threaten to murder each other.

SW: Is Rush kind of reinventing itself?

GL: Maybe, I don't know, that's a difficult word, "inventing". You know in 20 years...

AL: Yeah, it's probably a vague question to ask, I mean I guess you could interpret it any way you want, but...

GL: I guess Rush is reasserting certain aspects of our band that have always been there and maybe haven't shined the way they could have over the last couple of years. And not trying to disregard the lessons that we've learned over the years, we don't want to disregard the styles and some of the ways that we have gone about working over the last few years. It's not a total retromovement, you know, we don't want to throw away -- you don't cut off your nose to spite your face kind of thing. If a song...

AL: You don't??

GL: ...well, maybe you do. But, you know what I mean, if a song deserves a certain treatment, you give it. If a song is not working that way, you try something else, and if you're sitting there trying to write a song in essence is raw and supposed to crank it up a bit, let's do it and let's not pussyfoot, and I think that's what this record is doing well.

["Cold Fire" is played ]


SW: One last thing; we almost forgot the last word on this program -- Geddy Lee's fall baseball prognostications. We told you about it at the beginning of the program, and now here it is. Geddy, if you would gaze into your crystal baseball, and tell us what's going to happen in this year's world series.

GL: Well, who's ever pitching stinks the least will win.