In Conversation With Alex Lifeson

By Stewart Gilray, The Spirit Of Rush #32, February 1996

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I last spoke to Alex back in May '94. Since then Alex has been busy, playing at two Kumbaya festivals in Toronto for Aids awareness, working on Tom Cochrane's album as well as writing and producing VICTOR.

When I talked to him it was like catching up with an old acquaintance.

SoR: So what's been happening in the last 18 months.

Alex: Oh, not much, I mean the last tour ended in May and Ged and Nancy had a baby girl a week later, he wanted to take a year off. We've all sacrificed time with our kids when they were young and he didn't want to do that again.

SoR: I kind of got the impression that that was the reasoning behind such a long break you (rush) were taking.

Alex: There was certainly no resistance from Neil or me, in 20 years we'd never taken a break like that, and that kind of stretched out to 18 months and Neil had some things on his agenda that he wanted to do.

SoR: He did the Burning for Buddy album(s).

Alex: Yeah, well he completed that fairly early, it was done by September of 94. He'd gotten into some other things and he wanted the summer off so, it had stretched out to 18 months, and I didn't want to sit around for that period of time.

SoR: When I spoke to you last you said you had to do something for 3 months, and as you say those 3 months became 18.

Alex: As it was it took me about 10 months to do the record.

SoR: That's pretty good.

Alex: Yeah.

SoR: As it was on your own effectively.

Alex: Well, yeah(laugh), on my own.

SoR: I'll start with the obvious question, the title track Victor, a Poem by W.H. Auden, why that?

Alex: Well as the record evolved, this is the first time I've written lyrics in 18 years, and it was, it was a prospect filled with anxiety, because I wasn't sure if I could do it, I wanted, thematically something to run through the whole record, I have to take a couple steps back here, I didn't want to make a record that was what I felt would have been typically expected from me, coming from a band like Rush, being the guitar player in a band, a solo record would tend to be perceived as a self indulgent guitar thing that would be mostly instrumental, and I didn't want to make that kind of record, I wanted to do something that would stand up on its own. Once I sort of settled on a theme, that was something as unoriginal as love, I wanted to approach it from a darker side, the things that people can go through, the pain and misery and frustration and anger, that can evolve in a relationship that started out as one of beauty and love, that with Victor I was fiddling around with the musical part of it, playing with rhythms and a melody, and I thought it would kind of cool to just narrate a poem over the music in sort of a pseudo beatnik kind of a way. and I had a book of collective poems from Auden there were a couple of poems that my wife really liked in the book, and I found a first edition for her sometime back, anyway I was sitting down at the console in my studio here at home and I opened the book to Victor, and I read through the poem which is quite a bit longer that what I'd done on the record, and I thought, this fits perfectly. Of taking it too an extreme, where the one you love is the one you kill. And it just seemed to fit the mood of the music, and it became a really nice backdrop for the narrative.

SoR: I must admit when I heard the name of the album, I thought it was called Victor in the context that, you'd finished that record and last, you know you'd beaten, it you were the victor.

Alex: Well I suppose in some ways, at the end I felt like that, I felt at times I should have called the record survive, cos it seemed that way, I worked really hard on that record, the last few months I worked on it almost every day and mixing was such a chore, I only had myself to really get any feedback from. So I was caught many times just sitting there mumbling to myself. But, it was extremely satisfy for me and very fulfilling, it was the sort of thing I really needed to do at this point in my life, I needed a project that I could really focus my energies on and something that I could really take charge of, and responsible for any mistakes I made.

SoR: Saying that, did that kind of come out of some past experiences with Rush, you know, you only being 1 third of a group and you only get to have a part of your input put in.

Alex: Certainly there is compromise I think if you ask both the other guys the same question, they'd would also say that there is a compromise and that's why Rush works the way it works, individually we do have different approaches and different expectations and desires in terms of where we want our music to go individually, and as a band we temper that by accepting each others ideas and influences, and so far after so many years I think for the most part it's been a successful partnership, and will continue to be, we've been in the studio now for about 5 weeks I guess and almost all the material is written for the next record there is just one other thing that we want to do, that we want to have fun with I think at this early stage it is always hard to say and it's always hard to be objective about it, because it is such an emotional stage in the whole process, but the stuff that we've written is really satisfying, and we're probably closer than we've ever been, or certainly in many many years and we seem to be really really in tune with each other in terms of what we're writing and where we're going, and really looking forward to the next Rush record.

SoR: I must admit I was going to come that anyway, but not quite yet.

Alex: Yeah, but this one I think has something really special to it. The fact that we took this time off and I don't really want to get in to a whole bunch of Rush stuff, but the fact that we've had this time off, we've come back in and with some renewed energy and whole new level of maturity in our writing and it's great, it feels really really good.

SoR: All I was actually going to ask was, what are we going to expect this time next year? I'm guessing it will be next October when the album comes out.

Alex: Oh no, it'll probably be earlier than that, we're kind of aiming for completion by mid April, so I would guess mid-summer release.

SoR: The reason I said October is, in the past you've always taken the summer off.

Alex: Which we will do again, but we've usually finished records in June with an October release, this'll be finished a little earlier, you know it is so hard to say at this point, what exactly is going to happen with that. I would guess sometime in the mid summer for release.

SoR: One last question about Rush, do you think you'll be touring across here (UK) next tour?

Alex: Impossible to say at this time. Certainly we have talked about starting the tour in Europe or finishing it in Europe, but nothing is written in stone. We will be talking about it in the New Year, but I don't want to really comment on anything at this time in fear of disappointing anyone.

SoR: On Victor you have various musicians, Les Claypool (primus), Bill Bell, I'm assuming Bill is guitarist who was along side you at the Kumbaya gigs.

(See if you can spot Alex's subtle name dropping.)

Alex: Yeah, I met Bill the first year I played Kumbaya, we. I can't remember if you or I talked about this last year, but Bill and I met at Tom Cochranes place, we were rehearsing there for Kumbaya, we were doing one of Toms songs, Life is a Highway. So we were all over at Toms, we'd had a couple bears and we were in his studio and it was real tight and there were 5 or 6 of us, we had little amps, and it was really a lot of fun, as a matter of fact Lee Jansen, I don't know if you're a golfer, he won the US open a couple of years ago, Lee was there, he was in town, and he's a huge Rush fan and we've sort of gotten to know each other over the previous couple of years, he was down there opening beers for us, but it was just like a basement jam, you know I felt like a 13 year old kid again, and after we'd run through highway a couple of times, we just jammed for a while, and Bill and I would play stuff and just make eye contact at those very special moments that only guitarists have. And I knew right away that I had a connection with this guy, and we tried to get together over the period of a year, but I was really busy touring and the recording schedule of all things we kept missing each other, then finally we did connect we got together and we just played again just the two of us sitting around the living room with a couple of guitars and I hadn't done that in a long long time and I really felt good about it, I really became close to Bill, he, is quite a bit younger than me, he comes form a different background playing, stylistically he is very different from me and is very raw and but a real soulful player, he has technique and spends time with it but he really plays from his heart, he is such a beautiful slide player, one of the best I've ever heard, so anyways we became very close friends, so when this project came up, I asked Bill if he'd be interested working with me, co-writing some songs and playing on the record, playing on some stuff that I'd written and just sort of working together on it. We started out together, he ended up having to work on Toms record, Ragged Ass Road, which I play on a couple of bits also, but Bill did most of the work on that record and some other projects he had to do here in Toronto for some other artist, so after a while, we didn't quite get to see each other quite as much, we were working on a daily basis, and when it came to actually recording the guitars, I decided that I wanted to do the guitar recording myself, anyways, as I felt I wanted to have my signature on the record as it is meant to be a quote solo unquote record. But Bill appears in a few places here and there where I thought his parts were important and parts he'd written himself. and he was, there you know he popped in, for, during mixing a couple of days a week, he used to lend moral support, and to open some more beers. So we've become very very close, we fell like we shared a very special relationship.

SoR: Primarily you have Edwin from I mother Earth on Vocals. It seems to me that that was a brave choice to make, when we saw Rush in Toronto when I mother Earth were supporting you guys. We got the impression that they didn't feel too comfortable being up there, they didn't seem to come across too well, Perhaps it was because they were supporting Rush in such a large venue? saying all that though, Edwins singing on Victor is excellent.

Alex: Well, I think the guys were very very nervous that night, everything you've said is true to a degree, a really big venue to them, they hadn't done that many big gigs, they were all on edge anyways, you know what it's like, for a support act to survive a Rush gig, you have to have something to lock in on, Our audiences are very true to us. I've seen some bands, I've felt very sorry for them, because they just didn't stand a chance. There were some other bands that perhaps didn't have that much musical merit, and there were other bands that I thought were just great but it's a tough audience (laughs). With I mother Earth, they've worked a lot in that two year period, they've toured, they've matured, I actually went in last weekend and recorded some guitar for their new record which should be out in February, you know they are sounding really really good, they've toured Europe, there are lots of plans for them over here and in America as well, So I think at that time they were quite young and quite nervous, They are developing into a band that really wants to play, and they really want to develop as a musical unit, and they are very serious about that, and I really respect them for that 'cause, there are many many bands that really don't care about that very much anymore.

SoR: Saying that they kind of remind of you guys in the beginning, you know you did your thing and not what you were told to do, they appear to be doing the same.

Alex: I think if we've influenced this generation of bands in anyway it is probably that more than anything else, in that if you want to do something, in your way, then just stick to it and persevere. It's not always easy but ultimately it is the most satisfying way. A lot of bands today, it doesn't matter how you play it is an attitude thing. We're not in that place, we've always prided ourselves on being better musicians and better song writers and we're always learning even to this day, we're always learning that we can do things better or differently or progress in some way, and I sense that from I mother Earth as well.

Well, I called Edwin up when we got to that stage of doing vocals, I had some local people come in and do some vocals for some demo songs, so that I could get a sense of what the vocals would be like and how things worked. When I finally got around to getting serious about it I called Edwin, they were in rehearsals, he came over and had a listen to the material and read the lyrics and we chatted for a whole afternoon he smoked most of my cigarettes

SoR: I thought you'd stopped?

Alex: (laughs) When I got into the studio there was no stopping me(laughs). And he said, I tell you what we'll get started, I'll come up and we'll get started next week, around May this was, he said "I'll come up next week, but I'm in rehearsals everyday from about noon 'til seven, I'll come at 8 and we can work 'til 2, 3 in the morning. SO we did that for a week. I have to say he really, really put a lot in, it was long days for him, a lot of singing, but you know the project became as important to him as it did to me or to Bill, and that was the great thing about the people who worked on the record, at least the core, everybody was very very into it, Blake Manning who did the drums, worked really hard on getting what I wanted to get on the record and to find a balance of he thought it should be and what I thought it should be. And I think he felt as close to it as I think I did. I was really proud for that.

SoR: With Edwin, you get the impression that he is REALLY into it, the way he carries the emotion across in the lyrics

Alex: Yeah, well he had a REAL sentence, he had a lot of direction. We sat down and talked about character development and things like that, and how we wanted the character in each song portrayed. And I think he caught pretty early that I wanted a visual representation, if you closed your eyes you could imagine this person, or you could imagine the anger and frustration, or the deadliness of what the character is supposed to be, and he managed it pretty well, especially from song to song.

SoR: You can tell what especially when he goes from Don't Care to Promise. Promise is not only different lyrically, but also musically.

Alex: It is a more passionate and lively, compared to Don't Care, raw, angry and frustrated.

SoR: This may offend you slightly, but it isn't meant to be, I found Promise to be, dare a say Commercial kind of a track.

Alex: Promise, is a lot more like that, but that is the kind of mood, I wanted to capture from that. In fact Promise is going to be the first direct to radio single off of the album, then probably Don't Care. You know here radio is so different compared to what it used to be, for instance there are now different segments of radio. But Promise will be the first release off of the album.

SoR: When will that be?

Alex: That'll be around the beginning of December, before the album is release on the 9th of January.

SoR: Are you looking forward to that date?

Alex: Well I'm looking forward to the 8th of January cos that's when we start to record the Rush record. I lived and breathed the Victor record everyday, and when I'd finished the mastering, a friend of mine has a plane, I flew down to Portland Maine, where I had the mastering done. I flew back on a beautiful clear night at about 6000 feet, so you get a really surreal sense of the city lights and the landscape, It was great and the following day I thought, ahhh I'm done. I can move onto some other things, I could play some golf, I could crash (laughs) my motorcycle, I could do what every I wanted (laughs). for a few weeks before I started with the new Rush record, so then I could become re-

focused on the Rush record. So Victor is sort of. I mean I'm beginning to get juiced up on it again as I'm doing some press, and the release is getting closer. You kind of sort of move on to something else.

SoR: Moving on, Start Today, Lisa Dalbello. When I first heard this song, I thought, hey this kicks, you've really gone for it hear, you know pulling out all the stops, and Lisa's voice, I don't know if Ged will like me saying this but, in some parts Lisa sounds a bit like Ged did in the 70's.

Alex: Well, I suppose in some places. I didn't really notice it at first, 'til some people started mentioning it. and I can see the comparison now in certain spots. But I really wanted a contrast, a heavy rocky sounding, very masculine sounding musical song, just opposed with a woman singing. I thought it would make a really nice combination and she was just spectacular to work with, she was so professional. I don't I've ever met someone as professional as her, she listened to a monitor mix that I had done and I had given her some lyrics, we talked briefly about it, she was just finishing up her record when I was mixing mine and she said I'll be back in town the following week I'd be glad to do it then, she came in and got all set up, and said, ok what do you want me to do? You have a fabulous voice just sing the song, you know I said I'm going to happy with whatever you do, she said no no, I need much more specific direction, do you want me to back phrase on this line? do you want me to emphasise the first syllable of this word? What is the character here? is she plaintive? is she angry? and I just got charged up. well if that's the way you want to be about it, then this is what I want and whole day was spent like that, her lyric sheet was covered in red ink from her chart notes, and I kept those lyrics, cos they're just great to look at, you can't see any of the words that I'd written, it is just all her stuff with little symbolism all over it, and she would give me 2 or 3 different takes on each line or stanza, so I could choose from for what ever would fit emotionally. She was just fabulous, I fell in Love with her.

SoR: Don't tell Charlene(laugh).

Alex: Yeah, I did, I think Charlene would fall in love with her too. (laugh). She is just a fabulous person, really full of energy, really really intelligent, and bright and witty, and really well rounded, it was a real joy to work with her.

SoR: I must admit this is the first time I've heard her sing, I know that Queensryche used one of her songs. but that is it, I've not heard any of her other work.

Alex: She has a few records out, she has a new record coming out very soon. The last 5 years I believe she's been in LA. She again wanted to leave Toronto, and get in too a whole different thing. She co-wrote with a lot of big pop writers as well as working on her own, she is a very very active person musically, she's just brilliant.

SoR: On the album there 2 complete instrumentals, Strip and go naked, and Mr. X. Mr X is very short coming it at about 2 and half minutes. Was it a case of just sitting down in the studio one evening and having a mess around?

Alex: Pretty well, I had a basic idea, and Peter Cardinelli, is a local session player, he plays in a band called the Boomers, I mean he has been around for ages, he IS THE funk Master. and he used to play on all that early Rick James stuff and Funkadelic in the late 60's. Pete also plays in the Dexters, the house band at the club. I asked Pete if he'd like to come up and play on a few songs that had a funkier slant to them, I thought he would do justice to, and Mr X. was one of them, he did ONE take on that song. He listened to it once, then went back to the top and did his little walking bass line, and it just fit so perfectly. So once that was on and we fiddled around with the drum sound a little bit to make it a little more explosive I spent an evening putting a bunch of guitars on, it makes me smile when I listen to that song, it is very up kinda song.

SoR: Next is my favourite track on the album, At the End. Now you do all the lead vocals on this track?

Alex: It is yeah.

SoR: Excellent.

Alex: Why thank you.

SoR: I can remember listening to it the first time, saying, it sounds like Alex, but, It's good singing.

Alex: (Laughs a lot)

SoR: The whole song is, well what can I say excellent, the singing is very emotive, emotional, dare I say sensual. You bring across the guys sorrow of his loss. The music also is amazing, the guitar is very emotive also, kinda bluesy, in a way it is like Dave Gilmour (Pink Flyod) What can I say it's just WOW.

Alex: Oh that's great, yeah that's a really special song for me, I co-wrote that with my son Adrian. He put together some keyboard pads, and some drums patterns, then I developed the middle section, and with the guitar and that. I thought about the sadness that was inherent in the song. You know I'm at a certain age now, and a lot of my friends are, where our parents are getting a lot older and we are confronting the prospect of death, of loosing them, a friend of mines father died just last week after being ill for quite a long time, a couple of other people I know parents are in a hospital, and it made me think about being with someone, be it your husband or wife, being with someone for so many years and sharing every aspect of that together and suddenly they're not there, and the intense loneliness that must ensue and feeling of not wanting to carry on anymore without them. Also I don't play that kind of guitar stuff with Rush, there's never been an opportunity to play that sort of bluesier, emotional playing that is so naked and exposed, you know it isn't a think guitar sound, it has tons of sustain, you can do a lot of things with, your fingers can really speak with that kind of sound setup, and the song just developed. I remember the night I did all those guitar parts, I'd had a really rough day, a million things, nothing was going right I got home Bill cam over we were going to work in the evening, he was going to tape op, I wanted to set up a particular guitar sound, my gear wasn't working right, I called Jimmy (Johnson), Jimmy wasn't well, he was on medication, (laughs) he wasn't coherent on the phone, I was just so pissed off, I was just in a complete knot. Started working on the song, we did a few of passes, though this was going no where, I wasn't in the right frame of mind I have to relax. So I came upstairs, I got a half bottle of Jack Daniels and a 6 pack of beer, came back down stairs Bill and I had a few drinks (laughs) and started to relax and started to work on that whole guitar part and I don't know I think it is maybe some of the best playing I've done in a certain style. I'm really proud of that song, I'm glad you like it.

SoR: Next up is Sending out a Warning, complete different kettle of fish, a complete change in direction from At the End. There's something about it that doesn't grip me, it is a good song, but it just doesn't grab me.

Alex: We knew that, and that is what I love about that song, cos I thought when people hear this song they're going to go WHAT THE HELL IS THIS, it is a very unusual song, musically it sounds unusual, lyrically it deals with a breakdown in a relationship, where one side of the relation ship takes constant advantage of the other and keeps twisting that knife, and it is important to be careful not too twist that knife too much or too far otherwise there is no point of return, and I wanted the music to be quirky and unsettling in some way, and again give a good backdrop to those lyrics.

SoR: Now to me it sounds like there is a lot of harmoniser effect in there, causing this, almost violent reaction, that fits with the lyrics. Would I be right there?

Alex: No there are no effects there at all, it just the guitars straight in. There is a second quieter guitar in the background playing a counterpoint to the main line, that along with the fact we plucked the strings and didn't use picks, so the sound of the strings whacking against the neck, again to cause a little bit of extra tension, and when it comes to the chorus, it is kinda of heavy and over baring I wanted to get that dynamics in there, it is an unusual song, and I think it is going to catch a lot of people off guard, they probably won't know what to think about it, to me it is one of my favourite on the record, just because of that reason, being a bit unusual.

SoR: Then comes the almost controversial "Shut up Shuttin' Up" Charlene and her friend Esther doing the vocals. Was there a script for the song or was a case of sticking a mike in between them and getting them to talk?

Alex: We spent about 6 or 7 hours doing that, Again, Bill and I had laid down a basic arrangement for it, I'm not even sure if Blake had come in and played drums on it yet, I think he did, that was as far as we'd gone, I'd just put a guide bass on it and we had guide guitars on, so we got the girls in, it was one of the earlier songs that was done, the idea was just to have a little fun with it, we just wanted the girls to start to put them into a position where they could, you know nagging about guys and these silly things that people get themselves all wound up about. And we went through 10 or 15 different takes of different sort of things they were nagging about, and we finally settled on the ones we did, as they sounded the most natural and they also kinda made you smile and they were a little bit funny.

SoR: The ones that you settled on, it did sound like the girls were having fun.

Alex: Well yeah they did have a riot, of course it was a couple of bottle of wine later. They were really nervous they'd never sat in front of a mike before, they didn't know what to do, so we had to make things as comfortable as possible for them. You know the first few takes were a little slow, but once they started there was no stopping them. They had a lot of fun doing, and we had a lot of fun doing it. And I think on a record that is rather dark and unsettling it adds a little bit of levity but still keeps an edge to it.

SoR: Next up is "Strip and go Naked", there is a hell of a lot of guitar on there.

Alex: That was originally done for the magazine Guitar World, they have some compilations, called Great Guitar, something or other. But we liked it so much it grew to be apart of the record. And we really did strip it down as much as we could, it just acoustics for the most part, we had the electrics come in a bit later on, in the little, whatever you want to call them chord sections. Bill and I really had a great time doing that track.

SoR: How many guitars are there on there, it sounds about 8.

Alex: You know there are not as much as you think, there are, three tracks of mandola, two that are playing the same thing and one that is slightly different places with a little bit of a different sound to it, there's one 12 string electric, two acoustics and two 12 string acoustics, so I guess yeah probably about 8 tracks. But we wanted to create something that felt immediate and personal like a bunch of people were sitting around playing, and hopefully that is what I managed to capture, at least when I listen to it, I can almost picture, these guys sitting, or girls sitting on stools and playing.

SoR: The Big Dance, follows on, this again is a different kettle of fish. It gives a similar reaction to Strip as Sending out a warning does to At the End. Was inspired by Nine Inch Nails my any chance?

Alex: Again that was a song I wrote with Adrian, and Adrian is into lots of different type of music, and NIN is one of the bands he does enjoy, I like them too, I thought Downward Spiral especially was a really good record, I like Trents work and I suppose it was influenced by NIN and Ministry that sort of thing, but I wanted to take slightly different slant on it, have it slightly more guitar orientated, but still have that same kind of edge to it.

SoR: I haven't seen a lyric sheet yet for the album, and with this song being the way it is I've not really been able to get a grasp on the them, what is the song about?

Alex: Yeah they do go by kind of quickly, It is about a particular type of person that's an opportunist who moves in with the sense of a shark for the kill for those that are weak, perhaps in a situation where they don't have all their strength together and just taking advantage of it, in a particular scenario.

SoR: It is a very loud in your face.

Alex: Yeah, that's the way I wanted that song to be, I wanted it to be overbearing and to be very nasty lyrically, and again I think Edwin did a great job portraying that type of character.

SoR: You've mentioned Adrian a couple of times now, does he actually play on the record?

Alex: Well he did the keyboard programming on both those songs, and of course Les (Claypool) played on that one. I had initially spoke to LEs in the spring about playing on the whole record, they were just finishing up their record, they were going to go on tour, he said if schedule permits I'd more than happy to. I started playing bass, just doing guides, I thought hey this is fun I think I'll play bass (laughs) I saved, of course I kept the three tracks that Pete played on, but I saved Big Dance for Les because I thought Les would take it outside, and he did exactly that, he came up, they were playing here in town, I organised golf for the other guys, because they made the trip up overnight instead of during the day as they normally would, and Les came up here, we ran through the song a couple of times, so we spent the rest of the day just talking and hanging out then I went down to the show, but he just added his particular flavour and slant to it, both rhythmically and musically.

SoR: Les is not the most, well isn't not really your typical bass player, he goes everywhere, he just isn't afraid of that fret board at all, he does what he wants to do.

Alex: Exactly, it doesn't necessarily have to be in key, there are just no rules when it comes to his playing.

SoR: We've already mentioned Victor, so next is I am the Spirit. This is an unusually little number if you don't mind me saying. There is even a riff in there that resembles the main line in The Spirit of Radio.

Alex: Well it is slightly different, again I just wanted to get activity in that part, those parts musically; at the end of the day I felt were a little straight forward, so I just filled them with what I guess is a bit if a trademark of mine. I've done that sort of thing on a few songs, The Weapon, Spirit of Radio that sort of thing. I thought I'd just slide it in there. I think over a period of time I might get not to like that sort of thing too much, but for the time being it works(laughs).

SoR: In general was the lyric writing style, theme, based on past events, people, friends you know about and so on at all?

Alex: Yeah, really by both, you know you live with someone for a long time, or your married or you have a deep relationship with someone, there are many peeks and valleys you go through and many transformations in a relationship and it seems that at this point in my life I became very sensitive to a lot of my friends and their relationships, some have broken down, some of them have become stronger so of them have just carried on in the same complacent way that they have for a long time, some people I thought were rock solid have just fallen apart. It got me to thinking about the value of a relationship and what are the important things are in a relationship, the understanding the sensitivity to each other the communication they are all such important things that can me taken for granted, where you suddenly reach a point that there is a breakdown in that, and you perhaps didn't pay enough attention to it and just let it go, and the importance of hanging on to it or just moving away from it.

SoR: I think the album covers every aspect of the human emotion regarding the bad side of love.

Alex: Well I tried to achieve that with the record, and it was foremost in my mind when I was writing lyrics for it; I wanted to create minuets. I looked at it as a screenplay almost and that the music was the actual film and I wanted to create characters and scenarios that felt very real, that is why I wanted to use I am the spirit as the closing song on the record, because it is a song about self esteem and about being all the things that are everything, and having the knowledge that you do everything for yourself and that you have to be strong for yourself before you can be strong for anyone else.

SoR: Did you just write the eleven songs or are there anymore lying around?

Alex: There was one more song.

SoR: Is that the one with Sebastian Bach?

Alex: No actually Sebastian sang on the demo of Promise. When it was all said he did a great job on the demo, and he's great enthusiastic, and I know he was really disappointed when I had to call him and tell him that I would be using Edwin, he was really looking forward to it, he was also really looking forward to working on more songs as well, but I really felt that Edwin's voice was really what I wanted. The other song, it just didn't hold up musically, it was too ordinary. I actually wanted to get Tom Jones to sing on the song (laughs), the guy who had done the demo had a little bit of Tom Jones in his voice and I thought this would be soo cool to have Tom Jones on my record, even the whole thought of having him at my house, it was too much I just had to do it, but as the other material developed I felt that the song would not stand up with the rest of it, and I decided before I had even got to recording the guitar, I'd already done drum tracks on it and bass tracks it was set for the guitar and vocals then I decided to not include it.

SoR: Is Victor a one off contract or will you have to do more, sometimes you hear of musicians having to sign an X album contract to get even just one record out, EG. Sammy Hagar.

Alex: Well because there are still a couple months lead in time before release, I haven't spoken to anybody, about any kind of obligations in that way, I did this record for myself, I paid for it, I recorded it at home, I played on it, I mixed it, you know this was MY project, and really when it was all done, if no one had wanted it, I would have been a little disappointed but it wouldn't have bothered me, it would have been worth it, I proved something to myself. I would definitely like to do something like this again and I intend to, whether I'll have the time to do it in the next year, two years, five years I don't know, it really depends on what Rush does, Rush is my priority. But this came at the right time in my life, I really enjoyed it, and I'd love to do it again, as I would love to work with other people again, The day that I spent with Dalbello, was really special, and I felt that I could really work in that situation as a producer and reap some benefit, that's something I'd like to do, but right now the Rush record is going to take us right through to the middle of next year and the touring and whatever happens with that and goes beyond that.

SoR: You've said that you do want to it again, are you sort of thinking now that Rush IS your job and not just that hobby type lifestyle as it used to be, I guess what I mean is, do you feel that Rush is now an obligation.

Alex: No it's not an obligation, you know I might have felt a little that way then we started working together again, but Ged and I spent the first week discussing the different aspects of recording, the band and our futures and the growing we've done, we've all done so much growing up in the last year and a half, we are different people than we were. I wasn't really sure if I was still happy doing what we were doing in Rush, that little voice inside of me saying, is this the time, is your heart really in it, and we've always said that if the day comes and we're not in it 100% that's the day that we stop and to do a record for the money is just poison to me.

By the end of that first week we had so much stuff on tape, great little riffs and melodies, and the following week it was like a revelation, I'd fallen so completely in love with what I was doing, it is more important to me that it ever was. After so many years, it is not easy to tour for any of us, we've put a lot of time on the road we've put a lot of time in away from having a so called normal life, where you have a routine where you're with the people that you love or you are with the people that are most important to you, and you look at it as a job in a sense, because this is what you need to do, you have to get out, you have to play and of course there is a thing inside of ALL of us that wants us to get on a stage and play, those 2 hours on stage are totally unrelated to the rest of the 22 hours we have to wait for those 2 hours on a daily basis while we're on the road. Touring is a difficult thing for us after so many years, when you are young and it's new and you're fresh there is no better experience, it is life. but at this point the touring aspect is difficult, we still WILL tour but we really will have to have a hard look at it, so that we can do it in such a way that we are still happy and we are still energised by it, otherwise we're short changing ourselves as well as our audience and those things have always been very very important things to us and we don't want to jeopardise that or compromise things.

SoR: Well, Alex thanks for your time, it's been good to talk to you again, and I hope we can meet up next tour sometime.

Alex: No problem, Say hi to Mick for me and see you soon.

Well thats it, I'd like to thank Anna & Pegi at SRO/Anthem for setting up the interview.