Rush will make its first, and likely only, public appearance of 2003 tomorrow when the legendary rock trio is inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame.
The presentation takes place during a closed gala ceremony during the Canadian Music Industry Awards at Toronto's Westin Harbour Castle hotel.
The distinction between this Hall of Fame award and the one received at the 1994 Juno Awards is the qualifier "industry." Over the past 35 years, Rush has become more than a band; it has become an industry, a business.
"I hadn't thought about it in that light, but obviously we've become some kind of institution in this country," muses bassist/singer Geddy Lee.
Rush is the second band, following the Guess Who, to join such movers and shakers in the Canadian Industry Hall of Fame as retailer Sam "The Record Man" Sniderman, and concert promoter Donald Tarlton (aka Donald K. Donald).
Rush's Lee, drummer/lyricist Neil Peart and guitarist Alex Lifeson have released 22 albums, which have worldwide sales of over 35 million. They own eight Juno Awards, a Lifetime Achievement award from the Musician's Institute in Hollywood, and are Officers of the Order of Canada.
"It's a compliment," Lee says of receiving such awards. "It's recognition of what you like to consider a worthwhile life, especially for a band that's been around as long as we have. It's nice to be reminded that the industry, in particular, doesn't take it for granted."
Who could take for granted a band that returns after a five-year absence (following the tragic deaths of drummer Neil Peart's daughter in a car accident and wife from cancer) with a new studio album, Vapor Trails, and what turned out to be one of the top 20 highest-grossing tours of 2002? The band played 63 shows in 62 North American cities to some 600,000 fans. "There was a renewed energy in the way we approached our live performances," says Lifeson.
What the future holds for Rush after such a successful comeback is anyone's guess -- even the band's. There's the brand new The Spirit Of Radio: Greatest Hits: 1974 - 1987, and a still untitled DVD, made up of footage from the band's first tour of Brazil, slated for a spring release. But a new studio album?
"This year, I plan to be with my family," says Lee, "do a lot of travelling, focus on my life outside of music, which I've been neglecting the past four years. I'm sure at some point I'll start getting itchy to do some work. I don't know what form that will take, whether it will be band work or work on my own, but this year I'm just going to try and take a break."
Lifeson says he plans to do some production or another solo album. He expects to get together with Lee later in the year to do "some casual writing" with a view to start working on an album in 2004, followed by a tour, but then he reconsiders.
"At this stage in our lives, it meant so much for us to get out on the road and play this tour and we felt so good about it, in some ways. If it were to end now I would feel that there was some kind of closure, that we went through a rough period and did it great one more time," he says. "So the door goes two ways at this point. Either we dive into the next project in a year and repeat the whole thing, or we just find that we've had our fill and move on."