If you told Andrew MacNaughtan that having a handful of photos published in Rush's Power Windows tourbook would lead to him being their official photographer, touring with the band as their Personal Assistant, direct videos and ultimately film a documentary, it would have been a dream come true. Lucky for MacNaughtan, that dream was realized. 1989's Presto album introduced his stunning portraits to the Rush community and for the tour he slid into the role of assistant to the band (which would continue through the Roll the Bones tour). He continues to photograph Rush and has gone on to direct over 50 music videos, and has worked on album art for over 100 releases. His photographic credits include Sarah McLachlan, Dizzy Gillespie, the Barenaked Ladies, Godsmack, Alanis Morissette and more. He has been nominated and won awards for his photography and video direction including a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent to the Grammy) and the VideoFACT Director of the Year Award at the MuchMusic Video Awards. For more information on his work, visit www.andrewmacnaughtan.com and his Photographing Rush series, high-res photos and more at www.andrewmacnaughtan.net.
MacNaughtan is no stranger to Rush fans and his most recent work, an almost hour-long documentary on the band's trip to Rio, has been a ten-year dream for the photographer. I spoke with Andrew by phone on September 26, 2003 as he traveled around Toronto, drove to meetings and dodged crazy drivers. The discussion focused around his work on the highly-anticipated documentary, getting cheeky with the band, his still photography work, a 30th anniversary project, as well as the magical Rio experience.
Whose idea was it to film a documentary for the DVD release? Did the you approach the band or did they approach you?
I've wanted to do a documentary with the band for many years and I think the guys were initially rather resistant to it and not because they couldn't be bothered, but more because they just really believe that there really wasn't much of a story to tell for a documentary. They couldn't understand why ."Well, Andrew, we're not very interesting people," they'd say. For example, I wanted to go in and do a documentary of them making the Vapor Trails album. So it'd be me in there with my camera filming Alex and Geddy working on some songs, Neil working out lyrics - and they said "Well, Andrew, that's not very interesting. The process that we go through to create and write albums is not all that camera friendly to be honest." And to a certain extent I think they have a point. So I think they just shied away from it because it's not really what Rush is all about. They're not eye candy for pictures. They're regular guys going about what they do in a very sort of business-like manner and it's not like there are hot chicks running around backstage or at the studio or doing lines of blow, y'know, that's not what Rush is about. They just felt that it wasn't the right thing for them to do. Then this whole Brazil trip came up and really all of us at the same time just sort of said "y'know maybe it'd be worth getting Andrew to film this and maybe he can create a little story out of it." It is a pretty unique trip for the band. It's very unusual. They'd never played Brazil and that's an interesting story. So that's how it really came about for the most part.
Did you come up with a concept of what you wanted to shoot prior to filming and what you wanted the documentary to accomplish? Or did you just let the footage decide the game plan?
There really was no game plan in place. They were really relying on me to try and as the photographer, as a director of music videos I'm coming in with an eye and perhaps creative ways I can film this piece, but there really was no story line in place at all and it was up to me to do that. I did make notes and I knew that I wanted to get very specific things. For instance I knew I wanted to do soundchecks, I knew I wanted to do pick-up shots of each of the cities we were in. I also wanted to put abstract imagery to music. So I did have some criteria, but basically the goal for me was to just shoot absolutely everything I possibly could - which is what I did. Literally my video camera was going the entire time, about 18-hour days. It was non-stop. In certain cities I hired a B-camera and even a C-camera so I had things to cut with. So basically the goal was to shoot everything possible - try and create a couple of scenarios that would at least keep it interesting and unusual. Another example, I knew that I wanted to film one of the guys in their hotel rooms. I don't know doing what, but something that was natural and real and what they do when they're in this hotel room. Simple. I got a great segment in there with Alex having breakfast and of course he's hysterical. Unfortunately most of it ended up on the cutting room floor because there was just too much stuff. So I had some criteria, but for the most part it really was to shoot absolutely everything and then cut it up and sift through it. And literally I came back with close to 180-hours of footage. I had about 40-45 hours myself just with my camera, plus these two other cameras as well. So we literally had a crazy amount of footage and the hardest part of this whole thing was I had to sit down with my editor and actually try to assemble some kind of a format and that was really, really challenging. And it took a couple of months just to try things and to see what made sense and what kind of story I could build. We tried a variety of different things - we tried to make it all about humor, we tried to make it all about arty moments and let shots linger and be very long and be sort of artful and airy and just put ambient music behind them. We decided in the end after experimenting for a couple of months to just do it chronologically and I think it's turned out very well. It all just clicked and made sense that the best way to go was to just let it unfold as the days actually unfolded over the course of this one week in Brazil.
Will all of the scenes that hit the cutting room floor ever see the light of day on a future release at all?
Well, you never know. Who knows. Another example is, Alex having breakfast - it's actually hysterical, but again after a point in a documentary you sort of think, "Well, we've seen enough of this let's move on," and I know the die hard fans would love to see all of it, and quite frankly it's all hysterical and it's funny, but with the goal of trying to do something that is within a short, sort of snappy piece, it was necessary to cut some of that. I filmed Neil twice during his warm-up in his drum room - that goes on for a good twenty minutes, him just practicing and warming-up, but after a minute of that or even two minutes of that, I mean not to me, but the average person they go, "Well, we've seen enough of that let's move on." So yes, that footage does exist and it is absolutely incredible and yes, maybe one day it will show up, but for this documentary we needed to sort of pull it back a bit and give it a nice balance throughout.
I can imagine that would be extremely difficult with so much footage to balance between the 'very interesting to the die-hard fan' and the 'bordering on boring for the casual fan' - it must have been a very difficult balance to achieve throughout the piece.
Yes, it was very difficult. My initial edit was too long. First of all, quite frankly I was expecting to only have a little fifteen minute documentary. Just a really wonderful little fifteen minute clip and I think that's all the band ever expected as well, just a little bonus thing. But we came away with so much great footage and stuff to me that I thought the fans would find really interesting - the stuff that I always thought was interesting and now it's about 55 minutes or so. It really surprised me that I had enough, well, I told you how many hours of tape I had but still a lot of it was pick-up stuff of them walking and stupid things like that - that stuff is not very interesting. But it was very difficult to sift through that footage and try and figure out what was pertinent and what would be interesting to fans and what was just boring and dumb. It was very difficult to get that balance. The first cut that I had was definitely getting way too long and I had way too much stuff of Neil warming-up for instance. It started to drag on too long and it was starting to make the whole snappy piece slow down too much. It was a tough job trying to weigh out the positives and minuses of various shots. At first I was cutting it as a fan and then I realized, it just makes it too slow and too boring, it needed to be more snappy and interesting.
I read that you conducted post-tour interviews for the documentary. Were these free form sessions or more structured Q&A?
I definitely had the questions that I knew I wanted to ask. What was critical about those interviews with the three guys was that in the back of my mind I knew I needed some kind of foundation for the entire documentary. I needed the cement that tied it all together. In other words I'm always cutting back to them speaking in this interview setting so it has some semblance to route the entire clip. So I did have criteria of what I needed them to talk about. For instance, I showed up at Alex's door one morning before the big press day and I filmed him sitting in bed sitting next to his wife who was still in bed as she's cracking jokes about him and I needed to have Alex explain who this person was. So I had him set it up in the interview segment, just talk a little bit about Charlene and that she showed up and was on tour with him in Brazil, so it helps the viewer understand who this person is laying next to him. I think it would be too weird if all of a sudden we hear this voice, we see her for a moment, and the viewer thinks "Who is this woman? Is this Alex's chick that he picked up last night in Sao Paulo or something?" So there were things that I really needed the guys to talk about that would help explain things that occurred within the documentary.
So we're going to be treated to a very intimate look at the band, something that we really haven't seen before. Off-stage and family interaction is something we've never seen on a proper Rush release.
You're right. And I wouldn't even normally go there. I mean I have footage of Neil with his new wife and stuff with Ged's wife, but I didn't use that stuff because I knew that would be inappropriate - it's not something I'd want to do. However in Alex's situation and in this particular scene in the documentary specifically, it was so funny and he was literally feeding off of his wife who was equally as funny. That just made it a really special moment that I wanted to show the fan that side of Alex. And he was fine with it and so was his wife. We're only talking about a split second that we see her, we hear her but we don't actually see her that much. It's just a really fun moment and it's very funny.
When I talked to Howard about the show itself he described the atmosphere as "electric and exciting." What was your reaction to the show in Rio? Although I guess we'll see that come through in the documentary as well...
Well, Neil goes extensively into it about how overwhelming it was. For me it was extremely overwhelming, I could not believe how many people were there and how these fans were so appreciative of finally being able to see Rush. It amazed me. Most of the people I would say couldn't speak English but they were singing every single line of every song. They were even humming during "YYZ." They were going [Andrew hums the melody]. They were doing that to the instrumental, "YYZ." It sent shivers. It was unbelievable. They were singing every single song - it was so powerful. It's funny because I was just doing a couple of interviews yesterday for this charity fundraiser I was doing for the Photographing Rush pictures that I sold for charity. A guy asked me what sort of sparked the initial idea for wanting to do the signed prints for charity and it was this trip to Brazil that really opened my eyes and made me realize how fortunate and blessed, for lack of better word, I have been. And a lot of that has been largely due to my affiliation with Rush and the incredible things I've been able to experience because of this band and I just felt so lucky that I was able to witness such a historical event as those three shows in Brazil and to witness something that was so powerful and it was really a great thing. I was so glad I was there with my camera being able to capture this and I hope that my documentary conveys how the band felt about being in Brazil. I know from a technical point of view it was a nightmare for the band both in Sao Paulo and in Rio. There was a torrential downpour in Sao Paulo, the [largest] show of their career, apart from of course the SARS Benefit, but it rained and not only was it pouring in on the stage and Neil's drum kit, but every time he hit his cymbals water would splash in his face. Then he'd play his mini-marimba with all his samples and he'd be doing his drum solo and every sixth note would finally come out - so basically the whole electronic side of his kit was shorting out. For him it was really, really difficult, but at the same time in hindsight he says it was one of the most exciting nights of his career.
The spirit of the crowd helped him rise above the technical problems?
Absolutely and Rio as well was technically for them very difficult. Not only were they filming the show and recording the sound for that show, but the crew was still setting up the gear at 9:30 at night.
That was due to the long trip and they went on without a soundcheck correct?
That must have been nerve-wracking on the night they're filming.
Well, I think it was more nerve-wracking for the people who were operating the cameras and recording the sound more so than it was for the band. They just finished doing 60+ shows so they knew they could play well and they knew that their crew would be able to give them good monitors right away in their ears. They were more concerned though for the film crew and the recording crew that didn't have the soundcheck. But it came off without a glitch for the most part and it was really a great thing.
I know the original plan to record in CT near the end of the tour but I'm thinking that if the filming had been done there that we wouldn't have a finished project that was nearly as special as this set. The fans and the crowd would have, not to sound derogatory, but they would have been 'just another North American crowd.' I think the fact that the Brazilian experience was so special to everyone involved that the fans will be treated to a better DVD as a result.
Absolutely. I knew there were plans to shoot there originally and for me I'm so glad it wasn't because I would never have had the opportunity to film this documentary which I've dreamed about for about 10 years. I'm so glad that the CT shoot fell through and that they decided "Well, it's way more ambitious and probably technically a total nightmare, but let's try to do it in Brazil." And I'm so glad they did because it is a remarkable DVD. I haven't seen the entire show on DVD yet, I've seen some clips and some rough cuts of it and it's pretty incredible. Alex spent weeks mixing the sound, he even had to go back at one point and re-mix various segments of it because he wasn't happy with it - which is one of the reasons for the delay. But he is so excited about it because he really spent literally several months on this so it's absolutely spectacular. He's really proud of it. The documentary alone took me five months to get the cut to where I felt, "Oh my god, I've got a great story here." In fact, Neil and I talked last night and he said that he sat down and watched everything from beginning to end and he's so thrilled, he's so happy with it. He said "Everyone really pulled off such a good job." He's thrilled with the documentary and said "It's a really great story. It's interesting and it holds your attention." He was shocked. As I said at the beginning of the interview, the band thinks they're boring, that there's no story to tell, but he was really shocked and he said, "It's a great documentary, it's a great DVD and the fans are going to love it."
We're lucky that a fan from way back was in charge of the documentary.
It helps being a fan and loving the band's music. Obviously things are different for me with my relationship with the guys now. In some ways it sort of sucks, I mean, I get excited when I see them on opening night and I'm really excited for them and really proud of them, but it's different now because it's a friendship/working relationship. It's just different, but I know that I had [the fan] advantage going into filming as I knew what the fan would want to see, what would make a good story and I felt that was a really huge benefit.
Did you shoot still photos during the Rio show at all or were you focused solely on the documentary?
The documentary was my number one priority. I took pictures from one set-up and I shot the photo that is on the front cover of the DVD - the live picture.
From "One Little Victory."
Yes. That series of photos I shot with the idea in mind of, 'I better get shots of this. I think this could potentially be a great cover.' So I shot it vertically with the idea in mind of the shape of a DVD. I sent the roll to Hugh Syme and we talked about some ideas and I said, "I shot these photos specifically for your consideration for the front cover." I guess from there he sort of rolled with that and came up the dragon idea and just took it to the next level. I think it's very funny and very brilliant - it's a wonderful cover.
It certainly is and it helps to bring out the humorous side of the band as well. Did Hugh work with Norm Stangl [of Spin Productions. Norm created the dragon visuals for the Vapor Trails tour] to come up with the dragon for the cover?
I think he got the initial elements from Norm, but Hugh is the one that added all of the fruits and that stuff. He created all of that himself.
It's a striking image and it also marks the first time that the band has actually appeared on the front cover of an album.
Wow. I've never thought of that - that's a really great observation. I've never thought of that - very cool.
You've photographed the band a lot, what were you trying to get filming in Rio that was different from your still work with the band?
Because I was there with a very specific goal in mind, to document absolutely everything, I think I was a little cheekier with where I would shove my camera, for instance, in their faces. It was really exciting because it allowed me to film stuff that quite frankly I probably would not have given the time of day to bother shooting because it would make a stupid still picture. But in moving pictures it made sense. In other words filming Geddy opening his dressing room case and breaking his nail on the case and then swearing about how much he hates the cases after all these years - in still photography that would not make a great picture, but in moving pictures it was a wonderful moment. It's funny and it's real.
Did that make the documentary?
Absolutely. There are a few things in there that I think are pretty damn funny and might surprise a few viewers. There's a moment when Geddy is not very pleased with me and basically telling me to "fuck off." It's a great moment and we left it in because we thought it was funny. And he laughed about it too. In the past Neil would never let me go in and take pictures of him warming up because again I think he felt, at that time, it was an invasion of his privacy. That's his private time when he would be able to rehearse and get into the right headspace before he would go on stage. I think he would find that invasive. However, because I was there for a very specific goal, he knew I needed to make a story and try to get a story and of course he would have full rights of striking something if he was not happy with it and it was just too revealing. I think it allowed me to get things that I would not normally be able to get without pissing the guys off.
When you're shooting photos in a live setting, what is your process before a show as far as pre-visualitzation and planning? Do you go in with a fairly structured plan?
Absolutely. Every night before the guys go on I make a list of things that I know I want and where I need to be and what songs I want to get. What I do is get the set list and I just watch the show the first night and then I make notes about, "Oh, that's a great moment there," "That's where Neil throws his drumstick in the air, I want to make sure I'm ready for that shot," or "Alex tends to do something goofy that would make a good shot." I make notes throughout the entire show and then I leave them sitting on the stage in front of me next to my lenses and I then I know, "Oh. 'Limelight' is coming up, I've got to get over to the left side of the stage to get that great moment when Alex does his solo" and that sort of thing. You kind of need to prepare yourself ahead of time and know where you need to be at what point in the set.
Did you shoot anything in Hartford for opening night [of the Vapor Trails tour]?
I think I just shot video footage on opening night for the video clip.
Where is your favorite area of a venue to photograph a Rush show?
I think probably some of my favorite shots ever are the ones beside Neil's drum kit. Because I feel that's very cheeky. The audience can sort of see me, it feels a bit risky and maybe not necessarily appropriate, but I find that it gives me those really unusual camera angles that people can't generally get access to. So I like those kinds of situations like that. I also like behind Alex's amps. And I really do love shooting from the rafters way back at the furthest possible seat in the arena to capture the energy of the whole building. I did a shot like that recently in Quebec City that I'm quite excited about. It's a bit of a time exposure thing and all you can see is thousands of hands in the air. It's a really great moment - I'm sure we'll try to use it in the next tourbook.
One of my favorite shots is from the Test Fr Echo tour book of Alex's Marshall stacks and his shadow silhouetted in a spotlight. Alex isn't even in the photo, only his shadow.
Those unexpected things are what make it exciting...anything is possible and everything is unexpected. I don't do a lot of concert photography, I used to do a lot of it when I was first starting out in my career just to get the experience and stuff. That's basically how I started to get to know the guys. The first concert I shot for them would have been on the Grace Under Pressure tour and there were some pictures used in the Power Windows tourbook. Now, I don't really shoot a lot of that stuff and Rush is the exception because I find it way too stressful. I'm so passionate about my work and I really want to get the very best possible shot I can get in everything I do and I feel that if I'm shooting and I miss a moment I get really bummed out about it. I find that concert photography requires you to be really, really sharp. You have to be able to anticipate and foreshadow what's about to occur and what might possibly occur and be ready for that and if you don't shoot concert stuff all the time and a lot you sometimes miss those moments. So it's tricky and that type of shooting is very difficult I think.
Especially when you're using a fully manual system. Other concert photographers that I've spoken with who have gone digital or fully automatic deliver nice shots but the challenge is removed to some extent.
It's funny that you say that because I literally picked up a new digital system yesterday. A lot of my album cover work that I've been shooting lately is digital. A lot of the labels are desperately trying to figure out ways to save money and instead of spending $2500 on film and processing because I'm shooting 60 rolls of film for an album cover or whatever, publicity and everything, they'd rather I shoot digitally and save that money and maybe put it towards renting a cool location or something. So I had to make that jump - I was resisting that move because I love my Leica. And I love my Hasselbald stuff and the quality and sharpness of that is very important to me. But now I'm kind of excited about digital. I've shot digitally a lot, probably the last 12 or 14 shoots have been all digital and it's been very successful and even last night I was thinking, "This would be really fun to try this live." So I'm ready to explore that route.
Have you ever shot a live performance with the Hasselblad?
Yes, once, but it wasn't very successful. I think I shot some lighting shots - full stage shots, from back at the lighting board. It's difficult because....the Hasselblad, it's hard to explain, but it just isn't right for that. It does give you a bigger format and better quality with the grain, but it just wasn't as successful as I was hoping it would be. Another time I used the Hasselblad I did some shots of Neil over-top of his drum kit. Do you know the ones from the Presto tour where he's wearing his purple and black striped shirt? I shot a bunch of those with the Hasselblad and that was the closest I came to shooting live stuff and that was only with stage lights. And it also really was not conducive because it was a pain in the ass. I was dangling from a ladder with wires hanging off my back holding me there in case I fell off and I was hand holding the Hasselblad. It was a pain in the ass - it just didn't work. The better shots turned out to be the ones I shot with my 35mm.
What is your normal gear set-up when shooting Rush live.
The gear I use now is all Leica and I still shoot transparencies. I have a 28, 50, 80 - a beautiful 80 f1.4 which I absolutely love, it's my favorite lens in the whole world, and I have my 135 and a 180mm. That's my standard set-up for concert stuff. But now with this whole digital thing I guess I'm going to have Canon Digital now. I'm not really sure how that's going to work for concerts, I have no idea. Will it be something I like or something I hate and curse at - so we'll see.
Are there any plans on releasing a photographic Rush book?
There's been talk of it because there's a whole bunch of stuff I have that people have never seen before. I've just gone through all of the pictures for a project that I have coming up which I can't really talk about, but it's really cool. I think the fans are really going to be excited about it. I've been going through all the photos from day one of Rush and it's their 30th anniversary coming up so it's been a great opportunity to go through all the historical pictures. I'm just in awe of some of the great moments that Fin Costello caught - man o'man - he's a real talent. I have thought about a book and I did investigate it at one point, but to do it the way that I would want it to be done the reproduction and the quality of it would not be cost efficient. A publisher probably couldn't recoup the money for that, not the way I would want it to be presented. I'm not interested in doing just a soft cover flipsy-flopsy thing that you can buy at a record shop - it just doesn't interest me. We have the tour books and those are really beautiful and that's a really good representation of my work with the band through the years. I love the tour books. I think last year's tour book is one of my favorites, I'm not really sure why, maybe because there's a lot of interesting variety in there that I'm really excited about. It just looks really good and Hugh did a beautiful job with the design of it. I know the band considers it one of their favorites, so that was really nice. I love Alex's portrait and I love Neil's portrait in the desert - I'm really proud of that. There are some other moments in there that are really special. I love the whole sofa series, that's pretty funny and I love that whole Alex shot of him molesting poor Neil inside the front cover - it's pretty hilarious, jumping all over him.
I think that set of photos for the album was very important; it showed that the band was back with a new album and that they were excited and full of life and energy. It was an important message to convey after such a long and difficult time away.
Well that was really our goal. Neil's not crazy about having his picture taken, I think that's pretty much common knowledge, but obviously there's a comfort level with me being there because we're pals and all. I think the way Geddy said it best about that series of photos, "Neil's been through a lot and we wanted some pictures that show Neil with his two best friends there on either side of him supporting him."
Speaking of that comfort level, it wasn't until your shots for Roll the Bones when we really saw their humorous side showing though with the shot of them goofing around with their fists up.
Well, I don't know, I came across a picture of Fin's from the Moving Pictures photo shoot when Geddy's hair was really, really long. From that series of photos there's a number of good ones of them goofing around and having a good time. I don't know, I think because we have such a great friendship it really does let their guard down and part of those photos are them basically playing around with me because they love to make me the butt of their jokes. It's just the way it is. That's just part of my job I guess and I think that was because being their Personal Assistant on the Presto and Roll the Bones tours we got to know each other pretty well and I think they sort of feel, "Ok, he's making us stand here and take these stupid pictures of us that we really don't want to do, let's make the best of it." So we've captured some pretty fun moments. They've allowed me to experiment and do some unusual things. I'm really proud of those three portraits from the Roll the Bones tourbook - I think it was really great that they allowed me to be a little experimental and I tried something different that they'd never done before and I think it worked very well.
The one of Neil in particular is a striking contrast of images.
It's the two of Neil's personality: the intellectual reading Aristotle, but yet him dancing in the background which is really the other side of Neil. He's a very fun, very funny, great guy who likes to have a good time. I really like that shot and that was his idea. All of those shots were the guys' ideas and I just executed them as best I could.
Do they usually come up with the ideas for the portraits?
Yes, for the most part. Well, the Neil in the desert shot that was my idea. I really wanted to try something that felt really special instead of just shooting the drum kit against a backdrop which is something we've done for the last five tours. I really wanted to do something a little more artful and challenging. The shot of Alex, I think I said to him "I want to do something weird and sort of stupid. What about a shot of you on a beach with chicks and bikinis." And then he said, "Oh no, how about this: how about you shoot a huge muscle guy, like Charles Atlas was the term he used, and then take a picture of my head and stick it on his body." Perfect and that's what we did and that's how quickly it came about. And just so you know we didn't really squish Alex's head that much, this guy was absolutely huge. When I showed Alex the picture of the guy, he was laughing so hard he was actually crying. He could not believe how hilarious that photo turned out.
In the Vapor Trails tourbook the candid rehearsal tour shots were a nice treat and I read that there might be some video footage from the tour rehearsals that might make it to the documentary?
Yes, I did put in some. I shot some video footage from that day, but it's actually quite sparse because I only shot for about a half-hour or something. I really didn't shoot that much. Remember, this is pre-documentary or even knowing that there'd be a documentary, so certain people weren't all that open to being videotaped if you know what I mean. It wasn't anything official either, it was just Geddy saying "Hey, maybe you should bring the camera up and just grab a little footage and you never know what we could use it for." So it does appear in the documentary, I think I put a little bit of them practicing "Natural Science" and a bit of "The Trees" in there. I also really love those photos I did of them rehearsing, that was a really cool thing that they finally said "Yes, sure Andrew you can come up and shoot some pictures while we're rehearsing, no problem." And again they've never really let me do that because it was just again their private time. It's them working and they need to be focused. They don't want to be thinking about Andrew running around with his camera. But again there's now more of a comfort level and they know that I can be discreet and not be intrusive in anyway.
You also put together a video segment for the SARS Benefit show from Toronto where they played to their largest crowd ever, almost 500,000.
Yea, that was pretty incredible too I must say. It was a pretty amazing day. It was really important to them. It was Neil's idea to do it and what's funny is that generally it's the most difficult for Neil to come out of hiatus to be able to gear up for something like that because it takes him a week of solid rehearsals and a lot of pain to get back to the condition he needs to be in to play a show like that. If you had seen his hands the day of that show, they were cracked and bleeding because he had been practicing so hard that week. And it's very painful for him, it's hard. It's one thing for him to ease into doing a tour when you slowly ease into getting up to practicing several hours a day but he literally had to go in and do five hours a day in order to get his chops up to his standards of being able to be 100% ready for that concert. It was hard on him. The guys were really so glad and really felt the need to do it. It was a great day all around for everyone.
Has there been any discussion as to whether or not that footage may be released in the future?
I don't know. The Rolling Stones own all that stuff. They own all the rights to it and I think there was maybe talk of a DVD coming out eventually, but who knows. I don't know really anything about that and I don't think the band knows anything about that either. It's out of their hands.
Did you take any still photos that day?
Yea, I got a couple of shots. I got some shots of them right before they went onstage, it was a great moment. They were onstage about 10 minutes before they actually went on just waiting for the cue to head over to their instruments. So they're just nice casual moments of the guys waiting and anticipating the show. I think you'll see some of those photos showing up in the next tourbook.
What one Rush track would you like to see them bring back for the next tour?
"The Camera Eye" without a doubt. I've requested that song every single tour from the guys and they still won't play it.
It ranked pretty highly among fans on the rushpetition.com poll prior to the Vapor Trails tour as well.
I know. I just think they feel there are other songs to play, "Ok, is it going to be 'Camera Eye' or is it going to be 'By-Tor & the Snow Dog." I think everyone felt that a song like "By-Tor" was a song that was much more interesting and a lot more fun to play. I've asked for "The Camera Eye" every single time they start practicing for a tour because I love that song. It's probably one of my favorite songs they've ever recorded.
Approximately how many shows do you shoot still photos for during a Rush tour and do you shoot the entire show or specific songs on specific nights?
I shoot the whole show. Back when I was touring with them and I was also their tour photographer I was able to get a lot more stuff and a lot more unusual moments both backstage and onstage. It bums me out because I can't really capture those moments as often as I like now because I don't go out on the whole tour with them anymore. The last three tours I would probably shoot about seven shows, so there's a lot of pressure to get as much interesting stuff as I can within seven shows. Roll the Bones and Counterparts those are pretty strong tourbooks because I was able to shoot five songs, or two songs every single night. I could go out and just grab a moment or two. Or I could go out and shoot a moment in "Show Don't Tell" and I always had tomorrow night to go and grab it again. So I had the luxury of that, but now I'll fly out and do three shows and leave, and then two shows and leave and then do two shows someplace else. You don't get on a roll, you kind of have to remember and pick up where you left off last time and continue on from there. It makes it more challenging.
Thanks for your time Andrew and congratulations on the documentary!
I really hope everyone enjoys the DVD and I hope they really like my documentary because I really worked very, very hard on it and I'm really proud of it.