The World According To...Rush

By Ellen Barnes,, April 27, 2011

Fans of this longstanding prog rock powerhouse - composed of bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart - don't just love Rush, they worship Rush. Since forming in Toronto in 1968, the band have accumulated 24 gold records and 14 platinum records, with only The Beatles and The Rolling Stones claiming more gold or platinum rock albums.

Rush took a five-year hiatus from 1997 to 2002 after Peart lost both his daughter and his wife in 10 months time, but the band has since made a remarkable comeback, most recently releasing their 18th studio album - the Grammy-nominated Snakes and Arrows - in 2007. Collected here are some of the band members' thoughts on why their chemistry remains strong after 43 years.

Geddy Lee on the bands that inspired Rush, as told to in 2005

"We were influenced by all the great trios - Cream, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, in a sense were a trio, and even Zeppelin. Those were the first big rock bands that we wanted to emulate. And as our tastes got more obscure, we discovered more progressive rock-based bands like Yes, Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson, and we were very inspired by those bands. They made us want to make our music more interesting and more complex and we tried to blend that with our own personalities to see what we could come up with that was indisputably us."

Neil Peart on where he finds inspiration for songs, as told to Metal Hammer in 1988

"My subject matter is drawn from other people, although it's nice to find a personal parallel if something upsets me. Anger is always a big motivation, and outrage gets me all fired up. But one thing I particularly hate is confessional lyrics, the one where people reach down inside their tormented souls and tell me how much they hurt - that's really selfish and petty! If you have all that pain, by all means express it but be a little self absorbed about it and look around you at other people, because everyone has pain and frustration and you can find parallels if you look for them."

Alex Lifeson on the guitar, as told to Guitar World in 2009

"Do it because you love it, and never give up. It's great to be able to do it for your entire life. I've been playing for 40 years, and I love it more than ever. When I sit down and play, I melt into the instrument. I can play for hours by myself. Playing guitar has given me such a wonderful life, and I'm grateful for it."

Neil Peart on how he determines tempo, as told to

"When I'm playing live, if I'm worried that it's a little bit too fast or slow, I listen to the singer to see if the phrasing is falling comfortably. I'm telling every drummer this: Every singer wishes that you would listen to the phrasing to decide on the tempo."

Alex Lifeson on his favorite Rush guitar solo, as told to in 2009

"I love the elasticity of the solo [in 'Limelight']. It's a very emotional piece of music for me to play. The song is about loneliness and isolation, and I think the solo reflects that. There's a lot of heart in it. It's a feel thing: you have to feel a solo as you play it, otherwise it's going to sound stiff. I never had that problem with 'Limelight.' The first time I laid it down in the studio, I feel a real attachment to it and I could tell it was special. Even now, it's my favorite solo to perform live. I never get tired of it. Each time I'm about to play it, I take a deep breath and I exhale on that first note. I guess that sounds corny, but for me, it releases something."

Geddy Lee on what makes Rush work, as told to in 2005

"We've been lucky to have the kind of personalities that accommodate each other. We like each other and it just works between the three of us and we all have equal say in everything; we're one of the smallest democracies working today. Also, we always bring a very healthy sense of humor to whatever we do. And that tempers the difficulties and the serious side of things and keeps it a fun experience. Without the fun you just can't keep doing something for 30 years. The other thing is we've been fortunate that we have a sound that has found an audience and that audience has been so dedicated that they've created an atmosphere or a level of success that has enabled us to carry on."

Alex Lifeson on getting the band back together, as told to CNN in 2002

"When Neil called, I have to say that my heart soared. And the reason really was because it said so much about his recovery ... that he was coming back to the world of the living. I mean, even if he wasn't really ready for it, he was making an attempt and there was that little faint light in him that was glowing again."

Geddy Lee on pushing himself as a bassist, as told to Bass Player Magazine in 2006

"The danger with playing bass is in looking at familiar blocks on the neck and always going there. It's most important to find different note combinations and not fall into those same patterns. I force myself to push beyond them, often by using double-stops or chords. When I'm recording, after I take one pass, I'll often have another go, to try a fresh approach. I find if I pretend I'm a lead guitar player, I can get into a new melodic area where I wouldn't normally find myself. I'm typically more concerned with keeping things rock-solid on the bottom. At the end of the day, it can result in a bunch of self-indulgent nonsense, but sometimes it'll do interesting things to the melody. I like that kind of experimentation."

Neil Peart on Rush fans, as written in his book Far and Away: A Prize Every Time, published this month

"Standing backstage while the opening movie played the other night, poised to run on, sticks in hand, ear-monitors in, I found myself excited by two thoughts. I was idly pondering how I might start my solo that night...and I also felt an unaccustomed eagerness - a curiosity to get out there to see the audience. Not to hear the audience, note - not to bask in their cheers and appreciation - but just to look at them. Their number, their faces, their reactions, their dances, their T-shirts, the signs they hold up. Even while I'm supposed to be up there entertaining people, they can be so entertaining for me."