Alex Lifeson stops short of calling Rush's upcoming Clockwork Angels a concept record, but he does admit that a theme runs through most the songs. "We have Caravan and BU2B; both of which we released already and played on the Time Machine tour," he says, referring to the group's extensive 2010-2011 outing. "Those two, along with three other songs, form a suite. The story of Clockwork Angels is in those five tracks."
Longtime Rush fans, who grew up on such multi-song narratves as 2112 and Hemispheres, will no doubt applaud the group's return to its prog-rock roots. They'll also be thrilled to learn that the band isn't paying mind to the length of its compostitions. "We're definitely stretching out," Lifeson says. "Most of the songs are over six minutes. We're having fun with them, seeing where they want to go."
The guitarist estimates that Rush has eight songs finished. One track, however, is putting up a fight. "We wrote it, scrapped it, then rewrote it and shelved it again," Lifeson says, laughing. "Right now, we're still considering it. Something's there that we don't want to lose."
The band is working once again with prodcucer Nick Raskulinecz, who in addition to helming albums for the Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains and Evanesence, oversaw Rush's 2007 release, Snakes & Arrows. "Nick is fantastic," Lifeson says. "He's very enthusiastic, has great ideas, gets incredible sounds, and he's so adaptable to our twists and turns."
That includes a more stripped-down, instrumental approach. "The last few records have been quite produced, with many layers of guitars and vocals," he says. "This time, we'd like to keep things simple and direct.
"We'll see if that sticks," he adds after a moment's though. "I might listen to the finished record and go, 'Needs more guitar!'"