Rush in recent years. From left to right: Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart and Geddy Lee.
"All the world's indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another's audience outside the gilded cage"
Rush is a Canadian Progressive Rock
trio formed in 1968, although, listening to some of their songs, you'd never guess there are only three of them. They're probably best known for Geddy Lee's "wait, is that a guy?" vocals and prominent bass and Neil Peart's sometimes Objectivism-inspired lyrics
(though really only in the early days). While the band has always been an album rock (and later classic rock) radio favourite, Rush saw a decent boost to their popularity for their contributions to the video game Rock Band
One of those bands that splits people down the middle - a lot of people don't like Peart's fondness
for Ayn Rand
(though, again, he abandoned this relatively early on, to the point of distancing himself from it
), and a lot of people hate Progressive Rock
in general. In fairness, it should be noted that Peart does not agree with the whole
of Rand's philosophy and removed the "thank you" to her from the credits for 2112
(as of at least the original compact disc issue). When fans ask him about the subject, however, he still acknowledges that he does
have areas of agreement with Rand. (However, he characterized himself as a "left-leaning libertarian" in a 2005 interview; one thing Rand certainly was not is left-leaning).
Although most commonly associated with Progressive Rock
, their style has varied considerably during their career. Originating with a fairly straightforward Hard Rock
sound heavily influenced by Deep Purple
and Led Zeppelin
; they remained such for their first few albums, similarly incorporating fantasy and science-fiction themes into their lyrics
, and elaborate arrangements into their instrumentals. They were increasingly influenced by the growing Progressive Rock
movement, but maintained a harder-edged sound than most of their contemporaries; and it was at this point that Peart's infatuation with the writings of Ayn Rand
became prominent. They soon began to incorporate Jazz, New Wave, Pop, and Reggae influences; and transitioned to a predominantly Synth Rock style that lasted well through The Eighties
. In the 90's with the release of Counterparts
, the band yet again changed their stylings to stay relevant, now taking elements from Alternative Rock and even Grunge and while maintaining some of the Progressive sound; they began moving back into their earlier Hard Rock style, including the release of an EP of covers of songs by their earliest Hard Rock
influences like The Who
, The Yardbirds
, and Cream
The group's line-up has remained consistent since Peart joined in 1974 to replace founding drummer John Rutsey, making them the third-longest enduring band in rock music
(only ZZ Top
and Golden Earring have been together longer). Once Peart joined the band, he became the primary lyricist, while Lee and Lifeson concentrated on the music. Before that point, Lee and Lifeson did all the song-writing; Rutsey had written some lyrics for their eponymous 1974 debut album, but never gave them to the others.
Both Lee and Lifeson have split off in favour of solo efforts in the past (My Favourite Headache
respectively). Lifeson reportedly had a sequel album in the works, Victor II
, but abandoned the idea in light of Peart's personal tragedies. (Peart's daughter was killed in a car wreck, and his common-law wife died of cancer ten months later; Peart recounts "They said it was cancer, but of course it was a broken heart.") Lee recorded My Favourite Headache
during the band's hiatus.
Shortly after the release of their debut album, Rutsey, a diabetic since childhood, quit the band due to health problems and was replaced by Peart. Rutsey passed away in summer 2008. Lee replaced original bassist/vocalist Jeff Jones shortly after the band formed in 1968.
Not to be confused, if such a thing were even possible, with another Rush sometimes heard on the radio
. (Note: As of March 2012, this Rush has submitted a cease-and-desist order to the other one for unauthorized use of their music
. Use of their music by political figures seems to be a Berserk Button
of theirs, as they have issued cease-and-desist orders to several other political figures as well). Also not to be confused with the Formula One biopic
by Ron Howard
, or a flying robot dog
Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):
- Jeff Jones - bass, lead vocals (1968)
- Geddy Lee - lead vocals, bass, guitar, keyboard, synthesizer, mellotron (1968-Present)
- Alex Lifeson - guitar, vocals, synthesizer, mandola, mandolin, bouzouki, keyboard (1968-Present)
- Neil Peart - drums, percussion, glockenspiel, wind chimes, bell tree, vibraslap, triangle, tubular bells, temple blocks, timpani, gong, cowbells, crotales, timbales, plywood, cymbals, hammered dulcimer (1974-Present)
- John Rutsey - drums, percussion, vocals (1968-1974, died 2008)
- 1974 - Rush
- 1975 - Fly By Night
- 1975 - Caress of Steel
- 1976 - 2112
- 1977 - A Farewell To Kings
- 1978 - Hemispheres
- 1980 - Permanent Waves
- 1981 - Moving Pictures
- 1982 - Signals
- 1984 - Grace Under Pressure
- 1985 - Power Windows
- 1987 - Hold Your Fire
- 1989 - Presto
- 1991 - Roll The Bones
- 1993 - Counterparts
- 1996 - Test For Echo
- 2002 - Vapor Trails
- 2004 - Feedback
- 2007 - Snakes & Arrows
- 2012 - Clockwork Angels
- 1976 - All The World's A Stage
- 1981 - Exit...Stage Left
- 1989 - A Show Of Hands
- 1998 - Different Stages note
- 2003 - Rush In Rio
- 2005 - R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour
- 2006 - Grace Under Pressure Tour note
- 2008 - Snakes & Arrows Live
- 2011 - Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland
- 2013 - Clockwork Angels Tour
- 1973 - "Not Fade Away" / "You Can't Fight It"
"We are the priests of the Tropes of Syrinx":
- Philosophical musings about Objectivism, especially in the period from 2112 to Moving Pictures. In the period after this, they actually swing pretty far in the direction of subjectivism, especially on Hold Your Fire.
- Fantasy and sci-fi themes and settings, often in tandem with the above; 2112, for example, is a loose adaptation of Ayn Rand's Anthem and Hemispheres is a near-literal rendering of Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy
- Conceptually linked songs spread out across an entire album side, or even multiple albums as in the case of "Cygnus X-1" (two) or the "Fear" series (three, expanded to four once Vapor Trails came out).
- Clockwork Angels is a full-on concept album. Sci-Fi/Fantasy author Kevin J. Anderson and Peart have also written a novelization of the album's story.
- As with the above, Rock Operas
- Long songs with Epic Instrumental Openers, with the band's live shows featuring increasingly elaborate drum solos as a mid-piece of the concert. Since The Nineties, Peart has used multiple drum kits on a circular platform that rotates around his seat so that he may at various points play traditional drums, xylophones, other exotic types of percussion, electric drums, or synth pads set to play brass band samples.
- Commented on by a comedian hosting the band on his show: "The band Rush is here! Either that, or a drum factory exploded in the studio."
- The group's 2010-2011 Time Machine tour included a 45-minute performance of the Moving Pictures album in its entirety (never ever touch this button).
- Strong basslines to the point where the bass can be considered the lead instrument in some songs.
- A good sense of humor about themselves (as shown by their collaborations with South Park, SCTV, and Aqua Teen Hungerforce, some of which are used in their live shows)
- Don't forget Trailer Park Boys.
- Worth noting is that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are HUGE fans of Rush, with Stone appearing in the band's documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage.
- When they played on The Colbert Report, they played on through the credits of the show...and all the way until the opening tag of the next day's show, poking fun at the length of some of their songs and the usual length of their live shows.
- They also make fun of their own nationality.
- In a video shown at the end of their 2010 concert performance, they appear talking about the audience in the backstage. "I saw three on the stands, four on the floor. Seven girls in a Rush concert! It's a new record."
- Unusual time signatures and rhyme schemes (The Larger Bowl, for example, is based on a form of Malaysian poetry called "pantoum")
- There's also "YYZ" which was built around the Morse code of the letters "YYZ": the airport code for Rush's hometown, Toronto.
- "Subdivisions" alternates between 7/8, 4/4, and 3/4 (or possibly 6/4) signatures. Some parts only last a couple of bars before switching to the next. Very easily messed up if tried on a marching band.
"For the tropes of the prophets were written on the studio walls":
- Achievements in Ignorance: The quick timbali triplet fills Neil plays at the beginning of "Time Stand Still" were inspired by a similar fill in a Genesis song. Later, he worked with the same engineer as that Genesis record and was told that the fill he was inspired by was recorded with the tape slowed down.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: From "The Spirit of Radio": "...and the magic music makes your morning mood."
- "Machinery making modern music" from the same song.
- Adorkable: Alex's Large Ham antics, Geddy's goofy little dances while on stage, his and Alex's vaguely homoerotic onstage playing, all of it is actually really awkward and cute to watch. Also, get Neil talking about something that he's really passionate about in an interview. Watch as he bounces in his seat and flaps his hands like an excited teenage girl. This guy◊ is, indeed, known to have dork-outs about things he really loves.
- Album Title Drop:
- "Fly By Night"
- Snakes and Arrows in the song Armor and Sword.
- Hold Your Fire takes its title from the opening lyrics of "Mission".
- All Drummers Are Animals: Averted. If you just look at Neil Peart's face while he drums, you'd guess he was doing accounting work or something.
- Most of the odd accoutrements on stage (the clothes dryers, the merch vending machine, Alex's kids' toys all over his amps) originated in attempts to crack Neil up. (At one point in the Rush in Rio concerts, Alex successfully breaks Neil, who just stops drumming and gives him a helpless WTF stare.)
- On Snakes and Arrows Live, Geddy set up a bank of rotisserie chicken broilers on his side of the stage. So of course a stage hand comes out during "The Spirit of Radio" in a full chicken suit to baste the chickens. Neil actually smiles.
- Audience Participation Song: In concerts, audiences sing along even to "YYZ"... an instrumental.
- ...as well as during the instrumental overture to 2112.
- ...and the obligatory screaming to "...concert hall" in "The Spirit of Radio." The studio version includes the sound of a cheering crowd at this point, and it's since become a live-show tradition for the audience to do the same as the house lights briefly come up after this line.
- ...and some people air drum along to Neil Peart's drum solo which he changes a little every time.
- Air drumming along with the triplets in the intro to "Spirit of Radio" is a must for concert-goers.
- All There in the Manual: 2112 and Clockwork Angels have story segments written in the album notes which give context to the story being told on their respective albums. 2112 is fairly straightforward without the narrative but Clockwork Angels needs the extra context.
- Arc Number: 2112, of course. There was also 30 for the 30th anniversary tour and 42 for the rumored forty-second anniversary tour, since the band plans to take at least a year off after touring almost non-stop since 2002. (For reference, the only years since the 2002 release of Vapor Trails where there were no shows of any kind as of 2013 were 2005, 2006, and 2009.)
- Badass Baritone: Neil.
- Badass Grandpa: Alex, though he married in his early 20's. All three are now over 60.
- Badass Moustache: Neil rocked one hell of a 'stache◊ in the 70s.
- Broken Record: During the Grand Finale (7th and final) movement of 2112 (the song), the lines "attention all planets of the Solar Federation" and "we have assumed control" are repeated three times each.
- On the original LP pressing of Fly by Night, the wind chimes at the end of "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" were printed into the locked groove at the end of Side 1. When the needle reached this point, the chimes would play over and over until the player was shut off or the needle was lifted off the record.
- Brought to You by the Letter "S": Literally, on some Rush albums. The significance of these letters is not known, and although the use of the letter M on the cover of Power Windows is hinted at several song titles in the album that begin with or feature the letter M, the fans in general think the band is just playing around.
- Bottom of the very back of the Vapor Trails booklet says the album is "brought to you by the letter '3'". That is not a typo. They're just those kinds of people.
- With the release of the Vapor Trails Remix album, what does the included booklet state now? "Still brought to you by the letter '3'". Amazing how a tiny non sequitur not only returns, but is now lampshaded.
- Big "NO!": In the final lyrical section of "2112", "Soliloquy", Geddy lets out a disparaged (and surprisingly, not very Narmful) "Ooohh noooo!"
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Alex. Lord almighty, Alex. See his La Villa Strangiato rants below, and his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech if you don't believe it. (Also consider the fact that on his solo album, he includes a mostly-instrumental track involving two shrewish women (one of whom is his wife) blathering away over a low musical track, discussing their men and how they're only good for one thing... shutting up and playing the guitar. At the end, Alex starts screaming "SHUT UP!" at them until they stop... and he keeps going.)
- Colon Cancer: Neil has written several books, most of which fit the title: subtitle formula (Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, Far and Away: A Prize Every Time, for example) but the fourth book stands out as suffering from this. Its title is Roadshow. In full, the title is Roadshow: Landscape With Drums: A Concert Tour By Motorcycle.
- Compensating for Something: When Geddy decided to stop using amps during live shows in 1996, he had to fill the empty space on his side of the stage somehow. He's used the following:
- A fully stocked, old-fashioned refrigerator (Test for Echo tour)
- A set of clothes dryers, filled with Rush T-shirts that were thrown out to the crowd late in the show (Vapor Trails and R30 tours)
- A fully stocked, operational, rotating-shelf vending machine, which took the place of one clothes dryer (R30 tour)
- A set of chicken rotisserie ovens, complete with a chef who basted the birds during the show (once in a chicken costume, just to get a reaction from Neil probably) (Snakes & Arrows tour)
- A combination time machine and sausage maker, with a guy who occasionally threw stuff into the feed hopper (Time Machine tour)
- An assortment of steampunk-themed equipment, including a giant brain in a display case and a working popcorn machine (Clockwork Angels tour)
- Concept Album: Clockwork Angels.
- Cool Car: "Red Barchetta", itself inspired by Richard S. Foster's short story "A Nice Morning Drive".
- Cool Shades: Geddy's sported these since the early '90s, though he's had glasses since at least the late 1960s, they appear to be prescription, and he very occasionally appears in clear glasses, too.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Alex. There are serious depths behind that goofy persona and big derpy grin. Just listen to his solo album, Victor, for proof. Especially "Don't Care" (extremely rough Intercourse with You), "At the End" (an elderly man who misses his wife so desperately that he is Driven to Suicide), and the title track, a poem by WH Auden set to music. Alex provides rather disturbing/chilling vocals on At the End and Victor.
- Darker and Edgier: Caress of Steel
- Word of God is that they made Counterparts with this in mind, as Alex Lifeson was through with his guitar playing second banana to keyboards.
- Also Vapor Trails, which was heavily influenced by Peart's late 90s tragedies and 9/11.
- Grace Under Pressure certainly counts as well.
- Snakes and Arrows. Most of the songs on this album have exceptionally bleak lyrics.
- Downer Ending: "The Trees". The maples finally get their rights from the oaks, but humans end up cutting down all of the trees anyway.
- "Xanadu". A man finds the secret of immortality, but at the price of never leaving the titular palace. 1000 years later, he's driven to madness, desperately waiting for death.
- A frequent interpretation of "2112". The protagonist kills himself just as the Elder Race from his dream overthrows the Temples of Syrinx. Alternatively, the Temples of Syrinx have crushed the last pockets of resistance. (Peart has said that the former was his intention.) Either way you look at it, it's depressing.
- Dumb and Drummer: Completely averted: Neil Peart not only writes the band's lyrics, but has written several books. During the documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage, he explained that he read anything he could find in order to pass the time on the road during the band's early years.
- Early Installment Weirdness: On their first album, they sound like just another Led Zeppelin clone. This changed when Neil Peart joined, and took over writing most of the lyrics.
- '80s Hair: Good Lord. Behold, Geddy around 1984◊. His mullet only got worse as the decade progressed◊. These days he calls the latter mullet his "raccoon skin hat" look and, on it, "Every time I see it, I wanna hurl." His bandmates fared no better: all three had terrible 'dos throughout the '80s. Alex became convinced he was a member of A Flock of Seagulls, while Neil developed a ghastly-looking rat-tail mullet that eventually became a full on braid of action before he cut it off. Everyone's hair is probably at its worst in the music video for The Big Money, which also features bad mid-80s fashion and bad mid-80s CGI.
- Averted for about two decades now, as since Presto and Roll The Bones, Geddy has never had a ponytail or mullet (or uncovered eyes, either).
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Neil has one. It's Ellwood. (He mentions his quote "unfortunate middle name" in his book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road when he begins cooking for his sick wife after their daughter dies in a car crash, calling himself "Chef Ellwood". He also signs various letters depicted in the book with "NEP" for Neil Ellwood Peart.)
- Emotions vs. Stoicism: The primary conflict of Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres. The gift of Apollo (reason without love) lets the people build great wonders, but they don't derive any satisfaction from them and their lives feel empty. The gift of Dionysus (love without reason) makes the people happy, but they do not have any means to defend themselves from the elements. This seems to have been derived from Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Part of the video that plays behind the band during the performance of Tom Sawyer on the Time Machine dvd has the song being played by monkeys.
- Also, an instrumental track on "Snakes and Arrows" is titled "The Main Monkey Business."
- Fish Eye Lens: "Limelight" includes the line "Living in a fisheye lens"
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Alex is Sanguine, Geddy is Choleric, and Neil is a mix of Melancholic and Phlegmatic.
- All three of them exhibit some tendencies of the optional fifth temperament, Supine.
- Freudian Trio: Alex is the Id, Neil is the Superego, and Geddy is the Ego.
- Funetik Aksent: The source of Geddy's Stage Name. See below.
- Gay Bravado: The entire band loves this. Loves it. The most glaring examples occur between Alex and Geddy and Neil and his bodyguard, Michael. Mostly Neil and Michael, who both consider themselves "macho" but talk like a pair of very argumentative same-sex partners.
- Genki Guy: All of them. Geddy and Neil are very cool-headed offstage, but onstage, Geddy is very bouncy and springy. Alex seems pretty cool and collected onstage, but offstage he's a giant goof. Neil only really goes into genki territory when he's excited. Ask him about books or drums or birdwatching or motorcycling in an interview. Watch as he starts going into full on Squee mode, with flapping hands, bouncing in his seat, and Motor Mouth. There are more than a few interviews out there where he catches himself getting really excited about something, and then makes a conscious effort to collect himself. By sitting on his hands so he doesn't flail them while gesticulating and hit someone or something.
- Gratuitous French: "Circumstances" has the line "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" followed by the same phrase in English, "The more that things change, the more they stay the same."
- Grief Song: Several songs off of the aforementioned Vapor Trails could be considered these, coming in light of Peart's tragedies. Particularly "Ghost Rider" and "The Stars Look Down."
- "Afterimage" is a more initially obvious example, written about the loss of Robbie Whalen, an engineer and friend of the band who had worked on several of their albums before his passing. Lyrics from this song appear at the start of Neil's book Ghost Rider and in the packaging for the Different Stages live album, in memory of his late wife and daughter.
- "Nobody's Hero" and BU2B2 also qualify, from Counterparts and Clockwork Angels respectively.
- "The Pass" is something of an anti-Grief Song, berating an unspecified person for choosing to commit suicide rather than continue onward when they have done nothing to cause grief at their passing.
No hero in your tragedy
No daring in your escape
No salutes to your surrender
Nothing noble in your fate
Christ, what have you done?
- He's Back: Neil, after recovering from his late-90s Trauma Conga Line. The whole band, really, when you consider Geddy did nothing musical until his solo album in 2000 and Alex didn't even touch a guitar for about a year after the tragedies occurred. Vapor Trails, the resulting album, is very angry, very sad, and generally seems like a grief album. Neil had nothing to do with the 2013 remix and reissue of Vapor Trails because he can't bear to listen to those songs: they take him back to a very dark place he doesn't want to return to.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Geddy and Alex have been best friends since junior high. They're still best friends today. The band is really a three-way heterosexual life partnership, but Dirxst, as they are known, stand out the most. (Dirxst is a Portmanteau Couple Name of Dirk (Geddy's nickname) and Lerxst (Alex's nickname).)
- Neil is also very close with his riding partners, Brutus (who can no longer enter the US due to posessing a certain leafy green controlled substance) and Michael. Though, Neil and Michael's heterosexual status is a bit more... debatable. Just check out some of their exchanges in Neil's book Roadshow for proof.
- Hidden Depths: Alex plays drums on the demos (quick-and-dirty recordings of songs early in the writing stage), and according to Neil and producer Nick Raskulinecz, his drum ideas wind up on the final recordings "quite often".
- Insistent Terminology: Geddy used to (and occasionally still does) go out of his way to remind American interviewers that YYZ is pronounced YYZed.
- It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: Neil's last name. It's pronounced "piert". Not "pert" or "peh-art". (Most people use 'Pert'. One fan's comment on this was "Neil is not a brand of shampoo.")
- Jewish Complaining: Geddy, while setting up for a show in "The Boys in Brazil" documentary. First he whines about his hair and the effect humidity has on it, then he whines about breaking a nail on a case, and finally, he complains about not being able to find his stage shoes. While complaining about the camera following him around by saying "Looking for my shoes really isn't a documentary issue!". He's kind of a master at the fine art of kvetching.
- Large Ham: Geddy was pretty hammy back in the day. He's toned it down a lot since. Alex is now the comedy-relief-providing village idiot ham.
- The band often uses funny/bizarre/ridiculous video intros for sets and songs in their live shows, starring themselves or others. Recent guest stars include Jerry Stiller, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas (in character as Bob and Doug McKenzie from SCTV), the boys from South Park, and Paul Rudd and Jason Segel (in character as Peter Klaven and Sydney Fife from I Love You Man).
- A great example of Alex's hamminess can be found in their live performance of La Villa Strangiato from their Rio album. Skip to about 6:50 to get to the hammy weirdness
- All performances of La Villa from the Vapor Trails and R30 tours featured Alex's stream-of-consciousness rants. (Several of them have been compiled here for your viewing pleasure...or curiosity.) No topic was off limits: milk, steroids in baseball, smoking cigarettes, airplane crashes, getting old, making fun of his bandmates, Paris Hilton...yeah. Go check out THAT one.
- Meat bees. On the 2012 Clockwork Angels tour, Alex returned to ranting, but only during a brief break in "Wish Them Well" (which wasn't played in every city), the rants are much shorter, and sometimes, they aren't even composed of actual words.
- He would also do similar rants during Closer To The Heart in the early 90s.
- Witness the full glory of Alex's speech when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (skip to 4:40).
- Lead Bassist: Geddy is a combination of types A and B with a little bit of C and D (Progressive Rock is often bass driven).
- However, he doesn't overshadow Neil Peart, who is universally recognised as one of the best drummers in rock. Lifeson would probably be the standout musician in many other ensembles, but he gets overshadowed in Rush, which goes to show you what kind of musicians you're dealing with here.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: All three of them◊ in the 70s, though Alex was clearly the most conventionally attractive.
- Long Runner Line Up: Since Neil joined in 1974, the lineup has remained the same.
- Loudness War: Vapor Trails, so bad that the band is soon releasing a remixed/remastered version to correct it.
- A couple of remastered tracks have already shown up in one of their compilation albums. The difference is plain to hear.
- The remixed version of the album, supervised by David Bottrill, was released on 27 September 2013. An interview with Bottrill about the making of the remix can be read here.
- Meganekko: Geddy. Go find an interview with him in the 70s or 80s, when his glasses were bug-eyed things that swallowed his face. Combine the giant glasses with naturally sad-looking eyes and his very quiet speaking voice and you have the recipe for instant Adorkable.
- Messy Hair: Geddy has curly hair that he keeps shoulder-length and a bit ruffled. Of course, he is Jewish, and lots of Jewish people have naturally curly and/or frizzy hair. Geddy comments on his frizzy hair in a documentary, The Boys In Brazil, while he's in, well, Brazil (where it is very humid): "Jews must have a hell of a time with their hair in this climate. We get the frizzies immediately."
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: All over the place. Going as low as a 1 (Tears) to as high as an 8 (BU2B and the 2013 rearrange of One Little Victory) but their biggest hits tend to range from a 3 (Subdivisions) to a 6 (Spirit of Radio, 2112).
- Mundane Made Awesome: "I Think I'm Going Bald", a song about the symbolism of hair loss. It based around Alex's fear of going bald in the future. Guess what happened in the future. Made even funnier by the fact that in 2012 Alex did something and is no longer going bald.
- Money Song: "The Big Money".
- Name and Name: "By-Tor and The Snow Dog" from the Fly by Night album.
- 'Armor and Sword' and 'Time and Motion' also use this trope.
- Necromancer: The titular character of the song The Necromancer, is, surprisingly, a Necromancernote .
- New Sound Album: Basically every Rush album is this.
- The band tends to evolve its sound in cycles, with one album drastically changing their sound and the next album or few tweaking and perfecting it until it changes drastically again. Rush and Fly by Night were largely straightforward hard rock (with a few prog elements in the latter), Caress of Steel and 2112 dove off the deep end into exuberantly adolescent fantasy and sci-fi, A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres took a more mature, philosophical approach to the subject, and Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures kept the prog elements of the earlier albums while adding the more abstract and topical lyrics that would define the band's future output. Signals through Hold Your Fire exhibited extreme synthesizeritis, which was brought under control in Presto and Roll the Bones, albums that exhibited a refined, almost pop-like sensibility. Counterparts, largely alternative, heralded Test for Echo and its hard rock style, which the band currently exhibits, barring the occasional '60s-retro and folk elements on Snakes and Arrows.
- Counterparts is also notable for debuting Lee's single fingered, stupid fast Flamenco playing style and the return of his old Fender Jazz bass, both of which added a much more aggressive dimension to the music.
- Nice Hat: Neil currently affects a North African kufi (prayer hat). Its main purpose is ostensibly to keep sweat out of his eyes; however, given Neil's lifelong tonsorial choices, God only knows what it might be concealing (though fans can always guess.) On recent tours, he's taken to customizing them with the current album's artwork.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: Averted, much like Dumb and Drummer: the bassist and drummer are the two members of Rush everyone remembers, with Geddy being not just a remarkable bassist but a distinctive vocalist, and Neil being widely hailed as one of the best drummers in rock if not all of music. It seems to be Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, and... the blonde guy that plays guitar. Poor Alex.
- Non-Appearing Title: Nearly every studio album has at least one, not counting instrumentals and individual movements of extended pieces. The only exceptions to date are Caress of Steel and Hemispheres.
- Overly Long Gag: Alex's speech at the Rock & Roll hall of fame (see the link under Large Ham).
- There may be more to the story. The documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage does cite multiple reasons for Rutsey's departure, health concerns being one of them (he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes earlier in life), though it does reveal that he was not too keen on being selected as the band's main lyricist, unlike his successor. On top of that, he also was a drinker, which labeled him as more of a risk for extended touring. At this point, we'll never know the full story, unfortunately.
- POW Camp: "Red Sector A" is a concentration camp.
- Inspired by Geddy's parents, who were Holocaust survivors.
- Piss-Take Rap: "Roll the Bones". They wanted John Cleese to record it, but he was unavailable. Geddy did it instead, and they just pitched his voice down to being nearly unrecognizable (drastically raising the pitch in audio editing software reveals that he pretty much just talked normally and called it rapping).
- Progressive Metal: Often recognized as the Ur Example of such due to their use of far heavier riffs than most other Progressive Rock bands (except a few). To the point where they have an article on the Metal Archives
- Rage Against the Heavens: "The Stars Look Down" is an agnostic take on this. As is "Freewill" - a strong take against astrology.
- Rays from Heaven: "Jacob's Ladder" from Permanent Waves has this phenomenon as its subject.
Bruised and sullen storm-clouds
Have the light of day obscured;
All at once, the clouds are parted,
Light streams down in bright unbroken beams.
Follow men's eyes as they look to the skies,
The shifting shafts of shining weave the fabric of their dreams.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Alex is the goofy, personable, playful Red to Neil's bookish, shy, quiet Blue. Geddy, is a Purple but displays more Blue traits than Red.
- Rock Opera: "2112" is by far the best known example, but they weren't shy about doing other album-side suites and extended pieces as late as 1980's "Natural Science" and 1981's "The Camera Eye."
- Rock Star Song: "Limelight"
- Rock Trio
- Rogue Drone: The subject of "The Body Electric" is a good example of this.
- Rule of Symbolism: Averted in the case of "The Trees." Despite many people claiming that the song is about some kind of political conflict, it's not. Neil came up with the lyrics because he saw a picture depicting trees arguing with each other. That's it.
- Sampling: Daffy Duck saying, "No More for Me, thanks, I'm driving" from "Rabbit Seasoning," can be heard at the end of "Red Barchetta" on the 2008 video Rush: Snakes & Arrows- Live in Holland.
- A clip from The Simpsons shows up at the end of "The Big Money" on Rush in Rio:
Lisa: A deer!
Marge: A female deer!
- Self-Titled Album
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Most of their early albums (up to "Grace Under Pressure") feature no vocal harmony at all (one exception being the song "Take a Friend" on their self-titled debut,) but since then, the majority of their songs have features what some fans call "The Choir of Geddys" with extensively multi-tracked, often intricate harmonies, all performed by Lee. On tour, the vocal tracks are triggered as needed by one of the three band members on keyboards, foot pedals or a percussion MIDI controller. Even though the harmony tracks are recorded triggers, Lee is singing all of the main vocals live during the shows. While guitarist Alex Lifeson is often seen at a microphone singing during the shows, his mike is actually turned down quite low because (as Lifeson himself has joked) while he *loves* to sing, he's NOT allowed to (and if you've ever heard a bootleg taken from the signal before it's run through the soundboard, you'll understand why!)
- Sequel Song: "Cygnus X-1 Part 2: Hemispheres"; "Fear Trilogy"; self-parodied with "Where's My Thing: Part IV (Gangster of Boats Trilogy)"
- Shout-Out- Not many, but a few. "Bravest Face" obliquely references the Louis Armstrong song "What a Wonderful World" and the tv show Law & Order.
- The Eraserhead posters on the studio wall in the video for "Subdivisions."
- The quoted lyrics from Limelight at the top of the page are a shout out to Shakespeare's As You Like It.
- The Smart Guy: Neil Peart. Also The Big Guy, being a drummer (known for hitting very hard, to boot), he could probably snap your neck with his bare hands if he wanted to. The main characters from I Love You, Man nearly found this out the hard way.
- Small Town Boredom: Subdivisions, even more so in Middletown Dreams. What sparks the plot of Clockwork Angels.
- Spoken Word in Music Several songs contain examples of this, including "The Necromancer," "Double Agent," and "Cygnus X-1."
- "Countdown," from 1982's Signals, includes bits of radio transmissions from the first flight of the US Space shuttle Columbia in April 1981, which the band witnessed.
- Stage Name: Alex was born Aleksandar ivojinović, chose to go by the name Lifeson as it was a sort of translation of his name in Serbian (literally it means Son of Life). Geddy was born Gary Lee Weinrib, going by Geddy because of how the name Gary sounded when spoken by his mother in her thick Polish accent. Eventually subverted when he legally changed his name to Geddy (though his full name is still Geddy Lee Weinrib). Neil Peart was born... Neil Peart.
- Steam Punk: Clockwork Angels is a full-on Steam Punk epic with a companion novel co-written by Kevin J. Anderson.
- The Stoic: Neil's expression rarely changes from his usual poker face. When it does, it's either adorable or hilarious.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: Tears from 2112, Different Strings from Permanent Waves, and Losing It from Signals, among others.
- Surreal Horror: "Cygnus X-1".
- Title Track: Fly By Night; 2112; A Farewell To Kings; Hemispheres; Presto; Roll The Bones; Test For Echo; Vapor Trail; Clockwork Angels.
- To Be a Master: All three members are known for their musicianship, but Neil in particular is determined to continue improving as a drummer. He even took lessons from drumming coach Freddie Gruber as part of an effort to completely overhaul his playing style in the mid-1990s.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Neil seems to love In-N-Out Burger: he has a sticker of the logo on his motorcycle and credits the use of a Bible verse in the title track of Clockwork Angels to both the aforementioned verse... and an In-N-Out milkshake cup. (He also brings up other favorites in the "Bubba's Bar and Grill" section of his website: cherry pie and potatoes. The fandom also briefly ran with him loving sandwiches, after this video showed him being upset that two fans faked backstage passes and waltzed right into Rush's green room after a show... but got most upset after he found out they ate his sandwich!) He and his bodyguard also share a love for The Macallan, a brand of fine scotch whiskey.
- Geddy and Alex have huge wine cellars (Geddy in particular has an affinity for burgundies) and Geddy has a breakfast named after him at Caplansky's, a deli in Toronto: eggs with lox, salami, and onions scrambled in, served with rye toast and latkes with applesauce.
- Neil seems to just like milkshakes in general: in Roadshow, he mentions riding through a very hot area on his motorcycle (in what amounts to a suit of black leather armor: pants, boots, heavy jacket, gloves, and a full-face helmet) and eventually desperately craving a chocolate milkshake. In lieu of a nearby Dairy Queen, he stops at a roadside ice cream shack and proceeds to complain about the lackluster milkshake he was served in his daily journal.
- Trauma Conga Line: The main character of Clockwork Angels experiences one. Listeners can draw parallels between the protagonist of Clockwork Angels's traumas and Neil's late-90s traumas.
- Trilogy Creep: The "Fear" series was planned as three songs ("The Enemy Within" off Grace Under Pressure, "The Weapon" off Signals, and "Witch Hunt" off Moving Pictures) written in Anachronic Order but released within three years of each other, from 198184. Come 2002's Vapor Trails, a fourth part, "Freeze", was added to the lineup.
- Also played for laughs with Roll the Bones' "Where's My Thing?", subtitled as "Part IV" of the "'Gangster of Boats' Trilogy".
- True Companions: Heterosexual Life-Partners Geddy and Alex get special mention, but all three of them are obviously very close and tight-knit.
- Uncommon Time: There is a common folk myth that Neil Peart can't play in 4/4. This isn't quite true, but their songs do switch meter signatures an awful lot. "Subdivisions" is a good example of this; it switches between 7/8, 4/4, and 3/4 pretty regularly. An exhaustive list of their use of this trope would probably be as long as this article.
- Up to Eleven: Alex's layered, distorted "wall of guitar" sound on the newer albums.
- Arguably also the keyboards, MIDI gear, electronic/MIDI drum pads, bass pedals, etc. they used in The Eighties to recreate their multilayered synth-prog productions live onstage, long before that technology stabilized decades later. The complicated rigs they used by 1987 led them, by Word Of Geddy, to pare down for 1989's Presto.
- Also, in order to perform the complex epic "Xanadu", Geddy and Alex played dual doubleneck guitars/basses, as seen here◊
- Neil's wall of drums, cymbals and percussion instruments since the late '70's. He now uses a combination acoustic/electronic kit on a rotating riser, so that he can reach different sections as needed and still face front as he plays.
- Visual Pun: The covers of Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, and Power Windows. The inside art of Hold Your Fire fits as well: a man juggling three flaming spheres.
- Wanderlust Song: Fly By Night, as well as the lesser known Dreamline
- The Analog Kid may count as well. Actually, wanderlust seems to be a recurring theme throughout much of Rush's discography, even when it's not front and center in a song's lyrics.
- The story of Clockwork Angels starts out as this.
- Wanting Is Better Than Having: At the end of "The Fountain of Lamneth", the narrator finally finds the titular fountain he's searched his whole life for, and realizes he now that he's found it his life has no meaning.
- Widget Series: Definitely a Wicket to many new listeners. Just try to explain a band that sings about politics (even when they're really just singing about trees arguing)in long-winded terms, while standing in front of working dryers, chicken rotisseries, sausage makers, or popcorn poppers, with a bassist that plays keyboards and sings, and a drummer with a kit that rotates and is the size of a house. Oh, and whether the singer is a girl or a guy is really ambiguous at first. Especially looking at him in the 1970s◊ (far left).
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: The second half of Xanadu is all about how miserable the narrator is after achieving immortality.
- World of Pun: The intro video to the second set of the Time Machine tour features an alternate reality Rush filming a music video for "Tom Sawyer," which gets interrupted by a group of barmaids Moving Pitchers.... yeah. The cover to this album has a couple more puns; there are people moving pictures. And the people on the right side of the album are tearing up, since these pictures are quite moving. And there is a film crew, making a "moving picture" of the whole thing.