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. While the band has always been an album rock (and later classic rock) radio favorite, 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, 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/Heavy Metal 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. From here, while maintaining some of the Progressive sound; they began moving back into their earlier Hard Rock style, including the release of an album of covers of songs by their earliest Hard Rock influences like The Who, The Yardbirds, and Cream.The group's lineup has remained constant since Peart joined in 1974 to replace original drummer John Rutsey, making them the third-longest enduring group in modern pop music (only ZZ Top and Golden Earring have been together longer). That lineup consists of:
Geddy Lee (b. Gary Lee Weinrib): Bass, keyboards, and lead vocals
Alex Lifeson (b. Aleksandar Živojinović*
translated from Serbian, it means "son of life"
Neil Peart: Drums and percussion (occasionally referred to as "The Professor" during the band's early years)
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 songwriting; 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 favor of solo efforts in the past (My Favorite Headache and Victor 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 Favorite 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 upcoming Formula One biopic by Ron Howard, or a flying robot dog.Discography, with notable songs:
Rush (1974): "Finding My Way", "What You're Doing", "Working Man"
Fly By Night (February 1975): "Fly By Night," "Anthem", "By-Tor and the Snow Dog", "Rivendell"
Caress of Steel (September 1975): "Bastille Day", "Lakeside Park", "The Necromancer", "The Fountain of Lamneth"
2112 (April 1976): "2112", "A Passage to Bangkok", "Something for Nothing"
A Farewell To Kings (September 1977): "Xanadu", "Closer To the Heart", "Cygnus X-1: Book I - The Voyage"
Hemispheres (October 1978): "Cygnus X-1: Book II - Hemispheres", "The Trees", "La Villa Strangiato"
Permanent Waves (January 1980): "The Spirit of Radio", "Freewill", "Natural Science"
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Tropes related to Rush include:
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.
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.)
...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.
Badass Grandpa: Alex, though he married in his early 20's. He and Geddy Lee will both turn 60 in 2013; Neil Peart is one year older.
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.
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 third 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)
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.
"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.
'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. (Neil had an awful rat tail hairdo around 1985. Thankfully, he cut it before the late 80s. Geddy and Alex had bad hair until the 90s.)
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).
Enforced Method Acting: Enforced Method Drumming, anyway. Neil wanted his drumming on Clockwork Angels to sound more spontaneous, like "This guy never played that before, and he just barely made it.” So instead of spending many hours (or even days, as he did earlier in his career) preparing composed parts before recording, he just listened to each song a few times before recording the drum tracks.
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.
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"
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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."
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 has been performing in a traditional African prayer hat for the last two decades or so. Their primary purpose is to keep sweat out of his eyes, but he's taken to customizing them with album artwork for each tour recently.
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.
The Pete Best: John Rutsey, their first drummer, was fired from the band due to health concerns in 1974. Rutsey, however, is the drummer featured on the band's self-titled debut.
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...
Inspired by Geddy's parents, who were Holocaust survivors.
Rock Band/Guitar Hero: They LOVE the fact that their work is featured prominently in these games and think they are one of the best ways to reach a new audience. All 7 segments of "2112" appear in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock''. Each segment has its own corresponding venue, and feature narrations by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. Harmonix also released all of 2112 as DLC for Rock Band 3, split into three parts: "Overture" and "The Temples of Syrinx" as one (which is similar to the actual single released in 1976), "Discovery" and "Presentation" as the second, and "Oracle: The Dream", "Soliloquy" and "Grand Finale" as the third.
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.
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 Louie Armstrong Song "Wonderful World" and the tv show Law & Order.
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 Živojinović, 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. Somewhat averted, as he legally changed his name to Geddy. Neil Peart was born... Neil Peart.
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 maintains a very strong in improving as a drummer.
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 snuck into Rush's green room after a show... but got most upset after he found out they ate his sandwich!)
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.
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.
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. Especiallylooking at him in the 1970s◊ (far left).
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.