Rush’s Alex Lifeson: ‘We’re just a band’

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Rock Stars. Not a moniker that seems to fit comfortably for the members of veteran Canadian rock trio Rush. Although there’s no denying that these guys can lay claim to that title. Non-fans may place them in a category that could be described as “nerd rock,” and many fans might even agree. Let’s face it, the group’s brand of cerebral rock, combined with their reputation as nice guys does not do much for the “sex” and “drugs” portions of the well-worn cliché.

If any one of these guys moved in next door to you some day, you would probably not realize that he was a rock star unless you happened to be familiar with the band. The possible exception might be bassist and lead vocalist Geddy Lee, who still sports his long rocker locks.

Coming on the heels of the group’s announcement that they will be touring this summer, and working on a new studio album, the much-anticipated new documentary featuring Rush was debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday. Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson attended the event, along with other celebrities such as 24 star Kiefer Sutherland and ex-Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach.

Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen’s end product, Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage, peels back part of the veil of privacy that Rush seems to cherish. Although they may have loosened up a bit over the past few years and made appearances on television and in movies, it’s clear that Lee, Lifeson, and particularly drummer Neil Peart would probably rather continue to keep their off-stage lives out of the spotlight.

Fans, especially fans as dedicated and loyal as Rush fans tend to be, often to want to know as much as they can about their rock and roll heroes. That goes with the territory.

Despite the group’s preference for privacy they do not cut fans completely out of the picture when it comes to their personal lives. Peart’s love of writing, coupled with the internet, make it easy for him to share select tidbits from his personal life in a way that allows him to retain control over exactly what’s made public. The perfect medium for Peart, who may not be as outgoing as his band mates, and was described as “freaked out by his own legion of admirers” in a recent Wall Street Journal piece.

Although they admit they are not entirely comfortable with a documentary that delves into their past and personal lives, one can only assume that they decided to do it for the fans. It would be hard to argue that they did it because they need the money. These are the guys that occupy the number four spot on the RIAA’s list of the most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band

Reflecting on my own decades as a Rush fan, it’s not difficult to come up with words that sum up my impression of the guys we know collectively as Rush. The one impression that really stands out in my mind is summed up with on word. Consistent. Consistent values, consistently good music and consistent humility. If that is the way they would choose to be perceived, they have certainly succeeded with this fan.

To quote from a recent interview with Alex Lifeson, “We’re just a band. We’re middle-class Canadian kids who grew up.”

Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage will air on VH1 and VH1 Classic on June 26th.

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