Rush’s Next Project May ‘Deviate From The Norm’

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With changes in the music industry challenging the old way of doing things, Rush appears set to go with the flow. A recent telephone interview by the Canadian Press with drummer and lyricist Neil Peart confirms that the group is ready to shake things up a bit and ditch the traditional album release for something different.

As Peart puts it, “We feel very much liberated from the album format in a way right now, because in the three years since our last album (2007’s Snakes & Arrows), suddenly albums don’t mean anything.”

A statement like “suddenly albums don’t mean anything” may sound a bit strange coming from the man who penned the lyrics for epic albums like 2112 and Hemispheres, but one must give Peart and his two band mates credit  for recognizing the way the music industry has changed, and for their willingness to adapt. Considering that we are now living in the age of digital downloads, file sharing and iTunes, Peart’s comment about albums probably make a lot of sense.

Pressed for details about the new music during the interview, Peart was unwilling to get too specific, but did say that Rush is “thinking of writing and recording a few songs and maybe releasing them, and playing them live, and then going back and doing some more later. We just feel really free (in terms) of what we might do right now.”

Work is currently underway, with Peart writing lyrics at his home in California and both Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson are at work at their studio in Toronto.

The trio appears to be up for the challenge of making the adjustments demanded by the music industry’s evolution, and seem anxious to embrace it. “(It’s) a healthier reaction than getting mad: ‘Aww, things aren’t how they used to be — we wanted to make a 12-inch album with two sides!’ Those things ARE hard to give up, and every time now we make a side one and side two mentally and build the dynamics . . . so there is something lost,” Peart says.

Rush fans will likely be watching intently for more news regarding exactly what it is the group has up its collective sleeve. Considering the evidence that suggests they will be moving away from the traditional album model, perhaps a shorter wait is in order this time, although a few songs may not be quite as satisfying as an album for some. It will, at the very least, be an interesting experiment.

Having just finished up working on a project that put him in the precarious position of writing a new version of what some Canadians might consider their second national anthem, Peart may now be more focused on the new Rush project. The recent interview sounds like his way of saying that break time is over, and Rush is getting back to work.

As an American, and someone who is not a hockey fan, I can’t fully appreciate the magnitude of the work that Peart has recently completed on his new version of “The Hockey Theme.” It is the music that has been used during the opening of “Hockey Night in Canada” on Canadian TV for the last four decades, and was jokingly referred to by Peart as a theme that will be heard by “every man, woman, grandma, child, moose and beaver in Canada.”

For Peart’s sake, I hope they like it.

Video of Peart’s “The Hockey Theme” is below, but may not last if the copyright holders protest.

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