rushonrock was granted exclusive access to Alex Lifeson and in the first instalment of a two-part interview he talks that record, touring and mixing the new with the old.
Look out for the second part of our Lifeson exclusive on Monday!
rushonrock: Does playing Moving Pictures in its entirety pose any specific challenges?
Alex Lifeson: With Moving Pictures we do most of the main material live anyway. We’ve done pretty much all of it over the years. We haven’t played The Camera Eye in quite some time but we’ll be well rehearsed and practiced by the time we hit the UK! To be able to preserve all of the Moving Pictures album in a single show is something new and exciting for us. Neil [Peart] went to a Steely Dan show and was really impressed that they were doing a different album every night. I don’t think we could even think about doing that but this is what we can do!
rushonrock: Why choose to do a show like this now?
AL: We knew we were coming up to the 30th anniversary of Moving Pictures (released February 1981). It was our most commercially successful record and we wanted to get The Camera Eye back into the set in some way. Playing the entire album was an easy way to do that!
rushonrock: Were you still able to reel off The Camera Eye note perfect after all these years?
AL: It’s amazing how quickly a song like The Camera Eye comes back to you as a musician. Playing that song after so many years wasn’t so much a challenge as it was fun. We did a little bit of fine tuning. But that goes for most of the older stuff that we play. We really enjoy the experience of delving into the band’s back catalogue and bringing a few of the older songs back to life.
rushonrock: Do you have to weigh up whether it’s best to stay true to the original or add a new twist to fan favourites?
AL: We love to inject a little bit of new life into the old songs. There’s a part of us that wants to play them as authentically as possible but there’s part of us that wants to give these songs a new twist. Presto is a great example. I’m not sure if we’re going to play it this time around but it’s a song which comes across as lighter on record. Live it’s taken on a heavier sound and it’s made the song so much more powerful. But as I said we lean towards the authentic.
rushonrock: As a progressive rock band have you always embraced new technology?
AL: We’ve always been well aware of what’s happening technology-wise and, as a band, tried to stay ahead of the game. We try to implement as much new technology as we can. We introduced a lot of synths and samples to our work when that was an option and we’ve always tried to stay ahead of the curve in that respect. We use a lot of the new equipment available today.
rushonrock: Did you ever imagine the technology that are available to you now?
AL: The whole digital revolution in music has been remarkable. I would never have imagined that it would change the whole music industry in the way it has. There’s always been – and still is – the argument for analogue against digital and vice versa. But digital recording has come such a long way in such a short space of time. In terms of being able to write songs it’s been a revolution. You can cut and paste and create unique arrangements so quickly now. For a creative and progressive band like Rush it’s absolutely priceless.
rushonrock: This month’s UK tour sees you playing more than three hours every night – how do you sustain your energy and level of performance?
AL: The UK arena shows will be around three-and-a-half hours and we can do that because we take very good care of ourselves. We work out two or three days a week, play a fair bit of tennis and eat well. You take these things for granted when you’re younger but we can’t do what we do without being careful these days. If you’re not in shape then things catch up with you on the road. And it is a long old show. Of course on tour we start off with the very best intentions where our daily routine is concerned. We have a chef who cooks everything organically and we have diets tailored to our individual needs. But after six weeks on the road the lifestyle takes its toll. By the end of the tour you’re just about hanging in there!