Rush Guitarist Alex Lifeson Talks About The Making Of 'Clockwork Angels'
Mick Burgess of Metal Express Radio recently conducted an interview with RUSH guitarist Alex Lifeson. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal Express Radio: In a few weeks' time, your latest album, "Clockwork Angels", will be released. Are you looking forward to finally getting it out?
Alex: Yeah, it's been a long project. We released a couple of songs before the last tour and that's the first time that we've done something like that where we've recorded a couple of songs from a record that hasn't been released yet. It was kind of fun to get those songs out, to work them and play them and have a peek into what the project was going to be. It was great for getting us back into writing, which we did last fall where we got into the bulk of the writing and where the whole story started to come together. That's where we got a sense of where the album was going.
Metal Express Radio: "Clockwork Angels" sees you really spreading your wings. There's elements of vintage Rush in there with complex arrangements and mood changes while keeping that contemporary feel of your later albums. Was this the plan when you first started discussing ideas with Geddy [Lee, bass/vocals]?
Alex: I don't know, really. I'm never sure what the plan is. We sort of start on the day and it takes its shape and we kind of go with it. I think probably with this record, we really wanted to play and wanted to stretch out a little bit. We wanted to have fun playing and also to strip things down a little. I think "Snakes & Arrows", in retrospect, was a little bit dense, because it was written on acoustic guitar, which played a major role in the production. We layered a lot of acoustics and electrics and I think we got just a little cloudy at times. I really like the record, but with hindsight of living with it for a while, we realized that we kind of overcooked it a bit.
Metal Express Radio: "Clockwork Angels" is really a step or two on from "Snakes & Arrows" then?
Alex: Yeah, we really wanted to strip it down and have more of a three-piece feel to it. There's no rhythm guitar during the guitar solos and such like which are things you end up doing as you like the sound of it because you like all the color but it's not always necessary and I think the album comes across as a lot more powerful as a result.
Metal Express Radio: Nick Raskulinecz produced again. He's worked with artists such as the Foo Fighters and Alice In Chains, and Marilyn Manson. Did having someone young and in touch with current bands help to reinvigorate you as musicians?
Alex: To some extent, yes. There's something about the way Nick works; his enthusiasm is very infectious. He's very instinctive and has great ears. We've come to really respect his opinion. He's not always right, but he's never short on ideas and that's always a good thing to have. I don't think he wants to influence us by citing other bands or musicians. I think what he tries to do with all the artists he works with and I've spoken to a few. I played golf with Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains recently and he said the same thing, he brings what's in you, out. The thing that makes you what you are is what he hunts for.