Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Excerpts from Alex Lifeson Ontario Golf Magazine interview
Earlier this week I mentioned that Alex Lifeson was interviewed for Ontario Golf Magazine's Early Summer 2006 issue. I've obtained a copy of the article (thanks again Pat!) and thought I'd share some of it here. The cover tagline reads WHAT A RUSH. Rocker Alex Lifeson plays a hand in Ontario's next great golf course. Most of the article understandably talks about golf. Alex relates about how he wasn't much into the game most of his life, but once he started playing back in 1989 he was hooked:
... When I finally started playing I became completely addicted to it. After a few weeks I played all the time and I would lie in bed thinking about my swing. ...
He also talks about the friendships he's developed with professional golfers such as Rocco Mediate. Rocco gave him some advice to improve his swing:
... [Rocco] says if I could apply the way I think about my guitar playing to golf, I'd imporve immensely. It is just a question of how you clear your head. That's my problem - I have so many swing thoughts before I even take the club back. ...
On his involvement with Toronto businessman Syd Menashy in the creation of a the new Coppinwood golf club, Alex says:
... Syd and I began talking about how nice it would be to own our own golf club. He got Paul McLean involved and Al Chud (a partner at Wooden Sticks) and Tom Fazio as a designer. Syd came to me and said, "Al, we're building this Tom Fazio course and it'll be the best in Canada." And I said, "Where do I sign up?" He wasn't looking for investors - there were no openings at the time - but he sold me half of one of his shares. I was really excited about working with Syd and being involved in such an exciting golf course. When the hockey strike occurred, an investor got cold feet, so a full share came up and I bought it ...
Here are the portions of the interview where Rush is discussed:
Back to music. What is an average day for you on tour?
My days start early, often around 6:30 am. I do about an hour or so of yoga, get a nice stretch and then go to the golf course. Since they're largely private courses, they tend to be very quiet. I'm usually done by 11 am. I head back to the hotel, have a light lunch, go for a workout or a swim, then head to the gig for sound check at 5 pm for an hour, and then have a light meal. Then we do the show, which is over three hours. I have some quiet time with Geddy after the show with a nice bottle of wine in the dressing room. We also have a chef on the road with us and he'll make us something to eat.
It doesn't sound very rock 'n' roll. It sounds very professional.
It is. You have to travel professionally at this stage. It's very intense and you need to stay in shape. All three of us train regularly when we go on the road for two or three months. There's not as much structure there, so you've got to make time. Our chef helps by making things that are fresh and organic. It's very civilized. And you have a wonderful 20 minutes or so after the show where it's just the band, sitting around in our underwear with a nice glass of wine. Touring like we do now is pretty good. But jumping onto a bus after a show, like we used to do, and getting into the hotel at 6 am and having no life once you were on the road- that wasn't great. For the last couple of tours we've chartered planes and fly everywhere. It's made things much easier.
But Neil doesn't fly, does he?
No, he's not crazy about flying, so he'll take his motorcycle and he and our security guy will ride together. On the last tour he rode 25,000 miles across America.
Rush has had so much success in the past few years with the 30th anniversary tour, a book that chronicled the history of the band and a DVD. But many felt you'd never get back together after the death of Neil's daughter, Selena (who was killed in a car accident in 1997) and his wife's death from cancer a year later.
It was so devastating when that happened that we didn't even worry about the band. It was about helping Neil. When Jackie died, it was almost too much. He needed people with him for a bit, and then he needed people to leave him alone for a bit. Eventually he decided if he stayed, he'd wither away to nothing. He had to leave, which is what book, Ghost Rider, is about. He took his motorcycle and just left to find whatever it was he needed to find. It was a ballsy, great thing to do. He just drove and thought. He just saw the road ahead of him, and that kept him distracted until he got to whatever town he hit that night. He'd go to bed and wake up every hour, night after night. Finally he met his new wife, Carrie.
Eventually, we thought about reconvening the band. We didn't want to push it, but we called Neil and asked if he'd consider it. He said he didn't know whether he could, but he'd try. Geddy and I were pretty convinced that the band was over. We started to think about addressing our equipment issue, which had been in storage the whole time. We wondered if we needed to wind things down. But Neil wanted to give it a try and we ended up spending 14 months making Vapor Trails, as opposed to the four or five months it usually takes us.
And now Rush is back in the studio recording yet another record. Has the process of writing and recording changed over the years?
We sometimes write some material on our own, but it is way more fun showing up on that first day and seeing what happens. You don't know where the music is going to go, and I'll grab a guitar I haven't played in five or six years. It is really exciting. We're like kids again.
There's also a mini article which talks about the Ritz Carlton New Year's Eve incident. I'll try and post that in the next couple days.