Rush's 20th studio album, “Clockwork Angels,” is out today.
Rolling Stone caught up with drummer/lyricist Neil Peart for a rare chat about Rush's latest concept record, their upcoming tour, there increased presence in pop culture and where he stands politically these days.
Explaining what gave Rush the initial idea to make this a concept record, Peart explains, “The nice thing is that it sort of grew in the telling. It started with a conversation in 2009. We got together in Los Angeles and started to think about our next year. One of the projects we discussed was doing a compilation of all of our instrumentals, which [bassist] Geddy [Lee] suggested. I said, ‘Yeah, maybe we could make a new one to go with it. Maybe something a little more extended.’”
“Those words ‘a little more extended’ in the course of this comfortable conversation got me thinking,” Neil continued. “I said, ‘Well, I've been thinking lately about this setting ...’ And I explained this whole steampunk thing to the guys and they seemed kind of intrigued. So I started working, and the story came together organically.”
Real world history inspired Peart as he built the Clockwork Angels tale.
“The Seven Cities of Gold always fascinated me,” he says. “Southwestern U.S. history especially fascinates me. The whole spur of the Spanish exploration of the Southwestern U.S. was the search for these mythical Seven Cities of Gold. The Spanish ones would go back to Mexico City and say, ‘I saw it! I saw it! I just couldn't get to it, but I could see this city of gold in the distance!’ They kept believing it and sending expeditions.”
“Another story that fascinated me was the Wreckers. This Daphne Du Maurier novel Jamaica Inn describes these people called ‘The Wreckers’ on the coast of the Cornwall in Britain. They would not would not only plunder shipwrecks, but they would actually put up a fake light and attract the ships in a storm to crash on their shores so they could loot them. It's just a shocking example of inhumanity, and it happens to be a true story. I wove it all of that into the story of this album.”
Asked if Rush fans expect to hear a big chunk of this album on tour this year, Peart says “Yeah. That's certainly the plan. On the R-30 tour we played a lot of older stuff just to celebrate our 30 years. And that liberated us on the Snakes and Arrows tour, where we played eight or nine new songs. We had given fair tribute to the older stuff on the previous tour. And then on the Time Machine tour, we felt liberated that we could stop doing a lot of Snakes and Arrows songs and be more playful with the set list.”
Check out the full session with Neil Peart at Rolling Stone here.
Hear Clockwork Angels here.
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