RUSH Drummer Discusses Making Of ‘Clockwork Angels’

Canadian rock legends RUSH are continuing work on their 20th studio album, “Clockwork Angels”, due later in the year via Roadrunner Records.

In a posting on his official web site, RUSH drummer Neil Peart writes about the making of the new CD, “I had been recording in Toronto with my bandmates, from mid-October until early December.

“We completed the songwriting and arranging for the album, ‘Clockwork Angels’, we started back in late 2009 — before going ‘on hiatus’ for the ‘Time Machine’ tour, and playing 81 shows in North America, South America, and Europe. (Some hiatus.)

“While Alex [Lifeson, guitar] and Geddy [Lee, bass/vocals] were finishing the writing and arranging in one smaller room of the studio, over in the big room I was working with The Mighty Booujzhe, recording my drum parts.

“As we prepare to start mixing in the New Year, it is too early to say anything about the results. (I once described mixing as ‘the end of waiting,’ while Geddy calls it, ‘the death of hope.’) About the process, though, I can’t resist spilling a little.

“It was our second time working with the production team of Nick ‘Booujzhe’ Raskulinecz and engineer Rich ‘Tweak’ Chycki. Beginning with a confident level of trust allowed us to reach higher, and I recorded my drum parts in a way that, for me, was completely different than ever before.

“Even right up to our previous album, ‘Snakes Arrows’ (2007), my method was to take a demo version Alex and Geddy had made of each song and play along with it many, many times. I would experiment with possible rhythms and decorations, and gradually organize them into an arrangement. At that point, I might start recording demos myself — often with Alex as engineer — and improve them over time, with input from my bandmates and coproducer (Booujzhe, in that case).

“In recent years I have been working deliberately to become more improvisational on the drums, and these sessions were an opportunity to attempt that approach in the studio. I played through each song just a few times on my own, checking out patterns and fills that might work, then called in Booujzhe. He stood in the room with me, facing my drums, with a music stand and a single drumstick — he was my conductor, and I was his orchestra. (I later replaced that stick with a real baton.)

RUSH songs tend to have complicated arrangements, with odd numbers of beats, bars, and measures all over the place, and our latest songs are no different (maybe worse — or better, depending). In the past, much of my preparation time would be spent just learning all that. I don’t like to count those parts, but rather play them enough that I begin to feel the changes in a musical way. Playing it through again and again, those elements became ‘the song.’

“This time I handed that job over to Booujzhe. (And he loved it!) I would attack the drums, responding to his enthusiasm, and his suggestions between takes, and together we would hammer out the basic architecture of the part. His baton would conduct me into choruses, half-time bridges, and double-time outros and so on — so I didn’t have to worry about their durations. No counting, and no endless repetition.”

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