During Rush's current rehearsals in preparation for the Clockwork Angels World Tour, Neil Peart granted a rare interview with MacLeans' Magazine where he discussed a number of topics including his early days, musical integrity and the question of faith.
The article, titled Neil Peart on Introverts, Learning to Improvise, and Why People Should be Nicer to One Another, was conducted by Mike Doherty. Below is an excerpt from the interview:Q: “...the hero of Clockwork Angels, called Owen Hardy in the novelization [by friend and science fiction writer Kevin J. Anderson, to be published in September], says, 'I can’t stop thinking big.'”Neil also touches upon some more 'controversial' subjects regarding fate, circumstance, and free will to which he responds:
A: Ah, the classic dreamer, and one of the lovely distinctions that Kevin and I wove over the character with reflection to our own pasts. When I was in the band J.R. Flood in St. Catharines, where we were doing pretty well, I said to my bandmates, “Let’s go to London [England].” I did, on my own, but it surprises me to this day that no one wanted to go with me. I went hungry and wasn’t finding fame and fortune as quickly as I’d fantasized, but there was nothing daunting to me at the time. Like Owen, I did stumble into things, and a trail of events that could not have happened otherwise in one sense led me toward the person I am today. I lived away from home for the first time; I got a real job and proved myself in a workday situation, and thus I was never afraid anymore. As crises came up later on—“Oh, we have to compromise, and the record company wants to do this,” I’d be like, “No, I don’t have to.”
Q: “It sounds ideal—having had such a long career without ever needing to compromise.”
A: Well, it’s an unending and awful battle, because sometimes you’re up against everybody in the whole world—even your friends and family are saying, “You need a single.” You feel sometimes incredibly alone. When we first got into the professional music business and saw how calculated people were, we called that “the sickness.” We grew up in the ’60s where music was for music’s sake. To us it was pure, and dedicated to getting better, and all of the good ambitions that later became subsumed in the “progressive” moniker.I remain the optimist: you just do your best and hope for the best. But it’s an evolving state of mind. I still totally believe in individual rights and individual responsibility and in choosing to do good. On the liberal side of things, they go to an extreme of how people need to be led, and they can’t handle freedom. Pure libertarianism believes that people will be generous and help each other. Well, they won’t. I wish it were so, and I live that way. I help panhandlers, but other people are, “Oh look at that—why doesn’t he get a job?” While I believe in all that freedom, I also believe that no one should suffer needlessly. A realization I had lately: it is impossible to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and be a Republican. It’s philosophically absolutely opposed—if they could only think about what they were saying for a minute. That’s when you get caught up in the webs of what people call themselves and how they behave. You just become adaptable and try to lead a good life in ways that make sense, regardless. Because I know at the end of it, if I’m going to meet Jesus or Allah or Buddha, I’m going to be all right.Click HERE to read the entire interview.