Alex Lifeson Talks to Classic Rock Magazine About Rush's Vapor Trails Remix and the Next Rush Album

Alex Lifeson Talks to Classic Rock Magazine About Vapor Trails Remix and the Next Rush Album
Classic Rock Magazine has just posted a new interview with Alex Lifeson on their website. The main topic of discussion in the interview is the upcoming re-release of Rush's Vapor Trails album.

From the interview:
You say that the sound of the finished album ‘bothered’ you and Geddy. What exactly was wrong?

The original mastering was the problem. It was poorly done. At the time we should have remastered. It bothered us forever – particularly Geddy, who had the task of remastering of the original album and feels responsible for it. It irked him for many years. The original version is hard on your ears, because the mastering was pushed so hard, there’s distortion and so much compression – I found it very difficult to listen to it.

But why go back and remix it – why rewrite history?

There was so much invested in that record and it just didn’t sit with us that we had this blemish on our recording history. We wanted to rectify that. I’d like to remix every record we did – maybe update some parts. But that’s crazy, you know? You don’t do that – records are moments in time, markers of these different periods of progression and growth. But this one was a very important record – our return after a horrible nightmare. And it deserved better.

Given the circumstances, is Vapor Trails one of the most important albums Rush have ever made?

I think it is. It deserves a very special place in our repertoire.
Alex also hints at the possibility of writing the next Rush album sometime next year...
And the next Rush album?

I don’t know. But Ged’s been collecting bass guitars like a madman. He’s covered the walls with all these vintage basses. He’s playing them, and he’s not one for playing when we’re not touring. So I’m wondering if maybe he and I will sit down in the new year and do something. I’m just speculating. I’m not saying there are any plans for writing or anything like that. But if he’s goofing around with his basses, that’s a good sign for me.
You can read the entire interview at this LINK.

Comments

  1. I've yet to read anything from either of them why it was released in that way to begin with. If it was so bad, why did they not remix it then? Were they on a deadline? did they not have enough pull to tell the label to back off while they did it right?

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    1. While this is purely conjecture, I believe that the extensive amount of time recording the album (over 15 months) probably led to the release of VT in its original format. Certainly they must have known about the quality of many of the tracks (I don't think they ALL sound bad...but that's me).

      It will be interesting, nonetheless, to hear the 'new' VT next month.

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    2. I think Vapor Trails is a fantastic, original sound and I think it's great in it's original recording. I would not change a thing.

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  2. I remember reading MANY interviews with the group around the Vapor Trails original release (May 2002, same week as Vanilla Coke and Star Wars Episode II), Alex and Geddy would take the demos and rough mixes and listen to them on the Bose sound systems in their cars -- Audi A4 models. It got to the point where if it sounded good in the cars, it was ready for release. And YOU know the saying: no highs, no lows, must be Bose! I am interested to see if this new engineer carries on the work Rich Chycki did on the 2 Retrospective remixes (and do those get ANOTHER makeover?)....we shall find out in less than 2 weeks!

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  3. No remixing, remastering, or rerecording can save that record. It's terrible -- that's why it sounds terrible. No musical ideas. Only the death of a band.

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  4. Sorry, Anonymous here again. I don't want to assign any particular blame to Vapor Trails. The band had been in freefall since Roll the Bones. (Face Up? The Big Wheel? Neurotica? Holy shit, how awful.) And Counterparts only confirmed what we all worried was happening. (Stick It Out? Are you kidding?) Then Test for Echo...and on and on and on. One bad record after another. And to see Rush fans fawning over Clockwork Angels?! It makes me feel bad about the world. There's nothing left. Only hype and hysteria and hideous fake shit, everywhere. Rush should retire. Rush should retire. RUSH SHOULD RETIRE. At least then we'd never have to hear Geddy's latest unlistenable vocal slaughter or Neil's ever-more-epic, embarrassing, science-fiction, auto-fellatio, barely disguised monologue. God, people. This can't be happening. Yet it is.

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    1. But how do you REALLY feel, Anonymous? ;) I think what makes Rush unique is that they've continued to evolve over time...and not remained stuck in the 70's. Sure I absolutely loved their early work ... but let's face it, Hemispheres II would not have worked in 1997. And at the end of the day, if you can't appreciate these three guys going out there - for 4 decades - doing what they love for so many that appreciate it - that's fine... but at the same time don't dismiss the fans that DO love Clockwork Angels, or Counterparts or Test for Echo... Just my 2.112 cents...

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  5. I often bravely spew venom when online as 'Anonymous', too!

    Rickster

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  6. I love VT the way it is. Anonymous- why take the time to write that? Just don't listen anymore.

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  7. @Anonymous - I guess hundreds of thousands of us across the globe are suffering from some sort of mass delusion and age-induced weakening of our senses, huh? Have you been to a RUSH show in the past 20 years? Even MUSIC CRITICS, for the first time EVER in the history of the band, are lauding the live shows and agree that they are at the top of their game technically - AT 60 YEARS OLD!! What other band, AS A WHOLE, from that era, or any other era for that matter, can you compare them with on a technical basis? Geddy's voice has certainly mellowed over the years, but poll after poll of MUSICIANS put Geddy and Neil at the top of BEST EVERS on their instruments, and Alex typically in the top 10. If they truly died as a band at Vapor Trails, then how do you explain the growing fan-base and continued technical growth? I'm not a musician, but when DRUMMERS are telling me that Neil is STILL the best-ever, I'm going to tend to agree with them! RUSH could have retired long ago and lived very comfortable, easy lives without all the hard-work and stress of writing/recording/touring, but true artists can never stop creating, and true fans never stop being interested in seeing what will come next. So many "Classic Rock" bands take the easy road to earn a few dollars - the occasional Summer Fests and "BEST OF" outdoor amphitheater shows w/other old-fart bands, maybe throw-in one or two new songs here and there, (that is IF they've even written a new song in the past 20 years!) RUSH, however, creates a new album and fans want to hear ALL of it live, spending large amounts of money to attend multiple shows per tour to hear it live again and again - SOLD-OUT stadiums, tour after tour, with little or no radio play!! You may not care for the music personally, but what other band can you say that about? I'm really curious as to who you DO listen to and respect??

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  8. P.S. I'm not your stereotypical RUSH fan btw...

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  9. What I find amusing is why anyone would waste their time writing nasty stuff about a band they apparently don't even like (anymore)... Especially on one of the band's fan sites!
    Get a life "Anonymous".

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  10. First, yes, I’ve been to shows at both ends of the last 20 years. I mostly gave up after the Counterparts tour when it was clear that band had either forgotten how to write songs or just didn’t care about that side of their work anymore. (Come on, people, can you really name any song off Test for Echo that was interesting when it was released or has aged well? No, of course you can’t. Because there isn’t one.)

    But I saw them again on the Time Machine tour – admittedly, after regretting missing them on the Snakes and Arrows tour, which seemed like their best live work in a long, long time – and I was kind of pleased by it. The set list wasn’t particularly interesting or surprising, but they played very well, yes. Technically, they still have it. Except for Geddy’s singing, which sounds just awful. Terrible beyond description. Off key, exaggerated, idiotic. Like he has an egg lodged in the back of his throat.

    So okay. I know. Many of you here think I’m just trying to pick some kind of a fight with the band or its fans. I’m not. I’m just trying to do what no one else will. The reality is that these guys have had it in their heads for decades now that they’re infallible. That they’re master songwriters and arrangers and that they’re technical proficiency can bail them out of every situation. It can’t. And no one will tell them this. We all seem to figure, “Hey, the world’s surely a little bit better with these guys around, so let’s not be too hard on them.” So Rush then becomes a musical charity case.

    Fact: almost all their songs now are crap. Accept it. No one is listening to Faithless or The Larger Bowl or Seven Cities of Gold unless the band is playing it in front of them. No one. Check your iTunes stats. Really, go do that.

    But it wasn’t always this way. Go back to the beginning – as in Fly By Night, not that hideous first record – and you’ll notice that every song was a real song. And it stayed that way until the 90s. You could play any song from any record and it was worth playing. Then the Big Wheels came off. Beginning with Roll the Bones, they started putting out throwaway songs. Then they started putting out throwaway records. And now we’re lucky to get two or three good songs per album. Yet the band members keep talking about how much better they are at songwriting and arranging and I just CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT I’M READING.

    Let me quickly point out that I was the band’s biggest defender in the 80s. I remember when Power Windows came out and how all the rock dinosaurs were running it down, complaining about THE KEYBOARDS, THE KEYBOARDS, THE KEYBOARDS. I kept asking them, “What difference does it make if they’re playing keyboards or banjos or bongos if the songs are good?!” Of course, none of them had an answer to that. They just wanted the 70s all over again. Most of those guys are failures now. Some are in prison. All of them live in the dark. But at least they have Freebird and Voodoo Chile and The Harlem Shuffle to keep them company.

    That, in fact, was just what we all loved about Rush back then – that it wouldn’t sit still, that it wouldn’t be confined to the past, that it kept changing. There was no knowing where it would go next, and each album was a surprise and an adventure. And even when the band put out a song they regretted – like Tai Shan – at least it was still tuneful. (“We Hold On?!” No, we don’t.)

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    1. Its a good thing music is evaluated objectively and that subjective opinion plays no part of what determines "good music" or "bad music". And thank Gawd that someone bravely posting as "anonymous" is obviously the arbiter of all that is Good music, so we don't have to waste time actually listening to music and forming our own opinions.

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  11. Now there’s no adventure, only the recycling of old ideas (“Listen, that’s from Bastille Day!”) and sorry, shitty, lazy musical ideas.

    But oh yes, they still have their musicianship! Who cares. If that’s what made Rush great, then you would also be listening to Yes and Mahavishnu Orchestra and (long farting noise) JAZZ! If you’re interested in that kind of shit, go to an Ian Anderson show. You won’t find a single mistake. You also won’t find anything to listen to.

    So quit it with how well they play. No one with any sense cares about that if the songs aren’t interesting. (Jazz fans: insert furious rebuttal here.)

    Oh, and about their newfound popularity: are you really surprised? All those rock dinosaurs are now in positions of influence, so of course they want to relive their teen years. Note again that they’re not playing The Larger Bowl or Resist or Nobody’s Hero in their brain-dead sitcoms and insufferable buddy movies. They’re playing Tom Sawyer (Ack!) and Spirit of Radio (only slightly less Ack!) and Limelight and…everything pre-1991. When the organ player at the Boston Garden had time for a song during a stoppage, he played Subdivisions, not Wish Them Well or The Color of Right or The Stars Look Down. (Are those last two even Rush songs? Unfortunately, yes, they are.)

    I’ll leave you with a little axiom. I think it explains a lot.

    “The muse is ours to borrow, not to own.”

    I’m sorry Rush has to be a case in point.

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    1. At the end of the day, these are still just your opinions - and you are, without question, entitled to them. Personally I disagree with many of your points -- but I won't criticize you for making them.

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    2. The last few albums have been great. I think most of us here agree, otherwise we wouldn't be here. Enough already dude. No one cares.

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  12. I happen to think Faithless and 7 Cities are outstanding songs...two of my favorites in fact, live or otherwise. You still didn't answer my question...who DO you like/listen to/respect??

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  13. man old anon just wont quit. I am sure he is a washed up musician that is green with envy.

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  14. Anonymous,
    get a life and/or go to the Aerosmith or Metallica Fan pages if you want to tell fans their bands are no longer relevant!
    That is all......

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  15. Anon is still a bawbag

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  16. I've been listening to dribble like anonymous is spewing out all my life. It never did and never will matter who likes what I like and, from what I can tell, there are more people like me than I thought. Rush will always be relevant due to their storytelling and relevant reflections within the lyrics and how they poetically and musically cerebrally intertwine the thought with the rhythms. I happenened to appreciate Geddy's voice(always did and always will)...to me he is a perfectionist and his ability to meet the challenges that Neil's lyrics pose is unmatched.

    My passion really has always existed in the emotive ability that the story's express and how each time I read them they seem to strike a chord in my soul.

    That's my opinion and so I'll keep enjoying my Rush. For those that don't enjoy my Rush, move along...life will go on without you loving Rush, dude.

    Peace

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  17. Anybody feel like debating this again? Have you listened to Vapor Trails at all in the last year? Of course not, because it sucks, and you know it. Credit Ray Danniels with the idea to re-release it. ("It's good for the restock, you know!" What a jerk.) This band is finished. Totally without new musical ideas. But you don't need ideas to put on a tour, do you? Moderator: Get some guts. You're not a fan if you rubber stamp everything they do.

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    1. I've listed to VT over the past year - multiple times. My son (he's 12) has been getting into Rush over the past year and, while he has every album at his disposal. he continually gravitates towards Vapor Trails, Moving Pictures, 2112 and Clockwork Angels - in that order.

      I said it before, and I'll say it again. You (along with everyone else) are entitled to your opinion. But do not chastise the rest of us for seeing the brilliance in VT that you clearly do not.

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