The March and April 2014 issues of the UK's Rhythm Magazine includes two articles written by Neil Peart titled, appropriately, Neil Peart on Drum Solos.
In Part One of the feature, which appeared in the March 2014 issue of the magazine, Neil breaks down the two 'mini-solos' that he performed during Rush's Clockwork Angels tour:What if I did two shorter solos, one in each set? Ooh, yes - that had possibilities. Eventually that notion evolved into three 'excursions'. The first was a more traditional solo in the first set, in the middle of an instrumental called, 'Where's My Thing?' (Thus the solo is smilingly titled, 'Here It Is!')In Part Two of the feature, which appeared in the April 2014 issue of Rhythm, Neil focuses on the arrangements of his Clockwork Angel tour drum solos as well as his thoughts of the future of the drum solo:
In the middle of the second set, I would take an extended drum break in 'Headlong Flight', for which I incorporated samples of the bass and guitar parts - wanting to create a version of one of my most admired soloing approaches, as exemplified by Steve Smith or Dave Weckl, for example. I speak of 'soloing over the changes', where the solo holds the tempo and structure, while the band joins in on specific hits or phrases. I have not yet convinced my bandmates to help me create that exact 'set-up', but this is a fun approximation. One superior element is that because I trigger the 'accompaniment', I can improvise freely against a set of changes that is random, rather than arranged.Finally, I have been asked about the 'future' of the drum solo. As mentioned, these days it is absent from the 'mainstream' of popular music, but I would venture that has been so since the dawn of recorded music. Jazz has always embraced self-expression, freedom, and virtuosity, and that has not changed. Some rock musicians have also aspired to those values, but in the final analysis, it is up to the audience.Both articles are available online for your reading pleasure. You can access them via the links below:
The popularity of more adventurous music ebbs and flows, but does seem to endure. Perhaps in these times even the word 'progressive' has evolved from admired, to despised, to mildly respected.Thanks to Heiko Klages for providing the scans of the April article.
Neil Peart on Drum Solos - Part One - Rhythm Magazine, March 2014
Neil Peart on Drum Solos - Part Two - Rhythm Magazine, April 2014