What’s the Rush? Here is the 3rd and final part of a long interview I did with Martin Popoff.
Boppin (B): Is there anything for those of us outside of the music industry that would not know about Neil Peart?
Martin: I have 3 big, huge Rush books coming out and I’m sure there’s gonna be some stuff in there.
B: When is the first one coming out?
Martin: They all were finished a long time ago. The first one, Anthem: Rush in the 70’s is on the spring schedule, so maybe April/May. The 2nd one for the end of the year, and hopefully the last one is spring of 2021.
B: The books are in chronological order, and on that note, you mentioned Rush as being the first progressive metal band. Do you think that through their years that maybe they changed to something other than a heavier progressive metal, and at what point did this switch occur?
Martin: Yeah, I think around Signals the became interested in keyboards and technology such as drum technology. Then they wrote shorter songs. They tried to write within a short time frame a progressive song, but they took a lot of that out as well. There weren’t so many complicated time signatures and long concepts and long songs. They went through a return to the guitars with Counterparts and Test For Echo and they had this almost conceptual album with Vapor Trails in terms of the tragedy that befell Neil, and then they basically became an analog version of that very electronic band from the 80’s, and at the very end they gave us the first, full blown concept album. Before they had only done concept sides. Clockwork Angels is a full blown concept albums and it’s quite heavy, and quite spontaneous, quite analog, quite dark, and heavy bluesy in a way. It’s almost like a different form of heavy metal than they earlier form when they would be heavy metal, so that’s kind of how they ended up.
B: You’ve released books about their albums, and you are coming out with 3 more Rush albums about their time frames. Would there be one album that you would say: I wish Rush would have done……. and fill in the blank with that album?
Martin: Yeah, it is interesting, I was just having a conversation about that, it is not exactly the album but I always wonder what if Rush reacted to the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) with inspiration instead of running the other way. They had a pretty heavy album with Moving Pictures. There was this massive UK metal movement, they were playing the UK a fair bit. Heavy metal was in vogue again, heavy metal would be involved all the way up until arguably 1991 with the rise of Nirvana, heavy metal of various sorts, hair metal, thrash, NWOBHM, lots and lots of metal bands were doing well whether you were a seventies band or an eighties band. I often wonder would it not have been cool if they would have said: Man I love heavy metal, that is my favourite thing about Rush, we should do way more of that. As Signals, and moving into Grace Under Pressure, and Power Windows, imagine if they were 2 and a half times as heavy as the heaviest previous Rush albums. That would have been cool I would have thought. Rather they went the other way, The New Romantics way, they went the synthesizers and electronic drums way, so I would have loved…I really loved all the albums up until Grace Under Pressure, but I would have loved Power Windows to be all return to heavy metal. Put all the electronics aside and write super fast riffy songs. That would have been pretty cool to hear out of Rush.
Martin: Listen I have to go shortly, I have a Steve Harris chat that got rescheduled from the other day. The hardest thing was getting the music over to me, so they are trying to get Steve Harris on the line.
B: Ok, I have a few questions from another blogger 1537.
|Do you feel that Neil worked as hard on his lyrics as he ever did on his drumming, because the progression in them from callow fantasy to mature work is immense and whether 50 years from now he will be more appreciated as even a lyricist, than as a drummer?
Martin: Yes, he sweated hard every word-did exactly the same way as the drumming.
B: Did Rush absorb enough Welshness when they recorded those albums at Rockfield Studios to sustain them to true rock greatness and that when they had used it all up, they had to take their first major break?
Martin: No, no Welshness. But it was a ton of work. Really grinded on them being away and isolated.
Martin: Any last thing you want to ask to wrap up?
B: I have one last question from Deke.
Will you be working on a third Iron Maiden book?
Martin: Yes I will. I do have to follow up Holy Smoke: Iron Maiden in the Nineties. It has always been my plan but instead I got sidetracked and did a Mercyful Fate book, and I am halfway through a Saxon book so I put the Maiden aside for now, but both of those first two sold pretty well so I better get my act in gear. I am either gonna call it Empire Of The Clouds or Wildest Dreams Iron Maiden in the 2000s. So yeah, I definitely have got to do a third one to finish up the catalogue.
B: Perfect. I really appreciate you answering all my questions and for you filling in 98% of this conversation with interesting anecdotes and very informative topics, so thank you so much.
Martin: Talk to you later. Bye.