Anthem/Atlantic recording group Rush returns with its first new collection of original material in nearly five years, entitled “SNAKES & ARROWS.” The album sees the legendary trio – Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart – operating at the peak of their powers. Never ones to extol their own achievements, for the first time in their career the members of band have been heard to say that they believe “SNAKES & ARROWS” contains the best work of their three decades together… which is saying something remarkable indeed.
Among the highlights are the first single, “Far Cry,” and such outstanding tracks as “Bravest Face” and “The Way the Wind Blows” – which Peart describes as “different from anything we have done before – fresh and vital, yet rooted in some deeper musical streams… It seems that with more time to learn and grow, we can still surprise ourselves.”
“SNAKES & ARROWS” was birthed in a surge of creative energy, beginning in May 2006 as Rush united in a Toronto studio for a month-long pre-production meeting. A number of musical sketches were drawn, setting the stage for further sessions. The band reconvened in September with American Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver) coming aboard as co-producer.
“He was a powerhouse of enthusiasm,” Peart says of the Grammy Award-winning Raskulinecz, “and offered suggestions for the arrangements (one of his frequent lines: ‘I’d be curious to hear…’), helping us to shape the songs more effectively. He also encouraged and elevated our individual performances, challenging us to keep reaching higher (another typical line: ‘Hey, I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t know you could do it!’).”
Within a month, Rush had drafted rough versions of nearly a dozen new songs, many of which touched on themes of spirituality and faith, including “Far Cry,” “Armor and Sword,” and “Faithless.” Elsewhere, relationships entered into the lyrical framework, notably on “Spindrift,” “Good News First,” and the album’s closing track, “We Hold On.” Rush’s much-vaunted musical ingenuity came to the fore on “The Larger Bowl,” which utilizes a Malay verse pattern called the pantoum. Peart suggests that the band’s invigorated artistic fervor stems from their work on 2004’s “FEEDBACK,” a freewheeling collection that saw the band celebrating its 30th anniversary by bashing out garage rock classics.
“That spirit of youthful enthusiasm, and the spirit of the ’60s, is alive in several of these songs,” Peart says, “from the blues sections in ‘The Way the Wind Blows’ to the feedback solo in ‘Far Cry,’ and the simple rhythm section backing for the melodic guitar solo in ‘The Larger Bowl.’”
In November, Rush began final recording at Allaire Studios, a residential studio in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Though plans initially called for a two-week stay before returning to Toronto for a final round of overdubs and vocals, the band found the Allaire atmosphere so conducive, they decided to extend their time there for an additional month. The sessions spurred the spontaneous creation of two instrumental tracks: Lifeson’s poignant solo guitar piece, “Hope” (recorded in a single take), and the brief, quirky “Malignant Narcissism” (a title borrowed from the film, Team America: World Police).
Rush took a holiday break, and then headed west to Hollywood’s Ocean Way Studio for final mixing. Peart, a Californian resident for the past six years, had long commuted to Toronto for rehearsing, writing, and recording, so “it was nice to have Alex and Geddy come to me for a change.”
The resulting “SNAKES & ARROWS” stands among Rush’s most provocative and inventive works, no mean feat for a band whose extraordinary CV entails includes such classics as 1976’s “2112,” 1981’s “MOVING PICTURES,” 1996’s “TEST FOR ECHO,” and 2002’s “VAPOR TRAILS.” With its virtuosic imagination, heartfelt lyricism and sheer artistic power, the album marks the ideal merging of Rush’s craft and passion.
“Naturally, we hope listeners will feel that spirit—all those spirits,” says Peart, “and have a rewarding musical experience, not just once, but again and again.”
Following the May 1st release of “SNAKES & ARROWS,” Rush will embark on a major world tour. Beginning in mid-June, the band will hit more than 45 cities across the U.S. and Canada, wrapping up in late-September. Rush will then cross the Atlantic to tour the UK and Europe throughout the month of October. And then?… to be continued.