RUSH's ALEX LIFESON Hasn't Felt Inspired And Motivated To Play Music After NEIL PEART's Death: 'It's Been Difficult'

May 31, 2020

Alex Lifeson was a guest on WFAN's "Talkin' Golf With Ann Liguori" radio show this morning. The RUSH guitarist spoke with Ann about his passion for golf, shared stories about playing golf while on the road with RUSH, discussed the parallels between music and golfing, and touched on a few RUSH-related subjects, including the legendary Canadian group's longevity, his friendship with his two bandmates and the possibility of him and bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee playing music together again.

Speaking about RUSH's four-decade-plus career, Lifeson said (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Geddy and I were friends from junior high school. We had such a love of music. After school, I'd go to his place or he'd come to mine, and we would jam for a couple of hours almost every day.

"It was a dream of any adolescent male to join a rock band and pick up chicks and this whole thing, but for us, the music was so important, and it was really about becoming a good musician and the best at what you do. And we started early with that, and that was the underlying reason for what we were doing.

"When Neil [Peart, drums] joined the band, he was so skilled, even at that early stage, that it was inspiring to Geddy and me, and we just kind of moved as a unit," he continued. "We also shared a very similar sense of music, so the time that we spent together when we weren't focused on music was like being with your very best friends all the time. And you got to travel and see this other world and live this experience that you only ever dreamed about, and you got to do it together with guys that you really loved. So it was a no-brainer, really, for us. We were really, really fortunate. 'Cause I know lots of bands that imploded — guys just couldn't stand each other after a while, or there was competition or jealousy over who wrote what song and who made what money and all of that stuff. We were always very democratic in the way we ran things. If it wasn't a unanimous decision doing something, we didn't do it. If there was a royalty payment because someone wrote something, the whole band shared in it. That took out a lot of the stress and angst and that kind of jealousy and anger that can develop in some bands."

According to Lifeson, he and his two bandmates were "beyond brothers" after spending more than 40 years playing together. "It was more like we'd been at war together, and we had this connection even when we didn't see each other for months," he explained. "It was like we just left the day before; we picked it up where we left off. It was always like that with us. And we always stayed in touch. I'm in touch with Geddy regularly. Before this whole COVID-19 pandemic situation happened, Ged and I would see each other every week — we'd go for dinner or at least talk to each other. It's been a little crazier now because of this whole thing and this adjustment that we've made these last few months, but we're still in touch, and we'll always have that friendship, right to the end of our days."

Asked if he misses performing, Lifeson said: "I miss performing in its essence — get on stage, playing, especially when you're really in good shape, you've rehearsed and you know everything, it's effortless. I do miss that aspect of it. I don't miss the touring. The only thing of touring that I miss is not playing golf every day in a different fantastic golf club. But the rest of it — sitting in a hotel room, being away from my family, being away from friends — it's a price you pay, and in the whole scope of things, it's not that great a price for the return. But still after 40 years of being away from your family particularly, it becomes difficult. And after now, it's been almost five years since the last tour, I can't say that I really miss it at this point. Maybe a year or two after we stopped, I probably missed it more. But I've settled into it now, and I quite like my life and what I'm doing. I keep active in music, and I'm so in love with golf during the summer, and I'm close to my family. It's a very good balance for me."

Asked if he and Geddy ever talk about getting back on stage and playing music together again, Alex said: "Not really. It's been difficult. After Neil passed in January, I've played very little guitar. I don't feel inspired and motivated. It was the same thing when [Neil's] daughter died in a car accident in 1997; I didn't really play for about a year. And I just don't feel it in my heart right now. Every time I pick up a guitar, I just aimlessly kind of mess around with it and put it down after 10 minutes. Normally, I would pick up a guitar and I would play for a couple of hours without even being aware that I'm spending that much time. So I know it'll come back. And I think Geddy working on his book for those couple of years, he was so involved in that book — which is, by the way, a fabulous book — when he finished it, he went on a tour for a year promoting it. Every time I spoke to him about getting back together, he was, like, 'Yeah, when I get through this, when I get through this.' And then always something come up, I guess. I don't know if the motivation is there for us to really do anything now. We're certainly proud of our track record, and we still love music. But it's different now."

Peart died on January 7 in Santa Monica, California after a three-year battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was 67 years old. The band announced his passing on January 10, setting off shockwaves and an outpouring of grief from fans and musicians all over the world.

RUSH's final show took place at the Forum in Los Angeles on August 1, 2015. Peart indicated at the time that he wanted to retire while he was still able to play well, along with a desire to spend more time at home with his young daughter.

Image credit: Sweetwater

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