RUSH's ALEX LIFESON: 'I Always Try To Make Simple Guitar Parts Sound More Difficult'

September 9, 2019

In a recent interview with Mitch Gallagher of Sweetwater, RUSH guitarist Alex Lifeson was asked if he ever discovers new things about the band's early songs when he goes back to re-learn them years later. He responded (see video below): "There's a trick, I think, and it comes with experience. And that is, how do you make something simple sound really complicated and difficult?

"I think as a musician, you hear something on the radio, you process it in a different way," he continued. "It's very difficult to listen to music, I think, when you're a touring musician and you've really devoted your life to being a professional musician. You get very analytical. When I hear a song on the radio, I [think], 'I know exactly where they're gonna go.' This sort of thing. It takes a little bit of the joy out of it, but at the same time, it gives you a keener sense of musical structure and things like that.

"What I notice when I go back is, from a guitar standpoint, how I always try to make simple guitar parts sound more difficult," Lifeson added. "And I always really liked that when I heard it in somebody else. And quite often, if I try to play someone else's song, I think, 'How do you play that?' And you sit down and you play it and you go, 'Oh my God! This song is four chords.' But what did that guitarist do to this song to make it sound like it's not four chords? And that sort of led me to suspended chords and open strings and creating more than one guitarist in a three-piece. So that's the kind of stuff that I hear when I go back and I think, 'Oh my God! I really fooled people with that one.' [Laughs]"

RUSH has been completely inactive since completing the "R40 Live" tour four years ago. Drummer Neil Peart was battling enormous physical pain through much of the trek, including a foot infection that made it agonizing for him to even walk.

A few years ago, Lifeson told Rolling Stone that he receives injections for psoriatic arthritis. He was previously hospitalized for anemia from bleeding ulcers and suffered breathing problems.

Lifeson and bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee have repeatedly said that RUSH will never do a show unless all three musicians agree to take part. They haven't performed as RUSH without Peart since he joined the band in 1974.

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