Canadian hard rock trio Rush, from left, drummer Neil Peart, guitarist Alex Lifeson and singer/bassist/keyboardist Geddy Lee.
by Mike Snider, USA TODAY
To heck with Mayan prophecies. Fans of the hard rock trio Rush are stepping into the limelight.
A Facebook-fueled campaign for followers of the band to wear Rush concert T-shirts at work and at play Friday is timed to the day’s date, written as 21-12-12 in some parts of the world, a nod to the band’s landmark album 2112, released in 1976.
There’s plenty for Rush fans be proud of. The Canadian trio is among the 2013 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with Donna Summer, Albert King, Heart, Public Enemy and Randy Newman.
“It’s a nice thing. It’s an honor. I was very pleased,” says Geddy Lee, lead singer and bass and keyboard player for the band. “It’s not one of those things I was obsessed with or thought about, frankly, because, really it’s completely out of your control, right? But when you get the phone call and someone tells you you’ve been elected to such a prestigious association, you are pleased and you feel flattered.”
The band is most happy for the followers of its near-40-year career. “It became a real cause for our fan base, and they took it quite personally, and they championed it,” Lee says. “I’m very happy for them because they seem to be very invested in this idea of us being in the Hall of Fame, and it means a lot to them and in a way this is a wonderful validation for their fan support.”
As for the International Rush Day Friday, he says, “It sort of took off on Facebook or one of those social-media things, the idea of it being a fan day. We’ve got amazing fans, and they look for every moment to celebrate their support of us. I am very appreciative of that, I can tell you.”
In return, Rush continues to tour and release some of the most-well-received music of its career. The album Clockwork Angels tied for its highest Billboard 200 chart debut ever, hitting No. 2, when it came out in June. The album has remained on the Hard Rock album chart for 26 weeks; it hit No. 1 and remains No. 17.
The 2012 leg of the Clockwork Angels tour ended Dec. 2; more U.S. dates are expected in April prior to Rush’s departure for Europe. “We play about 50 minutes of brand-new material for them every night along with two hours of older material,” says Lee, speaking on the telephone from Toronto, having just returned from a Caribbean vacation. “They are very patient and very supportive.”
The influential album 2112 has gotten a makeover, too. A super deluxe edition, out this week (street price $55-$63), comes in a hardback book with a remastered CD and Blu-ray Disc of the album. The Blu-ray Disc includes high-resolution stereo and 5.1 surround-sound versions of 2112 in its entirety. There’s also a CD-DVD edition (about $22) with DVD Audio and DVD Video high-res stereo and surround tracks.
“We are always looking for new formats to present the highest-quality audio experience, and luckily our fans are heavily into this notion of hearing our music with the best fidelity,” said guitarist Alex Lifeson in an e-mail.
Last year, Rush released a 30th anniversary edition of the CD Moving Pictures with a high-res Blu-ray Disc version, supervised by Lifeson. Noting that some other artists, including Neil Young and Tom Petty, have released recent high-res Blu-ray Discs, Lifeson said the improved resolution reminds “the old-school fans … what music sounded like on vinyl before compressed little MP3s!”
During Blu-ray or DVD playback, comic book images relevant to each song appear on your TV. The 40-page comic book — art by Tom Hodges (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and The Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors #17) — comes in the hardback edition and is also available in a new iBook available in Apple’s iBook store. The $4.99 iBook also includes black-and-white art and sketches, along with photos, liner notes and audio clip previews of the remastered 2112.
Lee admits it’s ironic that a futuristic concept album released in the ’70s continues to evolve. “Yeah, I think that is really cool,” he says. “New technology allows you to revisit work of the past and present it in a way that is more amenable to the technology that is out there and add more special bonus things.”
Before the band released 2112, which subsequently went triple platinum, “we seemed to be working our way down the ladder of success,” Lee says. “It was the record that saved our Canadian back bacon. So 2112 was a record that was very important to us, and we felt very passionate about it. We didn’t expect anyone would like it. We just said, ‘If we are going to go out, we are going to go out doing what we want to do.’ And that is what 2112 was. It just goes to show you we were the last to know because it turned out to be probably the most important record we’ve ever made.”
Copyright 2012 USATODAY.com