Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, collectively known as Rush, unleashed their first new collection of original material in over five years today (June 12). Clockwork Angels marks the band's 20th studio album and is their first studio release via Anthem / Roadrunner Records. The band once again worked with producer Nick Raskulinecz, who also collaborated and co-produced 2007’s Snakes & Arrows.
Lyrically, Clockwork Angels chronicles a young man’s quest across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy as he attempts to follow his dreams. The story features lost cities, pirates, anarchists, an exotic carnival, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life.
To mark the release of Clockwork Angels, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson connected with Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins for a lengthy conversation about the new album.
"We all face this thing of we love the classic albums, but why should I listen to them now?," Corgan asked during the interview, adding "I would say to anybody who's a Rush fan, there's a particular passion in this record thaty I haven't heard for a while and that was really attractive to me."
In the interview Lee and Lifeson discuss making music, Neil Peart's lyrical prowess, the development of ClockworkAngels as a story, Rush's disdain for the "c word" (concept), their influence on other musicians, why an album still matters and much more.
Talking about their frame of mind going into the recording sessions for Clockwork Angels, Lee stated, "There was a certain new level of playing that we felt we achieved on the last tour. Because we allowed ourselves some moments, which is rare for us, being victims of our own patterns, you know, we're structure freaks. We love to overstructure the songs. We don't leave much room for jamming or a momentary burt of inspiration, but we did on this last tour and we noticed that we kind of went to a really fun and interesting and a little bit dangerous place some nights. We just kind of elevated the thing into a new zone of intensity. Furious was the best way to describe it."
When asked about their influence on other musicians, Lifeson said, "It's a wonderful compliment to have passed along something. The role of teacher is quite an honorable one. We like to take chances. We like to push ourselves. We try to do all those things that so many musicians aspire to, you know, that freedom to do what you want and the way you want to do it. It's a lot easier to say that when you've got a strong audience that's willing to buy your records and support you and come and see you play but it's an important part of development and growth. A lot of younger musicians, especially through the '90s and 2000s, were quite influenced by that."
And not to be overlooked was Corgan offering up The Smashing Pumpkins as an opener for Rush on a future tour.