Drummer Neil discovers a new approach to recording so he doesn’t have to spend so much time learning the changes

Neil Peart

One-man orchestra: Neil Peart

Rush drummer Neil Peart has admitted even he has struggled with the complicated arrangements in the band’s tracks.

And the time spent learning the changes has meant his recording sessions were less off-the-cuff than he’d have liked them to be.

But now he’s found a new way of working which, he says, means his drum tracks on upcoming album Clockwork Angels have been more fun to record and they’re much more enthusiastic and energetic.

Peart says: “Rush songs tend to have complicated arrangements, with odd numbers of beats, bars and measures all over the place. Our latest songs are no different – maybe worse, or better, depending.

“In the past much of my preparation time would be spent just learning all that. I don’t like to count those parts, but rather play them enough that I begin to feel the changes in a musical way.”

But that process prevented him from taking an improvisational approach to recording, which he was keen to do. So with the help of producer Nick ‘Booujzhe’ Raskulinecz he created a new approach to the problem.

“I played through each song just a few time on my own,” Peart says, “then called in Booujzhe. He stood in the room with me, facing my drums, with a music stand and a single drumstick. He was my conductor and I was his orchestra. I later replaced that stick with a real baton.

“I would attack the drums, responding to his enthusiasm, and his suggestions between takes. Together we’d hammer out the basic architecture of the part. His baton would conduct me into choruses, half-time bridges, double-time outros and so on, so I didn’t have to worry about their durations.

“No counting and no endless repetition. What a revelation – what a relief!”

Rush are about to start mixing Clockwork Angels. Peart says: “It is too early to say anything about the results. I once described mixing as ‘the end of waiting’ – Geddy Lee calls it ‘the death of hope’.”

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