During a recent appearance on the "Tape Op Podcast", producer Nick Raskulinecz discussed his work on the final two RUSH albums, 2007's "Snakes & Arrows" and 2012's "Clockwork Angels".
"Sometimes I still can't believe it happened," Nick said (hear audio below). "We made two records together, and the first one was… it did great for them. I kind of feel they were looking for somebody to inject some energy back into them and what they were doing and tell them that it was okay to be themselves. I felt like they were looking for a direction at that point in their careers. I mean, they'd made so many records. And they had just gotten back together after Neil's [Peart, drums] hiatus and made a record [2002's 'Vapor Trails'] that was a little — it was too heavy and disjointed, and it didn't really sound like RUSH that much. And I liked it, but I didn't love it. And we got together, I was just kind of, like, 'No. More fills. And classic fills.' 'Cause as a lifelong RUSH fan, I knew what I wanted to hear. So I just kind of tried to guide them into what... I feel like the first record we made was their kind of mid-'80s, early-'90s... we kind of touched on that era of RUSH. And then the last record we made was total '70s, very early '80s-style RUSH. There's a song on there called 'Headlong Flight' that's almost nine minutes long; it has a drum solo in the middle."
In an interview with Classic Rock, RUSH frontman Geddy Lee talked about how working with Nick on "Clockwork Angels" encouraged the band to go back to "the essence of who we are."
"We're a bit curmudgeonly," he said. "You get tied to your way of doing things, so it's hard to break out of that. But with a producer like Nick that has that kind of enthusiasm and confidence and also knowledge, it works. If any old person came in and started asking us to do some of the things he asks us, I don't think we could pull it off. But because we know where he's coming from and we know that he understands… For instance, he can sing you every note of every drum lick, you know. He's coming from the same place that we're coming from as musicians — he is a musician, he's got legitimate respect from us — so when he comes in the studio and asks us to try something else, we look at each other and go, 'I don't know about this'. We think for a second, and we respect the guy, so we do it. Plus, Neil has been really open to rhythmic ideas from outside, a lot more open generally. Alex [Lifeson, guitar] and I put together rough drum ideas when we're writing, and Alex is brilliant at creating rhythms, and so sometimes Neil will just use it, when it's right it's right. Same thing with his approach to Nick: rather than go through the whole process of writing the song and then having Nick come in and push him around, he let Nick push him around first."
RUSH has been completely inactive since completing the "R40 Live" tour four years ago. 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 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.