features

DRUM! Readers Interview Neil Peart

What do you do with drum kits you used during past tours?

Mike fisher
St. Johns, Newfoundland
and Labrador, Canada

Rush fan since 1977

For now, I have hung onto the R30 kit, which is presently in the Motorcyclist Hall Of Fame museum near Columbus, Ohio, on display with my motorcycle from the Ghost Rider book. I still have the Snakes And Arrows kit of course, and a couple of other more recent ones, which I will likely donate to a worthy recipient, like a school music program, where all the rest of my excess equipment has gone in recent years.

My question is in regards to your rationale behind lowering your throne height over the last five years. Have you noticed greater ease playing, or any accompanying back problems commonly associated with a lower throne height?

Jason Jecman
Lisle, Illinois
Rush fan since 1978

In fact, I have never lowered my throne, just raised the drums around it. That began when I studied with Freddie Gruber in the ’90s. His teaching was largely about one’s physical approach to the drum set, and the major hardware change I made at that time was moving my throne back, to give a more natural physical approach to bass drum and cymbals.

I also raised my snare drum – a lot – so that its striking surface was at navel height, the center of gravity for the male body.

All of that has definitely worked for me, ergonomically, particularly in the all-important factor of avoiding injury. All motions of hands and feet, arms and legs, are now natural, and my back is arched evenly over the drums, without pain or strain.

Why is the second solo missing from “Natural Science” when played live?

Will Holt
Hampton, Virginia
Rush fan since 1981

In deciding to bring that song back into our live set a few years ago, after not playing it for a while, we made some arrangement changes that we probably would have done at the time it was recorded in 1979 if that long, complex, multi-part suite hadn’t been written and recorded in about two days!

In most cases, we are happy to play our songs as they were recorded because we remain contented enough with them that way, but other times we can’t resist reconsidering.

We have done that with a few other older songs, where we felt it simply would have been better without a certain part, or as with “Entre Nous” last tour, where it would have been better to repeat a certain passage.

Had you been given the chance to meet Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa, what would you have talked with them about?

Douglas Whelan
Puyallup, Washington
Rush fan since 1983

I would probably have talked with Buddy about fast cars. Buddy drove a succession of Jaguars, Ferraris, and Porsches with the same intensity he brought to his drumming.

With Gene, I would have asked about Dave Tough – to me, somehow the most intriguing of the old-time drummers, and a contemporary and fellow Chicagoan of Gene’s. Dave Tough was a frustrated poet, though he did publish one book, which I would love to find. He was beloved by other drummers, and the musicians he accompanied with consummate musicality and taste, but he felt drumming was beneath his higher calling. Those conflicts activated the demons that destroyed his career and, by age 40, laid him low.

If you judge a person by how much he was loved, though, then Dave Tough was a truly gifted man. But like some other gifted-but-conflicted drummers, like Dennis Wilson and Keith Moon, perhaps he just didn’t know how much he was loved or felt unworthy of it. Sad, but it happens.

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