Photo Ross Halfin
Congratulations on the Snakes and Arrows
Live DVD/Blu-ray that came out in November!
It is stunning in its sound and picture quality. I
see it’s doing great in the charts.
Thank you. Yes, it’s doing very well on the charts.
We were at number one for a while and then
we were at number two. Then we started to slip
down and now we’re back at number two.
Snakes and Arrows has been
quite a ride for you guys.
Yeah, it’s been great. The tour was great, I
thought we played really, really well. The recording of the album was a lot of fun. We had a
great time with [Snakes and Arrows Producer]
Nick Raskulinecz. We really loved working with
him, and it was the first time that we made a
record where we were just feeling so positive
throughout the whole experience. So there
was just a great energy surrounding the whole
project and ending with this DVD. Particularly
in Blu-ray, it has a great look to it. We filmed it
over two days, so we got great angles and lots
of perspectives of the band playing. It’s really a
DVD about us playing, rather than in the past
where we brought in different elements, like on
Rush in Rio, for example. That was about that
event and our connection with the audience.
This one is really about our show and us playing.
Your first “real” electric guitar was your
Gibson ES-335. I wonder, why that model,
since the guitarists you were listening to,
Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix for example,
were playing either Les Pauls or Strats?
Well, yeah, but I was also into people like
[Jefferson Airplane’s] Jorma Kaukonan, and
Alvin Lee. And that guitar was always a beautiful guitar. I’ve always really liked that whole sixties San Francisco music scene, and that guitar
was probably the prevalent guitar at that time.
So to me it seemed like a natural place to go.
And I just grew with the instrument.
You played Gibsons almost exclusively until
Rush’s Permanent Waves album in 1980?
And then you went through a Fender period?
Yeah, I sort of went through a Fender period.
In fact, we did a gig with Blue Oyster Cult
at the Nassau Coliseum in the late seventies, and one of the horns had fallen off of
the stack and then fell on my 335, as well as
a double neck that I had. It sheared a headstock off the double neck, and it took a real
big gouge out of the neck of the 335. So I
decided, “Okay, the 335’s going home, that’s
not going to be on the road anymore.” I got
a Strat as a backup, and I just wasn’t quite
comfortable with it, you know, coming from
the Gibson world. So I got a Schaller neck
for it, and I put a humbucker in the bridge
position—just fooling with it a little bit, trying
to get something that was sort of a hybrid
between a Gibson and a Fender.
Had you modified your Gibsons previously?
No, not really, I think the only modifications I ever did was I might have put a Bill
Lawrence L-500 in one of them.
Is the ES-355 used on the Snakes and
Arrows tour the original, or is it the Alex
Lifeson Signature Model?
I had them both out. I used the original at
the end of the show, and I used a prototype
of the ‘Inspired By’ model earlier in the
show on “The Trees.”
Your 355 was wired to mono. Was that just
to facilitate gigging, or was there more to it?
Yeah, mostly for that reason. But I didn’t feel
the need to utilize it as a stereo guitar. For
me it had greater utility as a mono guitar.