Alex Lifeson Looks Back as Rush’s ‘2112’ Turns 40
Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson shared some memories from the recording of their classic 2112 LP — and his perspective on its place in the group's catalog today — during an interview celebrating the album's 40th anniversary.
Lifeson spoke with Rolling Stone about 2112, admitting that the band's manager essentially lied to their label and told them the band was working on something more commercial than the sales disappointment Caress of Steel. "The fortunate thing is our deal at that time was a production deal. So, really, we had full control over content, including artwork," he recalled. "Once we delivered it to the record company, it was theirs to work with. So we were really lucky."
2112's slow build piled up half a million in sales over the course of a year, expanding Rush's fan base along the way, but even after it slipped past the record company's gatekeepers, the album's success didn't come without conflict. The Ayn Rand-inspired lyrics of the LP's song cycle — and the band's praise for Rand in the liner notes — led some to accuse the band members of endorsing the dystopian libertarianism of works like Atlas Shrugged.
"We got over it but they dogged us for the longest time," said Lifeson. "And we were perceived as some sort of ultra-right-wing rock band, when to be honest, I had no political interests at all at that time. I think that was true of really all of us."
Lifeson couldn't help but laugh when asked about the sleeve photographs of the band members, chalking it up to the group working under the direction of a fashion photographer. "We didn't really know what we were doing, and those were the days where we were still wearing fashion robes and scarves and platform shoes and all of that stuff," he explained. "I think the photographer made the suggestion to dress up all in white with a wind machine and take this pose. It was a very awkward thing."
Looking back, it's hard to overstate the album's role in cementing Rush's status as one of the more challenging, experimental rock bands of the era. "I think it's one of the most important pieces of work that we've done," said Lifeson. "I think the influence that it had on a lot of listeners, just judging from the comments I read in the mail and even comments from other bands that have been influenced by us, that's really a signature record for all of them. And that's a wonderful thing."
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