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Music

Alex Lifeson says Rush "could have kept touring"

@TylerGolsen

Former Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson is slated to re-enter the music industry this year with his new band Envy of None, whose debut album is scheduled for an April 8th release. It will be Lifeson’s first project since Rush unofficially retired in 2015 at the end of their R40 Tour and officially disbanded in 2018, two years before Neil Peart‘s death in 2020.

The major reasons for Rush’s initial break-up were health-related: Lifeson had been struggling with arthritis that made guitar playing difficult, while Peart was finding it almost impossible to keep his playing abilities up to his absurdly high standards as the members reached their twilight years. Peart endured a number of injuries during the R40 tour, and after the final scheduled stop in Los Angeles on August 1st, Rush would never again play music together.

In a recent interview with Ultimate Guitar, Lifeson reflected that the band were still playing some of their best concerts and possibly could have soldiered on, had they felt the need or desire. “We could have continued touring. If we had the strength, we could have continued touring,” Lifeson insists. “I think we were playing great. The last tour, I thought we played really, really well. I thought the show looked fantastic, and you could argue that that’s the best way to go out.”

“That’s where your legacy is intact, and that’s how people remember you,” Lifeson added. “They remember you at that show where you played that song that they’ve listened to for 40 years, and it was the best version they’ve ever heard of that song, and that’s what they’re left with. They’re sad that it’s over but at least they have that memory.”

Most importantly, Lifeson said that he never wants to “end up in a chair on a stage singing… I would never, ever, ever want to be like that. For what purpose? Is it money? Is it some egotistical drive? Get over it. Get over yourself. You know, it’s just, I don’t know… I’m just not like that.”

Lifeson also revealed that, while Envy of None doesn’t have any planned concert dates at the moment, the guitarist isn’t opposed to getting back onstage. “I think it really all depends on how the album is received,” Lifeson explains. “If the record is received warmly, I don’t know if we would do something like a tour. But if it’s received really well, and there’s a demand for it, then what I would like to do, is maybe do a few shows where I would be involved.”

But if he does get on stage, don’t expect Lifeson to bust out any of his classic riffs. “I’m not going to play Rush songs, I’m not going to try and be what I was when I was 25 years old, or 30 years old. I’m a different person now. I’m still the same person, but I think differently.”

Instead, Lifeson is finding value in the smaller moments like plucking out some acoustic guitar lines in the privacy of his own home. “I’m sitting and playing acoustic guitar before I go to bed every night for a couple hours now, and I am loving it,” Lifeson says. “No one’s in the room, my wife’s not even in the room, and I’m having so much fun. My fingers are really hurting, which is a good sign. I just shake my head and I just thank the gods that I’m able to do this, and I’ve been able to do this, and I hope to continue until the very last big open E chord I play.”

Envy of None’s self-titled debut is scheduled for an April 8th release.