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Alex Lifeson on the Idea of ‘Rush Unplugged': ‘It Hurts My Head’

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Continuing their press tour in support of Rush‘s new R40 Live package, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson recently sat down with Toronto’s Q107 to talk about the band’s past, present, and future — and answer fan questions about a wide variety of topics, including whether they could ever see recording a Rush Unplugged album.

While Lee and Lifeson were both too polite to dismiss the idea outright, it seems pretty clear that the possibility is fairly remote. “I don’t know. I’ve often tried to picture that, but it hurts my head when I do,” said Lifeson. “So I stop thinking about it.”

“There’s probably a very small percentage of songs that would translate well to an ‘unplugged,'” argued Lee. “The majority of our songs are pretty insane.”

Talk eventually turned to whether the band members regret recording any of the songs in the Rush catalog, and for Lee and Lifeson, the obvious choice was a track that started with drummer Neil Peart: “Tai Shan,” from 1987’s Hold Your Fire. “It’s just a song Neil wrote about his experiences in China, and we were all excited for him and we sort of supported the idea,” explained Lee, “but it’s not one that stands the test of time very well.”

The duo also credited Peart’s predecessor, original Rush drummer John Rutsey, with the family connection that led to the band coming up with its name. “It was John’s brother, I think, who originally suggested it,” recalled Lifeson. “I think it was his brother Bill Rutsey that suggested Rush. It was short, to the point, it had that cool connotation, you know. We said, ‘Yeah, okay.'”

The fan Q&A section is accompanied by a more traditional interview, which finds Lee and Lifeson touching on a variety of topics — and reiterating that they wish they could have played more dates on the R40 tour, which seems likely to be their last. You can check out that portion of the conversation below.

Watch Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson’s Interview with Q107

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