"Roadshow illuminates the daunting rigors of a major international concert tour, as well as Peart's exploration of the scenic byways and country towns along the way…. Observations and reflections range from the poignantly, achingly personal to the wickedly irreverent." – Rounder Records
Neil Peart, best known as the drummer and lyricist for the rock band RUSH, recently sat down with Mark Goodman of Sirius Satellite Radio. The Classic Rewind interview is a promo for Peart’s new book, Roadshow: Landscape with Drums - A Concert Tour by Motorcycle. The veteran musician chronicles his travels across America and eight other countries in the summer of 2004. The 21,000 thousand miles journey took place in between shows of RUSH’s 30th anniversary tour.
Born and raised in Ontario and now living in Southern California, Peart suffered through a terrible tragedy in the late 90s. Back on his feet again, the legendary drummer sounded upbeat and enthusiastic. He and Goodman discuss a variety of subjects including Peart’s love of America, his BMW motorcycle, drummer jokes, the status of RUSH’s new record (“serious recording in November") and Peart’s relationship with his fans.
When it comes to that last subject, Peart (it’s pronounced “Peert” but many a RUSH fan has and still says “Pert.”) is the complete opposite of his band mates and longtime Toronto friends Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee. They handle the press interviews, meet and greet the fans and pose shoulder to shoulder for the snapshots.
Peart, on the other hand, is shy and cherishes his privacy. When it is invaded, he enjoys the “wonderful little… human to human” conversations and said that “999 out of 1000… are nice people.” What he dislikes are the unrealistic, “I’ve been waiting my whole life” (to meet you) type of encounters.
RUSH fans find this difficult to reconcile. They’re quite aware of what their favorite drummer wrote in Limelight - I can’t pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend. A recent topic, however, at a popular RUSH discussion board, found fans still dismayed.
“Great sirius interview, Once again Neil seems like a good guy and very interesting to listen to. It's just this late in the game he still harps on the nerve of some fans that might recognize him and dare approach him and say that they might appreciate his work.”
Roadshow provides some great insight into why Peart felt the need to “put up barriers to keep oneself intact.” In the prologue he recounts the band’s early days. In 1976, the hard-working trio had started to make a name for themselves through heavy touring and the release of 2112. The attention he got from overzealous fans (“reception committees”) unnerved him. In response, he “hid out and read books.” His love of reading led to a love of writing. Prose-wise, nothing clicked until the late ‘80s when Peart made a bicycle trip through China. It was that old saying in writing. “Write what you know.”
Peart, who celebrated his 54th birthday a few weeks ago, knows a lot about life on the road. In addition to stepping on the stage over 1500 times with RUSH, he has logged countless miles on wheels. (He notes in the book that he has motorcycled 200,000 miles). In the early 80s he began bicycling his way on the back roads to some of RUSH’s show. In between albums and tours, Peart has biked in other countries. He has written several self-published books abut these experiences.
Roadshow is a travelogue that anyone can enjoy. Peart has excellent descriptive abilities and details those “daunting rigors” in such a way as to make you appreciate what a musician goes through on the road. RUSH fans, of course, will enjoy this book the most. They’ll have fun reading what Neil has to say about their towns/states/regions and the shows they went to on the “R30” tour. I was thrilled to learn Geddy, a huge baseball fan, plays fantasy baseball and checks the scores (no doubt his beloved Blue Jays) during the show’s 20 minute intermission (I thought he might but never knew for sure).
The interview wraps up with the two discussing drummer jokes. Peart has a great sense of humor. He ends with tongue in cheek, saying, “Drummer writes book. It’s an oxymoron.”
Not so for this one. His 2002 Ghost Rider was chosen by The Writers’ Trust of Canada as one of the five best biographies of the year and Roadshow has spent time at the top of Amazon’s best travel books. Its only disappointment is no pictures. Otherwise, this book, Peart’s fourth, puts him in unique company. He’s one of the best drummers in rock history and an author too.