'This Drummer Is At the Wrong Gig' Guy Talks Rush's Neil Peart
By Michael Alan Goldberg
We wondered whether drummer Neil Peart of Rush -- which comes to American Airlines Center this Wednesday, November 28 -- really needs every single piece of the gargantuan kit you'll see him surrounded by onstage. We reached out to a couple of drum lifers and Peart fans (yeah, that's probably redundant) for their opinion, including Steve "The Mad Drummer" Moore -- aka the "This drummer is at the wrong gig" guy.
Why does Neil really need that massive drum kit? Couldn't he get away with a smaller set-up?
The biggest reason, if you were gonna try and generalize, is if you simply looked at it like color -- if you're an artist and I give you blue and green, that's all you can paint with. Whereas if I give you a whole rainbow of color, now you can paint a sky, now you can paint a forest, now you can paint the sun. A full landscape of different shades and colors. That's the biggest thing. Neil likes to paint detailed landscapes with drums like very few others, and there's nothing wrong with that.
He needs that many shades and colors?
[Laughs] Well, it's not even a matter of what's needed or what's not needed. It's simply a preference. I may give you a color photo to hang on your wall and it's just breathtaking. The colors are so sharp and vivid, and maybe it's a photograph of the ocean or a mountainside and it looks like you could just reach your hand in and touch it. At the same time, what if I gave you this old black-and-white portrait and there's something about it that's just cool. Which one's better? It's just a matter of what are you in the mood for that day. It's not that you need color as much as, do you enjoy the photograph? Do you need that many drums to play a song? Of course you don't. But if the artist is feeling inspired by all of that color, why would you want to give them a pencil?
When it comes to a drummer's kit and the gear used, how much is about aesthetics and how much is about sound?
Honestly, that's 50-50. That's because of the day and age we live in. A lot of people hear with their eyes. I'm living proof of that [laughs]. But yeah, they look at a drum set and they go, 'Oh my God I bet that sounds greeeeaat!' Because it's really big and really pretty.
Do you think Neil would have any gear onstage that he doesn't actually use, just for aesthetic purposes -- to look cool, or for the effect or whatever?
I don't believe that he would. I can't say that about all drummers. He is such a composer of drums and that's a big thing with Neil. When you go and see Rush, whether he's playing "Red Barchetta" or "YYZ," whatever it is, it's exactly the same night after night, it's exactly like the records. He spends a lot of time composing -- every single cymbal he's gonna hit, every single tom that he's gonna hit, every single kick drum. It's not just him up there jamming and having a blast. It is a total drum composition. It could be written out and played night after night no different than if you went to see the symphony. And most Rush fans wanna hear it note for note like they've been familiar with for 30, 40 years. So I think it's all there for musical reasons.