Rush drummer has new book, lends voice to kids’ film
Geddy Lee proved he didn’t take himself too seriously appearing with SCTV’s fictional Bob and Doug McKenzie on the 1982 novelty hit Take Off. Same for Alex Lifeson with his hilarious guest cameo on Showcase’s Trailer Park Boys in 2003. Now the drummer/ lyricist for Canuck rock trio Rush wants a chance to showcase his lighter side.
Neil Peart will guest voice in a film version of Aqua Teen Hunger Force — a U.S. Cartoon Network animated series — scheduled for release in March. "I get to work with a meatball, a bag of fries and a milkshake," laughs Peart. "It’s quite a surreal departure."
Perhaps mindful of his serious-musician reputation, the 54-year-old seems to be putting more emphasis on lightening up. This past November, he appeared on CBC’s The Rick Mercer Report giving drum lessons to his amused host.
And his fourth book Roadshow: Landscape With Drums, A Concert Tour By Motorcycle, released in September, is laced with drummer jokes (What’s the difference between a drummer and a savings bond? One will mature and make money", "What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend? Homeless."), backstage anecdotes, long motorcycle journeys plus a bizarre on-stage cameo from obvious Rush fan Jack Black, who cited Peart in his 2003 flick The School Of Rock.
"He had a lot of fun," says Peart. "I know he has great respect for Rush. For me personally, just the fact he made a nod to me in the movie was very personally rewarding."
His mindful drumwork and lyrics have helped Rush score multi-platinum, Juno-winning and Grammy-nominated success over the band’s 32-year career. And Peart has endured his share of life-altering seriousness: In 1997, his daughter Selena died in a single-car accident; nearly a year later, his common-law wife Jaqueline Taylor lost her battle to cancer. Both tragedies inspired Peart to pen Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road, his second of four books. (He remarried in 2000.)
"I’m in a much better state of mind now," says Peart, also an avid cyclist. "There’s something about whenever I go for a ride — it’s like I’m going through a closed community where I get to explore and escape from whatever contagious monkeys might be on my back."
During his various travels across the U.S., as he accounts in Roadshow, Peart began noting a number of religious-based signs he came across ("If God had a wallet, your picture would be in it", "RSVP for eternity" and "To belittle is to be little").
Many of these signs have given Peart lyrical inspiration for next Rush studio album, which the band is currently recording and expected to be released this year.
"Part of it is just me reporting, but I’m also overwhelmed by the spiritual landscape of America," Peart says. "But it got me thinking so carefully at how much we need to look for the positives in life. Too often we put up an armour to protect us from all the bad."