The Lerxst Chi is Alex’s new signature 15 watt 1×12 combo amplifier. The amp has all the growl and tone of its bigger brother, the Omega, but in a compact package that won’t blow your windows out and upset the neighbors. The amp can go from slightly dirty clean all the way up full on rockin distortion. It comes loaded with a Celestion G12M-65 Creamback 8 ohm speaker.
Over the past few weeks, MusicRadar’s new podcast series, In Conversation with Chad Smith, has given music fans a virtual place at the dinner table for a lively, intimate and often laughter-filled two-and-a-half-hour chat between the famed Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer and legendary Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson.
Today, the epic sitdown comes to a close. As the gentlemen enjoy after-meal smokes (we’re poolside at the Sunset Marquis), they wind things up discussing kids and grandkids, the mechanics of golf vs. music, Rush’s then-upcoming jam at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and working with producers Nick Raskulinecz and Rick Rubin.
After dinner, Smith was ebullient about his maiden foray into the world of podcasting, and he was especially pleased to have chosen the voluble Lifeson as his first guest. “I’ve been a Rush fan since high school,” said Smith. “Neil [Peart] gets a lot of attention, as he should, but Al is underappreciated, I think. He is as great a musician as he is to be around. I’m honored for him to be my first. He was gentle with me.”
If you’ve been following MusicRadar’s new podcast series, In Conversation, with famed Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, you’ve been enjoying a new kind of interview – a relaxed, lively and intimate artist-to-artist chat. “The invisible interview,” Smith calls it.
That’s an apt description for what happened last April, when Smith welcomed his first guest to In Conversation, legendary Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson. The two sat down to dinner at the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood, California, and over the course of two hours they talked about a host of topics both professional and highly personal, everything from Lifeson’s first teenaged date with his now wife of 37 years, Charlene, to Neil Peart’s efforts to put his life back together and regain his drumming prowess after enduring incredible personal tragedies.
Which is where we pick things up in Part Three, which is presented below, as Lifeson recalls Rush’s first emotional show in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2002, after the band’s five-year hiatus. Smith and Lifeson then segue into a spirited discussion about the mysteries of band chemistry, how technology has changed the musical landscape for both musicians and fans, and the challenges of balancing a home life with the rigors of the road. (Before listening to Part Three, you can click here for Part One and here for Part Two.)
The second part of Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson‘s three-part conversation with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith has been released, and you can listen to it now above. In this segment, the two men talk about drumming on another man’s kit;Rush‘s performance with the Foo Fighters at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony; painting; and much more. You can also read a transcript on musicradar.com, and listen to the first part of their conversation below.
Wearing highly amplified red plaid pants and shirt, along with a stylish black fitted jacket and his trademark backwards-turned baseball cap, Chad Smith looks taller than usual as he strides purposefully into the upper pool area of the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood, California.
It’s a cool, crisp early evening in April, but in just a couple of days Smith and the rest of the Red Hot Chili Peppers will brave pummeling temperatures and near-sandstorm conditions when they play the first of two Coachella gigs. Tonight is something of a work night for the acclaimed drummer – he’s launching his MusicRadar podcast series, In Conversation – but it’s a kick-back-and-chill night, too, and Smith is looking forward to bonding with a fellow musician he’s rubbed shoulders with briefly on tour stops but one he’s known longer, like most of the world, as an ardent admirer.
Ottawa (ON) – Just in time for the celebration of Canadian music and musicians at the JUNO awards next week, Canada Post is proud to give Canadians a preview of this edition of the Canadian Recording Artist stamp series, to be released in July, featuring for the first time, Canadian bands. Beau Dommage, Rush, The Guess Who and The Tragically Hip will be spotlighted in this fourth issue in a series created to honour musical legends.
“This year’s series features Canadian bands that have shaped the music industry in Canada,” says Jim Phillips, Director of Stamp Services for Canada Post. “Each band has achieved national acclaim, along with international radio air-time and extensive tours.”
Many Canadian rock fans will be celebrating tonight when Rush is officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a lavish ceremony in Los Angeles, making it the first Canadian band to make it into the vaunted hall.
The progressive rock trio’s achievement—first announced in December—is getting a lot of press in Canada and scores of tweets, including from their hometown’s mayor, Rob Ford.
Alex, you’ve been a pretty stalwart Hughes & Kettner guy for a while now. Did you use them again for this album?
Lifeson: No, I didn’t. I made a change this year. I used a Marshall Silver Jubilee 2553. It’s a 25-/50-watt amp from the ’80s. I also used one of the new Mesa/Boogie Mark Five heads—it’s got, like, nine amps in it. I loved the way that sounded for all the clean stuff. I also had a 50-watt Marshall, Marshall 2×12 combos that I got way back in the ’80s, a Bogner, and other stuff.
I’ve used Hughes & Kettner gear for quite a few years, and I love their equipment. It’s excellent, and they’re great people to work with, but I felt that after so many years it was time for a change. I really wanted my guitar sound to be a little different this tour. So I started out with that setup—the Boogie and the Marshall, with a Hughes & Kettner Coreblade to augment some different effects. And then Skully found this company [Mojo Tone] that handwires amps in North Carolina, and they built me an amp called the Lerxst Omega—Lerxst is my nickname—and we based it on what I liked about that Marshall. It sounds fantastic. Really nice saturation, great warmth. I’m really, really happy with it. I think part of the reason I got tired of Hughes & Kettner is that we were running three channels in the one amp, and I was finding that when I was switching between the channels I was getting some noise—thumps—and after hearing the Marshall I thought the sound was a little bit thin, a little processed compared to a screaming, single-purpose amp. I understand that that’s a bit of a compromise, and it’s certainly no reflection on the Hughes & Kettner gear, but it was time for a change for me.
Did you use the Lerxst Omega in the studio, or is it just for the tour?
Lifeson: No, that didn’t come out until we were in our final stage of rehearsal. I used the Marshall for the primary rehearsals for six weeks, and then that arrived and, sadly, the Marshall now resides in a case somewhere [laughs].
So which amps are you taking on the road?
Lifeson: I’m taking the Lerxst and a backup, a Mesa/Boogie Mark Five and a backup, and a Coreblade with a backup. I’m also using [Apple] MainStage, so I’m accessing all the Guitar Rig plug-ins and Universal Audio plug-ins—which, by the way, are just awesome plug-ins.
You’re understandably very happy with the album, but at what point did you know that you had nailed it? Did you have to let it all sink in?
You know, it’s a funny thing. You’re so focused on a record the whole time you’re making it. The writing, the recording, the horror of mixing—you’re constantly second-guessing yourself. It can drive you crazy; you’re under the microscope so much. So when it’s all finished, after it’s mastered and everything is ready, it’s important to step away from it for a month or so and then listen to it. That’s what I did, and it allowed me to be very much at peace. Then I was very happy with it.
Clockwork Angels is an album that’s meant to be experienced in full. This flies in the face of the music business in 2012, where the emphasis is on singles.
People are getting away from the whole album experience, it’s true. I think that’s sad. Maybe I’m just saying that because I’m an old fart. [laughs] But I can’t help it—albums are what I grew up with, and I still love them.
And on top of everything, this is a concept album.
Well, you see, we’ve always been a little contrarian, I think. It is a concept record. We haven’t done something like this in a while. All of our albums are thematic, but this is a little more direct. I think the songs stand on their own, though. I can listen to them independent of the story, but when I hear everything from front to back, it really makes sense to me. The songs are linked by some really nice musical moments, which makes it very cinematic. So it works on lot of levels.