Rush's latest studio album, Clockwork Angels, is their second time working with producer Nick Raskulinecz, who's also made records for Stone Sour, Trivium, and many other bands. In an exclusive interview with MusicRadar.com, he discusses the band's songwriting process and the production of the album in detail.
Raskulinecz says Clockwork Angels was worked on for nearly three years, first in Nashville and later in Toronto. "Geddy [Lee] and Alex [Lifeson] made rough sketches [of songs]," he recalls. "They'd do demos and send them to Neil [Peart] and me, and we'd all talk about them. They'd send three or four songs, and then six or seven months would go by and they'd send a few more. They went on tour for a year and a half, and there were no songs. This album has been in the works for some time."
Though the band didn't record Clockwork Angels all together in one room, the tracking was very much a collaboration, according to Raskulinecz. "Some of it was them playing together, some of it was them playing individually, some of it was piece by piece. But all three of them were together throughout the entire process. For instance, we might get the bass and drums done, and then Alex and [engineer] Rich [Chycki] will go in one room and work on guitars while I'll go to another room with Ged to do vocals. Different things were happening all the time."
Despite being a massive Rush fan, he says he was still able to listen critically and advise the band as they put the songs together. "There were definitely moments when I had to walk in the room and tell Alex Lifeson that his guitar part could be better. There were other times I would stand in the drum room with Neil – I had a drumstick in my hand – and I'd talk to him about certain fills and licks. Same thing with Geddy – I just did it," he says. "Yes, I'm a Rush fan – I fucking love Rush – but if I let that get in the way, I'm not doing my job. I can't let that taint my objectivity as a producer. Sometimes it's hard, especially when you become friends. Things get more emotional when you know the guys. But you have to do what you're supposed to do, with the right amount of passion."
This is a terrific interview - go read the whole thing!