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Rush’s New Producer Talks About Having to Critique His Heroes in the Studio

Geddy Lee
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Rush, everyone’s favorite Canadian prog-rock power-trio, are set to release their 19th studio album, ‘Clockwork Angels,’ on June 12, and the record’s producer recently shared what it was like to have to tell members of his favorite band they’d have to re-do a take.

For the highly anticipated new set, their first since 2007′s ‘Snakes & Arrows,’ the band worked with Grammy-winning producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson, Deftones), a long-time Rush fan (and mixer on ‘Snakes & Arrows’), who faced some particularly challenging situations in the studio.

“Yes, I’m a Rush fan,” Raskulinecz said in a recent interview with MusicRadar. “I f—ing 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.

The recording process was difficult—even awkward—for Raskulinecz, who often had to be critical of his musical heroes and their performances.

“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… 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 Peart, a drumstick in my hand, and I’d talk to him about certain fills and licks. Same thing with Geddy – I just did it.”

Though there may have been tension during the album’s recording for Rush (whose classic ‘Tom Sawyer’ recently placed on our list of Top 100 Classic Rock Songs), it was Raskulinecz who faced creative criticism during the “nerve-wracking” mixing process.

“Mixing is so different from recording,” he says. “When we record, I’m judging what they do. When we mix, they’re judging me! It’s a whole different ball game.”

“Basically, I’ll work on a song for seven or eight hours,” Raskulinecz continues, “and then I’ll call the guys in for round one of comments and tweaks. Sometimes it can be as simple as, ‘Turn the snare drum up’ or ‘Turn the guitar solo up.’ Or it can be ‘You’ve totally missed it. Start over.’ And everything in the middle.”

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