Alex Lifeson Explains Why Rush Remixed 'Vapor Trails'
Vapor Trails was always a problematic album for Rush. It marked a comeback for the band, and for Peart in particular. It was the first album they had made together since the double tragedy that Peart suffered in the late 90s – his 19-year-old daughter Selena killed in a car crash, and his wife Jacqueline succumbing to cancer.
In the aftermath, Peart told Lifeson and bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee that he was retired. He didn't play drums for three years. But when he agreed to rejoin the band, they spent 15 months working on Vapor Trails, and the result was an album described by Lifeson as "filled with raw emotion". In his lyrics, Peart wrote about the pain he had experienced. And the music had a similarly heavy vibe. "We wanted it to be hard-hitting," Geddy Lee said.
But over time, both Lee and Lifeson have felt that Vapor Trails didn't sound right. "It really bothered us that it didn't sound like it did when we were making it," Lifeson says. "Now we've remixed it, it's the way it should always have been. But Neil still won't listen to the record."
In a new interview with Classic Rock Magazine, Lifeson was asked "You say that the sound of the finished album 'bothered' you and Geddy. What exactly was wrong?" and he responded, "The original mastering was the problem. It was poorly done. At the time we should have remastered. It bothered us forever – particularly Geddy, who had the task of remastering of the original album and feels responsible for it. It irked him for many years.
"The original version is hard on your ears, because the mastering was pushed so hard, there's distortion and so much compression – I found it very difficult to listen to it.
Lifeson was then asked "then why go back and remix it – why rewrite history?" and he responded, "There was so much invested in that record and it just didn't sit with us that we had this blemish on our recording history. We wanted to rectify that.
"I'd like to remix every record we did – maybe update some parts. But that's crazy, you know? You don't do that – records are moments in time, markers of these different periods of progression and growth. But this one was a very important record – our return after a horrible nightmare. And it deserved better." Read the full interview for a lot more here.
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