In conversation: Chad Smith with Alex Lifeson

The Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer chats with Rush's guitarist in a new podcast series

In Conversation Chad Smith with Alex Lifeson
Chad Smith and Alex Lifeson, photographed at the Sunset Marquis, West Hollywood, CA, April 2013
(Image: ©

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.

Alex Lifeson, brimming with good cheer, dressed rockstar-casual (black trousers and sweater with a dark-brown leather blazer), walks up and greets Smith with a hearty bro hug. The venerable Rush guitarist has his own ginormous show coming up, but it's one that he and his illustrious bandmates, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart, certainly didn't see coming until recently: their much-publicized, practically fan-willed induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Which right off the bat gives the two men something in common, as Smith and the Peppers joined the hallowed Hall Of Fame dream team last year. Big-time awards functions are just one of the topics the two men discuss while dining on striped sea bass and baked duck in their private cabana. Over the course of two and a half hours, they cover matters both personal and professional, including Lifeson's first date with his wife (at age 15!), his signature Gibson Les Paul, former band members, balancing work and family, life-altering tragedies, meeting heroes such as Jimmy Page, recording gear, the importance of having non-musical hobbies, and the ways that both gentlemen's bands maintain their commitment to artistic integrity despite massive changes in the music industry.

In Conversation: Chad Smith with Alex Lifeson will be presented in installments over the coming weeks. Part One begins below:

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Edited transcript:

Lifeson: Did you like South Africa?

Smith: I did. We'd never been there before. You guys been there?

Lifeson: No, I haven't. My wife's South African. She's from Port Elizabeth.

Smith: Really?!

Lifeson: She left when she was young, a few years old.

Smith: You guys are, like, high-school sweethearts.

Lifeson: Yeah.

Smith: Where's she from – originally?

Lifeson: From Port Elizabeth. Moved to Denmark… Her mother met a sailor… [Smith laughs] A Danish sailor.

Smith: [Laughs] That old story!

Lifeson: [Laughs] Yeah, that old story. But he was white, and they couldn't marry, 'cause they were "colored". So they left South Africa, and they moved to Denmark. They lived there for about a year and a half and then came to Canada, to the West Coast of Canada, Victoria, and from there to Toronto. That's where –

Smith: Did you guys meet in high school?

Lifeson: Yeah. I was 15. Grade 10.

Smith: Wow.


Lifeson: And I had such a big crush on her, and I was so terrified of saying anything. I was very shy.

Smith: Fifteen? That's like… fertile…sort of.

Lifeson: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Smith: I don't know if you're an early starter…

Lifeson: No, no, no, no. It was the first serious thing. And I remember going through the phone look and looking up the last name – there were probably 15 in the phone book – and nervously calling the first few. "No, wrong number…" Ahh, this is easy. I got to about 12, and [in a sexy voice] "Hi, is Charlene there?" "Yes, speaking." Huhpt!... It was total panic. So we went out on a date…

Smith: What do you do when you're… How do you date at 15? I have no idea. What do you do? You can't drive.

Lifeson: Well, first of all, I worked around the house. I did stuff for my dad. He was doing some work, putting a patio in the back yard. So I did all of that to make some money to take her out. I don't know, I think I made five dollars, 10 dollars or something. Yeah, we went to a movie. We went to see… uh, I think…

Smith: I'll be impressed if you think you can remember the movie.

Lifeson: Claudia Cardinale and Rock Hudson, and I can't recall the name of the movie. It was a cheap movie. It was in 1969, in the spring of '69… I can't recall the name of the movie.

Smith: That's OK.

Lifeson: We watched the movie, and I'm looking at her out of the corner of my eye – "Is she having a good time? This is a terrible idea!" The movie was awful. There were only, like, 10 people in the theatre. And then we left, and we took the bus back towards home, but stopped in an area just before where she lived, where there were some shops and restaurants and stuff like that. We went in and had a cup of tea. We went to one place, but they wouldn't let me in 'cause my hair was long. [Smith laughs] This is how it was all starting our first date.

And I built up the nerve… She could see something was wrong, and I built up the nerve to ask her if it was OK if I just held her hand while we walked. And she was like, "Oh, you big, stupid idiot! Sure." [They laugh] And then she got pregnant. And then everything went screwed up after that. [Laughs]

Smith: Fast worker this one! Wow.

Lifeson: Yeah, here we are… still together.

Smith: That's great. You've got sons...

Lifeson: Yeah, I've got two grandsons.

Smith: I think I've met both of them. Your one came to a show…

Lifeson: Yeah.

Smith: He's still doing music, right?

Lifeson: Yep. Web design, and he loves to write electronic music. Trance, moody stuff – it's what he's very much into. The web design is what pays his bills. He does some other things. Music doesn't pay very well, but he's got a real passion and love for it. He's been doing it for 20 years, so it's not like it's something new. But he gets the odd gig here and there.


Smith: Yeah? Is there a decent scene in Toronto?

Lifeson: Probably a decent scene for that sort of thing. There are a few venues and clubs that DJs play and you can get some work. He doesn't count on it that much, but he really loves it. He really enjoys it.

Smith: It's good that he can do that, and like you say, he's realistic about it.

Lifeson: He's realistic enough to know –

Smith: Yeah, 'cause how old is he now?

Lifeson: He's 36. Yeah… where he can afford to starve for a little while. [Laughs] I mean, I could afford to starve for a little while myself. [Smith laughs] That's what happens when you're at home for more than a couple of weeks.

Smith: I'm gonna eat… watch the TV…

Lifeson: And then I'm gonna eat again.

Smith: I think I'll have that… chocolate thing over there.

Lifeson: [Laughs] Yep.

Smith: So… what else? You've got, Gibson's got – I have to ask a couple of nerdy –

Lifeson: Sure. Yeah.

Smith: Guitar questions… You've got a Gibson Les Paul, that is a signature?

Lifeson: Yeah, sure.

Smith: And how is it different from the Les Paul?

Lifeson: Well, it starts out –

Smith: And how cool is that?

Lifeson: It's really cool. When I was a kid, when I first started playing, I started playing guitar when I was about 12. So when I was about 13, 14 years old, there was a Music Store in Toronto called Long & McQuades. They were right downtown, and we lived up in the suburbs. I would go down every weekend, every Saturday, and I would take either a Les Paul or an SG off the wall, and I would play it for, like, an hour. And this goes on at music stores all over the world.

Smith: Yeah. People playing Stairway To Heaven – badly.

Lifeson: They would let me play for about an hour –

Smith: Plugged in?

Lifeson: Usually not plugged in. And then somebody would come over and say, "OK, kid, put the guitar back on the wall and beat it."

Smith: "You're gonna buy that?"

Lifeson: And then I'd come back the next week, and I'd do exactly the same thing. I was doing that week after week after week. And it was the same story: "OK, kid, beat it." But you always came back, and they always let you do it.

Smith: That's nice of them.


Lifeson: Years later, of course, we bought all of our equipment from them, and that was kind of a treat.

Smith: You get your first little bit of money: "I know I'm gonna go in there, and this time I'm gonna buy something!"

Lifeson: I dreamed of having a Gibson. I had a cheap Kent – you know, a Japanese guitar – and then a Kanora, a Japanese guitar. I borrowed a friend's Harmony for years. To have a Gibson was really, really my dream as a kid.

Smith: Of course.

Lifeson: So, all these years later – all these decades later – to have a signature model with my name on it, that's part of the Gibson family, that's really a cool thing. I'm very proud of that.

Smith: That's really cool.

Lifeson: And we didn't just stick my name on a guitar that could sell a bunch; we spent a lot of time. We spent a couple of years developing something that really worked for me. We went through a lot of body weights, different types of wood. The chambering on this particular guitar is one of the reasons why it's a lightweight version of a Les Paul. And the body is –

Smith: The '59s were light, right? Wasn't that the thing about them?

Lifeson: Yeah, you can get different weighted bodies.

Smith: That's why everybody sort of liked – that's one of the reasons they liked it.

Lifeson: Oh, that period, yeah. 'Cause I've got a couple of guitars, a couple of Les Pauls, that I bought. I have an early '90s Custom – that thing must weigh about 85 pounds. It's so heavy. But with my guitar, I wasn't that keen on the chambering; I wanted something that was somewhere in-between a standard Les Paul and what the Axcess model provided. It was narrower – the idea was that it was narrower, lightweight. We wanted the density in the body for sustain.

We went through a couple of different types of pickups, wiring, until we achieved the kind of tonality that I wanted. I wanted a Floyd Rose vibrato arm, something that locked, that would stay in tune, for sure.

Smith: Right, right.

Lifeson: Coil taps –

Smith: And these are all things in the design that you have in your Les Paul that you use and record with?

Lifeson: Yeah. That was the whole idea.

Smith: Somebody who's getting your guitar, it's like, "This is what I need to do my thing." Right?


Lifeson: Yeah. If I came in and they said, "Alex, build a guitar that you want to build. Here – what do you need on that guitar?" And that's basically what it was. They were really cool about it; we spent a lot of time back and forth –

Smith: Did you go to Kalamazoo?

Lifeson: I went to Kalamazoo to get my first Gibsons, back in '76.

Smith: I've been there once.

Lifeson: Yeah, that was a treat to go in that old factory; in fact, I picked out the white 355, I picked it off the wall, the body. But this was in Nashville, at the Custom Shop.

Smith: Oh, OK.

Lifeson: So we spent some time; they sent some prototypes back and forth, and now it's one of their more popular sellers. It's done really, really well.

Smith: How long has it been out?

Lifeson: I think it's been released for about two… two years, I think. Something like that. Two, maybe three?

Smith: Yeah?

Lifeson: Two. I think it's two. Maybe it is three. Anyway, it's something like two or three years. [Laughs] Two and a half years!

Smith: Two and a half! Split the difference.

Lifeson: Cheers. [They clink glasses]

Smith: Cheers! [Laughs]

Lifeson: But it's done remarkably well. They're thrilled about the action that they've got on it.

Smith: Do you play, in a live situation, do you use one of the guitars that's an Alex Lifeson model?

Lifeson: Yeah, yeah. In fact, I use a few of them in the course of a show. I mean, I have four different tunings that I play during the course of a show, and I need backups for everything 'cause the tunings are such that there's always the possibility of something going wrong – a broken string or something like that. And it's not something that you just grab any other guitar; it has to be a dedicated guitar for that. So, consequently, I need to have quite a few with me.

And my model, I think I have four out on the road with me right now. And a couple of older Les Pauls and my 355, a Telecaster – you know, it has a slightly different character, tonality.

Smith: Do you use a doubleneck now, still?

Lifeson: I haven't had the doubleneck – the doubleneck's actually in the museum now.

Smith: Is it?

Lifeson: I just went a couple of weeks ago.

Smith: Do you do any songs that you need that?

Lifeson: No. No, we kind of don't.


Smith: "Yeah, I think we're gonna do… Wait, I don't…"

Lifeson: I had it for Xanadu, in particular, and we haven't played that song in a long time. Whether we do it in the future, I don't really know. We never know what we're going to do, so… And it's a cumbersome thing to play. It's heavy in the headstock.

Smith: "Ughhh." You've gotta hold it up.

Lifeson: You're playing it, and you squeeze it with your right arm. But it's a cool thing. I've probably seen more pictures of me with that guitar than anything else because it's so iconic. The same thing with Jimmy Page.

Smith: And with Page?

Lifeson: Page, same thing, probably 90 percent of the pictures you see of him, he's got that pose with the guitar up.

Smith: I was just walking in here, and I saw a picture of Jimmy. There are a lot of rock pictures at [directly into the recorder] the Sunset Marquis, where we're at… I know that he's maybe your biggest influence on the guitar.

Lifeson: Yeah, for sure.

Smith: He's like Jimi Hendrix. They never take a bad picture. They always look so fucking cool!

Lifeson: [Laughs] Yeah.

Smith: And Jimmy's clothing… like, some guys can look a little dated maybe. You can tell, "Oh, that's from that era." He always was very… whether it's the dragon thing, he just always looked really cool. I mean, Hendrix, to me, is maybe the coolest-looking – not only probably the most amazing musician, but he looked great. Page just always… I can see, if I was a guitar player…

Lifeson: That's the guy.

Smith: Jimi Hendrix, it goes without saying. But Jimmy Page… when you were a kid, was that… ?

Lifeson: I remember… Zeppelin, of course, were a huge influence. Seeing him then – and I knew who he was before that… The Yardbirds and the session work that he used to do…

Smith: Did you know about his session work prior to him being in Led Zeppelin?

Lifeson: Oh, yeah. When we were kids, we lived off music. Yeah, we read everything –

Smith: Which you can't do anymore. It sucks!

Lifeson: Yeah. It's completely different. I hate to sound like an old guy, but we kind of lived through the golden age of recording – just the whole industry and the way things worked. But Jimmy Page definitely had something about him. There was even that period – what was it, the Houses Of The Holy era? – where he had that really shabby look. He had a beard and a trench coat.

Smith: Yeah, yeah!

Lifeson: But he still looked really awesomely cool! [Laughs]

Smith: It was a little before that, I think. I think it was right before Zeppelin IV, right around that time. They were all workin' the beards. Plant had a little –

Lifeson: That's right. But they still looked very cool.


Smith: If you can pull off the bum look… [Lifeson laughs] As soon as you put on that Les Paul, and it's down here…

Lifeson: Yeah, that says something right there. That's not easy to play, when it's down there.

Smith: No. He plays it kind of low, right?

Lifeson: Yeah. Yeah, he's great. I met him once… in 1998. Geddy had met Robert in Morocco. Ged was on a trip with a group, and Robert was there with his wife or girlfriend – I'm not sure what their relationship was – but they met. They happened to be staying at the same hotel, down the hall from each other, oddly enough. They spent a few days kind of eying each other, sort of smiling.

Finally, Ged came up over on the last night that they were there. He said to his wife, Nancy, "I have to go over and just tell him how much I've admired him, what a great influence he's been." And he went over, and he says, "Excuse me, Robert, I don't mean to bother you…" [Imitates Robert Plant] "Oh, Geddy, I was wondering when you'd finally come over! Sit down, have a glass of wine…" And they spent the whole evening together, getting to know each other. And he's a terrific guy.

Smith: Right.

Lifeson: You know… you meet your peers, and they're like us. We talk about a lot of different things. From the first time we met, it's not about your work and that so much. Yeah, you share those sorts of things, but it's about your family, it's about kids, it's about those places you've visited that are really special – the impact that it's had on you… Not always, but every so often you meet somebody and they're like that, and you can engage on that sort of footing. Certainly, Robert and Geddy were like that.

Smith: That's great. And probably what a relief, instead of "Yeah, right, you're the best – now, fuck off!" Aaaaggghhhh! Or whatever. To not be like… That's so great that he was like –

Lifeson: Well, at the end of the trip, Robert said, "We're coming to Toronto later this year, and you must come down, and bring Alex." They exchanged phone numbers and all that. And you know, you do that, but it's seldom that anybody acts upon it. You know, everybody's got a busy life.

But a few days before they arrived, Ged got a call from him, and he said, "You know, we're in town, come on downto the show." And Ged said, "I don't know. We've gone through this terrible nightmare with Neil, and everything that he's been through. I don't know if our hearts are in going out," and all of that. But you know, he's been through that. He lost a child, as well.

Smith: Yeah. Yeah.

Lifeson: He said, "No, you must get out and come down. Please do." We went down. It was kind of cool because it's a venue that we play all the time when we play in Toronto. We know lots of people backstage, the crew and stuff like that. So we went up to the dressing room, we're sitting with Robert and chatting – again, you know, talking about all kinds of things – and then Jimmy came into the room. I'm telling you, I was like, "Oh, my God! Jimmy – oh, my God!" [Laughs]

Smith: [Laughs] You were 14 again!

Lifeson: I was totally 14 again. [Smith laughs] He was just so sweet and gracious and engaging and funny. We chatted for, I don't know, 10 or 15 minutes, together there. I gave him a copy of my solo record, and I'd written something for him in it, because his playing, the influence of his playing, is all over that record. I was so nervous about giving it to him 'cause I know what it's like when somebody gives me stuff –

Smith: "Here, here. I'm gonna give it to you, but don't read it now."

Lifeson: [Laughs] Exactly. And then they invited us down to sit at the monitor desk, right at the side of the stage, while they performed. Throughout the whole show, Jimmy would look over and smile and wink. It was just like so… cool. [Laughs] It was a really, really great experience.

Smith: It's so nice when that happens.

Lifeson: Yeah, your heroes are heroes.

Smith: Yeah, man. You know, I've been fortunate to meet a lot people. You stick around this whole racket we've been doing for a while. More often than not, everybody's… You know, lots of times I think, you're know, you're professional. Like you say, sometimes it can be like, "Oh, whatever. Thanks a lot," and then… [whistles]. A other times, you connect with people, like we did. For the most part, people aren't, like, assholes. You don't get anywhere –


Lifeson: I agree with you. The majority aren't.

Smith: The majority aren't. Once in a while, and it's usually, I've found, it's different from meeting your peers or people you looked up to, but younger bands, where maybe they get a big hit or something, you know, they kind of think –

Lifeson: They're cocky. They just don't even know how to deal with it.

Smith: Yeah. Exactly. And I don't blame them for it. I can see how it can happen – people around them, certainly in this day and age, the way our industry is and everything happens now.

Lifeson: Yeah, it is so different now.

Smith: It's so different. To me, what's kind of sad is that, one aspect of it, is that both of our groups would have never been able to grow and have the opportunity to suck for a while – not even suck but just to learn –

Lifeson: [At the same time] To learn –

Smith: – and get better, three records, four records, that would be unheard of today. If you didn't sell your x amount or whatever, then "sorry," and bands would break up. They're not nurtured like they once were, which is sad because you miss out on bands like U2 and REM and Rush and Chili Peppers. You know… we were doing the best we could do, obviously, but the public wasn't on board the way that the industry thinks about it. And people would have missed out on all that great music. It's kind of sad…

Lifeson: Well, record companies were developers then, and now they're speculators.

Smith: Bankers. Bottom line.

Lifeson: Basically, you have to make your own record and shop it to them [Smith laughs], and if it does OK, then they'll sign you. There's no commitment or help from them. Our first deal was for five records. The idea was that the first two records would be those starting points; and maybe on the third record it kind of turned around and the record company would make a little bit of money. Everybody would be moving forward. And the next two would be those stronger commercial records.

Smith: What that like a plan?

Lifeson: I think that was the plan then. And it makes sense on the curve of the five records. This is sort of the mid-point, the third one, and the next two, everybody's laughing –

Smith: [Laughs] "We love everybody!"

Lifeson: But that… that can't happen.

Smith: No, it doesn't happen. I just wonder what we're missing out on.

Lifeson: We got to experience it. It's all the young kids now who are missing out on it. But at the same time, for fear of sounding like an old guy – "arrggh, get off my lawn!" deal [Smith laughs] – it's a different world that is their world, so they work it accordingly. They don't feel, I'm sure, that they're missing anything, just like we didn't feel like we were missing out on anything.

I don't know how many times I heard older people, and not just parents but just older people, say, "Oh, my God. Your generation is just totally nuts. You have no sense of what it was really like, when it was great." And every generation has that same feeling, you know?

Smith: Yeah, maybe you're right.

Lifeson: It's a pretty normal kind of cycle, I guess.

Smith: Well, I'm just glad… now that you're a young-and-upcoming band…


Lifeson: [Laughs] It's only been 40 years.

Smith: Let me ask you, you're… next week… going into the Hall!

Lifeson: Yeah.

Smith: I know you've been talking about it or whatever –

Lifeson: Yeah, we've been talking a lot about it.

Smith: [Laughs] And people are asking you about it. That's what happens. It was a year ago, this time.

Lifeson: Yeah, exactly. In fact, they've been playing the HBO special a little while. I saw it back then.

Smith: Let me tell you what, it's quite edited down.

Lifeson: Yeah.

Smith: It was six hours. We went on last. Six hours. Now, I don't know if that's going to be the case again this year. When are you slotted – are you supposed to go last?

Lifeson: We're supposed to go last.

Smith: You're the Snoopy.

[The waiter approaches, makes dinner suggestions. The guys order, and then the conversation continues.]

Smith: It's a long show. At least the only one I went to, our experience is… Obviously, there's performing, but the speeches, depending on who's being inducted, there's no… [He drums on the table.]

Lifeson: Right. The music starting to play.

Smith: And when we went, it was –

Lifeson: Well, it was all of you. Everybody said something, right?

Smith: Yeah. But not just like – well, it was Guns N' Roses, and they had a lot of members; we had a lot of members. They inducted the Comets and the Crickets, and these older… I think it was the first year they did bands that… obviously, it was Bill Hailey and the Comets. Not just Bill Hailey, the Comets get in, too. Now the Crickets, not Peggy Sue, that gentleman, his band… they had the first time with the bands. There were a lot of people that were in these bands that were old, and they're all up there talking.

Lifeson: Yeah. They haven't done anything in 40 years. [Smith laughs] It's their big chance.

Smith: It was their big moment. Everybody thanks their first grade teacher. It's a long night, in that way. It's heart-felt, and it's a big deal.

Lifeson: It's a very big deal.

Smith: As you know, awards are great, and it's nice to be recognized. This is for 25 years or plus, more. It has a lot of weight to it.


Lifeson: Yeah.

Smith: Of the people that are inducted, you have a wacky combo of Public Enemy and Donna Summer and you guys, which wouldn't be played on the same radio station.

Lifeson: No.

Smith: It's not really Rock and Roll Hall of Fame anymore, is it?

Lifeson: I'm not so sure it ever really was. Madonna's in there, ABBA… They all are very notable artists on their own. Whether they belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… There again, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is not like an industry-sanctioned thing. It's not something that we all vote on and are a part of.

Smith: A club.

Lifeson: It's basically one person's idea of this thing. He runs it the way he wants to run it, and he can have whoever he wants to have in it. So at the end of the day – and there's been so much controversy with us in it – you know, we've been eligible for 65 years or something. [Smith laughs] I remember the last 19 years, or 15 years, or something like that. And our fans are so dedicated. I'm sure that they must feel like, "Thank God, this is finally going to be over." We're not going to get deluged with all this mail.

Smith: Now they have to find something else to chat on the Internet about.

Lifeson: I think the Hall needs to really open their doors to all forms of rock music, in particular. If they're going to have the Crickets and the Comets and ABBA, then they really need to have Yes and Moody Blues.

Smith: Yeah… Deep Purple?

Lifeson: How can you not have Deep Purple?

Smith: I can't believe Deep Purple's not in.

Lifeson: Like, I feel guilty going in –

Smith: I know who I voted; I got my little voting thing, I'm like "Rush, Deep Purple… " No brainers, they're in. They're in!

Lifeson: That's why we're in, because guys like you have a vote now. It's changing the core. It's diluting the core's… who are strongly influenced –

Smith: The little boys' club.

Lifeson: Exactly – who are influenced by Jann. I'm not complaining about that. That's fine. They can do whatever they want, it doesn't matter. It's their place, or it's his place; he can do whatever he wants. The perception to a lot of your fans is that… and I'm sure it's the same thing for you… that this is a big, big deal. To them, it's so incredibly important that you get this recognition. They feel validated by your inclusion into this thing, even if it doesn't mean that much to you. It means a really big deal to them.

Smith: To the fans. I agree.

Lifeson: I'll tell you quite honestly, a year ago or more, I really couldn't care less. I probably would have preferred not to be a part of it, only because it didn't really mean that much to me, and my priorities are different. It's about being a musician and about playing and all that stuff. Like you say, the awards are nice, but they're not important at the end of the day.

But seeing the response of our fans and what it means to them, and really even outside of that, you can't possibly be a dick about it. You have to be gracious.

Smith: [Laughs] Some people are, though.

Lifeson: Some people are, and that's fine. They can do what they want.

Smith: I totally, 100 percent agree with you.

Lifeson: At the end of the day, you want to be gracious. You want to be courteous. You want to do the honorable thing.

Smith: That's how you are, though. That's an extension of you guys, and what you have always been: "We do our thing. We don't give a shit about what anybody thinks – we just do it." It's great, and people love it. Obviously, your longevity and everything, and all the success that your band has had, and you never are like, "Oh, we're trying to be like this, because we want someone to like us." Which is beautiful; which is what being a true artist is really all about. I admire that to the nth degree.

And now, it's great that you're like, "If it happens, no big deal. You know what? We're not going to change anything that we do. Gee, I need to feel validated by these New York whatevers." [Laughs] They can't kick me out – it's too late!

Lifeson: No, they can't. I think it's too late to kick me out, too.

Smith: It's too late to kick you out, too. You're right. The fans are so… the fans are everything. They're the ones that keep you going. It's important to them. It's almost like your family. My mother thought it was great. It doesn't matter if you sell out this or have these records or whatever. "Oh… You're in the Hall of Fame? Wow, that's really something. I might have to come to that."

Lifeson: Did your mom come?

Smith: My mother was there with drum earrings on [Lifeson laughs], the whole nine. She was so proud. There is something to do when there's a Hall of Fame involved…When there's only one, there is some sort of special thing to it. Your friends and your fans and your family… it means almost more to them than maybe it does to you.

Lifeson: Oh, easily. Yeah.

Smith: It's a great gift for them.

Lifeson: Yeah.