On the state of music now vs. then.
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?