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On Neil Peart returning to drumming after personal tragedies.
Lifeson: Yeah, that was a tough album, that one. After everything that he'd been through, it was so delicate and fragile. Honestly, he hadn't played in a few years. Once he'd played, in three years, and he barely got through that playing session. He talks about it, and how he broke down when he was playing, and really never wanted to play again, and didn't think he could. When we came back into the studio… he just was not anywhere close to being the same drummer that he was. He couldn't play.
Smith: That's the thing – you don't do it, you use it or lose it, right? Especially the way he performed.
Lifeson: You hit the drums hard. [Laughs] In different scenarios, at the club at the Orbit Room, when you played with the A Team that time.
Smith: Oh, that's right! I forgot about that.
Lifeson: It was so exciting. The tonality out of that kit – you just know what you're doing. You know the kind of pressure that's required to make the drums speak. When we were in the studio, oh, my God, he was hitting the drums at 65 percent of what he used to. I'm a pretty strong guy, and I'd go in there and mess around on his drums. I hit them as hard as I could, and it was nowhere near what he was doing in just his regular playing. I know a lot of it is technique, and how to snap your wrist or whatever it is. It was a long, arduous climb for him to get back together, to his playing speed. He did get back to it. It was a very difficult time.
Smith: He's such a perfectionist, you know? I'm sure he was just like... it must have been frustrating, to not be able to do your thing.
Lifeson: I think it was, but at the same time, I think he recognized that he'd gone through a terrible, difficult period where he just didn't play. He didn't exercise his…
Smith: Yeah, he wasn't like, "I just lost it for no reason. No, I know why."
Lifeson: There was a good reason why he couldn't do it. I think he realized that, and it was a long, hard climb to get back up. Some days, I think he was discouraged by it. Other days, he was more focused on it. Getting married, and Carrie coming into his life was really, really, really important. Carrie came up when we were there. She did that beautiful book of his hands – she's a photographer. She spent time with him, and it was therapeutic, I think, for her to be involved, and to shoot him while he's playing, and all of that stuff.
It was a very powerful remedy, I think, for him. It was important. She was there every few weeks. She would come back up and spend time with him, and be together and support him. She was the instigator in getting him back to work. She didn't know anything about the band when they met, and they got married. She basically said to him, "I don't really know a lot about the band, but what I do know is that you do what you do, and you're pretty good at what you do, from my understanding. You've got to do something with your life. Why not do the thing that you were really good at doing?"
Smith: [Laughs] That's very innocent, though, right?
Lifeson: It is very innocent. That doesn't account for all the turmoil that you're feeling, and this horrific experience that he went through. How do you eliminate, or at least dilute that emotional horror show? She was willing to support him, and lift him up. We were there all along for him.
Smith: I'm sure you guys were. That's amazing.