Rush: 'Album Is Dying as a Format, It's Hard to Say What the Future Holds'

"Will we get more mileage by doing few songs at a time, or do we do another album?" Alex Lifeson asks.

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Rush axeman Alex Lifeson recently pondered on what the future holds for the music industry, stressing the impending doom that seemingly awaits the album format. Chatting with Billboard, Alex touched on the given matter after expressing expectations for the trio to kick off the work on new material sometime during 2014. "It's going to be interesting to see where we do go next," he explained. "You know, the album is dying as a format. We're so used to it and we're so old-school in that format, but will we get more mileage by doing a few new songs at a time, or do we do another album?" the guitarist asked. "It's hard to say what the future holds, and it's just changing so rapidly," Lifeson concluded. "It's always hard to speculate where you're going to go." But when it comes to the present time, Rush are a holiday. "We've committed to taking about a year off," Lifeson explains. "We all agreed when we finished this ("Clockwork Angels") tour (in early August) we were going to take this time off and we weren't going to talk about band stuff or make any plans. We committed to a year, so that's going to take us through to the end of next summer, for sure. That's the minimum. "We haven't stopped or quit," the guitarist reassures. "Right now we're just relaxing. We're taking it easy and just enjoying our current employment." Finally, as one of the latest Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Alex gave his two cents about this year's ceremony. "I put my votes in - certainly with Deep Purple and Yes and Nirvana, I think they're all candidates, and I think Kiss deserves to be in there, too. We have lots of great memories of working together with them, and I think they've been influential and worked for a very long time and worked very hard." The latest Rush studio effort, "Clockwork Angels," saw its release in June 2012 via Roadrunner Records.

39 comments sorted by best / new / date

    HitmanJenkins
    The one guy who is in a band that would most benefit from the album is telling us this? The sort of people that would go for just a few Rush songs over an album probably shouldn't be listening to Rush in the first place, I'd rather they don't pander to that audience.
    Roarz
    The future is EP's because they are: - Short (a band can release much more EP's faster and easier) - Passionate (since EP's are shorter, there is no bullshit filler songs that the band HAS TO write to full the album up.)
    HitmanJenkins
    It really depends on the band and the genre, some bands can easily write an album that's most, if not, all killer, no filler, some can't and will benefit from an EP instead. I think band's should write as much material as they feel comfortable without the whole release sounding like a drag.
    slush
    But the problem with being an artist is you often don't have objectivity about your own material. Shorter albums with better quality will certainly benefit the vast majority of good musicians. Of course, the bad musicians will continue churning out shitty EPs.
    matteo cubano
    agreed, albums are good if released every 3 years and artists get all the right stuff together. but i'm personally getting sick of it. I do love playing a new album from start to finish in my car though so seeing them go away and just having 6 song ep's wouldn't have the same magic
    FIL123456789
    albums are good if released every 3 years?... NO! Black Sabbath(ST, Paranoid), Judas Priest(Hell Bent for Leather, Stained Glass) and the Beatles(Rubber Soul, Help) all released two great albums in one year.
    HitmanJenkins
    You do realise that this was the model of the time right? Virtually every band released an album every year ay that point. It really depends on how much material the band has and how good it is, I saw someone use the saying that "your first album takes 20 years, your second album only takes 2", which could easily apply to any band, especially those ones, I remember reading the liner notes for an edition of Masters of Reality I have and Ozzy saying how they've become worn out and almost like veterans, with a musical equivalent to the thousand yard stare, or some shit like that. For most bands nowadays, 2-3 years is about the right length to get a good album together seeing as the industry and therefore, the cycle nowadays has changed.
    FIL123456789
    Yeah most bands were releasing an album per year those days. Its part of the reason Aerosmith pretty much died after Rocks.
    matteo cubano
    okay. obviously that doesn't apply to every artist and album, it's a generality. Led zeppelin did this as well.
    sideslick
    Wayne static says it and we all hate him. Alex Lifeson says it and we all love him. Ultimate Guitar, I don't get you...
    Darth Crow
    We all dislike Wayne Static anyway. We all love Alex Lifeson anyway. There you are.
    Kueller917
    I guess since it's a similar topic to yesterday's article I can say it again that digital age allows for many different styles of release formats I think should start to be used. It doesn't mean everything becoming single sales on iTunes. Computers/internet allow for unlimited amounts of time and data (within reason) and small releases without needing to have a big release. EPs are great alternatives if a full album would have too much filler. Interesting when you think that a lot of formats that are so commonplace only became common due to limitations and/or standards that no longer exist.
    Anty 7
    I disagree completely. The album WAS dying. But now we have a new wave of young musicians that are influenced by so many different genres and rediscovering great albums of the past. Some artists will stick to making singles but there is clearly a resurgence of conceptual, thought-provoking music. The short term effects of the internet were largely (not entirely) negatlve on the industry and music as an art form. But the long term positive effects are now obvious: music has become so accessible, if one wants to discover new things, it is an infinite path of growth! The progressive trend in metal is a great example of this. It's funny how the older musicians are stating similar things as Lifeson, while youngsters are proving to us all everyday that there's a new golden age. The seventies are back!!!!
    slush
    I think Lifeson is talking about long play albums. The era of the 10-12 song LP is certainly dying. Most independent artists prefer churning out 6-8 song EPs. Whether this trend is truly the future or just a fad remains to be seen.
    HitmanJenkins
    6-8 songs isn't really an EP, it's more of a mini-album, possibly an LP depending on how long the songs are. 4-5 songs is more accurate of EP length.
    slush
    None of those classifications really apply anymore because the LP/EP distinction was specific to the format, which isn't relevant to tapes, CDs or other digital media. However, Alice in Chains' Jar of Flies and Dream Theater's A Change of Seasons are considered EP's despite being longer than any of The Ramones' LPs, but I digress... I think the modern album is going to be shorter and more concise out of necessity, unless the artist swings for the fences with a concept album or something.
    HitmanJenkins
    Personally I find that they're still relevant when talking about the actual length of the release, partially because vinyl is still a relevant formate within some circles (such as Punk/Hardcore, Indie and some Metal subgenres etc.) it does depend on what the artist/label intend the release to be too, but each to their own, I've always counted it by how many minutes and tracks the release is in relation to the genre.
    slush
    Yeah that's probably about right. I think the ideal modern album is probably around 30 minutes or about 6 songs or so. Long enough to be substantial, short enough to not get boring. Hooray ADD.
    MichaelScarn
    this iz y rush suks.... thay had 1 good song smels like teen spirt but thatz it.... only talented artists lik lady gaga, drake and lil wayne can still sell albums....
    MichaelScarn
    you gave me the dislikes- what else could i ask for?
    DexterF
    Life, style, class, wits, girlfriend. For starters.
    MichaelScarn
    every comment you guys give me and every dislike you give me means i win MORE AND MORE also im counting upvotes too
    DexterF
    Distribute downloadable music with a document embedded in it that contains: -a unique QR code or similar that identifies the buyer as the license holder -LYRICS -COVER ART Have some online music bighead offer a service to properly print ans laminate those. The cultural addition of cover art will be kept, downloadable music will regain the feeling of possessing something physical I can put on a shelf, I have proper lyrics, I have by the license a right to regain that file from whatever source authorises my QR code via smartphone in case of loss (dead disk, theft etc) AND the artists will be able to release songs under the same cover even years later if they feel the song belongs to that line of the cover art. Heck, why am I not starting such a service and make millions on that.
    vikkyvik
    Rush are a holiday Hmmm. I do feel like I'm on a holiday every time I listen to Rush, so I suppose that's somewhat accurate.