This is a memo written in 1977 to the Canadian management of Rush. If pictures from this period are any indication, Uncle Donnie had taken to sporting a green Mohawk for at least several months that year. -RS
TO: Managers of Rush
FROM: Don Skwatzenschitz
RE: Career Advice
You, my friends, have a great property in this band Rush. I just saw them the other night at the Fitchburg Theater, and I was really surprised. Well, the first thing that surprised me was the fact that the Vibrators weren’t playing at the Fitchburg—I’d gotten my nights mixed up and missed their concert with Stinky Toys and MÁ©tal Urbain. This really sucks, because, as it turned out, most of Stinky Toys got deported back to France after the show. That, and, well, I found out the Vibrators, Stinky Toys and MÁ©tal Urbain weren’t even booked at the Fitchburg, but at Needles and Pins, a bar down the street from the Fitchburg. What can I tell you? It was a long week.
Anyway, so I stayed to see Rush and some band called Max Webster put on a hell of a loud show. And even though I realize I’m not exactly the biggest authority on this so-called ”progressive” scene (I was the only one in attendance with any kind of nose piercings, but I don’t think anyone else noticed), I think there’s something really special about a band that can perform 15-minute-long songs about space travel and intergalactic politics. And by special, I mean—well, special. Not my usual cup of vinegar, but I didn’t leave early, and that’s saying something.
Now, since I am a member in good standing of this ”industry,” such as it is, I feel I am uniquely qualified to offer you some advice on how to best position your property, this band Rush, for maximum effect, both in the U.S. and abroad. Certainly, you’re aware of a new form of revolutionary sound sweeping through England and certain pockets of the U.S.—call it punk rock, call it just punk, call it whatever you want to call it; it’s here to stay, my friends. If you handle Rush properly, you should be able to grab a piece of this uprising and prosper. Here are my ideas:
Get rid of the drummer. Nobody likes a showoff, and this joker puts more paradiddles, stick twirls, and polyrhythmic nonsense into a 4/4 than anyone this side of Bill Bruford. Besides, he’s the lyricist, too? I jotted down a few choice lines from the show I saw:
I set a course just east of Lyra
And northwest of Pegasus
Flew into the light of Deneb
Sailed across the Milky Way
On my ship, the ‘Rocinante’
Wheeling through the galaxies
Headed for the heart of Cygnus
Headlong into mystery
I think they introduced it as “Cygnus X-1.” I want a big fattie of whatever they’re having.
Okay, for the drumming, you might be able to talk that kid from the Ramones into joining—Danny Ramone, or Barney or Paulie or whatever. He’s good and he’s not some flyboy who thinks he’s a wizard or something. And as for the lyrics, maybe you could get the band to do a 180 on this—go from sci-fi silliness to something more rustic, with, I don’t know, Mark Twain references. I’m thinking Huckleberry Finn would be a great source of lyrical inspiration.
Get rid of the guitar player. Who the hell is this kid? Wanky-wanky-wanky—that’s all I heard. Squee-diddly-diddly-WAAAAW. And was he wearing a kimono? With a Gibson double-neck? You need to sack this joker. I think Wayne Kramer is available, if you want someone whose guitar playing has to be set on “stun,” or it’ll hurt people.
Get rid of the bass player. Jesus Christ, where did you find this guy? He sounds like a coyote being castrated, and his playing is all over the place. Replace him with two people — I think the bassist from the Stooges might be looking for a gig. As for the singer—there’s this young lady in London, goes by the name Siouxsie Sioux. I think she’d be perfect.
You’ll want to do these things gradually, so nobody notices. Maybe by ’81 or ’82, you’ll have something worth talking about. You could do a big club tour and have yourself a nice little perennial touring machine in the lower-end markets. By then, this punk rock thing should be more universally recognized, and you’ll be perfectly poised to take advantage of it with the only punk rock supergroup—Rush.
All the best,