That time I asked Rush’s Geddy Lee if he was in awe of how Neil Peart carried on after tragedy

By Steve Newton I've interviewed Geddy Lee a couple of times, in 1997 and 2002. This was the second time, when Rush was touring behind its Vapour Trails album, which I thought was awesome. It was their first album in six years, as the tragic events in drummer Neil Peart's life--the deaths of his daughter and … Continue reading That time I asked Rush’s Geddy Lee if he was in awe of how Neil Peart carried on after tragedy

Neil Peart, rock drummer extraordinaire, dead at 67

By Steve Newton Neil Peart, arguably the world's greatest rock drummer, has died at age 67. According to a statement issued today by family spokesperson Elliot Mintz, Peart died Tuesday in Santa Monica, California, after having been diagnosed with brain cancer. Born in Hamilton and raised in St. Catherines, the Ontario rocker joined Rush guitarist Alex … Continue reading Neil Peart, rock drummer extraordinaire, dead at 67

Album review: Various Artists, Metal For Lunch (1986)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 6, 1986 By Steve Newton Metal For Lunch is the follow-up to last year's Metal For Breakfast album, a collection of previously released tracks from som great (and not so great) hard rock bands. On this one, the top tunes come via Aerosmith ("Back in the Saddle"), Judas Priest ("Love … Continue reading Album review: Various Artists, Metal For Lunch (1986)

Yes guitarist Steve Howe on playing at 70 and the tragedy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 31, 2017 By Steve Newton The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is notorious for taking forever to induct bands that almost everyone but the institution’s voting members thinks are overdue for entry. There was much frustration among rock fans—especially of the Canuck persuasion—when the mighty Rush kept getting shunned, … Continue reading Yes guitarist Steve Howe on playing at 70 and the tragedy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

That time Circus Magazine’s editorial department sent me a rejection letter :(

By Steve Newton Thirty-six years ago today somebody at Circus Magazine sent me a rejection letter. They could have at least signed it. Back in the seventies I devoured Circus. It was a total fanzine, but it really covered the bands I was interested in. On any given issue you'd see capitalized band names like MOTT, … Continue reading That time Circus Magazine’s editorial department sent me a rejection letter 🙁

That time Gary Moore told me how he scored Peter Green’s ’59 Les Paul

By Steve Newton Gary Moore has been one of my fave guitarists ever since I heard him with Thin Lizzy back in the seventies. I then closely followed his hard-rock/metal solo career in the '80s, before he got the blues bigtime in 1990. I was fortunate enough to have interviewed the legendary picker once, back in … Continue reading That time Gary Moore told me how he scored Peter Green’s ’59 Les Paul

That time Gord Downie told me that the 15 minutes after a Tragically Hip show are his favourite time of the day

By Steve Newton If you're a dedicated Tragically Hip fan you've no doubt seen their final concert, which took place in the band's Kingston hometown on August 20, 2016, and was broadcast live on CBC-TV. It was an historic gig, bursting with emotion, and for me the finest moment came during one of the several … Continue reading That time Gord Downie told me that the 15 minutes after a Tragically Hip show are his favourite time of the day

Marillion moves beyond cult status with Misplaced Childhood and “Kayleigh”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 7, 1986 By Steve Newton Yessongs. Brain Salad Surgery. Selling England By the Pound. Do those album titles ring a bell? They should if you remember back to 1973. At that time, 'progressive' rock was big around the world and its foremost practitioners were British bands such as … Continue reading Marillion moves beyond cult status with Misplaced Childhood and “Kayleigh”

Newt’s Top 10 albums of 1993

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 23, 1993 By Steve Newton Popular music hit an all-time low this year with the outbreak of something called gangsta rap, an ugly, expletive-laden noise that degrades women and glorifies real-life crime and violence. We can only hope this latest strain of the rap virus will help bring … Continue reading Newt’s Top 10 albums of 1993

.38 Special’s Donnie Van Zant on the origins of southern rock and the drive of Jacksonville bands

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 2, 1982 By Steve Newton .38 Special's July 5 gig at the Kerrisdale Arena has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales, and according to lead singer Donnie Van Zant "it's a real shame". The show would have been the band's second Vancouver appearance. Their latest album, Special … Continue reading .38 Special’s Donnie Van Zant on the origins of southern rock and the drive of Jacksonville bands

The Trailer Park Boys’ Mike Smith says he’s quite a bit like Bubbles

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 23, 2003 By Steve Newton In Trailer Park Boys—Showcase TV’s low-budget mockumentary series about dope-smoking, foul-mouthed lowlifes inhabiting a rundown (is there any other kind?) trailer park—it’s the little things that make you laugh. Like Julian’s (John Paul Tremblay’s) ever-present glass of rum ’n’ Coke. Whether he’s hanging … Continue reading The Trailer Park Boys’ Mike Smith says he’s quite a bit like Bubbles

Geddy Lee on Neil Peart’s personal struggles, shaping his lyrics, and loving Rush

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 5, 2002 By Steve Newton Rush’s latest CD, Vapor Trails, may be its best recording ever, and since the Canuck prog-rock trio now has 17 studio releases to its credit, that’s saying something. But the album would never have been made if drummer-lyricist Neil Peart hadn’t had the … Continue reading Geddy Lee on Neil Peart’s personal struggles, shaping his lyrics, and loving Rush

If Gordie Johnson has to pick between Zeppelin and Sabbath, he picks Sabbath

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 27, 2001 By Steve Newton The cover of the new Big Sugar CD, Brothers and Sisters, Are You Ready?, features a classic hard-rock image of a skinny, longhaired fellow flailing away on a doubleneck Gibson guitar. If you didn’t know the guy was Big Sugar singer-guitarist Gordie Johnson, … Continue reading If Gordie Johnson has to pick between Zeppelin and Sabbath, he picks Sabbath

Matthew Good and the great Radiohead controversy of 2000

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 28, 2000 Matthew Good is a loud rocker. That’s easily discernible from a quick spin of his band’s latest CD, Beautiful Midnight. Matthew Good is also a loud talker, as I discover for myself when he calls the Straight from his West End apartment prior to his five … Continue reading Matthew Good and the great Radiohead controversy of 2000

Guitar freak Roland Nipp shows his stuff on The Blue Room

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 6, 2000 Roland Nipp is nuts about guitar. Even before sampling the local picker’s tasty instrumental CD, The Blue Room, I could tell from scanning his bio that he’s a six-string aficionado. Among those mentioned in his extensive list of influences are such primo players as Joe Satriani, … Continue reading Guitar freak Roland Nipp shows his stuff on The Blue Room

Rush to issue box set with previously unreleased live footage (of John Rutsey!)

By Steve Newton If you're the type of diehard Rush freak who thinks who've seen everything the band's ever put to video, get ready for this. The Canuck prog-rock legends announced today that, on November 11, they'll be releasing R40, a 10-DVD/6-Blu-ray collector's boxed set which also includes all eight songs from a show in … Continue reading Rush to issue box set with previously unreleased live footage (of John Rutsey!)

Johnny Winter’s absence from the Rock Hall is a bloody outrage

By Steve Newton Devoted Johnny Winter fans are still mourning the passing of the Texas guitar legend, who died last  Wednesday (July 16) at the age of 70. They've no doubt been playing the hell out of his vast array of awesome albums, or reminiscing about the times they saw him tear things up in concert. … Continue reading Johnny Winter’s absence from the Rock Hall is a bloody outrage

Molson Canadian screws the Newt over with a Blind Date from hell

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 4, 1997 I was really expecting something special from the latest entry in Molson Breweries’ series of exclusive promotional concerts, in which contest winners get to see a big-name rock band play a club, unaware of which group they’ll see until the show starts. Vancouver’s first Blind Date, … Continue reading Molson Canadian screws the Newt over with a Blind Date from hell

That time my buddy Stick ticked off Lars Ulrich in Vancouver by asking him to jam

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 22, 1997 By Steve Newton Back when the Starfish Room was still a headbanger’s haven known as Club Soda, a rock-crazed pal of mine named Stick bumped into Lars Ulrich there. The Metallica drummer was hangin’ out with his entourage after one of the band’s intense Vancouver gigs … Continue reading That time my buddy Stick ticked off Lars Ulrich in Vancouver by asking him to jam

Rush refuses to give John Rutsey his due on Test for Echo tour in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 22, 1997 By Steve Newton Although they’ve sold more than 35 million records and been a major force on the hard-rock world for 23 years, it appears as though Rush’s status as an arena-packing concert draw—at least in Vancouver—has slipped a few notches. There were scads of empty … Continue reading Rush refuses to give John Rutsey his due on Test for Echo tour in Vancouver

Geddy Lee on the music of the ’70s, the Order of Canada, and the full-time job of Rush

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 15, 1997 By Steve Newton Although I’m usually too lazy to bother fiddling with LPs these days, those old black beauties sure do come in handy when I’m preparing to interview a band that’s been around as long as Rush. Shuffling through my prized rows of plastic-enclosed 12-inchers, … Continue reading Geddy Lee on the music of the ’70s, the Order of Canada, and the full-time job of Rush

I Mother Earth guitarist Tanna happy to echo Lifeson, Santana

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 23, 1996 If you happened to walk into a house party while the last song on the new I Mother Earth CD was playing, you could be excused for taking a big swig of your beer, raising it in a toast, and proclaiming: “Man, that Carlos Santana can … Continue reading I Mother Earth guitarist Tanna happy to echo Lifeson, Santana

Rush gives John Rutsey his due on ReDISCovered box set

By Steve Newton The Pete Best of Canada finally gets his due. John Rutsey, the drummer who played on the very first Rush album before being replaced by Neil Peart, will get some of the credit he deserves with today's (April 29) release of the Rush ReDISCovered LP boxed set. If you don't understand how important Rutsey … Continue reading Rush gives John Rutsey his due on ReDISCovered box set

Mr. Big guitarist Paul Gilbert can deal with a number-one single at 25

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 19, 1992 By Steve Newton Some recording artists come off as self-absorbed types whose only musical interest involves what they’re doing. They claim not to listen to anybody else’s tunes, lest their precious art be influenced away from its predestined place in history. But sometimes you come across … Continue reading Mr. Big guitarist Paul Gilbert can deal with a number-one single at 25

Alex Lifeson says Rush’s no-compromise approach is key to its staying power

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 30, 1992 By Steve Newton When the Georgia Straight interviewed Queensrÿche vocalist Geoff Tate last month, the singer had some intriguing things to say about an alleged “backlash” against progressive rock, which he felt had been initiated by the music industry in the ’70s. Tate uncovered a plot … Continue reading Alex Lifeson says Rush’s no-compromise approach is key to its staying power

Trailer Park Boys director Mike Clattenburg revels in Canuck rock

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 4, 2006 Helix isn't normally a band that comes to mind as one of Canada’s finest musical exports. But as director Mike Clattenburg proved in Trailer Park Boys: The Movie, its song “Heavy Metal Love” is the ideal backdrop for slow-mo footage of a skanky trailer-park chick descending from a … Continue reading Trailer Park Boys director Mike Clattenburg revels in Canuck rock

Rush debut gets vinyl reissue; John Rutsey gets vindicated

By Steve Newton Universal Music Canada announced today that the mighty Rush will reissue its self-titled 1974 debut album on vinyl to mark its 40-year recording career. Here's the promotional bumph: As part of Universal’s reDISCovered vinyl series, the original 1974 analogue stereo masters were cut to copper plates using the Direct Metal Mastering (DMM) … Continue reading Rush debut gets vinyl reissue; John Rutsey gets vindicated