Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee Think RUSH's Music Protected Them From Addiction

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It might not have stuck to RUSH's reputation, but Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee got in their fair share of partying through the '70s.

The Rush co-founders readily admit that they got into much stronger stuff than beer, wine and cannabis in their youth. Yet, thankfully for some reason, neither of them became addicts.

Asked by George Stroumboulopoulos on the latest House of Strombo how they kept it together despite the challenges faced by so many of their contemporaries, Lifeson suggested it might be "luck," whereas Lee joked it might have been their "proper upbringing."

The bassist clarified, however, that Rush was never as clean as its image — just cleaner than most of its tour mates. The band toured relentlessly through its first several years; during that period, they would do whatever it took to get to the next show.

"We had our moments where we were doing too many gigs, too many gigs in a row and the drugs were coming at us fast and furious, but somehow or another, we kept our s--t together through it all," Lee said. "There was one leg of one tour that we did 23 one-nighters in a row. You're operating on fumes; you're doing whatever it takes to get through to the next show, get through that show. Whether it's smoking a joint afterwards or doing a line of coke or whatever it takes, you did it."

But Lee also notes that with Rush, the sole focus was on the shows being great. If the band wasn't playing well, none of it was worth it.

"We valued our work," he added. "We valued our quality of our gigs. So we never let [drugs] interfere. It couldn't interfere, otherwise there was no point to be there (laughs). What's the point of being here if you're gonna f--k up the gig?"

The intricacies of Rush's music couldn't come across without precision on the part of all three band members. They might have been naive when it came to the long-term consequences of drugs, but they understood that dulling their senses wasn't going to help them get through "La Villa Strangiato."

"[The music] was hard to play," Lifeson said. "We were very disciplined when it came to shows. There was not even a beer during the drum solo."

Rush is celebrating Moving Pictures with a 40th anniversary reissue of the album, which arrived last Friday. Get a closer look at the new Moving Pictures box set here.

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