Back in 2008, Rush delighted one of their all-time biggest fanboys, Stephen Colbert, by stopping by The Colbert Report for their first American television interview in decades. It is … an incredible five minutes of increasingly silly questions, and the chat (paired with the subsequent performance of “Tom Sawyer”) was one of the first things I thought of upon learning of the death of drummer Neil Peart earlier this month. (Peart died at the age of 67 from brain cancer.) I didn’t know much about Rush 12 years ago, but the modest Canadian virtuosity of Peart, Geddy Lee, and Alex Lifeson soon birthed a lasting obsession, and I have this appearance to thank for it.
Sadly, for reasons unbeknownst to Rush fans, Comedy Central took down both the interview and performance from all of its official online pages — even a dip into low-quality YouTube copy territory turned up unsuccessful. So, I begged the nice folks at CC to let either of the videos see the gilded light of day again. Somehow, they agreed to give me the interview.
Without spoiling the fun, Colbert, among other things, gets the trio to sign his hand and tries to stage an intervention for Peart’s “drum dependency.” He also presides over the interview on an extremely tall stool. (Just look at Lifeson’s giggly smile! He’s so happy to be there.) “You’ve been touring for over 30 years. Do you ever get tired of being so awesome and kicking so much ass?” Colbert asks, before going for the kicker. “You’re known for some long songs. Have you ever written a song so epic that, by the end of the song, you were actually being influenced by yourself at the beginning of the song?” I’ll be listening to “2112” on loop for the rest of the day in Peart’s honor.