Album Of The Year/Band Of The Year: Rush
James Dean Bradfield might seem an unlikely stand-in for Rush but the Manic's front man has made no secret of his love for the Canadian trio. During his acceptance speech on behalf of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, Bradfield alluded to the fact that Rush had recorded a pair of albums at Rockfield studios in Wales, not too far from where he grew up. Bradfield had his hands full as Rush picked up the Band Of The Year and Album Of The Year awards, the latter for their very well-received Clockwork Angels set.
What makes Rush worthy of our Best Band of 2012 award?
James Dean Bradfield: "They always surprise you. They have an expertise in finding something new in themselves."
Is that what they've done with Clockwork Angels?
"Well, the actual track Clockwork Angels is an incredible achievement. It's the band's past, future and present all in one. It's the standout track on the album. After what that band has been through [how much success they've had, and then, in the 90s, quite a lot of failure] to comeback from that and create a song like Clockwork Angels is fucking amazing.It just is."
Classic Rock readers voted Clockwork Angels the best Album Of The Year. Do you agree?
"I think ifs a really important record. I love it But I've got to say this: I think Geddy's bass could have been turned up on that entire record. I think Clockwork Angels is a really important staging post. Whatever comes next, I just want to hear a bit less space in their music"
What do you mean?
"Well, I love Alex lifeson as a guitarist When I was young, I thought he was the missing link between Jimmy Page and Andy Summers of The Police. He could do rock but he could do new wave as well. But now, I don't want him to use a whammy bar on solos; I want to hear him bend strings. But this is just muso stuff..."
During your speech you mentioned two of the band's classic 70s albums - A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres - were recorded in Wales at Rockfield studios. How close was the studio to your hometown of Blackwood?
In good traffic - and breaking the law - I'd say 35 minutes."
Did you ever go to Rockfield on a Rush-inspired pilgrimage?
"Oh yeah. I took a bus trip up there. I wanted to see where Rush had recorded. I got gently shushed away after five minutes. In a nice way. You know, this was the fast residential studio in the world. And it's still going."
The Manics recorded there of course...
"We recorded both of our number ones at Backfield: If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be New and The Masses Against The Classes."
What, if push comes to shove, is your favourite Rush album?
"A Farewell To Kings is probably, for me, the best."
You once said that Rush were better than Led Zeppelin. Do you still feel that way?
"Well in a way they're very much like Zeppelin. You first get into Zeppelin because you think it's about the raw power, but then you realise that some of their stuff is really funky and some of it is really delicate; this beautiful bucolic experience. Listening to Zeppelin is a voyage of discovery. And it's the same with Rush. You hear the first Rush album and those ringing chords on Working Man and you think, 'Fucking hell, this isn't perfect but I'm along for the ride'. But when you get to Tom Sawyer it's just pure, powerful majesty From there, you discover Xanadu with that delicate intro and the whole soundscape of it."
So what is it that keeps you coming back to these guys?
"With Rush, you will always find some kind of reinvention. They plough their own souls; plough their own depths. They really are an amazing band."