From the outset, Rush was a band that prioritized musical exploration over commercial success. This Canadian trio was renowned for their willingness to dive into various genres, always eager to see how far they could stretch the boundaries of traditional rock. Neil Peart’s arrival marked a pivotal shift towards a more progressive sound, despite the band’s growing popularity and the challenges of finding touring partners.
Initially inspired by blues rock akin to 1960s British bands, Rush’s evolution into progressive rock was significantly influenced by Peart’s lyrical and musical contributions. Meanwhile, in New York, Kiss was cultivating a reputation for their theatrical performances and elaborate stage makeup, quickly becoming one of the most exciting live acts.
Despite the stark contrast between Rush’s progressive style and Kiss’s hard rock spectacle, Gene Simmons saw potential in Rush, inviting them to open for Kiss on their Canadian tour. This opportunity introduced Rush to larger audiences and allowed them to showcase their complex take on rock music on a grand scale. Peart appreciated the chance Kiss gave them and held fond memories of the experience, noting Kiss’s efficiency and business acumen.
Peart observed that Kiss operated more like a corporate entity, with Simmons and Paul Stanley meticulously planning their path to success. He felt that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, though more emotionally invested, were eventually worn down by the band’s business-first mentality.
As Rush continued to grow, they remained committed to their artistic vision, even as their experiments with albums like Caress of Steel left some, including Stanley, questioning their direction. However, Rush persisted, finding their stride with albums such as 2112, which solidified their place in rock history.
Peart, with a hint of satire, referenced Kiss’s commercial approach in ‘The Spirit of Radio,’ critiquing the formulaic interactions that seemed more focused on sales than genuine connection. Unlike Kiss, who aimed to captivate audiences through spectacle, Rush believed in the power of musical integrity and pushing creative limits, trusting that their fans would embrace their adventurous spirit.