As anyone who attended Rush‘s R40 tour earlier this year could attest, the Canadian prog legends have a lot of famous fans. Goofy videos that played during and after the show featured Paul Rudd and Jason Segel — who made Rush the fulcrum of their male-bonding odyssey in I Love You, Man — as well as Jay Baruchel, Eugene Levy, Peter Dinklage (whose violinist brother joined the band onstage at select shows) and other familiar faces.
Add to that list outspoken filmmaker Michael Moore. The director didn’t play a part in the R40 show, but he did turn up at SiriusXM last week to moderate a Town Hall fan Q&A with Rush co-founders Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. Moore took his hosting duties seriously, facilitating an unusually insightful exchange between the band and a select group of core boosters. Here are 10 things we learned during the chat, which premieres November 25th on SiriusXM’s Classic Rewind station.
1. Michael Moore is a serious Rush nut.
The director started off the chat by flaunting his O.G. fan credentials, talking about how Rush’s music held special resonance for him as a kid growing up in the factory town of Flint, Michigan, and how he first saw the band play in a minor-league hockey arena in Sarnia, Ontario, prior to their big American breakthrough. (Lee countered by noting that there wasn’t a hockey arena in southern Ontario that Rush didn’t play in their dues-paying years.) The anecdote established from the start that this was no casual fly-in for the director: Time and again, he spoke of the band, their catalog and their uniquely devoted fan base with deep knowledge and respect.
2. He’s also a proud member of their target demo.
In one of several impromptu paeans to his favorite Rush classics, Moore expounded on the poignancy of ‘Subdivisions,” the band’s unforgettable 1982 portrait of suburban adolescent alienation. “I believe that song has saved lives,” he said. You got the sense that his was one.
3. Rush get that their Canadian-ness is funny.
When Moore asked Lee and Lifeson how being from Canada had helped to shape Rush, the bassist-frontman cited the politeness of the culture they grew up in as a factor in their unusually high level of humility. His typically thoughtful response quickly segued into a parody of Canadian manners. “I apologize for saying that, Al,” said Lee with mock remorse. “But I’m sorry — it was my fault,” replied Lifeson, completing the riff with perfect comic timing.
4. Hemispheres was no picnic …
If 1976’s 2112 is Rush’s signature prog opus, 1978’s Hemispheres is the one where their musical ambitions almost got the best of them. “We wrote a record that was so effin’ hard to play … we really had to push our abilities,” recalled Lee. “But isn’t that exciting also …?” asked Moore. Lee’s retort: “Yeah, but you kind of lose the excitement in the pain.”