Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson has released two instrumental tracks, “Kabul Blues” and “Spy House,” to promote his new Alex Lifeson Epiphone Les Paul Standard Axcess electric guitar. They can be heard on his official website.
The songs feature bassist Andy Curran, drummer David Quinton Steinberg, and Lifeson on “everything else.” This is the first music he’s released since the 2012 Rush LP Clockwork Angels. The vast majority of the music Lifeson has made over the course of his long career was in Rush, although he did release the under-the-radar solo LP Victor in 1996.
Rush has been completely inactive since the conclusion of their 40th-anniversary tour in 2015. The band ended in January 2020 when Neil Peart died after a long battle with brain cancer.
“Neil asked us not to discuss [his illness] with anyone,” Lifeson told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “He just wanted to be in control of it. The last thing in the world he would want is people sitting on his sidewalk or driveway singing ‘Closer to the Heart’ or something. That was a great fear of his. He didn’t want that attention at all. And it was definitely difficult to lie to people or to sidestep or deflect somehow. It was really difficult.”
Peart wasn’t a founding member of Rush and he didn’t play on their debut LP in 1974, but Lifeson and Geddy Lee say the band simply cannot exist without him. “That’s over,” Lee told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “I still am very proud of what we did. I don’t know what I will do again in music. And I’m sure Al doesn’t, whether it’s together, apart, or whatever. But the music of Rush is always part of us. And I would never hesitate to play one of those songs in the right context. But at the same time, you have to give respect to what the three of us with Neil did together.”
Lifeson felt the same way. “I love playing, and I never, ever wanted to stop,” he said. “And I thought, you know, ‘One day, when I’m just sitting around shitting my pants, I’ll still want to play guitar.’ And that’s kind of gone now. After he died, it just didn’t seem important. But I think it’ll come back.”
It’s unclear if Lifeson will ever release a second solo album or tour again in some capacity, but with the release of “Kabul Blues” and “Spy House,” he’s at least taken the first tiny step towards a post-Rush musical future.