Producer Speaks on ‘Disappointing’ Way Rush Fired Him After a Decade, Talks What the Band Was Really Like Before Neil Peart

"But in other respects, it was a little bit of a relief," Terry Brown said.

During a conversation with Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White, Rush producer Terry Brown looked back on his collaboration with the band.

Terry joined forces with the guys as an engineer on the 1974 self-titled Rush debut and went on to produce the group’s subsequent nine albums, including eight studio albums and the 1981 live record “Exit… Stage Left.”

Asked how he felt when the group decided to stop working with him ahead of 1984’s “Grace Under Pressure,” Brown replied (transcribed by UG):

“It was disappointing. But in other respects, it was a little bit of a relief because I wasn’t really sure where the band was going when we were doing [1982’s] ‘Signals.’

“There were things that I was not objecting to but I was questioning, so, yeah, I think it was a little bit of both – bittersweet.”

Once you’re not working with Rush, you have to start working with other artists. Do you change as a producer and start bringing in new thoughts and new ideas? Or do you get these new artists in and go, ‘Hey, this is what we did with Rush, it worked with them!’ How did you develop after that? Because Rush obviously changed, you must have changed as well.

“Yeah, I guess so. I don’t think I changed that much, I had a way of working in a way I like to work, and I continued to do that but with different artists.

“I still wanted to get the best out of artists that I could in terms of performance, and choosing the right songs for their records, and replacing members of bands that weren’t satisfactory, and adding outside musicians on situations where we needed some embellishments.

“So I don’t think I changed that much.”

Before [the 1975 sophomore Rush album] ‘Fly By Night,’ the band had John Rutsey in the band as the drummer. Did you ever see the band with John? Had you worked at all with John before the change?

“I produced two or three tunes on their first album.”

OK, because the credits say Rush, it never says Terry Brown on that first record.

“Well, I was hired as an engineer, I basically mixed the record. But I cut three tunes with them as I remember, ‘Finding My Way’ was one of them.

“And that’s what made me fall in love with the band, I just was so blown away by the way they sounded.

“And John was more than a good drummer at that point for that album. Certainly, when Neil came along on ‘Fly By Night,’ it was a huge change-up.”

So just quickly talk to me about that impression. They say, ‘We’re going to get this new guy,’ Neil comes in, and, of course, at that point, he’s not Neil that we know, he’s just the new guy. Do you listen to him and go, ‘Oof, OK, we have possibilities this guy!’

“He was amazing back then. He had done his homework and was a great player back even back then.

“And he played in a lot of other bands, progressive bands, and he has done his diligence.”

Yeah, he was great. And it obviously was a game-changer for the band.

“Not least of all from a lyrical standpoint because the style of writing just changed dramatically.”

Talk to me just real quick about establishing that Rush sound when we go back to ‘Fly By night,’ because the band’s out on the tour with KISS, and they’re opening, and they’re working it, they’re in a van, they’re working it… Talk to me about that sound – did they bring that to you? Did you help create it? When you talk about Mutt Lange, Mutt Lange’s albums are Mutt, and Bob Ezrin’s albums are Bob. Is ‘Fly By Night’ a Terry record?

“Well, at that time, yes. I do have a sort of a signature way of doing things, I think to a large degree.

“So yeah, there were a lot of things on that record that were the things I wanted to hear and wanted to have performance-wise. And we managed to pull it together.

“Those records were done in a very short space of time. There’s a lot of me on there because a lot of decisions were made really quickly, and I was engineering and mixing.”

To go back to talking about writing the songs on the road and stuff, for Rush, by the time they got into the studio, they were already well-rehearsed and they had the songs down. Was that a budget-conscious decision for bands at the time to have been really rehearsed, written everything, and then they get into the studio and use as little time as possible? Because now, people could take three, four years to make an album because they’re recording in their house and stuff, and they have all the technology. But was it really about the budget at the time that made bands record these things just so quickly?

“No, I don’t think so. I mean, the budget had something to do with it, yeah, but that wasn’t the modus operandi at that point.

“They didn’t have a lot of time, they were on the road all the time, so when they came into the studio, we were given a couple of weeks.

“For the ‘Fly By Night,’ I think it was two weeks from start to finish. But we worked diligently, we worked long hours, and we worked very efficiently and got it done.”

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