Alex Lifeson recorded 10 songs for the new project “Envy of None”
Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson released his first new music in nearly a decade when he shared the instrumentals “Kabul Blues” and “Spyhouse” to coincide with the arrival of his new Epiphone guitar earlier this month. . But fans won’t have to wait that long for the next chapter, as Lifeson has completed 10 songs for an upcoming project with the goal of releasing them later this year.
âAlex and I are involved in a side project called Envy of None,â bassist Andy Curran told UCR. âIt started with [those two tracks]. “
Known for his tenure as a member of 80s Canadian hard rockers Coney Hatch, Curran has been associated with Lifeson and Rush in recent years. He worked for group management, taking care of A&R tasks and coordinating their reissue program – a role he stepped away from in 2019.
Lifeson and Curran are joined in Envy of None by guitarist Alfio Annibalini and singer Maiah Wynne, with additional musical contributions from drummers Tim Oxford (Arkells) and David Quinton Steinberg (Dead Boys, the Mods).
Wynne is the “rough diamond” who helped spawn the new project, according to Curran. He had collaborated on songs with the Portland-based singer and Lifeson expressed interest in hearing the material. Curran sent it to the guitarist and said, âIf you hear something, why don’t you play it?
From there, the collaboration began to flourish. âHe played on one track and one became two, and two became three,â Curran shares. âNow we have 10 songs in the box with this project called Envy of None.
“Those two there [instrumentals], ‘Kabul Blues’ and ‘Spyhouse’, right now Maiah is singing on them, so they’re [also] will be part of the Envy of None project, âhe continues. “If all goes well, we hope these songs will be released in late summer or early fall.”
The recent wave of new recordings represents a significant step forward for Lifeson, who admitted that he initially played “very little guitar” following the death of longtime Rush bandmate Neil Peart. Earlier this year, however, Lifeson revealed that he and Geddy Lee are continuing conversations about potential future collaborations.
Curran warns that Envy of None is very different from the sound Lifeson was known for in Rush. He described the songs he sent to Lifeson as âguts and darkâ with âpop elementsâ mixed in. The guitarist quickly turned to what he heard.
âI think there’s a lot of Alex Lifeson in these. There’s a nice guitar he’s played on – but transparently it’s not Rush and it’s not Coney Hatch, âCurran says. âIt’s like, if you can imagine Massive Attack with a little bit of electronic stuff with influences from Nine Inch Nails, with that beautiful, fragile, soft voice and very, very dark heavy sounds. That’s kind of what this project looks like.
Similar to his previous solo work outside of Rush in 1996 Victor, Lifeson really wanted to explore and push the boundaries. âHe went out of his way to process and put some cool stuff on his guitar like ‘Wait a second, that doesn’t sound like a guitar’,â Curran says. âI was like, ‘What did you do there? It sounds like a violin âorâ It sounds like a keyboard! He was like, ‘Well, I put this, this, and this on it and turned it upside down.’
âHe’s really having fun playing around with those guitar sounds,â Curran adds. âWe talked about heavy and heavy guitars and he said, ‘There are really only two songs, Andy, that I feel like I need that crunch and that punch. I think he went out of his way to really scratch an itch that he didn’t play that way in Rush.
Both Curran and Lifeson were overwhelmed by Wynne’s creativity and depth. He remembers the guitarist telling him: “I have certainly never seen someone so young. [with that kind of talent]. She feels like she’s been here on this Earth before. She has wisdom about it.
âWe’re making Zoom calls with her and she’s in Portland, Oregon,â Curran says. “Her little studio, she’s covered in instruments. This girl plays 10 or 15 different instruments and you’re like, ‘What’s going on over there! So that’s a real gift and I think she’s a real diamond in the rough right now, she’s got a long career ahead of her, I think.
Fans can get an additional taste of new music from Envy of None via the Netflix series Little pretty things, who placed the band’s song “Liar” in one of the episodes of the first season. âIt’s pretty mixed up in the background, like you know people do with music,â Curran says. âBut to me it was like, ‘Wow, without even trying, we sent this and the music is echoing with people.’ So, my fingers crossed and I know that Alex and I are both really proud of these songs and we want to share them with people.
“We will get out of it one way or another,” he assures us. “People are going to hear this music.”
Meanwhile, Curran remains busy with his own plans. He was in charge of Triumph’s sumptuous 40th anniversary box set Allied forces, released this month as part of Record Store Day. Coney Hatch also recently released Living in El Mocambo, a limited-edition live album that combines an intense 2020 performance with a setlist from the band’s four albums.
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