Eóin de Paor - vocals, bass, keys, violin
Steve Brown - guitars, backing vocals
Jamie Dunleavey - drums, pads, percussion
BEYOND THE LIGHTED STAGE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Mary Jo, RushCon staff - Give us a little history of the band- how did you meet and discover a shared love of Rush?
Steve - lifelong friends of mine had already formed THE TOBES OF HADES (great name!) and when the guitarist left in 2012, I stepped up. I'm a full time gigger (30 years this year!) and the Tobes weren't gigging that much back then, so I could easily fit them in. We had all been brought up on Rush so this was a labour of love - a challenging one but great fun. I suggested the name change to MOVING PICTURES - something a bit more recognizable as Rush related (I know everyone reading this will love THE TOBES more). After a few line-up changes we brought in Eoin (Owen) de Paor in 2019 - our jewel in the crown Geddy. I first met Eoin through a mutual Rush fan friend. It turned out that he had been coming to my part of the world on vacation for years! There's a video somewhere of our first jam on my deck - playing Xanadu. Needless to say we hit it off immediately and the rest is history!
I first met drummer Jamie Dunleavey after she came to see us play in Edinburgh. At that time our drummer was torn between us and another band and in the end, he went full time with them. Jamie is one of the most accurate Peart performers we've ever heard. Judy Peart even said of her after seeing us live this May "When I close my eyes I can hear my brother." Wow. That will never not make me emotional.
Eóin - Like so many Rush fans, it was a word-of-mouth thing. I heard them from a school friend who dropped off a copy of Rush Archives when I was a budding young guitar player and said, “Here. Try and learn this!”. I dropped the needle on “Finding My Way” and my new favourite band blew me away.
Jamie - I actually only joined the band last year, our first gig together was in May 2022! I’d gone to see the band play in Edinburgh with my friend the previous October, and I was really impressed and inspired to get back into playing these songs again with a band. I uploaded a drum cover of “Subdivisions”, tagging the band on my Facebook and thanking them for triggering the inspiration to play again, then I got a message from Steve asking if I could dep (sit in) for them now and again. Now I’m in full-time and has been the BEST, most fun experience already!
Mary Jo - Tell us about your gear and set up. Any special items you'd like to mention?
Steve - GIBSON 355 Alex Lifeson signature (the white one!) - GIBSON Alex Lifeson Les Paul (viceroy brown) - GIBSON Alex Lifeson Les Paul (crimson) - FIBSON (yes - FIBson - it's a very good copy) 1275 white double neck - signed by Terry Brown and Hugh Syme - PRS Mikael Akerfeldt signature (for drop D songs such as Between the Wheels and Stick It Out) - VINTAGE Midge Ure Les Paul Gold Top (in open E tuning for Headlong Flight) - CUSTOM superstrat (red with mirror scratch plate - the Distant Early Warning guitar) - YAMAHA classical guitar on a stick for Broon's Bane, Trees, LVS intros - KEMPER STAGE - using mainly Hi Watt 100 amp profiles - HEADRUSH 12 powered monitor - MISSION expression pedal (wah / vol) - DIGITECH Drop pedal - LINE 6 guitar wireless - LD IEM system with Shure 215 earphones - TC ELECTRONIC Nova System for piezo FX (chorus and reverb)
Eóin - Rickenbacker 4003 and a US Fender custom shop Geddy Signature Jazz bass. They run through a Geddy Lee signature Sansamp 2112. All the Keys are Roland.
Jamie - I play a Sonor AQ2 Maple 7-ply: 8”, 10”, 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom. I’ve also tuned an 8” Gretsch Catalina tom high to sound like a concert tom, and have 2 Tama mini-tymps, 6” & 8”. The special mention here is that I have my 8” Sonor rack tom signed by Neil Peart’s sisters, Nancy and Judy. :)
I play an old Premier piccolo snare drum, which I love. Various hardware, but my essential Pearl Eliminator double-pedal.
Cymbals are 14” & 17” Zildjian Custom Hybrid Crash cymbals, 17” Sabian HHXplosion crash, 19” Sabian Chad Smith Holy China, 22” Paiste Signature Power Ride & 10” Paiste Signature Splash, a 6” Zip Bell, and best till last, 14” Zildjian Avedis New Beats Hi Hats, just like Neil Peart used to play in the old days!
I also have a woodblock (made from plastic, ha) and chimes, and a Roland SPD-30 Octapad and Roland SPD One Kick Pad for triggers.
Mary Jo - What's your Rush preshow ritual?
Steve - Quite often I need a 2 minute nap. After all the travel, set up and soundcheck, it's gets to the stage where I need 2 mins to myself. I don't meditate but I suppose this is it! My system needs to reset before the main performance.
Eóin - Tuning, putting fresh batteries in the wireless units and lots and lots of tea…
Jamie - I do some stretches, make sure I’ve got at least two bottles of water, and then have to ask sheepishly for batteries for my wireless in-ears receiver, because I almost literally never remember to buy some.
Mary Jo - How many Rush Songs do you all have in your repertoire? What song(s) took the longest to perfect?
Steve - I've played 50 live. From a guitar solo POV some songs will never be perfect! Alex himself admits this, which is very encouraging.
Eóin - There are currently 123 Rush songs in my lyrics booklet but those are only the ones that have made it to the stage. There are others…
Perhaps unsurprisingly, “La Villa Strangiato” took the longest to perfect. However it’s also probably my favourite to play. (I say favourite, it’s definitely in my top 123…)
Jamie - My grand total is 46 so far! And maybe 5 of those would be rusty at the moment. Oh, I don’t think any of them are perfect! Every time I listen to Rush, I’ll hear something I’ve missed, or maybe something I’ve misinterpreted. It’s like the learning never stops! Even once I’ve learned the notes, I still need to figure out his feel and how he was actually striking things. The one I’d say I’ve improved upon the most would be “La Villa Strangiato”, but again, there’s plenty to be improved upon.
Mary Jo - How do you develop the set list for your shows?
Steve - We started mainly playing songs from the Terry Brown era – “The Spirit of Radio” and “Tom Sawyer” and then worked our way out from there to build up our repertoire which now includes songs from every era. We tend to look at set-openers that the guys used themselves - we've often used R30 “Overture” or “Subdivisions”. We also do full album shows. Some London gigs involve two shows a day - 4 sets - so the first show we'll do classics and deep cuts - the second will involve a complete album. We like to mix up the eras - present a great selection. “Xanadu” is almost always the last song before the encore - the doublneck guitars get a cheer the moment we strap them on!
Eóin - Suggested personal faves, trial and error in the rehearsal room and lots and lots of discussion. It’s surprising how often somebody will suggest a tune that doesn’t necessarily appear on your personal radar but when you sit down to play it you realise what you’ve been missing!
Jamie - All I know is that Steve will give us a setlist, and I’m like “yeah, why not”, then when I’m sat at the gig playing a song, checking what’s coming on next, I’m wondering why I chose to do this to myself. Hahaha. But that pretty much sums it up. We’ll tweak things here and there, to accommodate certain ways of really getting the audience on board. Usually, it’ll be the first and last songs in sets that get changed around.
Mary Jo - Are there any songs you have decided to not try to play? Are there songs you always mess up?
Steve - Nothing is taboo! I've found even songs that weren't personal favourites I now love after learning them. “Roll The Bones” is a prime example - that's one of my favourites to play live. We call it "the marmite song" which is a very British thing. It's a savoury spread made from brewer's yeast which has an acquired taste that inspires an extreme reaction - you love it or hate it. I can safely say every time we play RTB it gets a huge cheer at the end (there is a theory that folks are glad that it's finished but I believe they genuinely loved it - and that may come as a shock to some!) Songs that we always mess up? We're not that consistent - we make new mistakes every night!
Eóin - I don’t think any songs are off limits for us. Mistakes in life music are inevitable but they don’t tend to always happen in the same song. Usually they’re new, exciting and unexpected mistakes in songs you never get wrong! That said, one of the most difficult songs to perform live for me personally is our own arrangement of “Afterimage”. It was put together and recorded during the pandemic lockdown and contains a lot of relatively complex string arrangements as well as a very gradual tempo change as, at that time, there was no sense that it would be heard anywhere other than the first Songs For Neil Album. In the studio, that complexity was easy to achieve. Working out how to recreate it in a live setting was far more difficult but provided an interesting window on the kind of creative decisions that Rush themselves must have made before wheeling out a new song on tour.
Jamie - We’ve honestly never backed down from any challenge! Although a few years ago, I’d never have dreamed I’d be playing some of these songs. I absolutely adore the challenge though, it’s my favourite thing to do. We don’t always mess up certain songs, but there are definitely songs and parts that require our undivided attention, like in parts of “Headlong Flight”, and coming out of the guitar solo in “Limelight”.
Mary Jo - Who has the biggest Rush shrine? Tell us about any Rush memorabilia you have and the story behind it?
Steve - probably me. I don't have a shrine or "Rush room" as such. It's strewn all over the house! I've been a fan since the early 80s. I suppose my most prized possession would be the doubleneck signed by Terry and Hugh - and a lifetime of memories - especially from travelling abroad to see the shows and meeting so many wonderful like-minded folks. Not a piece of memorabilia, but what an honor and special memory- I was asked to give a toast on stage alongside Nancy and Danny Peart at A Night for Neil – The Neil Peart Memorial Celebration, in St. Catharines last October. Oh my heart!
Jamie - my rack tom that I got signed by Judy & Nancy Peart is all I need! I reckon that Steve and Eóin are way nerdier on this one than me…
Mary Jo - Who has a Rush named child, car or pet etc?
Steve - our house is called “Rivendell” (we built it when Lords of the Rings 1st movie came out. It's not all about Rush! lol (OH YES IT IS!) One of our cats is Luna Ellwood - her birthday is 12 Sept!
Eóin - As a teenager, I threatened to name a dog Madrigal. My Ma vetoed that on the grounds that she was not shouting that in a park.
Mary Jo - Who's travelled the farthest to see the guys or seen Rush the most number of times?
Steve - me again! 17 times, which is paltry compared to most of my Rush friends. I only started seeing the guys outside UK on the Time Machine tour. Furthest traveled would be to Houston and New Orleans on the R40 - those turned out to be my last shows. I got a meet n greet in NOLA.
Mary Jo - How is playing to Rush fans different than playing to a general audience?
Steve - You're on a winner from the start! There's a lot of love in the room - everyone is just so happy to be there and share the joy. It used to be extremely nerve-wracking for me. A few hours before one of my first "big" Rush tribute gigs I almost bit through my tongue with nerves. (Sorry for that gross image!)
I've now come to realise the audience is very forgiving (perfection is for tourists!) plus obviously the more you play the more confident you become - warts n all! You can never get complacent though. Songs I've played for years can suddenly develop a mistake out of the blue.
Eóin - Rush fans are amazing people who are powerfully invested in the work of messers; Lee, Lifeson and Peart and by what we’re doing onstage. They are also extraordinarily knowledgeable and often, like ourselves, musicians inspired by the band. On the one hand the fact that they know every beat, lyric and time signature change can make you feel quite pressured but on the other, there is no audience more engaged and joyful than a Rush crowd. Truthfully, there is no crowd anywhere I would rather play to.
JAMIE - I have to say, I’ve certainly noticed Rush fans are generally such a wholesome, lovely audience compared to usual! They really love the music and seem so happy to be there.
Mary Jo- Steve, I know you’ve been to RushCon, although we can’t remember if we met that time! Tell me about your experience at RushCon.
Steve – Yes, I came to RushCon in 2012 in Toronto - when the guys played the 2 hometown Clockwork Angels shows. That was a magical week. My wife Catherine and I were across on vacation in May that year - our first trip to Canada - and on our last day the Clockwork Angels tour was announced. I bought my tickets directly from the Air Canada Centre - we were coming back in October! Catherine brought a friend that time (neither were Rush fans although Catherine has acquired an appreciation now - by osmosis!) and I spent most of the week with my Rush family. Mainly Paul Beaulieu who has since become one of my closest buddies on the planet. We met in the Orbit Room that May and a really great friendship has built up over the years. He's come across for almost every RUSHfest Scotland event since I started it in 2014 (similar to RushCon - but on a smaller scale. We've donated over $129,000USD to cancer charities - all thanks to the generosity of Rush fans.)
Back to the RushCon 2012 - Paul was one of the main helpers. We collected a small PA from his studio and loaded it in to the basement conference room in the Marriott in TO, ready for the first night's gathering. The place looked amazing with lots of steampunk and Rush decorations. I must admit I didn't catch much (if any!) of the events in that room. I was there as Paul's buddy and hadn't paid for a ticket so didn't want to gatecrash my first con. So, I grabbed a few beers in the bar upstairs - and met some other similarly tight folks from the UK that recognised me from playing gigs back home. That was weird! "Hey, you're the guy from Moving Pictures - I saw you play in Aberdeen." - is not something you expect to hear in the Marriott in Toronto. I'm still good buddies with those guys - Harry, Clanger and Geordie Stu.
We all joined the rest of RushCon in the Orbit Room afterwards and that was a great night - listening to the Dexters. I believe we went for food later in Kaplanskis? I was a few sheets to the wind by that point! lol
On the 3rd night (nights 2 and 4 were the actual Rush shows at ACC) RushCon put on Lotus Land tribute band upstairs in the now sadly gone Hard Rock Cafe in Dundas Square. I only caught the end of their set cos I had other plans with Catherine - but my, what a band! Obviously, there can be only one Geddy but as far as tributes go there are handful of REALLY good guys (and up till now I only know of guys doing the full Geddy) that have all of the chops. Chris is one of them - and I'm proud to say our Eoin is up there too. With the greatest of respect to every band that plays Rush - to me you do really need a Geddy to be a true Rush tribute. There. I've said it! I will repeat though - I have respect for everyone that keeps the Rush spirit alive and kicking, moving forward, bringing in new fans and keeping the old fans happy. That's another aspect of my love for Rush - it's all-inclusive. Those old and frankly wrong quips about there being no female Rush fans is truly a thing of the past. (Mary Jo- thank you!!!!) It wasn't true even then but let's not go there. We're seeing very mixed crowds at Moving Pictures shows - all ages, genders, colours, creeds, you name it - it's bloody brilliant!
In 2013, while chatting with one of the organisers of the only UK Rush fan convention (at the time) he told me that Con would never be held in Scotland again cos it was too far for English fans to travel. That was my lightbulb moment - let's do our own!
RUSHfest Scotland was born and it was a one-day event up until lockdown. We brought in Rush tributes from Europe, VIP interviews via Zoom with Allan Weinrib, Donna Halper, Jack Secret and then Terry Brown came across in person in 2016. That was our earliest high point. Rush management and the band - Neil in particular - were always very generous with their donations. Neil kindly signed a bottle of Macallan whisky which we auctioned. All of our profits go to cancer charities. As mentioned before we've donated over $129, 000 USD to date - thanks to Rush fans.
When lockdown struck, I did an online event then had the idea to do the Tribute albums - Songs For Neil. As we all know he was cruelly taken from us earlier that year. I'd built up a database of Rush tribute bands from around the world, plus fine folks like Jacob Moon and Fleesh. I didn't have to ask twice if anyone would like to submit a Rush cover for the albums. We're proud to have produced these albums with stunning artwork from Charlie Roy, Paul Tippett and now - from Vols 3 and 4 - Hugh Syme himself. Again - all profit to cancer charities.
Vol. 4 is in production now - with a very Scottish cover! Hugh was one of our VIPs at RUSHfest in May this year – along with Terry Brown (we can't get rid of him! lol) Nancy and Judy Peart. It was an incredible week - and all rather surreal. I'm typing this now at the dining table where only weeks ago those VIPs were signing swag for our auction. They are all genuinely lovely people - and the joy they brought to everyone they met is unmeasurable. I’d like to thank them all again for their time and generosity. Neil's Mum Betty and sister Judy made some incredibly cute knitted gnomes for us. It's all part of the Rush family love!
Mary Jo- I’m a proud owner of some of her gnomes, and plan to keep building my collection!
Mary Jo – You’ve got a lot of events and shows coming up! Tell us about them.
Steve - This is our busiest year to date - and long may it continue - thanks to all band members being able to commit. 47 gigs this year so far - I will get another 3! It's a numbers thing - although 47 is quite interesting! (Nerd alert!) August sees us for the first time in Lancaster, Birmingham, Bradford and Carlisle (all in England UK) then we have a couple of real biggies. Saturday 19 Aug sees us at our biggest venue yet - The Garage in Glasgow. I've seen Dream Theater, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Alannis Morissette (with Taylor Hawkins!) play there on early tours. I love a gig with history. We're playing the full Moving Pictures album and along with our buddies Clockwork Angels (another Scottish Rush trib) we're cover every era of Rush - at least one song will be played from every album. The lightshow is being designed and operated by a guy that worked on the original Rush Moving Pictures UK dates. We will encourage a recreation of "The Glaswegian Chorus" as featured on “Closer to the Heart” on Exit Stage Left.
If that wasn't exciting enough for us - a few days later we fly out to Canada - to play in Lakeside Park! Nancy Peart has invited us to play as part of the Peart Family Annual Golf Tournament weekend fundraiser. We're the only band playing in the park - from 6pm till 8pm on Sunday 27 August. It's free entry (it's an open park) BUT we're not going overboard with the advertising - this ain't Red Rocks! More info here: https://www.peartfamilyevents.com/
There's also the Henderson Brewery Rush day the day before - I'm sure we'll take part in the Rushaoke that afternoon!
Keep an eye on all of our dates here www.MovingPicturesUK.com/gigs
Better still - Follow us here - https://bnds.us/ugdn1i
Mary Jo – What else would you like to share?
Steve - I'd like to thank Mary Jo for asking us to be involved and everyone at RushCon for keeping the Rush spirit alive. I truly hope RushCon events will restart. I know there's an incredible amount of work involved but it is so worth it.
Eóin - Sincere thanks for inviting us to take part in this.
Mary Jo – Thanks again to Moving Pictures for the great chat, and congrats on all your success! Looking forward to Songs for Neil Vol 4.
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