Alex Lifeson was getting antsy. Several years after Rush stopped touring and two years after the death of Neil Peart, he found that he really, really missed making music. But how? With who? And what kind of music would be fulfilling? The answer came in an extremely roundabout way.
Back in the 80s, Andy Curran was the bass player in a Canadian band called Coney Hatch. When the group disbanded, he found work with Anthem Entertainment, Rush’s management company, and spent years working in the background. Last year, he was asked to work as a mentor to some of the finalists in an American songwriting competition, which is how he met a woman named Maiah Wynne, of Portland, Oregon.
Zooming with her during the pandemic, one of the things he told her was that she needed to really start networking with other musicians. “Reach out to people,” said Andy. “Offer to collaborate with them so you can learn how these sorts of creative relationships work.”
“Well,” said Maiah, “do you want to write with me?” Andy said he would.
It turned out that Maiah was a natural at this sort of collaboration and the songs started to flow. Things were sounding so good that Andy played some of the new material for Alex (Andy had played bass on a couple of Alex Lifeson solo songs). He was so impressed that he started adding bits to the tracks they were working on. Tracks started zipping around online between Alex, Andy, and Maiah. Producer/engineer Alfio Annibalini was brought in. And before anyone realized what was going on, it appeared that they had a real band. They decided to call themselves Envy of None.
Andy told me this story over breakfast just before Christmas and then sent me the album. It. Is. Excellent.
Before you ask, no, it doesn’t sound anything like Rush. I’d characterize the sound as similar to If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, the brilliant album from Halsey, which was produced by Trent Reznor. You might even think of Billie Eilish if she were to get a little thuddier with her sound. The textures and beats and melodies are very contemporary and (dare I say it) rather alt-rock-ish.
This 11-track self-titled record will appear on April 8. A deluxe edition will come with five additional songs plus a 28-page book of exclusive content.
Here’s the first taste of the album. Believe me when I tell you that there’s a lot more to come.