Alex Lifeson is no stranger to the concept of evolution. As a founding member of Rush, he’s been able to explore more musical ground than just about any other guitar player out there – taking rock to new progressive heights throughout the decades and always in the most wildly inventive of ways. His influence can be heard on countless bands around the world, from indie shoegaze and math rock to heavy metal and beyond. Over the last few years Lifeson has been focusing on a new project that, no matter how well-acquainted you are with his discography, will undoubtedly shatter all seeds of expectation and blow the mind. That project is Envy Of None.
The new band, also featuring Coney Hatch founder/bassist Andy Curran, accomplished producer and engineer Alfio Annibalini and singer-songwriter Maiah Wynne, will be releasing their self-titled debut album on April 8 via Kscope. Its 11 tracks – which ricochet between various shades of alternative, experimental and synth rock – throw surprises at every turn, twisting dark melodies against contemporary pop hooks. Lifeson himself is proudly aware of how little of it crosses over with the band that made him famous.
However, it was only when singer Maiah Wynne became involved that this truly started to feel like a band destined to go somewhere. Her haunting melodies and soul-baring intensity is – by the admission of her own bandmates – what truly brought this music to life. All things considered; she is a star in the making… “I sent over an early version of the song Shadow,” explains Andy Curran. “When I played what she’d done back to the others they were like, ‘Who is this crazy talented person?!’”
The album’s first single, Liar, is out now. Its industrial beats, driving fuzz bass and atmospheric guitars concoct a seductive swirl indeed – thrilling in ways closer to the darker art rock of Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle than anything these musicians have been known for prior.
“Maiah became my muse,” continues Alex Lifeson. “She was able to bring this whole new ethereal thing through her sense of melody on tracks like Liar and Look Inside. After hearing her vocals on Never Said I Love You, I felt so excited. I’ve never had that kind of inspiration working with another musician. When we say she’s special, it’s because she’s really fucking special!”
“One of my favourite things about these songs is the intimacy of them,” reveals Maiah Wynne. “It makes them feel different and more honest. There are some heavier songs too, like Enemy, and then tracks like Kabul Blues, that sound completely different to anything else.”
The album closer, Western Sunset, which was penned by Alex Lifeson in tribute to his dear friend Neil Peart. It’s a highly emotive piece of music to honour a man deeply missed by the rock community at large, and even more so by those who were lucky enough to know him. “I visited Neil when he was ill,” says Alex Lifeson. “I was on his balcony watching the sunset and found inspiration. There’s a finality about a sunset that kinda stayed with me throughout the whole process. It had meaning. It was the perfect mood to decompress after all these different textures… a nice way to close the book.”