Rush boasts one of the most dedicated fans in music today. The trio from Toronto, Canada celebrates their 40th anniversary this year and is arguably as popular, if not more popular, than their heyday.
Along with such a dedicated and passionate fan base comes a number of tribute and cover bands from the very fans who make up the strong cult following that helps keep the band chugging along after so many years. Rush has fans all over the world and the same can be said about the tribute bands of three, four, five or however many it takes to play the music that Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart seem to perform so flawlessly.
One such band is Ayn Rand from Japan. Ayn Rand is comprised of a quartet in a tribute to Rush. Though Ayn Rand plays songs from other bands, they primarily play Rush. This despite that fact, the real Rush hasn’t toured Japan in 30 years. A three decade absence from Asia hasn’t seemed to hinder the popularity of Rush’s music as Ayn Rand can certainly attests.
Founders: Masao “Madmarkz” Seko
Year Founded: August 2007
Hometown: Kobe, Japan
- Masao “Madmarkz” Seko – Vocals and Synthesizers
- Takasi “Mokuson” Kimura – Bass and Synthesizers
- Mr. Shorts – Guitar
- Eiji “Carbonara” Matsuura – Drums and Percussion
Influences (other than Rush):
Masao: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), David Coverdale (White snake)
Mr. Shorts: Shinji Wajima and Susumu Hirasawa
Takasi: Too many artists to write down
Eiji: Queen, Led Zeppelin, Bay City Rollers
Favorite Rush Song(s) to play:
Mr. Shorts: Anything in Hemispheres
Eiji: Pretty much everything, but especially Tom Sawyer
Hardest Rush song learned:
Masao: A Farewell To Kings
Mr. Shorts: Distant Early Warning
Eiji: Pretty much everything. All albums after Test for Echo are very difficult.
Easiest Rush song learned:
Masao: At first, all songs sound simple and easy to play, but once we start practicing, they’re all difficult.
Mr. Shorts: The Spirit of Radio
Takasi: Nothing is easy
Eiji: Nothing is easy
1. How did Ayn Rand get started and why did you choose Ayn Rand for the name?
Masao: When Eiji, who was the last member to join, started playing in our band, we were brain storming the name for the band. At that time, my girlfriend suggested “Ayn Rand” because the song lyrics for Rush were influenced by Ayn Rand. There was no disagreement in the band to adopt this name.
2. What do you like about Rush’s music?
Masao: Using a variety of rhythms and melodies, it makes their music hard to cover.
Takasi: The music itself.
Mr. Shorts: Their music sounds really simple, but at the same time they sound complicated as well. After Signals, it’s vice versa. Their music sounds really complicated, but at the same time they sound simple.
3. Do you understand the lyrics or do you mostly appreciate the medley between the vocals and music?
Masao: The lyrics of Rush music often includes unfamiliar words, and words with double and triple meanings. It makes it too hard for Japanese people to understand.
Eiji: I can’t understand the lyrics. But I enjoy the harmony of the vocals and melody in unison.
Mr. Shorts: I am Japanese, so I mostly appreciate the medley between the vocals and music.
4. Does Ayn Rand play songs from other bands or are you strictly a Rush tribute band?
Masao: Honestly, if we played only Rush covers, it would be too much for our audience in Japan so we expand our variety. Whatever artists we want to cover, we challenge ourselves to cover.
Eiji: It’s about 90 percent Rush and 10 percent others.
Mr. Shorts: Yes, we do play other artists’ songs.
5. Do you or would you consider writing your own songs?
Masao: I’m not interested in writing our own songs. It is more fun to cover my favorite Rush songs.
Eiji: I’m not interested, because we love Rush.
Mr. Shorts: I’m not interested, at least with Ayn Rand.
6. Rush hasn’t played in Japan since the mid-1980s do they still retain a strong following in your country?
Masao: I think there are many strong fans that are waiting for another Rush Japan tour. Of course, I’m also one of them.
Eiji: Yes. As well as fans in other countries, we also want Rush to tour Japan again.
7. Rush indicated their experience in Japan was unique in how polite the audience was – has that changed over the years or do bands still need to adjust to the formal audience reaction compared to the boisterous shows in the United States?
Masao: Even right now, Japanese audience may seem very polite at first, but once the music starts, we can become boisterous. The Japanese audience looks polite because it may be the audience trying to observe artists playing instruments or trying not to miss their words. I don’t think American bands have to change their style of play.
Eiji: The Japanese audience may be polite, but Rush should perform as they are, because we want to experience the real Rush.
Mr. Shorts: It’s all up to the musician’s preference. If Rush plays in Japan, they may think we’re polite audience. I think each band can decide what they want to do. Our culture or our opinions should not influence how each band plays.
8. What’s Ayn Rand’s process to learning Rush songs?
Masao: I don’t look at music tablature. I listen to the music and then copy it. Then I repeat practicing.
Eiji: We just keep practicing as a band until we get it.
Mr. Shorts: We practice each part on our own then we practice as a band at the studio.
9. Do you incorporate any of Rush’s live show into Ayn Rand concerts?
Masao: We haven’t but we’d love to try sometime.
10. Give us a glimpse into popular music in Japan – is it more rock like Rush, pop or does Japan enjoy their own genre of music?
Masao: I’m not interested in Japanese music at all. I do not listen to them at all, so I don’t know what’s popular right now.
Eiji: Sorry, but I don’t know much about popular songs in Japan. Rock music is not popular in Japan. “J-POP” is the mainstream in Japanese music scene right now. Please take a look on You Tube to search “J-POP”.
Mr. Shorts: I don’t know what’s really popular in Japan, but if you want to listen to Japanese Rock, I suggest “Ningen Isu”.
11. Have any members of Ayn Rand seen Rush live?
Masao: I’m the only one who has seen Rush live. I saw them in November 1984 in Osaka.
To see more videos of Ayn Rand performing Rush songs, click here.