"Rush taught us you should make your own decisions": Canadian rockers Max Webster on how Geddy Lee & co. took them under their wing

Max Webster in their heyday
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

In the new issue of Classic Rock, out now, we dig into the tale of hard-rocking Canadian oddballs Max Webster. The band never really took off outside Canada but they amassed an army of diehard fans in their home country that included prog-rock titans Rush. Sharing both a manager and producer, Rush took Max Webster under their wing, as frontman Kim Mitchell tells James McNair.

“Rush taught us that you should make your own decisions and not listen to record company bullshit,” says Mitchell. “They were like: ‘This is our music, and these are our lives.’ The other thing I remember is that when we reached the US, the intensity of both bands’ playing was off the scale, cos we had something to prove. Canada was like the warm-up – you had hockey players skating around at sound-check and stuff [laughs]. But when we got to the Paramount Theater in Seattle – boom!”

The two bands crossed over to the point that Mitchell described his own group as “Rush’s ‘little brother band’,” a reference both to their close bond and the fact they had to play second fiddle when it came to management priorities.  “Rush were great friends,” he explains, “and they always treated us as equals. There were so many beautiful moments, and they made touring so enjoyable. I can still picture Neil with a book and a pack of cigarettes. He was an intense dude, but so sweet once you knew him. I remember one day Alex couldn’t make sound-check and I played Xanadu with Ged and Neil.

“When I talk about Max Webster being Rush’s ‘little brother band’,” he continues, “that’s a comment on how management dealt with us. I’m not saying for a moment that we got ignored, but we sensed that it wasn’t really gonna happen for us internationally and sometimes felt left in the dust.”

For the full story, including the time the two bands played together and how the core partnership at the heart of Max Webster fell apart, order a copy of the new issue of Classic Rock from here.



Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer for The Guardian, Variety and Classic Rock, and co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former editors of Q magazine Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. Niall has written for NME, X-Ray Magazine and XFM Online and interviewed some of music’s biggest stars, including Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, St Vincent, The 1975, Depeche Mode, Radiohead and many more.