WHAT IS RUSHCON? RushCon 16: November 3-5, 2016, Toronto

RushCon is the largest North American gathering of fans celebrating the music of Canadian rock band, Rush.

Once a year, fans from all over the world gather for several days of activities such as games, a charity auction featuring rare and collectible band memorabilia, a tribute band concert, important guest speakers from inside the band's inner circle and much, much more!

RushCon is a by-the-fans, for-the-fans event where folks have an opportunity to raise money for an important charity whilst having an amazing time learning more about the band, getting to know each other and connecting with other fans from around the world. Over the past 15 years, RushCon members have formed life-long friendships and bonded over their fondness of this band.

It's a tremendously fun, informative and exciting series of events where fans are able to spend a weekend experiencing all the sites and sounds of Rush and simultaneously catch up with old friends who'll make you feel like you're not the only kid in the room who can recognize an odd time signature.

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Animation

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Band Members

Tony German -
guitars, synth pedals, vocals

Julian Jay Rocha -
acoustic and electric drums, percussion

Joe Rocha -
vocals, bass, keyboards

ANIMATION: BEYOND THE LIGHTED STAGE

Mary Jo, RushCon staff: Give us a little history of the band; how did you meet and discover your shared love of Rush?

Tony (guitars): One day back in the late 70’s, my friend Tom called me up to come over and hear this band. I had never heard of Rush at the time and wasn’t too heavily into rock music if you can believe that. He puts on this record called 2112. At first, I’m hearing these weird noises (from “Overture”) and was thinking “what kind of bizarre stuff is he getting me into?”. Then the first two chords kicked in. I’ve been hooked ever since. Our band Animation started waaaay back in 1987 with 3 musicians who are no longer with the band. I once talked with the original drummer who said it all started when the three guys got together to jam and each brought 5 song ideas with them. It turned out most of the songs were Rush and the idea of a Rush tribute was born. At least that is how I heard it. Along the way, the band has gone through several personnel changes but still always staying intact – which is amazing in this day and age. My count might be wrong here but I believe Joe is the third “Geddy”, Julian Jay is the 4th “Neil”, and I am the 3rd “Alex”. Joe has been the “new guy” since 2017. Julian Jay came in around 2011 if my memory is correct. I joined in 2009 - I just passed my 10th anniversary last month.

Julian Jay (drums): My brother Joe came home with Archives and All the World's a Stage. I looked at the covers but the ATWAS cover took me. I saw Neil’s kit and went, “Wow, I like that”, and then I heard the drum solo during “Working Man”. They’ve had me ever since.

Joe (bass/vocals): ): I’ve known my brother Julian Jay since he was born. We started playing Rush music as soon as he could hold the sticks. I’ve been a Rush fan since I heard “The Spirit of Radio” on the radio in 1980. That was when I became aware of the band. Unbeknownst to me, I had heard their music much earlier. A buddy of mine played 2112 for me a while before that and flipped out a bit. Shortly after I had heard Permanent Waves, I had to start my collection. I went out and bought Archives and All The World’s A Stage. I played catch up. After that, I bought releases as they came. I met Tony through my brother. Great players! Both of them.

Mary Jo: How did you pick the name Animation?

Julian Jay (drums): The name of our band was decided on by the original owner of the band back in 1987. In 1987, I was 12 years old reading the ads about this band in our local music magazine and thinking to myself, “I need to be in THIS band”. Many years later, I auditioned and got the gig.

Mary Jo: Tell us about your gear and set up. Any special items you'd like to mention?

Tony (guitars): Primary electrics: PRS Custom 24, Fender Stratocaster, and an Epiphone 335 on indefinite loan (won’t be on loan for long – hint, hint). Primary acoustics are: Taylor 814-CE and a Gibson12 string acoustic for the song Hope when we play it. Sitting in the closet in retirement: Martin EM-10 Electric (yes friends, a Martin electric guitar from 1980), Ibanez Junior Les Paul, Yamaha classical guitar. Sorry, I don’t own a banjo…yet.

guitars

Effects and things: Fractal FX8 Mark II for all of my effects needs, two Fractal Control Pedals (one to the Fractal, one to the Kemper), Roland PK-5A Dynamic Midi Pedal, Reason Essentials is run on my MacBook Pro for all synth and sample sounds, Shure GLX-D Wireless Pedal/Tuner, Countryman and Radial DI’s. My trusty iPad plays whatever tracks we need to play along with (mostly from Rush’s "keyboard" era). Amps and stuff: I use a Kemper Profiler for all of my amp sounds. It is an amazing piece of equipment in that I can replicate amps from all of the Rush eras. Since Alex used many different ones over the decades, I can get eerily close. I use the Fractal FX8 to control the Kemper via MIDI. If it all works right, and I pray real hard, all the sound man has to do is connect to the XLR's and away we go!

footpedals

pedals

Julian (drums): I am a proud owner of an NP DW replica drum kit with the Paragon cymbals. My student and now drum tech Scott Wegner helped me secure all the right parts for this kit. Sadly, the Roland back kit is out of reach for now, but perhaps one day.

srums

Joe (bass/vocals): I’m a simple guy. I run my basses through a SansAmp Bass Driver direct box/preamp for that slightly distorted tone. From there to a Fender Rumble 500 bass amp. 2-10” with a horn. On the keyboard side I use a Roland Juno G synthesizer linked to a Keith McMillen 12Step foot controller for bass pedal stuff. I’m an amateur luthier/repair guy. I built my replicas of Geddy’s Number 1 and 2 Fender Jazz basses. Fun to play and look good, too!

Mary Jo: What's your preshow ritual?

Tony (guitars): Nothing fancy. Maybe clean or change the strings, polish up the guitars, stuff like that. I do like to go over all the Rush solos for an upcoming show once through. Even after playing them hundreds of times, I still feel the need to go through them.

Julian Jay (drums): I listen to tons of their live tracks. Songs don’t matter, I just like to hear the crowd noise. I also try to catch the vibe and take it to the stage.

Joe (bass/vocals): Anxiety. Panic attacks. I want to be the best I can be, so nerves are sometimes a good thing, no?

Mary Jo: How many Rush Songs do you all have in your repertoire?

Tony (guitars): A lot of them are in our repertoire. We have covered most every song (with a few exceptions) from the first album up to Grace Under Pressure. Most songs have been done over the years from Power Windows and Hold Your Fire. After that, we still do a lot of songs from every album all the way up to Clockwork Angels.
You can see all we have done here: https://atributetorush.com/set-list

Joe (bass/vocals): In my personal repertoire? Most of them.

Mary Jo: What song(s) took the longest to perfect?

Tony (guitars): I don’t think you ever perfect a Rush song. It is always a work in progress. That being said, in my experience, the toughest ones to attempt to nail down are “Jacob’s Ladder” and “ La Villa Strangiato”.

Julian Jay (drums): We, as a band, pride ourselves on playing any song from any era of the band. That being said, “Jacob's Ladder” and the “Hemispheres” suite have been the most difficult to get down.

Joe (bass/vocals): None are perfect. I like that, actually; room for improvement.

Mary Jo: How do you develop the set list for your shows?

Tony (guitars): First you have to cover the hits like “Tom Sawyer”, “The Spirit of Radio”, etc. There are always a number of people out there who are casual fans that will relate to those songs. Then it’s kind of by feel and pacing. We might open with the “R30 Overture”. Another day it could be “The Spirit of Radio”. Sometimes we will get on an album kick and play a bunch of songs from it – sometimes even the entire album. For example, now we are playing a lot of Grace Under Pressure songs since it is the 35 year anniversary. (35 years? Wow…).
I always like to close out with something that really jams like “Working Man”, “2112”, “Tom Sawyer”, or some song from the very early era (“What You’re Doing” is a favorite). “Closer to the Heart” can be the ending “sing-along” song. Seriously, if the volume can be turned down on us, you would hear that they are ALL singing it!

Julian Jay (drums): We keep the past tours in mind when deciding on set lists. We don’t stray from the bands formula. The past few shows, we have used the R40 idea. We have also flipped it around to start early songs and end with later tunes.

Joe (bass/vocals): Our favorites. Fan favorites.

Mary Jo: Are there any songs you have decided to not try to play or that you consistenly mess up?

Tony (guitars): Well, there are some songs we probably won’t play for sure. I don’t think you will ever hear “Rivendell” or “Tai Shan” - not the greatest Rush songs (I know many fans agree with us - even Rush themselves). Although I did have an audio clip of “Rivendell” in one of the videos for our show.
We always mess up the songs to some degree. I mean, sometimes the objective is to clean up the mess as best you can! LOL. Seriously though, there are simply songs that we have to work on harder than others. Nature of the beast.

Julian Jay (drums): “Tai-Shan” yes, and “Mystic Rhythms” and “High Water”. All because of the electronic musical components. Plus, they are songs the band never or barely played. There are songs that I always worry about messing up....all of them.

Joe (bass/vocals): Agreed, “Thai Shan”. As much as I like it, I don’t think many would want to hear it. Even RUSH wouldn’t want to hear it!

Mary Jo: Who has the biggest Rush shrine? Tell us about any Rush memorabilia you have?

Julian Jay (drums): There is a dude named Dean from the Chicago area that has thee biggest RUSH collection that I have ever seen. He has Neil ’s chrome drum set and I have been lucky enough to play it a couple of times.

drummer

Joe (bass/vocals): I have a Geddy lithograph and a brass jacket pentagram pin from 1980.

pin

Mary Jo: Who's traveled the farthest to see the guys? Who has seen Rush the most number of times?

Julian Jay (drums): I think that would be me. I traveled three hours to see the band in Peoria IL during the Roll the Bones Tour. I've seen every album tour since Signals. I win!

Joe (bass/vocals): I’m sure they both have me beat. Again. I’m the low man, unfortunately.

Mary Jo: How is playing to an audience of Rush fans different than a general audience?

Tony (guitars): They sure are passionate about the music! Not to mention they know every note, every drum fill, etc. My favorite is the entire crowd doing the iconic “Tom Sawyer” drum fills. The thousands that we saw doing that at one of our Milwaukee Summerfest shows was incredible to say the least.

Julian Jay (drums): They (fans) know every bit of the music. EVERY NOTE.

Joe (bass/vocals): It's more nerve-wracking for me, I suppose? There is a lot to aspire to. You would never want to let anyone down.

Mary Jo: Anything else you want to share?

Tony (guitars): Thanks for thinking of us! There are so many great Rush tribute bands out there. It’s pretty cool to be part of the team!

Julian Jay (drums): Thank you for doing what you do. Thank you for talking to us. I hope one day, we can play for you. Come to CHICAGO!

Mary Jo: Tell us about any upcoming shows you have and where to get tickets.

May 31st @ 8:00pm at Cheers Restaurant & Live Music Venue in Midlothian, IL. Ticket info TBA here:

June 22nd @ 7:00pm at The Forge In Joliet, IL. Tickets here:

June 28th @ 2:00pm, Milwaukee Summerfest. Tickets here:

January 18th, 2020 @ 7:00pm, Shank Hall, Milwaukee

You can view all upcoming shows on our website, Facebook, and Reverbnation pages.

shows

Links

Website

Facebook

YouTube

Reverbnation

Videos

R30 Overture/Sprit of the Radio

La Villa Strangiato

New World Man

group







All Contents ©2013 Rushcon. RushCon is a by-the-fans, for-the-fans event where folks have an opportunity to raise money for an important charity whilst having an amazing time learning more about the band, getting to know each other and connecting with other fans from around the world. RushCon has no official affiliation with Rush or Anthem Entertainment. As much as we wish we could, we have no way of getting anyone concert tickets or ways to meet the band.