This one goes out to all the Project Managers out there . . .
It took Brandon Toews, a PM at Drumeo, seven months to map out and learn to play a suite consisting of key drum fills from 175 songs recorded on Rush’s studio albums. All but the first album (and the two pre-album singles included here) were originated by Rush drummer Neil Peart, who passed away two years ago last month. The video below was released on the anniversary.
The suite was filmed in one pass, meaning Toews played for more than 24 minutes straight. Practices would last for hours, and with the tempo changes and rapid jumps, practice was the only path to perfection. The session was filmed by a colleague (and friend since high school) who also knows Rush music well, so you’ll see the camera anticipating and participating accordingly. If you want details about how it was done, there’s a great interview on the “Something for Nothing” podcast.
Software and planning played big roles in this work, allowing Toews and his team to create a suite with the notation and spacing for him to assemble it, learn it, and perform it. Drumeo has a large variety of drums in its possession, so having two kits with various acoustic and synth drums (and percussion elements) was feasible. Behind the synth drums, another colleague and friend was switching from one set to another to match the progression of songs.
This is to take nothing away from Toews, who is obviously a very talented drummer himself.
This is an amazing tribute to a creative, powerful, and dedicated drummer, Neil Peart, and the variety of songs, lyrics, riffs, and vocal shadings highlighted run from the obscure to numerous classic hits. Working on this for hundreds of hours and pulling off the film below reflects the best qualities of Peart, Toews, and of project management.