“I first got involved with Rush when they were doing their first album [1974’s Rush]. They’d recorded a bunch of eight-tracks on the graveyard shift in a studio in Toronto, but they didn’t know what to do with them or how to mix it.
They called me up; we added three new tunes, What You’re Doing, Before And After and Working Man, and mixed the album in three days. We had such a good time they asked me to get involved on a long-term basis.
I always thought they were great. I thought they were new and exciting. I didn’t buy into the Led Zeppelin thing, to be honest. I just thought they were great players and characters, and very talented. I remember Alex being an amazing player, doubling his parts. That was a big feature for me at the time. And Ged’s voice was astonishing.
I’d never heard anyone who sounded quite like it. The writing really impressed me too. Neil had brought a distinct change to them, as well. There was real meaning to the songs, which were in a rock and partly progressive fashion. And I’d always wanted to do this rock music with a real meaning to it… To produce records with substance.
We worked at Toronto Sound Studios, which I owned at the time. The record came together very quickly. They arrived with the tunes they’d written for Fly By Night, and we started work on it that day. It was intense stuff and a lot of work. But the tunes were good quality, and there was lots of scope in terms of arrangement.
There was so much enthusiasm around the project. There was fine tuning and subtle little things that I had to do, and we worked very hard for three weeks. Some long hours.
I don’t recall any one song being easier to record than the other. They were all quite different as well. We just went at things individually. By-Tor & The Snow Dog was their first stab at those multipart epics they became famous for.
We took it logically, on a set-by-step basis. We broke it up into sections, dealing with and recording different parts, and then working it altogether. You just dig your heels in and go.
I think the album stands up today. I hear the tracks on rock radio over here in North America and it’s nice to know that they still cut it. We had a real blast, and that’s why we worked together for so long.