RUSH - Time Machine Road Crew Interviews RUSH - THE ROAD CREW INTERVIEWS

John "Boom Boom" Arrowsmith

RUSH Time Machine Tour - John Arrowsmith Pyro Technician

John Arrowsmith

  John hails from Kingsville, Ontario near Windsor (Detroit) for our American friends.

John has worked with Shania Twain, Motley Crue, Slipknot, My Chemical Romance, Def Leppard, Pink Floyd, and Metallica.

With Metallica he was actually lit on fire near the end of the show, during the “Load” tour. During “Enter Sandman” one of the camera guys falls from one of the towers and swings back and forth from, I would have to assume is supposed to be a video cable, eventually he crashes to the stage with electrical sparks flying everywhere, followed shortly by the tower as it crashes to the stage. The cameraman runs across the stage literally on fire, this is John, here is the YouTube link:, the scene is near the very end of the video.

John tells me he went through all of this so he could one day do a RUSH tour. Well congratulations, John has been on the Pyrotechnic side of RUSH tours since Vapour Trails. I am hazarding a guess that the RUSH gig is a little easier or safer at least.

John’s day starts around 9:00 where he gets the gear off the trucks and starts to prep it for the show. As with any gear that needs to be on the actual stage, the actual timing depends on whether the venue has a stationary or rolling stage.

With a stationary stage all crew that requires access to the stage need to wait until the lighting gear, on this tour mainly the spider, has been rigged, cabled and actually lifted off of the stage. If you’ve seen the show you can attest to the size of the spider, it does take up the entire stage when it is being assembled.

With a rolling stage it is out in the middle of the venue’s floor. Therefore Scott can setup Alex’s Backline, John McIntosh can setup Geddy’s Backline, Lorne can setup Neil’s kit, and John Arrowsmith can setup all of the Pyrotechnic devices. Once the spider has been raised to show height, the stage can be rolled into place and a few final setup procedures are done, leaving most of the crew with much more time than normal and a lot less pressure. A few places that I know that had a rolling stage were Toledo and Montreal.

For the flames John uses propane gas, the gas is shot through the lighting device or flame thrower at 80 psi (pounds per square inch) that would explain why it can reach heights of 15 to 20 feet in a hurry! The flame thrower has an XLR connection that is hooked up to a board that John uses to ignite the pilot lights (just before the flames ignite if you have a view of the flame throwers you will see the pilot light ignite). You can feel the heat from the flame throwers even at the back of venues, try standing a few feet away (no need for a tanning salon).

Other effects that John uses are CO2, it is actually CO2 and not steam that is forced through the pipes located on Alex and Geddy’s Backlines. In places like Las Vegas where it is extremely hot the CO2 just does not function correctly but overall it is a great, Steampunk effect.

In Caravan besides the CO2 and flames John uses Lazy Red Comet Flares when Geddy sings “Long train of Flares under piercing stars”.

In Marathon John makes sure we are awake with a very loud explosion. This is located in the lighting rigging.

For Far Cry John uses Ultra Fast Silver Comet flares with a tail these criss-cross like the lazy red comets flares in Caravan, a concussion device, and one second silver gerbs (they provide the sparkle effect).

Over the last couple of tours John has also become the official live show photographer for the band.

For you fans that have a side view of the stage you might have noticed that immediately after the last effect in Far Cry John starts to take down all of his gear. He is usually done by the end of the trailing video at which time he usually helps Gump take down Neil’s kit.

The sooner one is done, the sooner one can relax and enjoy whatever it is that one enjoys while waiting for the buses that usually leave near 2:30 from the venue.

I would like to thank John for taking the time to conduct this interview. Are we 3 out 3 on the great and friendly crew scale, most definitely...

RUSH Time Machine Tour - Pyro Flame Thrower Up Close

This is what I call the flame thrower...
On the left, the pilot light... In the Middle, XLR connection to console John will use to ignite pilot... On the right, 80 PSI Propane Source...

RUSH Time Machine Tour - Pyro Test in Cleveland

Local fire inspectors visit each venue to ensure the safety of the pyro... this was Cleveland...

RUSH Time Machine Tour - Caravan CO2 Steam Effect plus Propane Flames at 80 PSI

Caravan - Great example of Propane Flames at 80 PSI and CO2 steam effects...

RUSH Time Machine Tour - Far Cry Ultra Fast Silver Comet with Tail and One Second Silver Gerb

Far Cry - Ultra Fast Silver Comet with Tail and 1 Second Silver Gerb (Sparkle Effects)...