The shelf life of a rock band could be compared to that of an NFL running back. Even if they're successful, the gig either becomes too grueling (for bands, touring constantly) or too mentally difficult (for bands, dealing with egos).
If they don't melt down completely, the bands end up losing some members along the way.
Not Rush, though, which plays tonight at Intrust Bank Arena. Since drummer-lyricist Neil Peart joined the group in July 1974, there has not been a change in the lineup.
"I think it is remarkable," says guitarist Alex Lifeson. "You just don't see that in rock, or in anything. I think the reason we have lasted this long is because we've always been friends. We're not guns for hire. We still have fun with each other. We still laugh together and we still love playing our music."
That includes the big hits — tonight's performance will see Rush playing its 1981 album "Moving Pictures" in its entirety — as well as new material from its forthcoming 19th full-length studio album, "Clockwork Angels."
"Moving Pictures" sold more than 4 million copies and features a pair of classic rock favorites, "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight."
"We're fortunate that we have material that fans want to hear," Lifeson says. "Why not play those songs? We still love playing the favorites."
But the band, which also includes vocalist-bassist Geddy Lee, wants to stay relevant and fresh, too, he says.
"I don't think we'll ever be one of those bands that is just part of the nostalgia set. We always have music flowing through us. We can't stop creating new songs. Fortunately, our fans want to hear new stuff. That's especially so when it comes to the diehards."
Lifeson also doesn't see Rush calling it quits anytime soon, either, despite the three members being in their mid-50s.
"We've been doing this for a long time and we want to continue doing it," he says. "There's no reason to stop."
Their longevity and success have been examined and celebrated in a new film and a new book. The documentary, "Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage," the work of filmmakers Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn, was released in June. The book, "Rush: Rock Music, and the Middle Class," by Chris McDonald, was published late last year.
Lifeson offers no special insights into why the band has become a pop culture phenomenon. He just wants to enjoy it.
"We got into this at a young age and fortunately it worked out well for us," he says. "This band means so much to us and apparently to a lot of our fans as well. I hope we can keep going for years. We still have a lot left in us."
If you go
What: Canadian rock band formed in August 1968
Where: Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
How much: Tickets $45-$90, available at the arena box office or Select-A-Seat outlets. Charge by phone, 316-755-SEAT, online at www.selectaseat.com.