Geddy Ponders Solo Album

By Paul Cantin, Jam! Showbiz, January 18, 2000

Although the members of Canadian hard-rock trio Rush have been laying low for more than two years, singer and bassist Geddy Lee has been working on material which may see release as a solo album, he told JAM! Music in an exclusive interview.

"Yeah, I've thought about it. I thought about it quite a lot," Lee said when asked about the prospects of making a record outside the confines of Rush, which recently finished atop JAM! Music's online poll as the most important Canadian band of all time.

"I have been doing a lot of writing over the last couple of years with various people. I have got quite an accumulation of material together. It's possible I will go in that (solo album) direction," Lee told JAM!

Lee revealed he has been working with Ben Mink, the multi-instrumentalist best known for his chart-topping collaborations with K.D. Lang. Mink, whose main instrument is violin, co-wrote Lang's biggest hit, "Constant Craving."

"We have been friends for many, many years. We have always talked about writing together," Lee said of Mink.

"We started this a couple of years ago, a series of writing sessions in Vancouver and Toronto. We have gathered some material together that is ... interesting.

"It is all over the place. If it sees the light of day, you will be able to tell me what it is like," he laughed.

"I would say it's good material."

Lee said his work with Mink is simply driven by his artistic impulse, and he harbours no strong desire to step out on his own.

"The problem for me is I love writing, I love making music. But I am not really driven by the kind of ambition to feature myself on a solo album. I would love to see this material I have been working on see the light of day. Inevitably (releasing a solo album) will be the direction I may have to take to get it exposed," he said.

"But I don't have this dying desire to step out into the spotlight in that same way. I have always enjoyed being in the band (Rush) and being able to write in the context of other musicians."

Lee has also been doing some pre-production work with a new Toronto band called Rocket Science, which includes his nephew on bass. The group has been recording demos ("It is rock, rock with a kind of technical edge to it") and will make its live debut on the Toronto scene in the near future.

"I have a home studio and we have been working here and gone into the smaller studios around town to do some sessions now and again. It has been fun for me and I think fun for them as well. It is hard to say what will come of it, but it certainly has been a good experience for both of us," he said.

As for Rush, the group members haven't had any musical interaction since their last concert -- July 4, 1997 at Ottawa's Corel Centre -- in support of their "Test For Echo" album.

Since then, drummer and lyricist Neil Peart has had to cope with a pair of devastating tragedies. On Aug. 10, 1997, his 19-year-old daughter Selena died in a single car crash on Hwy. 401 near Brighton, Ont. Then almost one year later, Peart's wife, Jacqueline Taylor, succumbed to cancer. The group hasn't written or played together since then, leaving many Rush fans to doubt the group will continue.

Lee says the group hasn't split and their future as a recording act is open-ended.

"I would say considering the magnitude of the tragedies that have befallen Neil that we are on an appropriate hiatus," Lee said.

"He is doing as well as anyone would be in the circumstances. He is sounding more positive, trying to put his life back together. That takes time ... Every time we get together, we are fired up to do something. That is a good, healthy sign.

"It is unfair to Neil to even use the term waiting. The man has gone through the worst thing a human can go through and still be left standing. I think you have to give that the amount of respect it is due. If there is a time and place where he feels comfortable working again, absolutely we are there. But our concern for him is supporting him as friends, not musicians."