Whatever the fate of his debut solo album, Geddy Lee's day job will remain singing and playing the bass for Rush.
Lee and his two bandmates, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart, are approaching the end of a 3 1/2-year hiatus precipitated in large part by the death three years ago of Peart's daughter, in a car accident, and wife, of cancer.
The megaselling Toronto trio, which last played together when they wrapped up a tour in July, 1997, plans to reassemble early next year to begin work on a new CD. Rush has released 22 albums over the past three decades, amassing more than 35 million in sales.
"The last few years have been particularly difficult," says Lee, 47. "So the fact that it's even got to this point is very positive. And I think there will be a real nice feeling when we get back together.
"We're going to get together and start writing, see what happens. Writing, with us, is always about checking in. We haven't broached any professional topics for the past few years. When you come back together, you've got a whole bunch of new things to throw into the pot."
In the meantime, Lee is drumming up interest in his first solo effort, My Favourite Headache, due in stores tomorrow. It is a project born of Rush's prolonged inactivity and Lee's long-time friendship with k.d. lang sideman Ben Mink, who co-wrote many of the songs and contributes guitar and other instruments.
"I had never felt any great frustration in Rush - and we worked a lot and rather passionately," Lee says.
"So when I had breaks from the band, I felt it was important for me to re-integrate with my family, to become part of the community and to develop a life outside music. I always knew that a commitment to an individual project would largely be a sacrifice of my time and my family's time. . . .
"Writing together (with Mink) began as an experiment. But there was a synchronicity of instinct that evolved into a solo album."
The 11-song set, featuring appearances by drummers Matt Cameron (Soundgarden and Pearl Jam) and Jeremy Taggart (Our Lady Peace), retains unmistakable echoes of Rush, but the over-all tone is softer and less anthemic.
"I didn't start out to make a solo Rush album, but as I started working on it I realized there were certain elements of the way I sound, of the personality that was formed in that context, that can't be erased. So at a certain point I just stopped worrying about it. The whole project opened up a little bit after that. We started allowing more rock into the atmosphere. And that was good.
"Certainly, my bass attitude and the sound of my voice are the most obviously recognizable Rush elements. That's me. The differences are textural. There aren't any big solo sections. Most of the instrumental passages are interwoven and create collages of sound rather than defined, histrionic soloing.
"That's quite different from Rush. The melodies are more layered and the rhythmic attitude is more groove oriented and more angular."