Geddy-up Go!

By Mike Ross, Edmonton Sun, November 14, 2000

It sounds like Rush - it's got the odd time signatures, dense tangles of melodies, lyrics that send the listener scurrying for the dictionary, plenty of violins - but it's not.


My Favourite Headache, out today, is singer Geddy Lee's first solo album, produced in collaboration with longtime pal Ben Mink, chiefly known for his violin playing and songwriting work with k.d. lang. The Rush frontman makes no apologies for how it sounds.

"There's always a kind of shadow of Rush that creeps over my work," Lee says in a phone interview.

The 47-year-old musician makes it sound supernatural. In a way, it is. It's supernatural how this unassuming Canadian prog rock band has survived three decades with their fan base - and their integrity - intact.

Until now the only member of the trio who didn't have something going on the side, Lee didn't plan to go solo. Rush has been on hiatus since Neil Peart suffered the tragic loss of his wife to cancer in 1998 and his daughter, in a car accident, the previous year. The drummer is ready to work again, Lee says, and Rush will begin writing for a new album in January.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of free time.

Too much, in fact: "I am the kind of person who needs to do something creatively, otherwise I start getting restless and screwed up," Lee says.

It started with "mucking around" in their home studios - Lee in Toronto, Mink in Vancouver - and fulfilling a long-standing promise that they really should get around to writing something together. A five-song demo eventually came out of it, with the unanimous agreement from friends and advisers that they should go ahead and make a record - a Geddy Lee solo record. He even wrote the lyrics, which had been Peart's job in Rush since the early days.

"It was a bit odd at first," Lee says. "Having to deal with the fact I was drawing so much attention to myself felt slightly unnatural. But it seemed to be the most practical road to go down to expose this material, and Ben fully agreed with that."

It'll be interesting to see what Rush comes up with next. Fans often worry when solo projects threaten to scuttle their favourite band. But no matter how My Favourite Headache does - or how good Alex Lifeson's 1996 Victor project was - Rush always takes first priority.

Egos will not come into it, Lee says. He speaks of the band as reverently as the most die-hard fan.

"It's been my creative home," he says. "My relationship with my partners is like a brotherhood. They're my soul brothers. Whether we're working together or not, they're always in my life and they connect with me on some level that's kind of permanent. Part of what I am exists because of my experiences with those two guys. To ignore that is just plain wrong."