TV Guide Chat With Geddy Lee

TVGuide.com, December 19, 2000


TV Guide Online: Tonight we are talking with musician Geddy Lee about his new solo album, My Favorite Headache. Hi Geddy! Thanks for joining us tonight!!

Lee: Good evening and hello. I am ready. LOL!

Question: How long have you really wanted to do a solo project?

Lee: Well, to be quite frank, I've never been much interested in doing a solo project. This project came about strictly because I knew there would be a 3,4, or even 5 year hiatus from Rush. For me to go that long without making music is just too long.

Question: "The Angel's Share" sounds like it was written with Neil and his recent tragedies in mind. Were you thinking specifically of him when you wrote it?

Lee: No, actually I wasn't. I was thinking about, really, the history of the concept of angels and how often the existence of angels on human life that come up in human folklore. These are the things that got me writing about it in my music.

Question: My question is what does "Slipping" mean? It seems to me that it is a little personal can u fill me in on it? I think it is a great song on the CD plus the CD is so awesome.

Lee: Well, first of all thank you so much for the kind words. And secondly, "Slipping" is a bit of an apology for things that have gone on in my life and a confession about my fallibility. And in spite of all my best intentions, sometimes, I screw up. And I thought this was something that most people could relate to.

Question: Geddy, I've been a student of your techniques since the 70's and you never stop getting better - who influenced your style in the past and who do you admire now?

Lee: Well, again, I thank you for the kind compliments. I always feel like I have lots of room for improvement in my playing. I can be very lazy about practicing. Once again I thank you. My influences early on were Jack Bruce, Jack Cassidy who played with Jefferson Airplane for those who don't know. And John Entwistle. Through the years I've been also influenced by Chris Squire, Jeff Berlin, Jaco Pastorious through a small degree. And more recently, my pal, Les Claypool, from Primus. Also I find the bass player of Radiohead writes very interesting bass parts.

Question: Hey Geddy, I'm an uncommon 17 year old fan here in south Carolina. I would like to THANK YOU so much for this album and all the others over the years. my question is how did you team up with Jeremy from O.L.P. for home on the strange?

Lee: Well, Jeremy is someone I've wanted to work with. I'm very familiar with his playing. He's also from my hometown of Toronto. During the making of My Favorite Headache. We found we needed a shot of spontaneity. We had a weekend off, and we decided to use that time to see if we could write something fresh. We were successful. That was the song "Home of the Strange". The only person I considered was Jeremy. I contacted him. Happily he had two days before he went on tour with Our Lady Peace. We were able to record the song virtually live. Of course, we added lots of things afterwards. The bass and drums were very much a live situation.

Question: Hey Geddy how's life been treating you? I noticed that you've been using Fender Jazz Basses recently. Do you plan to bring your Wals or Rickenbackers back into the fold?

Lee: Life has been treating me exceptionally well lately. Thank you for asking. I have been using Fenders. I have been using only one Fender. My old '72 Fender Jazz. Which I've been using since way back during the "Moving Pictures" days. I'm completely in love with that bass and will probably continue to use it. Recently, I was at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. They have a really fine bass guitar collection there. I found an early 60's 4000 Rickenbacker. I have to say I was quite taken with it and I'm looking for one right now. But I say that without knowing how it will sound. It will be fun to track down anyway.

Question: Geddy, your voice has evolved so much in the past 20 years - have you ever had vocal training?

Lee: Yes I have very early on in my life. I saw in a choir in public school. This was the only vocal training I ever had. Of course, when I started playing in a rock band, I broke every rule I ever learned in public school.

Question: Okay...so what does the greatest bassist ever play on bass when he goes into a store to buy a new one???

Lee: Jeez, what does the greatest bassist play when he goes to try out a bass. Old Who songs. And particularly, "My Generation". Then I'll try "YYZ"!

Question: The new CD is wonderful! I would like to know which song(s) from the new CD are the most personally reflective for you?

Lee: I would say that "Slipping" and "Present Tense".

Question: Any plans for a tour to support this new release?

Lee: At the moment I am at a bit of a logjam with scheduling and because I plan to start writing with Rush in January, I may be unable to tour, but I would like to try and see if I could do something, perhaps in the Spring.

Question: Rush has often been classified by critics as "progressive rock." So has Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and Yes. Would you say that these three bands made a significant impact on Rush's music?

Lee: Certainly I would say those bands were influential in our approach to music. Also bands like Genesis in their early days. Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin. I would say The Who are probably a more fundamental influence on our sound. Because we always wanted to maintain a hard rock attitude.

Question: I heard that your grandmother pronounced your name "Geddy", and your real name is Gary. My husband and I, however liked the name "Geddy" so much that we named our son Geddy. Go Geddy!

Lee: Well, I would say that that is almost true. It was actually my mother who has a very thick accent. When I was quite young she called me Gary, but my friends thought it sounded like Geddy so they called me Geddy. When I was about 14 or 15 and joined the Musician's Union, I joined as Geddy. I'm honored to have yet another child named after me.

Question: Are there any artists out there that you would like to work with on future projects?

Lee: It's hard to say. There are so many talented people around. I have great admiration for Tom York in Radiohead. Writing is very personal. Sometimes it's hard to just put two strangers in a room together to write. There has to be some sort of personal connection as well as musical respect. Which is why I choose to work with Ben Mink on this project. Besides the fact that he makes me laugh so much.

Question: I saw that you used Matt Cameron on drums. Did you know him before, or did you just call him up for the album. What made you choose him?

Lee: I did not know Matt previously, and yes I did just call him up. And I chose him because of his incredible tone and attitude as a drummer. I've always been fond of his playing in Soundgarden. When I was talking to Adam Casper, who produces the Foo Fighters and has worked with Matt before. He suggested Matt would be ideal for this material. And both Ben and myself totally agreed with him.

Question: Geddy, how big of a thrill for you was it to sing "O, Canada" at the All Star game a few years back?

Lee: It was a tremendous thrill. And I'd never do it again. I was far to nervous beforehand and it's so hard to hear yourself sing through the echoing of the stadium. I think it was the slowest version of "O Canada" every performed.

Question: You've called yourself a "wine freak" when did you pick up on this hobby??

Lee: I've been interested in wine for 10 or 15 years, but I should say I've always resisted collecting a serious level. I collect so many things that I get very easily carried away with my hobbies About 6 years ago I gave in and now I'm a complete wine geek.

Question: Do you ever read through the fan groups online, such as the old NMS or the Hemispheres group?

Lee: Very rarely. I find it a little uncomfortable to read so much complimentary writings, I guess. And also there's sometimes a lot of gossip and rumors that I find a little odd. But I intend on paying attention to the guestbook on my website and I hope that that becomes an interesting source for discussion and hopefully some humor as well.

Question: Geddy - is there any chance your children will follow in your footsteps?

Lee: Well, unlikely for my son who's 20 already and although he loves music, he has not much interest playing. Although when he was very little he was a fine piano player till he stopped practicing. My daughter is another story altogether. She is a ham and very confident. I wouldn't be surprised at all if she did something in the arts. She's also a very good lyricist already.

Question: The members of Rush have a reputation of being very private, yet you've put yourself out there with this current media blitz..what changed your mind about "being out there"?

Lee: Well, I think that over the last 15 years we have been increasingly doing more press and I think quite honestly, due to the things that have gone down in the last number of years, there is a lot more interest in covering myself and the band. I don't know whether this is the result of a 500 channel universe and all sorts of online magazines. But also because I do not have a tour forthcoming, I have so much more time to pay attention to interview requests. Where usually, I'd be heavily involved in preparing the live Rush production and rehearsing for the tour. And also it was an opportunity for me to make contact with the fans once again and I enjoyed that experience.

Question: What are your thoughts about the Napster controversy?

Lee: Well my feeling is that I don't think anyone has any object to fans swapping music when it's on a small and personal scale. But I think the threat of mass downloading of one's music put it in a whole other category. For that to happen it's ethical to seek permission of the artists involved. I think far too much has been said about this and I've always suspected that sooner or later Napster would just make a deal with the record companies as they appear to be doing now.

Question: Geddy, did you play keyboards for Doug and Bob McKenzies "12 Days of Christmas"?

Lee: No I didn't.

Question: Hey, Geddy, I think all your fans are asking you this, but I really want to know, when is Rush's latest album gonna show up?

Lee: As soon as it's made. I would expect not before this time next year.

Question: What are you and your family doing over the holidays?

Lee: We're staying home and eating and drinking a lot. I'm looking forward tremendously to a completion of all these promotional activities and making some time to spend with my family and friends. I have too much wine waiting to be drunk.

Question: What other promotional stuff are you doing for MFH?

Lee: I'll be doing a few more webchats. I've got a few more radio interviews to do. I'm sure I will be kept busy by my good friends in the Atlantic Records publicity department throughout the coming months.

TV Guide Online: Thank you Geddy!!! We had a great time and please come back soon to talk with us again!!!

Lee: Thank you for having me. It was my pleasure.