Rush frontman Geddy Lee chatted with JAM! Music on Thursday December 21, 2000 to talk about his solo album 'My Favorite Headache' and whatever else was asked from his fans.
Skip Daly: It seems like Rush has always been a band that likes to keep a barrier between itself and its fan base. Would you say that is accurate? What about Geddy Lee's view on this, aside from the band? You seem like a quiet, private person - Do you like interacting with your fans? What about the media, and your current press schedule is it any fun, or just grueling and a pain in the a$$?
Geddy Lee: The first thing I would say is that there was a time that the band was adjusting to our success. Maybe 10, 15 years ago where we became a little over protective of our privacy. Since that time, we've all adjusted to the atmosphere of being successful. We all have differing views on degrees of protecting ourselves. I am a person who involves himself in many activities in my hometown, my community. I decided a while ago I was going to continue my life as normal as possible. The fans I come in contact with are generally happy to shake my hand, that's fine with me, I don't have a problem going out in public. As far as an attitude towards fans, I don't think there is one. Everybody deals with fame in their own ways. Some are more private and easily embarrassed than others. I would say Neil is the most fiercely private of us, but he deals with what he's comfortable with. As far as my current promotional tour, I've found it pleasant aside from the plane flights I've had to take. I've found contact with the fans to be a gratifying experience. I would also say that the fact that I've been able to cover so much ground has been a good experience for me, one that I have no regret about.
Dave Hoagland: Geddy, headache is fantastic, do you plan on touring it. If so, would you include versions of Rush tunes as well or would you stick to your solo work.
Geddy Lee: At the moment, I'm still involved in a logistical nightmare about doing any shows. My immediate plans are to go back to work with Rush in the new year. If the opportunity presents itself in the late spring, I would still be interested in pursuing some sort of live version of My Favourite Headache so stay tuned.
Koz in Cleveland: HI DIRK! Love your new CD and thanks for all the great music through the years...I know this has been touched on to a point, but I'd like to ask if there is any specific pre- "Exit..." live footage in the 'vaults' that we can look forward to in the future?? Thanks!!
Geddy Lee: I have live footage form "Test For Echo" tour and I have an accumulation from videos (early videos that have rarely seen the light of day) These are things I'd like to include on a future DVD package. As I've said before I have ideas for a comprehensive DVD for Rush but at the moment, the powers that be at Atlantic don't share my enthusiasm. It's just a waiting game. I would encourage you to write to Atlantic records and request that they move it along.
FLÁVIO ASSIS: GED, HAVE YOU ( AND ALEX AND NEIL ) EVER CONSIDERED PRESENTING ACOUSTIC VERSIONS FOR RUSH SONGS ? TWO THUMBS UP TO "HEADACHE". HOPE RUSH COMES TO BRASIL NEXT YEAR.
Geddy Lee: We haven't ever really talked in any great detail about "unplugged" Rush stuff. Once in a while it comes up when we're putting a tour together. The thought of doing acoustic pieces in a live show is something that is a topic of discussion from time to time but never very seriously taken. I would say that I understand we have a lot of fans in South America, it would be nice to be able to get down there at some point but as most Rush fans know, our touring world gets smaller as we get older. I'd just keep my fingers crossed that we could work something out.
Sean Galdos (email@example.com): Hi Geddy, I've been a fan for over twenty years now. How tough has it been for you, Alex and Neil to maintain humility throughout the years of Rush's success? Or is humility even considered a viable factor in Rush's success?
Geddy Lee: I don't think we have too much trouble being humble cause none of us would let each other get away with any other kind of behaviour. We each have a strong tendancy towards normal. I think we were just brought up right. I don't think it's really an issue for us.
Anthony: What producer would Rush like to work with in the future? And, any chance of Terry Brown returning to the fold?
Geddy Lee: I would say that it's a bit early for me to start throwing names around, I don't know if that's appropriate for me to do at this point. Lots of interesting people out there that we are interested in working with. As soon as we choose one we'll let people know.
Robert from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Working outside the comfort of Rush, with different musicians this time, has it changed the way you write in any strange sort of way?? And how did Lerxst and Pratt feel about your dabbling with others?? (chuckle)
Geddy Lee: I would say that writing with Ben was a very good experience for me. We both seemed to have the same writing habits. It was a much more casual environment than the environment that surrounds a Rush writing project. There was no timetable for me writing with Ben, we were able to live with songs for quite a while and continue to fiddle with those songs until we felt they were as good as they needed to be. Sometimes Rush is like a train, once it starts going down a track it's hard to turn around. That's a common problem for people in bands. To be fair, the experience was very good for me (away from Rush) and I don't know if it will have any impact on the way we will write when we get back together but we've already expressed a desire to approach this next writing session more casually. My two partners were very supportive.
Greg Reichman: Geddy, I am curious about how you go about practicing on the bass if indeed you still do practice. More specifically, what is your practice routine? Do you use any aids such as a metronome or drum machine? How often do you practice? Great job on "My Favorite Headache"! Know that you have pleased this fan with that one!
Geddy Lee: My practice regiment is one that's extremely lazy. It depends on what's going on in my musical life. If I'm preparing for a tour, of course I will practice on my own, for perhaps an hour a day in order to get myself ready and to relearn all those Rush songs I've forgotten between tours. Then, of course, we'll have a full band rehearsal that will last for a couple of weeks during which we sort out our performance as a band. Then, we have a full dress rehearsal for about a week with lights, sound, film so that gives everybody a chance to get their chops together. When I'm recording an album, most of the parts are written, I'll rehearse those parts for a period of a week or so so when I record them I don't have to worry about writing the parts while I'm performing them - I can just go for a good performance. Between tours, when there's no recording, I'm about as lazy as a bass player can be. (practice routine) I'll either play on my own or I'll play along with the recorded songs. If I'm just jamming with myself it becomes a writing session for me and I'll play with a drum machine. I'll set up a rhythm for myself with electronic drums.
Larry G: Geddy, love the new album!...I have been a fan since my sister took me to a high school concert (Niel wasn't even in the band yet). I was 8 years old & have seen RUSH live over 35 times! My question is...(aside from the new solo album) What was the most satisfying & most disappointing event, to happen in your career &/or RUSH's history?
Geddy Lee: Those are really hard questions to answer. A career is made up of so many moments that fall between those two extremes. I don't know...I guess the most satisfying moment was the way the "2112" album was received after it was completed and we realized for the first time that we'd won a hard fought battle for our own independence and created a sound that was all of our own. The most disappointing was probably the way the previous album "Caress Of Steel" was received by our record company and people in the industry. It was a very difficult time for us.
Bambam-Brazil: Would you like to make any comments about the "Working Man" Tribute Album? i think that after so much especulation it'still a little obscure subject for your fans. Thanx!
Geddy Lee: I don't know what else I could say about that project. Of course, so much was blown out of context in regards to the band's feelings about that. It's a source of great regret for us I believe. Somehow, by virtue of us questioning the legitimacy of the record company's motives involved with that project, that translated into some disrespect for the musicians involved which was clearly not the case as far as I was concerned. I like and respect a lot of the musicians that were involved in that album and I sincerely appreciate what they were trying to accomplish with that. But, I believe our legal people and our management, misrepresented us a little bit in that situation in an overprotective way.
Greg Stoutsen: Presuming Rush does tour again in the future, would you advocate a "taper's section" for fans to record the performances on audio and video?
Geddy Lee: I don't really have a problem with that concept seeing that they tape them anyway. There's so many Rush bootlegs out there that it's unbelievable for me. I can't speak for the whole band though, it's something that could be discussed. In my record collection when I was younger, I had some bootlegs of artists I liked. So, it's hard for me to say to a fan 'don't go and pick one up'. I work awfully hard to make our live albums sound good so sometimes its frustrated to walk into somebody's house and they've got a version of what I've been working on recorded on one mike. (Having a taping section) is just up for discussion.
Dave: Many rush songs stress self-reliance and with songs like Totem and The Angels Share and Freewill, I was wondering, would the members of Rush consider themself agnostic or atheist?
Geddy Lee: I can't speak for the others as for myself, I believe that the traditional concept of God is one that I'm not comfortable with. To borrow from Woody Allen - 'If there is a God, he's an underachiever at best" For me, spirituality is a personal belief and I think it's up to each person to choose a road that is comfortable for them. I think it's really an individual viewpoint. Having grown up in a very religious home, I find the dogma and constrictions of organized religion not appropriate for my belief system. But, I'm not so arrogant as to believe that I have the answers to these questions.
Dan, Baltimore: "Headache" is a wonderful display of your ability to write lyrics. Are there any plans in your future to write again for Rush (possibly a paired effort with Neil). Thanx for many (and more) years of great music.
Geddy Lee: Of course I enjoyed writing lyrics for this project very much once I got into the swing of things and I have no intention to stop doing that but whether I do that within the context of Rush or not, that remains to be seen. We have a fine lyracist in Neil, he hasn't lost his job! Of course if the opportunity presented itself, I don't think myself or my partners would have a problem with that but it remains to be seen.
Michael Scott: Geddy, I noticed you got Matt Cameron from Pearl Jam as your drummer...was that a conscience decision...are you in fact a Pearl Jam fan? And if so, how was it working with him?
Geddy Lee: Of course everybody who is on this record was chosen deliberately ... I was a big fan of Matt's playing in Soundgarden, I was more familiar with Soundgarden's music than Pearl Jam. He was chosen for the strength of his work in Soundgarden. Since then, I've had the pleasure of seeing Pearl Jam live and was incredibly impressed by what a great live rock and roll band they are and what a great rock and roll singer Eddie is.
Sean Sunderlage: Geddy, How do you and your mates feel about being shunned by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Geddy Lee: It's not something I have any control over. Of course it would be an honour to be included. I take the attitude that we're still such a young band that they aren't ready for us yet. They're still working on getting the old guys in there.
Jill_Ion: What was some of the inspiration for Moving to Bohemia?
Geddy Lee: That song was inspired by a very tongue in cheek look at the way our culture seems to be developing. For me I see the Disney-fication of North American culture to the point where in almost every city we see the same stores, you buy the same products and there seems to be a kind of blandness. When that is combined with the atmosphere of an overly touchy-feely politically correct consciousness, it makes me react in the opposite way. "Moving To Bohemia" is about freedom of expression, freedom of choice. The song says "I would rather live in a place that doesn't look so good, and maybe not so organized and have some bad attributes but is culturally free and spiritually free."
Frank Hader: If you could do a cover song from any band, what song would it be?
Geddy Lee: Years ago we did a couple of covers when we first started like "Bad Boy" (an old Beatles tune) Before Neil joined the band, when we were a bar band, we did covers cause that's the only way we could get hired. I think about covers from time to time, it would be fun. Of course, I would always choose a Who song if I was going to do that type of thing. That might be a fun thing for Rush down the road, to interpret somebody else's music.
Geddy Lee: Thank you all for so many intelligent and interesting questions. I appreciate your time, I hope I can communicate with those that didn't get on this chat during some other chat sometime.