For the first time since the summer of 1997, the members of Rush are back together making music.
Singer-bassist Geddy Lee confirmed to JAM! Music Friday that he, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart have ended a lengthy hiatus and gathered in a Toronto-area studio to begin work on a new record.
"We are all back together now, and we are just starting that process of writing," Lee told JAM! Music on Friday in an exclusive interview.
"It is too early to say anything concrete has gone down. We are just getting to know each other again and getting comfortable with the prospect of hanging out together for the next couple of months."
On Wednesday, the threesome met up at the studio, but most of the time since then has been spent setting up their gear and working out technical bugs. A cold hit guitarist Alex Lifeson, which further put a crimp in the momentum, as well as the fact that the studio has been a beehive of activity.
"It was a bit surreal, I would say. I think everyone would agree on that," Lee said.
"It was really just a lot of talking. A lot of hubbub going on. It all seemed like a bit too much fuss. Everyone is getting comfortable and debugging the equipment.
"A lot of conversations are happening. A lot more talk than writing, at this stage, which is what needs to go down."
As Rush finds its footing, the myriad assistants and techs will gradually be excused and the three will begin work in earnest.
"We will strip everything right down. Once everything is up and running (in the studio), we will just have someone around for equipment problems. But we will try to keep it as low-key as humanly possible," he said.
"We're trying to make this session as casual and relaxed as possible, considering all that has gone down in the last number of years, I think that is extremely important for us, to keep things emotionally humane."
The band's last performance was July 4, 1997 at Ottawa's Corel Centre, the final date in support of their "Test For Echo" album. Following that, Peart endured two tragedies: the death of his daughter in a car crash and the loss of his wife due to cancer, which triggered the group's open-ended hiatus.
In light of that, Lee said it is crucial that the three keep a casual, low-pressure approach to the sessions, which will hopefully yield the group's 17th studio album.
"This project is about so much more than us making a record," Lee said.
"It is about us coming back together. It is about the psychological health and welfare of all the people who have gone through a very difficult time ... I want it to happen, and I want it to happen in a very positive and natural way."
Given that approach, the last thing on anyone's mind is when to expect a new record.
"I have totally thrown the timetable out," he said. "I insisted that be the case with this project ... I think the pressure of deadline is exceedingly inappropriate at this time in our career."