For someone who has been making records for about a quarter-century, Geddy Lee sounds surprisingly relieved by the reception his recent solo debut has received -- including topping the Canoe JAMMIES online poll for the best album of 2000.
"For someone who waited 25 years to go out on their own, it is nice to know someone out there cared about it," Lee told JAM! Music on Friday during a break from writing sessions for Rush's next album.
"There is a certain amount of risking involved," he said of embarking on a solo career with his album, "My Favorite Headache," which beat out formidable competition from U2's "All That You Can't Leave Behind," The Tragically Hip's "Music@Work" and Radiohead's "Kid A."
"So much of my natural tendency was not to do something like this (solo album), that when I finally acquiesced to do it, of course you don't want to feel like you've done the wrong thing ... For the most part, I have enjoyed it and I have been very gratified that the record has been received well and at least enjoyed by those people that have bought it.
"When you get complimentary response and genuine enthusiasm, it definitely feels good to know your risking was worth it."
Without the epic and exhausting touring obligations that typically accompany Rush releases, "My Favorite Headache" has been marketed with a succession of interviews and autograph-signing sessions -- a process Lee calls "my book tour." Staying away from the stage had the unintended benefit of bringing him closer to his fans than ever before.
"It has been a bit overwhelming at times. I tried to take a casual view to it. I have done a number of signing sessions around America and Canada (for 'My Favorite Headache'). You never know what you are walking into, and my imagination would be running wild ..."
With images of that scene from "This Is Spinal Tap," where the band is surrounded by stacks of their album in an empty record store?
"Yeah, exactly," he laughs.
"And then to know there is 800, 900, 1,000 people waiting for you to sign, it's like, holy s--t! And as people came by one-by-one, with a few minutes to talk, it has seemed so important to them to let me know how important Rush has been to them and how much they enjoy this piece of work. You can't help but be thankful and grateful."
Promotional obligations for "My Favorite Headache" have drifted into work on the new Rush album. Lee said he's still fielding interviews from far afield in Norway and Spain.
"It is very gratifying to me that it has a life. I think it is going to be one of those sleeper records that hangs around for a little while, which is nice to know," he said.
"I really appreciate the positive things the fans have said, and I think this vote here is another indication of that."