We're A Guilty Secret For Cool Rock Fans

As Canadian Legends Announce UK Rock Tour, Singer Geddy Says

By John Perry, UK's The Sun, November 19, 2010

LISTEN carefully. I'm going to whisper. Here it is: I've been a Rush fan for 30 years.

There. Finally. I'm out. Out and proud.

This hasn't been easy. Cooler friends may never speak to me again. Will it help if I remind them I love Radiohead equally?

Geddy Lee, Rush's bass player and singer, laughs when I mention Oxford's finest group.

"I love Radio head," he says. "A great band. But you know what? To me, they're a prog rock band. Yet they're a HIP prog rock band. They're the mirror opposite of us!

Maybe it's because they didn't have a screaming vocalist like me."

He has a point. If memory, serves, Thom Yorke did not, on early Radiohead albums, sing of the mythical Fountain Of Lamneth while dressed in a kimono. Perhaps this is the difference.

"Exactly!" says Geddy, and he laughs again.

It is odd that Rush have been. in Geddy's words, "terminally unhip". I met him in a chic London hotel during his visit last week to pick up a Classic Rock magazine Living Legends award, and he seemed to me pretty much the coolest man alive.

Rake thin, with long greying Hair, a tuft of beard below the lower lip and sporting tiny shades, he is at 57 the epitome of a rock legend ageing gracefully.

Over 42 years Rush have built a huge worldwide following, guaranteeing sold-out tours. They have shifted at least 40million records, with more consecutive gold and platinum albums than ANY group other than the Beatles and Stones.


The Canadian trio have influenced countless major acts and are acclaimed as one of the greatest live bends in history. They have a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Yet they have mainly been shunned by the press.

In The Sun's 41 years this is only their third mention and by far the longest. Why?

"A coupe of reasons," says Geddy. "Our music was proggy, which is seen as unfashionable. And the three of us never had an over-arching sense of style, never put an emphasis on how we looked and as a result were never in those groovy magazines.

"We were never a cover Band, aside from in Popular Musician or Bass Player. So we just kinda became a guilty pleasure. We had a lot of groovy fans but they didn't like to admit they were fans. Primarily our fans were . . . pimply boys."

For many people, Rush will forever be synonymous with the brief period in the mid-Seventies when drummer-cum lyricist Neil Peart wrote about science fiction, fantasy and space travel. In the three decades since, the band have consistently produced interesting, intelligent. powerful rock based around mature, skilful and often beautiful lyrics.

And the tide is turning. This year has witnessed a Rush renaissance, with a major tour of the US, Canada and South America. the award-winning documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage and a Classic Albums DVD featuring their biggest sellers, 2112 and Moving Pictures.

The band found themselves part of the hit movie I Love You Man and were guests on America's acclaimed The Colbert Report. So why the sudden interest? "I think a lot of Rush fans have grown up into TV and newspaper execs and find themselves in a position to act on their love for our band," says Geddy.

"They're making some of these things happen. After 40 years, we are finally flavour of the month!"

The band's roots lie in a Toronto secondary school where Geddy - then Gary Lee Weinrib, the son of Holocaust survivors -befriended Aleksandar Zivojinovic, the son of Yugoslav immigrants, later to call himself Alex Lifeson.

It was a remarkable act of fate. Geddy, who has one of rock's most powerful and recognisable voices, would also evolve into one of the greatest bass players.

Alex would become a world-class guitar player with a distinctive, innovative lead style and a mastery of the arpeggiated riff.

In another amazing twist, Neil Peart, the lanky bookworm who joined the band from behind the parts counter of a farm machinery firm in 1974, would become by common consent the greatest rock drummer in the world. But virtuosity amounts to little without songwriting talent. And again they had a magical mix: Geddy's perfectionism and ear for a hook and Alex's off-the-wall spontaneity. Not to mention Neil becoming a lyricist of rare genius.

After an initial period as Led Zep soundalikes, Rush's golden years came with five albums from 1976 to 1981: 2112, A Farewell To Kings, Hemispheres, Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures, the last two containing their three best-known songs: Tom Sawyer, Limelight and their biggest UK hit, The Spirit Of Radio.

On this year's Time Machine tour they played Moving Pictures in its entirety - and, we can reveal, will do so here next May.

Rush are a fearless bunch. They plough their own furrow. They continually evolve and experiment, as all truly great bands do, and are not shaken by failure.


As punk emerged. Rush were writing 20-minute concept songs. Their dismayed record company ordered hit singles. So the band defiantly recorded another 20-minuter on 2112 - silencing the dissent with huge sales.

"That's the beauty of youth," says Geddy. "You're so full of belief in your own ideas and much more fearless. Besides, we figured we were done for anyway!"

A few of their 18 studio albums have been patchy. But as Geddy says: "They were necessary stepping stones, usually followed by very good records. We are lucky we've been able to be afforded the luxury of missing the mark and still having another shot."

The heart and soul of Rush, though, is friendship - the major theme of Beyond The Lighted Stage. Geddy and Alex have a Remarkable, indestructible bond.

And when Neil lost his daughter and wife within ten months in 1997-8 and effectively retired, Geddy and Alex were bastions of support. There was no question of replacing him. Rush looked over.

But three years on he returned and the band, re-energised, went from strength to strength.

"We had a new appreciation for how unique our situation was," says Geddy. "We had this audience that had waited for us throughout this long hiatus and we were still playing at a high level and enjoying playing together."

The album Vapor Trails followed in 2002 and then, in 2007, Snakes & Arrows, their best effort in perhaps 20 years. A new album is out next year.

Among a younger generation paying tribute to Rush on Beyond The Lighted Stage are Jack Black, Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters and Tim Commerford of Rage Against The Machine.

But Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins articulated it best.

He said: "When people step back and really look at who the great bands were, Rush are one of those bands."