When filmmakers Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen approached Rush about making a documentary about their 40-year career, the band was very skeptical. "We thought, 'How foolish are these guys?' " Rush frontman Geddy Lee says. "We're just this dull band. I remember Neil [Peart] asked them rather pointedly, 'What's your angle? What's the story you want to tell?' They said, 'Well, to be honest, we don't know.' We liked that and said, 'Good luck, let you know what you want us to do.' "
To help the filmmakers create Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage, the three bandmembers submitted to exhaustive interviews about their lives, and Lee ransacked his basement seeking old snapshots he hadn't seen in decades. "Tucked away in a deep, dark corner I found the Holy Grail — all of our early photographs. They're all used in the film." Dunn and McFadyen even uncovered footage the trio were stunned to see. "The footage they found of us playing at Laura Secord Secondary School in Ontario I don't even recall shooting," Lee says. "I found that to be quite an out-of-body experience."
The filmmakers also shot interviews with Rush fans Billy Corgan, Kirk Hammett, Gene Simmons, Taylor Hawkins, Rage Against the Machine's Tim Commerford and South Park co-creator Matt Stone. "It was incredibly flattering listening to musicians that I like and respect speaking so eloquently about our music," says Lee. The film has been a surprise critical hit, even winning the coveted Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. "That was a nice surprise," says Lee. "You don't think a film about a rock band is going to be taken that seriously."
The band is currently deep in rehearsals for their Time Machine Tour, which will feature a complete performance of their 1981 LP Moving Pictures (read more about the trek here). "It's only a 40-minute album and the beauty of a three-hour show is we can throw the whole damn thing in there and still have lots leftover," says Lee. "We've got quite a different setl ist from the last tour." He's mum on any further details. "With Rush fans it's always nice to not reveal it until show day," he says. "They only have one day before the Internet gets the set list and then it's all blown. Let's give them that one day."
Earlier this month, the band released the new tracks "Caravan" and "BU2B" online because they simply wanted "to do things differently this time out," says Lee. "The industry's changing, record stores are dying — sadly — but we thought, 'Well, this is just changing with the times. Let's just mix it up a little bit.' "
When the tour wraps the band will head back into the studio to finish their first album since 2007's Snakes and Arrows. "In addition to the two released songs, we have five others written," says Lee. "We'll take a short rest after the tour, go into the studio and finish the album and then hopefully go back out on tour again."
Adding that the renewed interest from the film has "fired us up," Lee says reflecting on the band's past has made him appreciate the present. "There is something about feeling grateful at our tender ages that we are still together and still able to play and the juices are sill flowing. I think we consider ourselves very lucky and we want to take advantage of that moment."