This past March, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson said that Rush were planning to launch a "41st anniversary" tour next year. "I think we're probably going to lean towards making it a real sort of fan event," he said. "I've always wanted to do some rarer Rush material, and this should be a good opportunity to do that. I also think it's going to be a long tour. We just need to stay healthy until then."
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Geddy Lee says that announcement may have been a bit premature. "We're still talking," he says. "Everybody has a different idea how they want to spend the next couple of years, so we haven't come to a decision. I'm ready and happy to play if everyone else agrees. I think in the next couple of months we'll decide to do something or not."
The group's last release was 2012's Clockworks Angels, and they'll likely hit the road again before making another one. "My guess is that there would be a tour first," says Lee. "But I'm itching to just play and record. I would like to make another album, but I don't know where the other guys' heads are at about that. I know Alex is ready to write."
Despite what it may seem, Lee says he's not implying that drummer Neil Peart is the holdout. "It's a group thing," he says. "It's one of those things where everybody enjoyed their break so much. It doesn't feel like it was very long ago that we played our last show in Kansas City. So it's like, 'Do we have to talk about this already?' But slowly we're getting around to figuring it out."
To tide fans over, Rush are releasing R40 this week, a 10-DVD box set (also available on six Blu-ray discs) containing complete performances from Rush's past five concert tours. There are also bonus clips of the group playing in 1974, 1976, 1997 and their 2013 performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
"The office and our manager is always pushing us to release some archival stuff," says Lee. "Seeing as we were off, we said, 'Have at it.' It was interesting seeing all the old footage. We recorded a show on the Test For Echo tour we'd forgotten about because it came just before a particularly dark period in our history. It was painful to think about, but when we listened back we realized we were in good form that night. It would have been a shame to not unearth at least part of it."
R40 is a celebration of Rush's 40th anniversary with Peart, but Lee doesn't expect them to still be touring when the 50th anniversary rolls around in 2024. "If I were a betting man, I wouldn't bet on it," says Lee. "When I see how hard it is to get everyone to agree to go out for our 40th, it's hard to imagine us having the same conversation in 10 years."
Part of the problem is the sheer physical toll that drumming throughout a three-hour shows takes on Peart, who turned 62 two months ago. "The way he plays is brutal and painful," says Lee. "Basically, he's in pain from the beginning of rehearsal until the end of the tour. And that's really not an exaggeration. So there's only so many miles a drummer like that has in him, and so it's hard to think ahead to the 50th."
Unlike many of their peers, Rush would never even consider a project that didn't involve every member. "I couldn't abide that," Lee says. "We're like the Three Musketeers, all for one and one for all. If one guy has had enough, then that's it. It's over."
Even if Rush deactivates at some point in the next decade, Lee can't imagine moving away from music. "I love to play and I love to write," he says. "I would be totally up for continuing to work. It's in my blood. If the guys that I love to play with aren't available and I was dying to play, I would do something on my own."
In the meantime, Lee is still focused on Rush - and he can barely believe the run they've had since returning to the road in 2002. "It's been a busy and incredibly fruitful time for us," says Lee. "I cherish it and appreciate it, and I know the other guys do as well. We scratch our heads every once in a while any go, 'Why are we still here? Why is there still interest in us?' I think we're just grateful that we can still do what we love to do."