Geddy Lee isn’t a big fan of social media. “I sometimes look on Twitter to follow baseball transactions,” he says. “But that’s it. I’m also not on Facebook or anything. I see it as an addiction and I have enough addictions. God knows I pick up my phone enough to check baseball scores. On the street, you’re always bumping into people because they’re on their freakin’ phones.”
This refreshingly old-school attitude means that Rush fans don’t have a lot of opportunities to communicate with their hero, so when we sat down with Geddy recently, we decided to solicit questions from Twitter. They poured in by the hundreds (with the hashtag #AskGeddyLee trending nationally). We couldn’t get to them all, but we did what we could – along with a few questions of our own.
You’ve been off the road for over a year now. What have you been up to?
Well, I started by doing a ton of travel with my wife. We love to travel. We’ve taken three trips to Italy and then we went to Galapagos with our daughter. Then we spent six weeks in Australia, hiding from winter and exploring the Southeastern part of the continent. Then we came back for a short while and spent time in London. Around June, we decided to spend the summer in Toronto because my son and his wife had just given birth to their first child, so we decided to summer in Toronto for the first time in over 10 years. It was really fun to be home, enjoy the house and just enjoy being a granddad.
A few months ago, Alex told us about a possible 41st anniversary tour where you’d play rare material.
Well, we haven’t really talked about what we would do if we get over the hump and decide if we’re going to do something. Once that happens, we’ll get into specifics. But I would think if we’re going to do some sort of anniversary thing, it’ll probably be a “trip through the years” kind of thing.
If that does happen, I want to run down some songs you haven’t played in a while and get your reaction to them. Let’s start with “Fly By Night.” That was a hit, but you haven’t played it since 1978.
I don’t know, man. That song scares me.
Because the vocals are so high?
It’s a high song. It’s also a time and a place. I wouldn’t say no, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.
How about “The Necromancer?”
“We are men from Willowdale.” Yeah, I don’t know. Same thing. That whole Caress of Steel period is stuck in a strange and funny moment in our history. I really don’t know how that would stand the test of time.
How about the two books of “Cygnus”?
Ah, well, that would be cool. Yeah, that would be super cool.
“Cut To The Chase”?
I like that song. I don’t know if the others guys do, but I like that song.
Oh, great. I wrote that song in my basement when I lived in the country. That was one of the first songs I demoed on my own and then brought to the band. And then Neil did his lyrical magic on it. That’s a cool song. I like that song.
In reading the fan forums, I sense they want to hear more things from the first three or four albums.
If we agree to go out and it is going to be some sort of anniversary thing, then I’m sure we’ll pull some of those old songs out.
I’m going to move on to questions we solicited from Twitter. Why isn’t 2112 21 minutes and 12 seconds long? It’s just a few seconds more to make a great effect.
[Laughs] I think we recorded that before digital clocks and we weren’t paying that much attention to that aspect. It’s like a baseball player I read about once that retired when he had 2,999 hits. In those days, they didn’t keep track and with one more he would have been in the 3,000 club.
How bad does Neil smell after a concert?
I wouldn’t know because he leaves straight onto his bus. I haven’t seen him after a show in years.
Multiple people asked the Pavement question. They want to know, “How did his voice get so high? Does he speak like an ordinary guy?”
Still, after all this time? Well, yes, I speak like a normal guy.
Did Eddie Van Halen really pour a beer into your tape recorder in 1980? What’s the story with that?
Oh, that’s an interesting memory. We were at a hotel bar in Leicester and one of the guys in our road crew had his beat box playing. And the guys in Van Halen were a little inebriated and we were on our way to getting inebriated. So I think some beer was spilt, yes.
Do you prefer tacos or burritos?
Are snails bugs? C’mon, man, someone’s gotta know.
I don’t know, but if they’re drowned in garlic, butter and parsley, I’ll eat ’em.
Do you prefer Van Halen with Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth?
I don’t listen to either.
After decades of Rolling Stone ignoring and belittling Rush, how do you feel to be interviewed by the same magazine?
We’re Canadians. We’re very polite and don’t hold grudges.
How did you feel about the ovation at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when “…and from Toronto” was announced?
Shock and gooseflesh. That whole moment was quite something. I think we were very taken aback by it. We were overwhelmed by that whole beginning of the night. It’s indescribable and a moment that I’ll never forget.
Have you voted for next year’s class yet?
I have not, but I will. I don’t even know who’s on the ballot, but I’m disappointed that Yes and Deep Purple did not get in. It’s just wrong.
How does one become a powerful wizard such as yourself?
[Laughs] Lots of coffee.
What are you doing in the Rush off-season to preserve your voice for the next album or tour?
I don’t do anything. I don’t sing at all. I have been playing more this break than I’ve ever played in the off time, both bass and a lot of guitar. I’m really into collecting some of these old instruments and they’re firing me up. I’ve spent a lot of time in my studio or in front of a ballgame playing a bass.