After hinting earlier this month that a RUSH reunion could happen, singer-bassist Geddy Lee opened up about the logistics of touring and writing new music alongside the band’s other surviving member, guitarist Alex Lifeson.
RUSH haven’t toured since 2015, and the band essentially ended with the death of drummer Neil Peart in 2020. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Lee spoke at length about the potential of working with Lifeson again, including an inspiring conversation between the two and Paul McCartney. A portrait of longevity himself, The Beatles legend encouraged them to hit the road.
Lee has already said that the tribute shows for late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, during which he performed RUSH material alongside an all-star band, rejuvenated his urge to play live again. The tribute concerts included gigs at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles (the site of final RUSH show in 2015) and Wembley Stadium in London.
It was the Wembley concert, in particular, where Geddy had the revelation… and the encounter with McCartney.
“I know it sounds corny, but there really was so much love in that building at Wembley,” said Geddy. “It was the most special gig I think I’ve ever done in my life, in that regard. Every artist, even artists I didn’t know, was there for the same reason. There was no ego, no hint of competitiveness. And I found it really rejuvenating. It filled me up. I realized, I’ve missed this. I miss playing. I love being in this atmosphere where every musician is rooting for the other musician.”
He continued: “But after the show, [Paul McCartney] was incredible. He was so warm and embracing and positive. He came and sat and drank with us. We all got plastered together. And he was very emphatic, talking about, ‘You know what Ringo always says: “It’s what we do.” And I said, ‘Talk to Al, because he’s the stubborn one.’ And so he was lecturing Al about how great it is to tour. ‘You have to do it, man. You have to get back out there, man.’ And Alex said something like, ‘I’ll do it, if you’ll be our manager.’ [Quoting Paul], ‘I’ll manage you, mate!’”
Jokes aside, Lee acknowledged Lifeson’s health issues — including arthritis and a stomach issue for which the guitarist underwent surgery earlier this year — as well as the malaise that affected Lifeson on the final RUSH tours.
“He has some health issues, he has arthritis as well,” said Geddy. “It’s harder for him to reproduce those solos in the way that he wants to. But he was also never super happy in the last few tours on the road. I think that’s why he played so much golf, because he gets bored so quickly. For me, I would hole up in my room and I would work on photo albums, like I would play with my bird photography.”
Lee added that “being away and touring is more difficult” for Lifeson, “so that’s a stumbling block and at this stage of his life, considering that he has some concerns about his health, it’s very hard for him to get his head around the idea of doing a tour, you know. So I just keep working on him.”
If they do end up touring under the name RUSH (“I don’t know how comfortable we would be doing that,” admitted Geddy) or another moniker (he jokingly suggests “RASH”), Lee said that “it wouldn’t be just a three-piece because we’d have to find a way to make it more fun, less work, and pay some acknowledgement to the fact that we are a little bit older now. … There are endless possibilities. … It’s all hypothetical.”
Even if there are still hurdles to clear regarding touring, Lee and Lifeson do appear to be on the same page as far as writing and eventually recording new music together.
“Does Alex want to write some more music with me? Yes, he does,” Lee said. “He’s made that very clear. And that’s something I will try to do with him over the coming year. Would I like to write some songs on my own? Yes, I would. Again, it’s something I would like to try over the coming year. And that’s all I know. That’s all I’ve planned. Nothing’s in the works, but this glorious thing of possibility exists.”
Geddy Lee is currently on a book tour in support of his new memoir My Effin’ Life. Geddy’s next stop is in Montreal on Tuesday (November 21st), and you can get tickets here.