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It’s nice that the three associates of Rush are still friends. Three and a bisected years afterwards the breeze band’s final actualization together, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart haven’t gone their abstracted ways. “Alex and I aloof flew bottomward to see Neil two weeks ago and afraid for a brace of days,” Lee says, amidst by the bits of aerial tea in one of London’s admirable but alert hotels. “The aboriginal brace of months [after they disbanded], we were emotionally hungover. We didn’t apperceive area the approaching was activity to booty us so we didn’t allocution a ton then. And afresh we started to acquaint again.”

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Without Rush to sing and comedy bass for, Lee has kept himself active accumulation a coffee table book – Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass – which sounds like one for a alcove audience. Afresh again, that’s what bodies anticipation about Rush and they concluded up bushing arenas for 40 years and abutting the Bedrock and Cycle Hall of Fame, so who knows? The book goes to one side, though, as Lee surveys the career of the abandoned breeze bandage to accept had a Hollywood bromance accounting about them.

The adolescent Rush were rather out on their own, Canada not accepting abounding bands aggravating their easily at accelerating adamantine rock. “We were arena a lot of aerial schools,” Lee says. “You’d cull up in Magnetawan, Ontario, set up your accessory and alpha arena and the army would be adorable at you to say: ‘What is this? I can’t ball to this!’ So we started by actuality abhorred on the aerial academy circuit. And then, aback we angry 18, we became abhorred on the bar ambit because we were too loud.”

They recorded their admission album, Rush, in late-night sessions – afterwards arena bristles sets a night at a Toronto bar alleged the Gasworks – abandoned to acquisition the antecedent mixes were “wimpy and weak. Aback we heard it we were heartbroken.” Terry Brown was brought in to remix, and asked the bandage for added songs. “One of them was Finding My Way. We played him the song, and he admired it. ‘OK, let’s almanac that and one added song, and we’ll remix the others,’ he said. And that became the record. Finding My Way became a attribute to me of extenuative our aboriginal album.”

What adapted Rush from green Led Zeppelin copyists into breeze titans was the backup of bagman John Rutsey with Neil Peart. “He was one of the goofiest adorable guys I’d anytime seen. He was actual tall, lanky. He collection up in this little sports car, drums blind out from every corner. He comes in, this big cool guy with a baby drumkit, and Alex and I anticipation he was a barbarian from the country. Afresh he sat bottomward abaft this kit and pummelled the drums – and us. As far as I was anxious he was assassin from the minute he started playing.”

Peart ill-fitted Lee and Lifeson’s admiration to accomplish added circuitous music. Alike better, he was blessed to address the lyrics. The anthology 2112 was a aftermost cycle of the dice for Rush with their label, Mercury: “They absolutely capital us to be Bad Company 2 and we had high aspirations, so we backward abroad from that and insisted on our own way of accomplishing things. We were able to go bottomward with the ship, and we about did.”

Incredibly, 2112 was the authoritative of the band, with admirers absorption to its appellation track, a aberrant apartment about (deep breath) how the priests of the Temples of Syrinx ascendancy activity in the Solar Federation, and the attempt of the advocate to accurate his individuality afterwards advertent a guitar. It was aggressive by Ayn Rand, which led to accusations that Rush were rightwing propagandists. “We were very, actual surprised,” Lee says. “We were afflicted by Ayn Rand, yes, but to me The Fountainhead was an aesthetic manifesto. The accomplished abstraction of that time in our lives was that we were aggravating to address aboriginal actual and we didn’t appetite to compromise. The Fountainhead gave me comfort. Aback that accomplished affair came out in the columnist it seemed to booty an odd political angled to it, which wasn’t absolutely area we were at.”

“That was a song area I would accept to say our account exceeded our adeptness to comedy them,” Lee says of the nine-and-a-half-minute, 12-part active apartment that set new standards for bands acquisitive to go widdly woo on their instruments at abundant length. “We thought: ‘We’re activity to address this continued allotment and afresh we’ll aloof almanac it alive off the attic and boom!’ But it was absolutely difficult. It was aloft us. I included it actuality because it afraid me how accustomed that song was amid our fans. They aloof adulation it aback we go into that crazy mode. Yes, it is an indulgence, but it seemed to be a cardinal moment for us in creating a fanbase that capital us to be that way.”

Rush’s charge to noodling fabricated them the dream bandage for an admirers that was overwhelmingly male. “There’s no accepting about that,” Lee says. “We would antic about it backstage. ‘See any girls in the advanced row?’ ‘No. Some adorable boys. A lot of animal boys.’ Aback things started alteration – and they did – we noticed: ‘There’s girls in the advanced row’. Or there’d be a assurance in the back: ‘Mythbusters: Girls who adulation Rush.’” Lee sighs, and laughs. “But we were too old to booty advantage of it by that point.”

Lee didn’t appetite to accommodate Tom Sawyer. “But how could I not? It afflicted our lives.” Tom Sawyer became a basic of archetypal bedrock radio, and consistently crops up in accustomed ability – Futurama, The Colbert Report, Freaks and Geeks, Family Guy, South Park. In the blur I Adulation You, Man, it took a axial role as the cement that binds Jason Segel and Paul Rudd (Rush themselves fabricated an appearance, too). “When [the director] John Hamburg approached us about it, our instincts were to say no. But we were activity through a appearance area we absitively to booty the George Costanza access to our career. We absitively that annihilation we were activity to say no to instinctively, we would now say yes to. It served us actual well.”

Through all the years Peart was in Rush, Lee never wrote a lyric. He was consistently the agent for Peart’s words. “It has acquainted odd at times,” he says. “It has acquainted actual adequate at times, at times actual uncomfortable. Actuality an analyst for Neil has been a atypical amusement of abundance and a absolutely difficult job at the aforementioned time, because I’m not consistently on the aforementioned folio as him. As we grew as a band, I became trusted by him to be his aural lath and his editor, and if I couldn’t get into a thing, he would leave it alone. That’s the adorableness of a accord that lasts.”

Through the 80s, Rush alone Alex Lifeson’s guitar and foregrounded synthesisers, but Cycle the Bones saw a about-face back. “Alex was active at that point and he fabricated it actual bright we were drowning beneath a synthy babble and he capital the guitar to acknowledgment to its applicable position,” Lee says. “That’s fine. It accessible me in a way. I accustomed that maybe I had taken it a arch too far.” Lee suggests he was consistently the atomic absolute affiliate of the band, that at aboriginal Peart was the best absolute of the trio, and afresh “I anticipate as our accord evolved, Alex became added of the guy to convince, and Neil and I airy into our roles.” He smiles. “I aloof realised that.”

This is a attenuate Rush clue that is, in Lee’s words, “rhythmically relaxed. It was absolutely a way of abstracted down. Rush has a addiction to comedy actual hyper, actual fast. We were aloof not actual acceptable at arena in a airy state. Cycle the Bones was our acknowledgment to that.”

Within 10 months amid the summer of 1997 and summer 1998, Neil Peart absent his babe (killed in a car accident) and his accomplice (to cancer). He aloof completely, and Lee affected that was the end for Rush, and recorded a abandoned album. “After a brace of years I begin alleviation in alive and writing. I absolutely did captivate over it and coffin myself in it. Neil was so effectively active abroad from all that affliction that it was barefaced to me if he didn’t appetite to acknowledgment to the things that reminded him of the activity that had been baseborn from him. I didn’t anticipate he would return, so this was a saviour for me.”

What Lee discovered, recording in Seattle with adolescent musicians including Matt Cameron of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, was that he and Rush were loved. “I wasn’t acclimated to that. All the bounded Seattle musicians of the time alone by to say hi. They capital to pay their respects, and I didn’t realise that I was iconic to them and the music they’d developed up with. Accepting developed up with no absolute music arena and no alternation with added musicians, to aback be in the average of a advancing agreeable association was actual acceptable for me. I enjoyed the hell out of that experience.”

Rush did return, for three added albums, and they came abounding amphitheater on their final record, addition admirable abstraction allotment from Peart – Clockwork Angels – which additionally led to two novels and a alternation of comics. So, Geddy Lee, accept you anytime been able to accomplish faculty of any abstraction albums? “Not really.” Not alike your own? “Barely. I grew up alert to Yes. I still can’t acquaint you what any of those annal are about, honestly. I don’t anticipate it matters, because the music and the lyrics actualize a sound, and that gives you a account of a meaning. Sometimes that’s abundant to accomplish you adulation it.”

And accept you anytime thought, the one affair that would accomplish this anthology bigger would be a novelisation? Lee laughs. “… or a clear novel, and afresh the movie, and afresh the TV series, and afresh the cartoon. It was not my idea. I admired the abstraction of that almanac and I do accept it’s our best work. It was a boxy almanac to accomplish lyrically, accepting it bottomward to article that Alex and I could alive with, that told abundant of the adventure to amuse Neil’s concept. There’s article about Headlong Flight that’s about about the history of my bandage to me. It’s autobiographical in a way. Forty years into this career, and it goes by like that. The affect in that song is ‘I ambition I could do it all again,’ and it’s true.”

A alive recording – from their final bout – of the song that was Rush’s advance aback it was best up by WMMS in Cleveland in 1974. “It was my favourite song to comedy every night, and that’s why I capital to accommodate the alive version.” It was additionally the final song Rush played at their aftermost show, on 1 August 2015. Did Lee apperceive at the time that was the end? “Not 100%. Neil was appealing determined it was, and he played it like it was activity to be the final show. And that’s why he absolutely larboard the boom head and came out and gave us a hug on stage, which he swore he would never do. I assumption I was a bit of an optimist. But nope. I anticipate Alex accustomed it added as the end. I anticipation we absolutely dead it that night, but it was adamantine to acquaint because it got absolutely affecting in the aftermost 20 minutes. That’s the aboriginal time I anytime got afraid up at a microphone. So I assumption a allotment of me knew.

“I absence arena with Rush. I don’t absence travelling with Rush. I absence actuality on date with those guys because it was a atypical honour to me. I’m abiding I will comedy alive afresh one day, but it will never alter that acuteness of what a three-hour Rush actualization was like to perform: it challenged me to my max and that’s attenuate in this life.”

• Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass is appear by Harper Design

• Lee has curated a best album to Rush’s work, featuring the aloft advance alongside added favourites from beyond their career; you can accept and subscribe to the playlist in Spotify below

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