GEDDY LEE Names Hardest RUSH Song To Play On Bass While Singing
November 22, 2023
During the question-and-answer portion of his November 15 "My Effin' Life In Conversation" appearance at Théâtre Maisonneuve in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, RUSH bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee was asked to name the RUSH song that was the hardest to play for him while singing. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "The hardest song to play and sing that I've ever written was 'The Anarchist' from [2012's] 'Clockwork Angels' [album]. Because I wrote that song on bass first, obviously, and when we put the kind of bed track together in the demo stage, I wrote this melody without thinking about what the bass part was. And it wasn't till after we finished production of the record and I was in rehearsal where I realized they're so completely different rhythmically — there was no meeting in the middle. Usually my bass part would follow a pattern and the voice sort of slips into it, but that one was just impossible. So I spent weeks, literally, playing the one song, just on bass, didn't try singing it, until I didn't have to think about the bass part at all. And then I would have to really concentrate, and then I could do it. I figured out a way I could do it. So when I started playing it live, it's the one song I have to sort of split myself like a drummer does. Drummers have independence. Bass players not always have independence, so it was a real challenge."
Lee previously talked about "The Anarchist" in a 2012 interview with Premier Guitar. At the time, he said: "In some moments in the song 'The Anarchist', that bass melody holds that chorus together. So that was driving the chorus, and when I wrote the vocal melody it really had more to do with how those lyrics needed to be expressed, and I found to my dismay [laughs] when I came to rehearse them, that they were very difficult to do at the same time. I feared that bass line, and I made sure I went into rehearsal extra early. I'm a big believer in the 10,000-hour series — I put a lot of hours into that.
"In the past, I wrote bass patterns that were connected to the vocals in a way that allowed me to do it live without killing myself or tying my brain into a pretzel, but this time I kind of let that go because I just felt it was better for the music to go where it needed to, and worry about the best possible vocal melody for the song afterwards," he explained. "So that's how it came together — as two separate players: Me, as a bass player on this album, was a separate guy than me as a singer…. It's the syncopation [in 'The Anarchist'] — or the lack of syncopation. Rhythmically, the way the bass drives and the way the vocal sits on it are really quite different."
Released on November 14 through HarperCollins, Lee's memoir, "My Effin' Life", includes stories of Geddy's parents' traumatic experiences as teenagers in concentration camps in World War II as well as "intimate stories of his lifelong friendships with bandmates Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart — deeply mourning Peart's recent passing," according to the book's synopsis.
The idea for Lee's memoir came about after he wrote his previous book, 2018's "Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book Of Bass". He found the time to write "My Effin' Life" while locked down at home in Toronto during the pandemic.
The 70-year-old Lee is currently taking "My Effin' Life" on the road to venues all over North America up until December 7.
Geddy kicked off his "My Effin' Life In Conversation" tour on November 13 at The Beacon Theatre in New York. Produced by Live Nation, the 14-city tour is making additional stops across North America in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and more before wrapping up in Toronto at Massey Hall.
Peart died in January 2020 after a three-year battle with glioblastoma.
RUSH waited three days to announce Peart's passing, setting off shockwaves and an outpouring of grief from fans and musicians all over the world.
RUSH's final tour concluded on August 1, 2015 at the Forum in Los Angeles. Peart indicated at the time that he wanted to retire while he was still able to play well, along with a desire to spend more time at home with his young daughter.
Peart joined RUSH in 1974. He was considered one of the best rock drummers of all time, alongside John Bonham of LED ZEPPELIN; Keith Moon of THE WHO; and Ginger Baker of CREAM. Peart was also RUSH's primary lyricist, drawing inspiration from everything from sci-fi to Ayn Rand.
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