GEDDY LEE Says It's 'Really Hard To Say' Whether He'd Consider Making Music With ALEX LIFESON And Another Drummer

July 20, 2019

RUSH bassist/vocalist Geddy Leerecently spoke with Meltdown of the Detroit radio station 101 WRIF about his new book, "The Big Beautiful Book Of Bass". A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):

On "The Big Beautiful Book Of Bass":

Geddy: "Most of the guys I reached out to [to interview] came through. One guy I really would have loved to have included was Paul McCartney, but he was not available. Because there are very people that are more identified with an instrument than Paul is with his Hofner, I thought that would be a really nice addition to the Hofner section, but we found a lot of very willing participants and a lot of very willing cats that we could nerd out with and talk about the origins of the instrument and how they got into it."

On whether any of the interviews he conducted "surprised" him:

Geddy: "I think every single interview surprised me, because once you sit down in that environment and start talking about the things that motivated them to start loving music and playing their instrument, the requisite stories about their lives that come to the surface, I found their stories revealing and compelling, and honestly, keeping them at only four pages was really hard."

On his own journey to the bass guitar:

Geddy: "I was like most kids in Canada — when they're playing hockey, nobody wants to be the goalie, so they just say, 'Hey, you're going to be the goalie.' For me, bass was kind of the same thing. I was playing in a... it wasn't even a garage band. It was a bedroom band, and our bass player's mother decided that we weren't fit to hang around with, so he was pulled out of the band. They just looked at me and said, 'We took a vote. You're the bass player.' That's how I started."

On his current book tour:

Geddy: "It's certainly unusual for me to get to spend time with so many different fans in different parts of the world. It's really been fun. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I have been. It's nice to get a couple of minutes to meet these fans. Some of them are super-young, up-and-coming bass players, a lot of female bass players, a lot of families coming out... that's been really sweet."

On his double-neck bass guitar:

Geddy: "I prefer the bass up top, because I'm just more comfortable. When the neck is a little closer to me, I feel more comfortable playing it, so I'm quite happy to have the guitar neck, which I don't use that often, just dangling below."

On performing with YES at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame:

Geddy: "Chris Squire was a huge influence on me. He was one of my bass heroes — Chris Squire, Jack Bruce, just to name a couple of these guys, would have been wonderful to meet and actually spend some time with, but I never got the opportunity. When I heard that YES had invited me to sit in with them at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, I was flabbergasted and honored, especially to play on a song that is really one of the classic, great bass songs of all time, which is 'Roundabout'. I was thrilled. The guys were super nice, and they actually played the song more times than they wanted to just so that I could get comfortable with them. It was a great evening, a great memory and just sad that Chris couldn't be there to represent as he should have been."

On his "aggressive" tone:

Geddy: "I always liked bass players that had a lot of top end in their sound, but it's a hard thing to wrestle with when you're playing in a band that has a drummer with a lot of cymbals and a guitar player with a lot of top end. You're kind of sharing the same frequencies, so it really requires a lot of experimenting and not giving up on the top end for the sake of the bottom end. You just sort of have to be a little obnoxious and push your way into the soundscapes... I think most musicians are looking to perfect their thing, to get that perfect combination of feel and playing and dexterity and tone. It's something that you have to continually work out in order to achieve that thing. It always feels like you've never really gotten there, but you're on the way and you're getting closer and closer and closer. It's a lifelong thing."

On his musical future:

Geddy: "That's a good question, and one that I ask myself from time to time. It's been a couple of years making this book, and I'm really happy with the results and really happy that people have responded so positively to it. I'm going to have some fun traveling around the world and meeting RUSH fans and talking to young bass players for a while, and then I guess I'll get home and figure out what the next step is."

On whether he misses the stage:

Geddy: "I certainly miss playing with my bandmates. I was a really fortunate human being that I had such great friends who were also really cool bandmates, and I was able to play with them for, like, 42 years onstage. That was something that was very hard to replace. I have very fond memories of that, and every once in a while, I wish I was onstage joking with those guys. I talk to them all the time. We're still very, very close."

On whether he'd consider performing with Alex Lifeson and another drummer:

Geddy: "That's really hard to say."

On going out on a high note:

Geddy: "For me, the last few tours we did, I don't think we'd ever played as well. I don't think we'd ever had such a complete and versatile list of songs that we played onstage, so for me, the last three or four tours were really magic. We were playing well; we had a great combination of songs and visual effects; and it was just really what you'd call the salad days for us. It was a great period."

RUSH has been completely inactive since completing the "R40 Live" tour nearly four years ago. Drummer Neil Peart was battling enormous physical pain through much of the trek, including a foot infection that made it agonizing for him to even walk.

A few years ago, Lifeson told Rolling Stone that he receives injections for psoriatic arthritis. He was previously hospitalized for anemia from bleeding ulcers and suffered breathing problems.

Lifeson and Lee have repeatedly said that RUSH will never do a show unless all three musicians agree to take part. They haven't performed as RUSH without Peart since he joined the band in 1974.

Interview (audio):

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