Rush's Geddy Lee talks about 'I Love You, Man,' 'Colbert,' and their new compilation

Geddyleerush_lRush may be on a "deep holiday" these days, but the legendary rock trio sure seems busy. Their third Retrospective set — a CD and DVD covering the last 19 years -– recently hit stores, and they show up to perform "Limelight" in the highly anticipated upcoming Paul Rudd/Jason Segel comedy I Love You, Man. Frontman Geddy Lee fills us in on what the band has been up to. (Click through the jump for the full Q&A.)

EW: Let’s talk about your new greatest hits collection, Retrospective 3. What did you argue about when putting together the track list?
Geddy Lee: We don’t really have a lot of disagreements. We’re ridiculously sensible, the three of us. We like to joke that we’re one of the few working democracies in the world today. We all sent our opinions around. It was only two or three emails and everyone said, "Sure, that’s good, no problem, thumbs up." And that was that. It was very painless. Unlike when we have to choose the songs for our tour. That’s a long and very difficult process. We play for about three hours, and we have to balance what our fans want to hear and what we want to play, the new songs. We have, like, a hundred million albums. Trying to draw three hours out of all those records…

EW: So how did you settle on the 14 songs on the new collection?
GL: We usually send each other a bunch of emails. Management will make suggestions, and we’ll try to ignore as many of their suggestions as possible. [Laughs] For me it’s all about trying to do something interesting for our fans. Our fans probably have all those songs in one form or another, so if we’re going to put something out there we’d like to try to make it a little different. We tried to include some unusual versions of some of those songs. If I had my druthers it would be a boxed set of three discs. But that’s not very practical. I would like to spend some time at some point doing some creative boxed sets. I think that would be fun.

EW: So there’s a lot of unreleased Rush material sitting in the vaults, then?
GL: There isn’t. None. There’s lots of unreleased live material. Hours. Months. But there’s no [studio] material that we’ve recorded and not released. It’s like this: if we’re working on a song where we don’t love it enough to put it on the record, we throw it away. If we’re disappointed in them, we trash them.

addCredit(“Paul Warner/WireImage.com”)

EW: You do a live cover of the Who’s "The Seeker" on the DVDthat’s included with the new collection. Why is that song important toyou?
GL: Pete Townshend is probably my biggest hero in termsof songwriting. Anything we could do that’s related to the Who makes mehappy. They were so important to being where I am. John Entwistle’sbass sound was really influential on the way my bass sounds. They werereally influential on our band in a big way. They were powerful andheavy without it being so over the top that it was like bludgeoningyou. That’s something we’ve strived for.

EW: Also included on that DVD is your now-legendary appearance last year on the Colbert Report. How did that come about?
GL: We’re big fans for the Colbert Reportin my household. I was watching one night and I saw this joke they weredoing with Rush Limbaugh. Every time Stephen mentioned Rush Limbaughthey would show a Rush picture, and it was very funny. We got contactedby their people, who said they wanted to keep the gag going for awhile,confusing Rush Limbaugh with our band. And they asked if I would do awalk-on on the show. I said, "Absolutely, I love the show. But it wouldbe funnier if you got the whole band to walk on." And they came backand said, "If you’re going to bring the whole band you gotta play onthe show." You know, this is a band that does not like to do TV. Butwhen I mentioned that show they all went, "You got it, absolutely.We’re in." We thought it was totally funny: of all shows to do for thefirst time on American television in ages, to do that one.

EW: Yeah, it was more than 30 years since your last American TV appearance. What took so long?
GL:We’re so ass-backwards sometimes. We don’t do the things we should do,from a practical point of view. As we’ve gotten older we’ve lightenedup about a lot of things. What used to be such a big deal is maybe notsuch a big deal to us anymore. I think when we went through thatterribly dark period [drummer Neil Peart’s wife and daughter died inthe late ‘90s] and a lot of soul searching went on, it was aparticularly sad time in our lives, and obviously a heartbreaking timefor us and for Neil particularly. I think we really did believe thateverything was over. It was kind of a rebirth when we did actually getback together and started touring again. And I think since that time wehave had a lighter attitude — we appreciate what we have more becauseof that period where things were so bleak. Sometimes the s—ty thingsin life do point you in a more positive direction. Anyway, cheers.Enough of that.

EW: What kind of response did you get after Colbert?
GL:Surprisingly, many of our fans were upset about [a gag where the showcut to commercial in the middle of the "Tom Sawyer" performance]. Theydidn’t take it in the spirit with which it was meant. I think they’vegot to lighten up a little. It’s a comedy show. They just thought itwas rude, even though it was all kind of staged to be that way. Hewasn’t trying to be disrespectful. He was trying to make people laugh. We were laughing. But there were also a lot of fans who came to gigs afterwards holding up Colbert signs.

EW: What about I Love You, Man? How did that happen?
GL:They just called us up. The director is a big Rush fan. It’s not one ofthose things that we normally do, but there was something about the wayhe presented it that seemed like the right thing to do. And we likedthe actors that were involved. We’re all comedy freaks. When Jason Segel was in Freaks and Geeks he played the drummer who was a big Neil Peart fan. It just seemed right.

EW: What was shooting it like?
GL: It was a blast. For usit was easy. We just played the same song over and over again 150times. So we’re playing and we got the pleasure of watching these comicactors do take after take. We were being entertained the whole time. Iloved it. They’re so nice, those guys: Paul Rudd and Jason Segel andRashida Jones. And it came at a tough time, because we were on tour. Itwas right between a couple of gigs. That was our day off. So it wasnice that it was such a fun experience, because we were pretty beat. Iwas very happy we did it. I hope people like it.

EW: Any interest in doing another movie? What would you want to be in?
GL:Any movie. We’re all available. We’re putting ourselves out there. Weall want to be character actors now. We’re ready to be in any movieanybody wants to put us into. I’d love to be in a Coen brothers film. Iwould love to have a bit part in The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. I love the book, and I am perfect for that movie. I think they should put me in one of the scenes somewhere. I look the part, trust me.


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Comments (83 total) Add your comment
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  • Karl

    Nice to see that Rush is getting some well-deserved attention and appreciation after all these years.

  • JohnnyT

    Amen Karl! RUSH ON!

  • ladlenitz

    Rush has always answered only to Rush. Sure, they tried things — some worked, some didn’t — but they’ve always maintained their integrity, and to the detriment of so many critics for so long, IT WORKED!!! As a diehard fan, I’m thrilled to see them thriving, still making music their way.

  • RicBass4003

    Rush is a band that shows all other bands how it should be done. Still together well over 30 years and putting out new music that is fresh and meaningful. You have bands like AC/DC putting out new stuff that still sounds like the old stuff… RUSH evolves and rocks while they do it.

  • Mark

    It’s fantastic to see my favorite band of 25 years finally get in to Entertainment Weekly. Rush is usually known as the “the band with the guy who screeches” but I know them as an intelligent rock band who have never compromised who they are in the 35 years they’ve been together. Most Rush fans know that Geddy is a wine “geek” so it was good to see him talk about wine as well as the current state of Rush. I was looking forward to seeing “I Love You Man” even before I knew Rush was in it. Now I HAVE to see it. BTW, the soundtrack has a version of “Limelight” done by Jason Segel and Paul Rudd. They do it some justice.

  • Alex (no not the)

    Thanks, Ged, for doing all these interviews and continuing to give your fans something to smile about.

  • Jon Lane

    I remember, soon after The Colbert Report appearance, reading hateful comments about the him coming out during the song and I just couldn’t believe that people didn’t get the joke.

  • Mark

    Thank you Geddy, Alex and Neil- you guys have never taken yourselves as seriously as the critics think, and it’s great to see people finally giving you the respect you’ve earned and deserve!

  • Westbrook

    An oxymoron of sorts. RUSH is the Intelligent Clown of the “Rock World.”
    It’s good to see RUSH is getting the deserved attention. Maybe now the retarded monkeys in charge of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions will see RUSH’s contributions and finally open the door.
    As Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

  • Jack Roscigno

    Hey it’s great to see Rush getting a little well deserved publicity for a change…the critics have never gotten Rush and that’s always been the inside joke amongst the Rush fans…so now to see the ew kissing Geddys’ butt is kinda cool. Now we need the rock n roll hall of shame to recognize Rush and all will be right in the world..thank you Ged, Alex and Neil..you guys are still an inspiration to me after all these years…..thank you for being the soundtrack to our lives…..jack!!!!

  • J.J.

    Rush is a gift!! that have been there for us in tough times and made our great times greater!! Cheers to Neil,Geddy and Alex!! to keep going for decades to come…

  • Tim H.

    I have been a fan since 1978 and rush has never dissapointed . Thanks for keeping it real.

  • Nick

    For all of the great music over the years – THANK YOU RUSH! At this stage in the game, as long as Alex, Geddy, and Neil are happy and healthy everything us Rush fans get from here on out is utter bonus…

  • Robert

    Rush has always been my favorite band, even though they seemed inaccessible early on. I mean, one never read about scandals, drugs, groupies & all the things “rock” bands are known for. Turns out that these guys really are the antithesis of what most rock bands stand for – the excesses of the rock lifestyle. They’s all family guys, have kept their noses clean & seem to be really nice, down-to-earth people. And they make some of the best rock music this planet has seen. It’s hard not to be in awe of these 3 gentlemen once you realize what they’re about. My oldest son has recently come to a great appreciation of this wonderful group of guys, too bad my youngest won’t have the opportunity to see them perform except on film/media (by the time they are able to attend a concert, the guys will be in their late 60’s, as will I, almost). But anytime they come to my area, I’ll get the best tix & see them until they are too old to tour…thanks for the music & admirable character!

  • Mitch Morrison

    I know many Rush fans feel the way I do, that the band and their incredible music is “our little secret”. As long as that is not comprimised, I do enjoy seeing the guys getting some mainstream play.

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