"We sound like a really bad tribute band": Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee have been playing Rush songs together

Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee together at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, 2017
Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee together at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, 2017 (Image credit: Jim Spellman/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame via Getty Images)

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson has revealed that he's been playing songs from the band's back catalogue with frontman Geddy Lee. In a new interview with Rolling Stone [paywalled link], Lifeson details his recent health battles, and reveals that while he's enjoying the experience of performing the songs in private, there are no plans for the duo to take them on the road.  

"It’s funny because we sound like a really bad tribute band for the first three or four run-throughs on these things," says Lifeson. "It’s 'Oh, my God, what did I play there? Why did I play that so hard?' And then muscle memory kicks in, and we’re having a ball doing it. It’s good for the fingers. We’re together in a room like we’ve always been. 

"That’s been really good, but there’s no chance that we’re going to get a drummer and go back on the road as the rebirth of Rush or something like that. And if we wanted to write new material, nobody cares about new material anymore. They just want to hear the old stuff from guys like us."

When it's suggested that Lee appears to be keen on the idea of some kind of Rush-related project, Lifeson doubles down.

"We’ve talked about it in depth, and I was waffling between maybe considering it and not," he says. "And then my health issues came up. I know if we went on the road, it couldn’t be like we used to do it. You need to go out for five or six months. You can’t just go out and play on the weekends. It just doesn’t work that way, especially if it’s going to be a big production. I don’t know. We talk a lot about it. We’re in different worlds."

Elsewhere in the interview, Lifeson reveals that he underwent a complicated surgical procedure last summer after experiencing stomach problems, an operation that left him with nausea for nine months. He's subsequently had to give up cigarettes and alcohol.  

"I love wine and I’ve been a collector for, boy, 40, 45 years," he says. "So that was a little bit difficult to give it up, and I will have a glass of wine once in a while. I pay for it, but I will have it once in a while."  

"Alex and I have been in very different head-spaces for a few years," Geddy Lee told Classic Rock late last year. "And our timing has not been good, mainly because I keep writing these effin’ books, which takes me away from having time to spend doing my proper gig. But we talk about it. I see Alex all the time. We’re still as close as two pals can be. So it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that we would do some writing together." 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.