"Someone said that I sounded like the damned howling in Hades": Geddy Lee on why Rush shunned their record label and management's wishes that they'd become the next Led Zeppelin or Bad Company

Rush in 2013
(Image credit: Larry Marano/Getty Images)

Rush's Geddy Lee recently conducted an interview with his hometown magazine Toronto Life to promote his newly-published autobiography My Effin’ Life, and admitted that his bandmate opted not to take the path that their record label and management considered their "destiny."

Admitting that the group's third album, 1975's Caress Of Steel, was "pretty weird" and "wasn’t well received with the general population" Lee tells the magazine that he, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart considered "that the very idea of compromise was offensive" and refused to listen to those who suggested that perhaps a more radio-friendly sound might reap greater rewards.

"That’s what our label and management wanted us to do," Lee recalls. "They kept saying that our destiny was to be like Led Zeppelin or Bad Company, but we had other ideas. We refused to shy away from the concept album. Instead, we put out a better one about things happening in space. That album was 2112. It didn’t make it any easier for us to get on the radio, but the word of mouth was palpably different with 2112, and it started a groundswell."

Acknowledging that his band's music isn't for everyone and that some might consider his vocals an acquired taste, Lee admits, "Someone once said that I sounded like the damned howling in Hades."

"Over the years, I’ve spent time expanding my range to be more melodious. But the real fans like it when I go all the way up there."

Last week, during an interview with Vulture, Lee was asked to nominate a Rush song 'that should be adapted into a screenplay'.

"There are a couple that could make very different types of films if someone wanted to take them on," he responded. "2112 is obvious as a sci-fi story of 'the individual against the collective.' I think the setting of it would lend itself to visual interpretation. Whether that’s been done too much, I don’t know. You’ve got generations of Star Wars films. It’s not new territory, but there’s something in that story that would translate into the genre."

"More importantly and more originally, I’d love an interpretation of the entirety of Clockwork Angels," Lee added. "It’s based on a classic story of a naïve and innocent person going out into the world, and running away to try to find the place to make his dreams come true. He goes through all those various phases of his life where he’s duped, where he recovers from that, where he falls in love, where he loses his love, and then it all adds up to the fullness of his life. That really would lend itself to a fantasy story, but not necessarily a sci-fi fantasy story. When you look at what’s been done with shows like The Last of Us or Game of Thrones, you can take cinema anywhere now. Yet the story at the heart of Clockwork Angels is a full circle of life."

My Effin’ Life by Geddy Lee is out now, on Harper.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.