Lee playing his Fender Jazz Bass and singing at a 2008 live performance at the Xcel Energy Center
|Birth name||Gary Lee Weinrib|
July 29, 1953 |
Willowdale, Ontario, Canada
|Genres||Progressive rock, hard rock, heavy metal|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, producer|
|Labels||Mercury, Anthem, Atlantic|
|Associated acts||Rush, Big Dirty Band|
|Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass
Custom Wal basses
I was taking piano lessons with a very good piano instructor in Toronto, and I'm afraid due to my schedule and discipline, it kind of fell apart. One thing lead to another and I was unable to practice as much as I wanted to.
I think jamming is the way we begin to communicate. In the old days, people actually wrote notes on paper and sent them to each other. I guess that's how they jammed.
My diet, my regime, the whole life I have on the road has always got that little bit of stress because I'm always afraid I'm going to get a cold. And it's just such a nightmare when you got a cold or an irritation and you have to do a show.
Sometimes it's nice to have a song that can be taken more then one way, so it can be interpreted differently.
I like to be able to come and go as I please, and I don't really like having my face and name plastered around. I think it's a bit weird to have your name plastered on every page in a magazine, where in each case you're using a different piece of equipment.
The first song that made me interested in music was 'Oh, Pretty Woman' by Roy Orbison. It was the guitar intro, that riff, that I really liked and made me listen in a different way.
For me, there is a lot of room for improvement and there are a lot of things I would like to be better at.
My studio is designed for atmosphere. I have a really cozy, comfortable room that has a great, huge glass door that views my backyard.
It's a battle between record company, between producer and between mastering engineer. Because the louder you make your record in a digital process, the more dynamics are squished out of it. Nobody knows exactly what happens, but the dynamics in the performance disappear, and everything is at the same volume.
If you have some magical chemistry that actually find the music you make compelling, that is a big bonus.
I worry about my voice 24/7 when I'm on tour. It's like a pitcher and his arm. It's constantly the thing that my whole life revolves around.
Rock and Roll does have its limits as far as the aging process. You want to go out there and play while you're at your peak, right? I think that's encouraging us to keep going out on the road – to maximize the playing at the moment.
I can't remember the first song I learned to play on bass, but the first song I learned to play on guitar was 'For Your Love' by the Yardbirds. That kind of was the beginning for me. I thought it was a great song and I loved the open chord progression at the beginning of that song.
Some writing and production projects will be a great way to spend my elderly rock years.
So, I don't know what is going to happen when the CD comes out, how well it will sell, etc. But, from a personal point of view, it was a very worthwhile endeavor.
Well, I've been lucky. I've never gotten a voice polyp. I've never gotten nodes. But I do get sick, usually every tour, and to varying degrees. Sometimes it's a sinusitis.
I prefer to think of myself as a musician who is still learning and trying to do something every time out.
I liked the fact that I was forced to get inside of my emotions and to really try to figure out a lot of what I was going through.
With me, satisfaction is always very fleeting with our work. I always get a little restless with it.
I would like to think that Ben and myself have begun a partnership that will take us into different areas of music that we can continue to write, enjoy and keep me involved with music other then what I do with RUSH.
Playing live is such a total visceral experience, and really, as a musician, you're trained from the beginning to be a live performer.
First of all, when you live in a country like Canada, it's quite different from America in the sense that it's very tied to traditions that were born in Britain.
I do love using keyboards and I love writing keyboard parts, but I am not a player in the true sense of the word.
I think you just have to cross your fingers that there's enough artists out there that keep producing interesting work, and eventually it will form a kind of wave that will force people to pay attention to it.
It's very rare – and it does happen on occasion – where I'll take a piece of lyric and I'll just sit down and purposefully craft that melody around that lyric because I think the lyric is the wellspring for the song, without question.
I like to practice on the bass, but I don't do it as often as I should.
You spend most of your life working and trying to hone your craft, working on your chops, working on your writing, and you don't really think about accolades. Then you get a bit older and they start coming your way. It's a nice pat on the back.
With the help of modern technology, I can compose intricate keyboard parts and then I have to go back and learn them in order to perform them properly.
I think, basically, the music industry is scattered and in a mess. I think you've got lots of people that are so-called 'experts' that have no idea where it's headed.
There was a time when fast playing and fretboard pyrotechnics on the bass were important to me and when I am recording a bass track, that is still very important to me.
But, I would be naive not to recognize the number of musicians who tell me they have been influenced by me and sight me – as well as Alex and Neil – as a musician who has been a positive influence on their playing.
Live records of mine are very painful to listen to because you always think you can do it better. I don't think I have a single favorite one.
My emotions are very simple and always have been about the Hall of Fame. It's something that I had absolutely nothing to do with and had no control over, so I never thought much about it, to be frank.
I feel safe and comfortable to do that once I know that the song structure around the bass part is very interesting and it satisfies me in a compositional sense.
I have a lot of hobbies and I can be very remiss in reminding myself to go down to the basement to work.
Music turned to digital, and suddenly you had the possibility to make things louder than loudest, which boggles the mind but it's true, and what you have are all kinds of different ways of distorting your music.
Live albums are very important for Rush, and they became sort of a closing chapter for us.
If I start mining for opinions on hundreds of websites that have fan forums, I'll be totally distorted in my view of myself. I'll lose myself in all that.
When I usually go to my studio to work, I start with something that is going to take two minutes just to put some idea down and the next thing I know, ten hours have gone by and my family is screaming at me because they want me to come up to have dinner with them.
Certainly my personality, my sense of humor, my outlook on life was informed by the experiences of my parents and the stories they shared with me.
Something happens when you become an elder rock & roller and you're still functioning. People start to give you awards and recognize achievements. It's the life achievement period of your career.
Back in the day, fans wrote letters to groups – you'd get them, although it could take a while. Now, artists can go online and there's discussions about what you should and shouldn't be doing. The minute you announce that you're recording an album, thousands of people are telling you what that album should be.
I have such an extreme attitude about work, where I can just completely be derelict of my responsibilities and then when I am not derelict, I am completely indulged in it. I swing pretty wildly from the two extremes.
Then, once I have lyrics, being able to shape them around a song is nothing new for me, I've been doing that for 25 years. The soul searching part of it, the spontaneous part of it, that was, and remains, a really terrific process.
When I do a take, I very often try things that I haven't planned to try to see if I can pull it off.