Alex Lifeson (left), Neil Peart and Geddy Lee pose for a hair-raising promo pic.
RUSH: BEYOND THE LIGHTED STAGE directed by Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen. An Alliance Films release. 106 minutes. Screening tonight (June 10) at the Scotiabank Theatre. See Movie Times.
It's no surprise that Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson finish each other's sentences. They've known each other for four decades and they've been performing as Rush for most of that time; they're as adept at picking up each other's thoughts as they are at trading notes onstage.
Along with bandmate Neil Peart, Lee and Lifeson are celebrated and venerated in Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen's Beyond The Lighted Stage. Fresh from its Hot Docs debut, the documentary is getting a one-night-only screening in theatres across Canada tonight (Thursday, June 10) before its DVD release at the end of the month.
"I think it's kind of a miracle that they made an interesting film, when they had this material to work with," Lee says, leaning back against the conference table at Alliance's King East offices.
"The film has good balance and pace, " Lifeson says, "and I think it's great for non-Rush fans as well. It's a nice story."
He's right. The movie does hit the expected beats of the Rush story, charting their evolution over the decades into what Lee calls "the world's most popular cult band," and offers testimonials from famous fans. But it also peeks into their personal lives, which led Lee and Lifeson to dig through their basements for archival material.
"They just kind of invaded my cellar for a couple of days," Lee says. "Forced me to dig up all my own stuff - which was kinda good, because I'd lost my pictures of my son when he was born and some of our early pictures of my wife and me together. So it actually was good inspiration to find all that stuff - and I found it all."
The documentary notes that Rush is finally nudging into the American mainstream, gaining new fans by appearing on The Colbert Report and playing a key role in Paul Rudd and Jason Segel's bromance, last year's I Love You, Man.
"With I Love You, Man," Lifeson says, "[director] John Hamburg said, ‘Look, there's no movie unless we use Rush. There's no movie! And I'm not sure they're gonna go for it!' But of course when we heard about it - what the script was about, and that Paul and Jason were in it, it was like, ‘Yeah! Of course!'"
"A lot of times," Lee says, "we get requests like ‘They want to put your T-shirt on a mass murderer. Are you cool with that?' And we're like, ‘Well, no....'"
As they move into their fifth decade together, Lee and Lifeson seem to be in a comfortable place. They're doing what they love, people are listening, and it's easier than ever to work together.
"There's just something really interesting about working with this guy," Lee says. "We've just finished working on six songs, and they're some of the best writing sessions we've ever had; they felt really creative, really fresh and natural. Obviously, that's something about the way we connect with each other."
"I think the last six or seven or eight years we've been writing together have been the best years for us," says Lifeson. "Very focused, relaxed and spirited. When we're writing now, we get results instantly. It might not be the best thing, but they're all pretty good, and they always develop into something richer and bigger and better."
Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson on making music after four decades:
Lee and Lifeson on living and working in Toronto:
Lifeson and Lee on pursuing more eclectic projects: