The Sound of Science
August 01, 1999

Can it really have been a mere five years since Bush made a huge splash on this side of the pond with “Sixteen Stone?” It feels as if the multi-platinum quartet has been around forever. Maybe that’s only because it’s so often grouped, rightly or not, with groundbreaking bands that carved their own paths well before Bush appeared on the scene: the Pixies, Nick Cave’s Birthday Party, Nirvana (of course).

The Brit band’s melodic, emotive, grunge-inflected rock has continued to evolve, keeping millions of loyal fans around the globe happy as hell. Yet more than a few critics still dismiss Bush as a pretender to the throne. Paradoxically, what has always been most refreshing and disarming about Robin Goodridge (drums), Dave Parsons (bass), Nigel Pulsford (guitar), and sexy brainiac frontman/Gwen Stefani paramour Gavin Rossdale (guitar/vocals) is how readily they acknowledge their debt to their sonic forerunners while always pursuing a course that is, in the end, unquestionably their own.

Bush’s cryptically-titled third studio release, “The Science of Things,” might just be the charm that silences the naysayers; while the group has clearly grown musically, it has also chosen to hook up once again with the duo of Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who produced its monster debut. Coming a half-decade after that disc, which featured huge, radio-friendly singles like “Everything Zen” and “Glycerine” (the equally strong, Steve Albini-produced follow-up, “Razorblade Suitcase,” had only one major hit, “Swallowed”), the new album has had a torturous time making it to market. The band only recently settled a lawsuit brought by its own label, Trauma, which charged Bush with breach-of-contract for failing to deliver the album on time.

But now, with the suit in the past and the band touring in anticipation of a fall release, all seems right with Bush’s world. Rossdale and Pulsford recently chatted with Roger Coletti of the MTV Radio Network about the fallout from the lawsuit, what it’s like to play live again, and how they really wanted Orson Welles to direct the new video ­ until they remembered he was dead. Enjoy.

MTV: Does it feel good to be back out on stage?

Nigel Pulsford: Yeah, it’s great.

MTV: Are you guys torn between doing some of these really small club gigs, and then doing huge arena shows? How do you adjust to that?

NP: I don’t think you adjust, you just play.

Gavin Rossdale: Besides, we all came from clubs anyway. It’s as natural an environment as one of those big outdoor venues. Obviously you wouldn’t want to play just club shows, but if you play only huge, massive gigs, somehow it takes something away. Sometimes it’s good to have small shows, and then the people who are coming to see you feel like they’re witnessing something special. I mean, you can make everything an event.

MTV: During these club shows, have you been introducing stuff from the new album?

GR: Yeah, definitely. I mean, we have to, of course. In some ways, it would be preferable to debut the whole album. But we’re doing the anti-sell. We’re playing because we want to play, and we will incorporate as many new songs as we feel will keep the audience involved. Certainly, you don’t want to come out and be really difficult…

NP:”Now, here’s another slow ballad…. ”

GR: We’re just going to mix it up, so that basically it makes for a really dynamic show.

MTV: What’s the response been like so far to the new material live?

NP: Really positive. Often when you go see bands play new stuff, you’re like, “Christ, I wish they’d play some old stuff!” But it’s been good, I think, because we’ve been trying to sort of build the set so that there are a few songs that you know, and a couple of songs that you don’t know, and then mix it up. People really seem to like it.

MTV: When you put all the songs together live from each album, then you really see where the connections are, and where the connections aren’t. Do you see these songs as being very different from those on the first and second albums, or is there a definite connection?

GR: I think the connection is the fact that it’s the same people making the sounds. But I think there’s a natural connection, there’s a thread, and they fit together. And yet there’s quite a difference between them because we’re just trying to get more and more textured, and we’ve got a friend of ours, Sasha, playing with us as well, bringing us a lot of sounds. We’re just trying to mix it up a little bit.

MTV: You’ve got a friend playing with you? In what capacity?

GR: Just a couple of keyboard things; basically, he’s a good friend of ours, and we wanted to give him a job.

MTV: For this album you guys went with Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who worked with you on your first record. Why did you decide to do that?

GR: Lack of other choices.

NP: Yeah, we scraped the barrel and that was all we came up with. No, they just guided us through the first album. And so it’s an awfully good choice, really, to go back with them, because last time we did it with Steve [Albini] and it was basically him just recording us the way we wanted to be recorded. This time it was a case of just going back, because we knew Clive and Alan, we knew what we could achieve with them.

GR: And what we couldn’t get away with. If someone didn’t know you they might not feel relaxed enough to say, “That was really crap, and boring, don’t do that.” Alan doesn’t really say that much. Clive is the one who sits in the back, hangs out, and gives his opinion about things. But when you’re not sure what to do, it’s really good to have people like Clive around, because he’s been there, he’s written big songs, like “Shipbuilding” with Elvis Costello. And, you know, he plied us with wine, and we realized, yeah, we should do the right thing.

MTV: When you went in to do this record, did you record 30 songs and pick the best ones, or what?

GR: Seventeen.

NP: We rehearsed a lot more, and then we just pared down, because we realized it would be ridiculous to go in and record, say, 25 songs, because we’d be spreading ourselves too thin.

MTV: Now, you know that Bush fans are very excited to hear this album’s coming out, finally. It’s been a long time.

GR: It’s been torturous for us, to be honest. But suffice to say that everything has its reason, you know. So it’s okay, it won’t be long now. The record will be at radio stations in about a month. Really soon, as we do the artwork and the video’s done and everything. And things were held up, because that’s just the nature of life sometimes.

MTV: Can you briefly sum up the legal issue that took so long to resolve?

GR: The legal issue was just communication. We asked for some communication and we didn’t get any.

NP: We got a lot of mumbling.

GR: We got a lot of silence. So we just had to wait it out. These situations are always like wars of attrition. Who can stay silent the longest?

NR: Yeah, we discovered this charity called Lawyers in Need, and we realized that these f***ing guys are starving, so we want to feed them.

MTV: So hopefully they’ll do better now.

GR: They’re fat now.

MTV: Have you guys decided on a single?

NP: Yeah, it’s called “Kill the Lawyers.”

GR: It’s called “The Chemicals Between Us.”