The 16 Stone Heavies

by Diana Godley
Smash Hits (Australian)

Once upon a time there was a band called Bush. They lived in London and in 1994 they recorded an album called “Sixteen Stone”. The folks at home thought they were far too noisy and didn’t fit in with the Brit-pop thing at all, so completely ignored them. The lads from Bush knew when to take a hint, so packed their bags and headed for the gold-paved streets of America. Funnily enough, their debut album was snapped up by the truckload stateside and went gold overnight!

But that was over a year ago and it’s all a bit blase to the band now. “Another day, another million dollars,” says the band’s sticksman, Robin Goodridge. “It gets boring after the first couple of million. Throw it in the pile with the rest,” he continues, with tongue firmly placed in cheek.

Understandably, the four-piece have been touring ever since their big break. “The best thing about touring is mental people going mental,” says the band’s vocalist, Gavin Rossdale. “That energy rush, whether it’s from 500 people or 20,000 people, is just brilliant. Afterwards, all you can do is stay up for 10 hours. There isn’t a band in the world who comes off stage and goes straight to bed.”

The downside of touring, however, is trying to hold down a relationship from the other side of the Atlantic. This is something Bush’s pensmith had to confront recently when his model girlfriend of four-and-a-half years called it a day. “I’m a single guy,” says Gavin a little morosely. “I just need to convince her that I’m good for her – despite the fact that I’m never around.” He offered to fly her to America to be with him, but she’d just landed a modeling job in Japan. He tried persuading her further by offering to pay her the same amount of money she would earn from this job; she went to Japan.

Gavin, who was born 30 October, 1967, and grew up in London with his doctor father (his parents split up when he was just a nipper), discovered music through punk rock, which exploded onto the scene before Gav had graduated into long pants. Nevertheless, Gav found an idol in the gawky figure of Sex Pistol’s bass player Sid Vicious and would attempt copying the punk prince in dress and spiky hairdos.

In his early twenties, Gav sang in a few bands and generally hung out in London. After a short stint in Los Angeles though, he returned to his home town and was determined to learn guitar in order to write really wicked songs. After a concert one night, Gavin met guitarist Nigel Pulsford and over a few beers decided they had lots in common musically and they should hook up together. Dave Parsons (ex-Transvision Vamp) was recruited on bass and Robin Goodridge did the one-foot-in-the-door salesman thing and talked then into replacing the existing drummer with his good self. “I thought Gavin was a rock star but the drummer was shite,” he recalls with fond memories. And Bush’s success is certainly proof of Robin’s first impressions.

Star quality includes looks. Does Gavin think himself good-looking? “I suppose,” he admits a little reluctantly. “You know, some people might like the band because of things that have less to do with the music, and that doesn’t flatter me. I was a musician for years, so if my appearance is all there is, then why wasn’t i successful with my other bands? Because they weren’t good enough.”

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

“A different person all the time. People always tell me I look exhausted. In hotel rooms, the light is always terrible in the bathroom. I just look quickly and get on with it.”

“Glycerine”, the name of the hit single sitting atop the hit parade, is also the name of a substance used in explosives. Mmm, certainly a strange name for a love song. When quizzed about the song, Gavin replies, “It’s nitroglycerine, as opposed to hand soap. I’m fascinated by an inanimate object that can cause so much destruction. It can sit there like a fat wad, and then it blows up…” Good. Well we’re glad that’s sorted.