Bush Interview

Dot Music
Fri 19 Oct 2001

In a plush London hotel, Dave Parsons, Nigel Pulsford, Gavin Rossdale and Robbie Goodridge, the buoyant quartet that make up the US conquering, UK under performing rockers Bush, are basking in the knowledge that their return has been accompanied by a multitude of changes in virtually every area expect their line-up. As the band put it “change can either destroy you or create something bigger”. All the signs point to the latter scenario about to unfold.

Over the last year they’ve not only moved record label and employed new management but they’ve recorded a new album with a brand new producer who changed their entire approach to work. Even after the interview the band changed the name of their comeback single ‘Speed Kills’ following the terrorist attacks in the US to ‘People That We Love’.

So with the band ringing the changes, dotmusic discovers the circumstances surrounding the return to the studio, what fans expect from the new album ‘Golden State’, the inevitable question about their UK success and the state of rock in general. Don’t even ask how we got on to Bob The Builder!

You went pretty much off the road and straight into the studio. Did you want to keep the momentum going?

Gavin: “The live shows had got really good and the challenge was to go and do a record that could, in some way, infiltrate the set. The result was probably our most direct record for a while. We worked on it just before Christmas rehearsed it and, in February, after a couple of false starts and a couple of false studios, we began the record and spent a few months doing it.”

Weren’t you fatigued?

Robin: “No, we were really fired up and disappointed we’d finished touring.”

Gavin: “We took certain decisions like not to do a massive tour of America and we took certain decisions to go on other tours were maybe not sure about. The change was that we found ourselves in a new situation all round new attack, new policies-don’t know what I’m talking about really.”

Dave: “It’s still been over a year since we toured.”

Tell us about the new single ‘People That We Love’…

Robin: “To us it seemed like the most immediate track. We knew it was a single but it’s quite difficult when you’re inside a record to work out the order or anything. You trust people who’ve been working records for 20 years. It’s good to take other people’s advice.”

Nigel: “And if they are wrong we’ll change record labels again.”

What else can we expect from the album?

Gavin: “For us the rhythm section end is really, really good. It’s a step forward in that area and all the time we’re just trying to improve quite simply. It’s not rocket science making music. It’s about feel and direction and we try to have plenty of both.”

Kerrang! have called this your most important record. Is that how you see it?

Robin: “Each one we release is the most important at that particular time, isn’t it? This is important cos there’s been a lot of change prior to it and change can either destroy you or create something bigger.”

Gavin, you described this as a “real rock record” is this implying that other records out hadn’t been genuine rock?

Gavin: “No it wasn’t aimed at other people at all. What shocked me was by the time you’re sitting in a control room hearing it back it was pretty powerful from just the four of us. We’ve got a brunch of textural things to soften it up but I was shocked by how direct it was.”

Did you do anything different?

Dave: “We worked with Dave Sardy and we’ve never worked with anyone that militant. The attention to all the sounds and all the playing was very meticulous.”

Gavin: “We used to be able to share the workload in the studio but this time when you were on it was like you had to finish the record and it was pretty intense as you’re so focused. It worked really well even if it felt a bit strange at first.”

How did you hook up with this producer?

Nigel: “We needed someone who was strong. In the past we’ve worked with people who’ve let us do what we want. We wanted that strong-arm approach. Someone to stand up and say ‘that was crap’. Be blunt with us and also encouraging. He seemed feisty New York man ready to say what he wants.”

Gavin: “All his records from Soulwax to Marilyn Manson have all sounded really good. He was basically suggested to us as a guy who was bubbling under the surface about to break through to become one of the major producers. He was good to work with.”

Any tracks particular favourites?

Gavin: “We’ve always prided ourselves on not having any fillers. Granted we’ve probably had a couple of turkeys along the way but generally we try and make a cohesive record and this one works really well from top to bottom. We were sure we didn’t want to make this a long record. We felt certain records get a little bit boring once you get past track 12 no matter who you’re listening to. Really concise.”

How much of an impact has the new label had?

Dave: “It’s been really good. The last album we suffered from having a small label and we shouldn’t regret that cos they got us to where we are now. Ultimately we outgrew them and I don’t think we would have been here now if we’d have stayed with them. They won’t have paid to make this record. Finally for the first time in our careers we have a big record company with a worldwide prospective. So far so good.

“We’re on our fourth album and last time round some of the relationships needed sorting out and things needed tidying, changing and mixing up. Now we’re starting a fresh.”

Gavin: “And we did that all in a year new album, new manager, new label. It’s been quite a busy few months.”

You’ve always been stuck with the tag ‘big America, not so big here’. Will this record put that to sleep for good?

Robin: “Will it ever put the question to sleep?”

Gavin: “We’d like to take that question and do with it what we’ve done with some of the personal round the band. But who knows? We’ve always had a good audience here. In the past rock music has never had a major centre stage in this country and so when we entered into it was never really a commercial venture. When we began we never knew we’d sign in America and have the success we had. Everything is kind of a bonus in a weird way.

“Last time we played in London we played to 7-8,000 people so I hate the idea that they’re considered like don’t exist when we’ve had this loyal following. It’d be good to crack it a bit more. It’s not something that we’ll live or die by. We care about it but only to the point where we never get asked that question again. That’d be wicked.”

Has rock never been as popular?

Gavin: “Certainly American rock has never been as popular. Some of it’s good. With Staind it’s a good ballad that could actually be done in any style. It’s not quite as good as Bob The Builder though.”