What people are saying about lead Bush man Gavin Rossdale
by Mark Guarino
Daily Herald Music Critic
In the early ’90s, Bush debuted as the U.K.’s answer to U.S. grunge. With hits like “Everything Zen” and “Little Things,” the band was immediately tagged as Nirvana rip-off artists. But once grunge died – and with it, an entire slate of bands – Bush emerged as one of the best representatives from that era.
Witness “Golden State” (Atlantic), the band’s fourth album and its strongest in terms of pop songcraft and deafening aggression. It also got caught up in a bit of post-Sept. 11 controversy. An album cover depict-ing a plane in silhouette was canned in favor of a solid gold background and the song title “Speed Kills” became “The People that We Love.”
Unlike their last album when they chose to stay home, Bush is on a full-blown U.S. tour. Lead singer Gavin Rossdale recently spoke via phone from a London studio.
Q: I’ve seen Bush live three times and each time you spent a lot of time in the crowd. At the Allstate Arena last December, you fought through an entire floor of people to reach the back of the arena. Where does that, let’s say suicidal, momentum come from?
A: I don’t know. Sometimes I just get overcome. I don’t stage dive, that’s been so done. If you (walk through) a crowd, it’s exciting you know. It brings the level up. It’s just the element of the unknown about it. But you can’t do it all the time.
Q: There’s a lot of great pop songcraft on this new record, but it’s also much more aggressive than your last. Was it your intent to go back and make full-throttle rock records again?
A: I guess so. I think it was a combination of things. The last (album – 1999’s “The Science of Things”), I had an idea for it. I had a couple of people I really enjoyed working with and really gelled with, but unfortunately they weren’t necessarily the guys in the band. (laughs) I didn’t want to be doing just rock music. It was boring to make loads and loads of records that were the same record. I didn’t see the point. I’m like a scolded child. So anyway, when we were making this one, everyone was like cool, let’s totally collaborate on it. We began it on a more traditional route.
Q: Were there any touchstones for this record that were in the back of your mind when you were making it?
A: It’s ironic because I’ve been so accustomed to being accused of having issues with Nirvana on the first record (1994’s “Sixteen Stone”), which is really weird. I can think of different people’s approaches, but once you’re in and making your own record, they just become you. I always go, “oh (expletive), I wanted to still be Public Image on that song,” but I always forsake it because I go off on tangents.
Q: When you debuted in the U.S., grunge was at an all-time high and you were always being compared as ripping off Nirvana. Did you ever get sick of those comparisons?
A: I hated them. I hated that so much. It’s so annoying because it was like everyone has certain bits about them. I used to hear much, much worse. I had one song (“Everything Zen”) that had little things, which was Pixies via Nirvana. It was that thing P.J. Harvey had, that generic grunge rhythm. But then to have a flood over the whole (expletive) rest of the other songs, it was like, absurd. There’s much more to it than that one song. The other thing is, there’s nothing wrong with having bits of people (in your music). I hear bits of us in bands now. There’s a band that’s big in Britain now, the Cooper Temple Clause, and I hear a couple of other bands in there. It doesn’t alter the fact they have so much going for themselves. That was my point. If Kurt hadn’t died, nothing would have mattered. That song sounds like that band and everyone would have gone about their business. It was like spirit of the times. I said this to Dave Grohl once when we made up over the whole thing and stopped arguing about it. I said, “I just (expletive) thought you were a great band and I was inspired by that.” And doesn’t everyone wear (their influences) on their sleeves when they make their first record? Music is referenced by references. When I’m in the studio I’m always asking “what is this, who am I?” I’m just a (expletive) musician.
Q: You’re also one half of one of rock’s most famous couples right now. What kind of pressure does dating No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani create for your role in the band?
A: None. It makes it easier, much, much easier. She’s the dream girl because I never have to explain why I haven’t rung from the studio. I don’t explain why I’m on tour. I don’t have to explain anything. It’s perfect.
Q: You’re both on separate tours right now. Doesn’t that make it tough to see each other?
A: Yes, we both have records out, but it’s essential to be your-self. You get better results being yourself. It’s much cooler. She has to do whatever she has to do. We spend way more time together than people realize. If we’re not on tour, we’re usually together. It has always been the case.
Bush plays at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Riviera, 4750 N. Broadway, Chicago, with Default. The show is sold out.