by Malcolm Hubbard
It’s taken him nearly five years, and the run-away success of his band’s first two albums, but ever-so-slowly Gavin Rossdale has begun to grow more comfortable with the notion of stardom. While Bush’s charismatic vocalist/guitarist may never be totally happy to see his handsome face plastered on magazine covers or to hear talk of his off-stage relationships filling gossip wires, Rossdale has learned how to live within the often intrusive light of success. After all, what other choice foes he have? With sales for Bush’s first two releases – Sixteen Stone and Razorbalde Suitcase – nearing the ten million level, and work on the band’s next studio disc, The Science of All Things now nearing completion, Mr. Rossdale knows full-well that his lot in life – at least for the foreseeable future – has now been cast in hard rock. and, as he is the first to admit, despite the near – constant intrusions, the occasionally harsh critical reactions, and the total lack of privacy, it’s really not that bad a life at all. Recently we caught up with the hyperactive Rossdale to learn about the latest happenings in the always fascinating world of Bush.
Hit Parader: After the success of Bush’s first two-albums, does working on a new one present a unique set of problems?
Gavin Rossdale: I would say that each album presents different problems. We’re still a relatively young band, so in many ways we’re still learning our craft. We only have two albums that have been completed, and that is not an overwhelming body of work. But we learn quickly, and we’re certainly not afraid to take a few chances. I like to feel that the greatest problem we may face is matching our own expectations.
HP: What are your expectations this time?
GR: To make music that is exciting and challenging to both of us and to our fans. I think that we’ve found out what our strengths are over the last few years, but that doesn’t mean that we must always play to those strengths. There is no challenge if the goal is merely to recreate the sound – and with it, the success – of earlier efforts.
HP: Has success been everything you’ve dreamed it would be?
GR: It’s very hard to say. At times we work so hard that it’s difficult to really appreciate all that we’ve accomplished. Up until the last album came out, I didn’t even have a place to live. We were so busy on the road, and working on new music that I hadn’t even thought about something as basis as that.
HP: Being on the road all the time must play havoc with your personal relationships.
GR: It can. Before the first album came out I has been going out with the same woman for a number of years. i felt that we had quite a solid relationship. But I went on the road, toured the world, and when I came back, she had just split. All the attention, and all the idle talk that surrounded us just apparently got to her. It was very strange. I came back to London that first time with a hit album, and I felt like was living in a graveyard. Some parts of my life had really come together, while at the exact same time, others had fallen apart.
HP: Was that a harsh lesson to learn?
GR: Yes, in some ways it was. But you just go on, you learn to live with it. I’ve been making music long enough to know that you have to make sacrifices for it. I put in seven years of making music without any sort of recognition before things started to break for this band. I’m glad now that I didn’t know how long it would take – I might have freaked out and forgotten about the whole thing. But in the late ’80’s I was really into the whole lifestyle. I was only 17, and I was living this whole sort of misguided commune sort of thing. There were always so many people around – so many other musicians – that making music was just the natural thing to do.
HP:When you hear people refer to you as a “sex symbol” how do you react?
GR: Usually I laugh. How are you supposed to react to something like that? I guess you could just say “thank you” and walk away. But hopefully any sexual attitude that surrounds the band stems more from the music we make than from the way I look. I’ve heard that the sexual aspect of rock and roll have really been missing in the ’90’s and that we’re one of the first bands that tried to put them back in there. I think that’s a very good thing.
HP: Do you ever worry that fans don’t respond tot he true power of Bush’s music because of the way you look?
GR: I don’t know if your necessarily need to look a certain way to play powerful music. There have been so many different artists over the decades who’ve made great music and their looks have covered the entire spectrum. perhaps we have gotten the back hand treatment from some segments of the media because of our appearance, and because of the frenzy that our music creates, but that’s alright. I don’t think I could ever live with the concept of pleasing everybody. I enjoy having a bit of love/hate relationship. I think that a lot of people have come to either love what I do – or hate it. I like that.
HP: As you toured the world over the years, have you sensed the growing tide of “Bush-mania”?
GR: It does seem as id the hysterical reactions we sometimes get now occur virtually everywhere we go. Even after the first album was hit in America, there were places we could go where we were still virtually unknown. That’s not true anymore. Now that kind of reaction follows up everywhere.
HP: Is that reaction suffocating?
GR: As times it is. Being a musician you lead a strange life to begin with. You’re awake when most of the world is asleep, and you’re asleep when most of the world is awake. Then, when you run the risk of becoming a virtual prisoner in your hotel because there are people waiting for you in the lobby, life can take on certain surrealistic overtones. You’ve got to strive to lead as normal a life as possible – though as times that is virtually impossible when you’re on the road. Still, it’s quite an inexpensive price to pay for all the benefits we’ve received.
HP: Have you been satisfied with the kind of reaction that your music has received?
GR: All I can say is that we are all quite pleased with the albums – perhaps even more so now than when we first recorded them. After the success of the first one we had to decide exactly in which direction to go; whether to stay in the same musical vein, or to strike out in new directions. I think we hit upon a very nice compromise. I know that we may never be a critic’s band – any group that enjoys a great deal of commercial success seems to be naturally hated by critics – but the fans seem happy with what we’ve done. That, and the fact that we’re quite satisfied makes me very content.