with Gavin Rossdale of Bush
“I memorize the basics,” croons Bush vocalist Gavin Rossdale in the opening line of the band’s recent release The Science of Things. And despite some claims that the band has turned from alternative rock to electronica, the members of Bush certainly have not forgotten the basics of a good rock album: Strong captivating vocals, loud guitars and thoroughly addictive hook lines.
NYR There was a lot of talk about your lawsuit with Trauma Records. You guys were pretty upset….
GR Basically, we kept knocking on their door and got no reaction at all. After a while we really got fed up with it. We felt like we’ve got to beg them to release the album and told them that given the reaction we get from them – which was basically no reaction at all – we might not release our album with Trauma.
NYR A pretty normal reaction, given that you were one of their major bread winners.
GR I don’t think that we were out of order. I think we had a pretty normal and civilized reaction and then all of a sudden we got slapped with a lawsuit from Trauma. They wanted to sue us for 40 million dollars because we didn’t deliver the album, so of course we had to counter sue.
NYR Not exactly one of the coziest situations, but it was resolved….
GR We finished recording and showed them the album. A few days later we had the new contract. Imagine it. We’ve been fighting for about a year and in less than a week it was all resolved. That’s so crazy but I guess that’s what happens if there is no real communication.
NYR Looking at it in retrospect, was it a blessing in disguise or just aggravation for nothing?
GR I think the only meaning behind it is that a couple of lawyers made a lot of money. Some magazines had cheap headlines and that’s the end of it now. The only people who benefit from lawsuits are lawyers. I think we made a couple of them rich. I can only hope that they toast us – we’d deserve it. I guess we sponsored a couple of nice condos.
NYR I thought it was odd that after your last tour, the rest of the band relaxed, but you worked on the new album. Sounds like a manic workaholic….
GR I’m not a workaholic but I was a bit manic, I have to confess. After all, we had the tour and it was pretty stressful. As much as we all love playing live, it’s not normal to be on the road all the time, to have no home. The only way you can talk to friends is on the phone. I see myself as a songwriter and I hadn’t really written songs for a while. I had a couple of ideas but I just didn’t get time to turn them into songs.
NYRWriting songs was a form of therapy?
GR Yes, almost. I needed to write songs. I needed to get the songs out otherwise I think I couldn’t have relaxed. It was pretty good to be away from everything for a while. I could write songs and I could find myself again, get things back into perspective. I really needed it.
NYR Bush is the type of band that doesn’t seem to leave anyone cold. There are the devoted Bush fans and pretty vicious enemies.
GR At least we’re getting a reaction. I thought about it quite a bit and came to the conclusion that any reaction is better than none. After all, there are enough people out there who like us, so I think it’s pretty normal that there are a lot of people out there who don’t like us. Probably a lot of the people who really don’t like us don’t really know anything about us. They just see that there is a successful band and they think that’s reason enough to hate us. Such is life and I can’t change it; so why should I beat myself up over it?
NYR Sounds like you’ve got it all in perspective and don’t let it get to you….
GR It’s really funny; there are critics who seem to downright hate us but we never meet them. The guys who decide that I’m just an arrogant, pretty face, where are they? I only read their articles but I can’t recall that I ever met them. For some critics we might be uncool on account of our popularity. They consider themselves too hip to share the taste of their audience. They try so hard to be hipsters. They try to prove that their taste is too refined to like what others like. Sorry, but I have a hard time taking them seriously.
NYR Is your confidence a result of your steady success?
GR I tell you what; it’s pretty hard to make out what’s going to be a commercial success and what’s not. I don’t know what’s important for the people out there who’re going to buy the album. I always wrote about things that were important to me and I think our past success showed that it was also important for a lot of others. There are so many things that are out of your control. I mean we’re always trying to give our best and we’re always trying to make the best records we can possibly make, but what if the people don’t like it? What if they decide it’s shit? To be in a band, especially in a successful band means to deal with your doubts on a daily basis. It can be pretty hard and merciless.
NYR I don’t doubt that, but it sure beats painting offices like you did before you had your break.
GR : Ha, ha, yes, that it does. But it’s on a different level now. I love what I’m doing – most of the time – but it’s still hard work. The people out there only see your albums in the charts. They see us at award shows and after-show parties. They don’t know anything about your doubts, about the hard work that goes in. They see that you’re a star and that you party. But I don’t know any musician who got to the top without hard work. Take whoever you want, Marilyn Manson, Billy Corgan. They all work bloody hard, harder than you think they do. But a hard-working musician isn’t really spectacular so you hardly ever read about that part.
NYR With all the hard work that goes into it, where is there time to find inspirations?
GR Wherever you look there are inspirations, books, literature, paintings, landscapes, everything. I’m not blind and there’s something everywhere. Just living is an inspiration. My way of dealing with it is through songs because I’m a songwriter. Sometimes I wish I could try my hand with some other things but in the end I just end up writing another song. My songs are my answers, or maybe not even answers, my reflections… Reflections of the impressions I get daily, reflections about how fucked up the world often is.
NYR Speaking of which, you played at Woodstock ’99….
GR A lot of it was really fucked up, I agree. I wasn’t in the audience and as an artist you’re pretty sheltered backstage. You often don’t know what’s going on out there. I thought it was a great concept, a great chance for the kids to have their own Woodstock and the chance to see a lot of bands. I grew up with the myth of Woodstock and my generation never had anything like it. But I was pretty shocked to find out what went on, especially the rapes. What shocked me even more was the fact that girls were raped by security guards. It would be wrong to damn everybody who was there. I think a lot of the kids just came to see a concert. Of course, that doesn’t make it any better for the girls who were raped. It’s sick. But rape happens everywhere, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending rape at all, I’m just saying that it’s a terrible fact that rape seems to be such a part of our society, that women have to be scared of getting raped – that’s pretty fucked up.