New album, their debut for Atlantic, in stores October 23
U.K. ALTERNATIVE ROCK ACT Bush took the States by storm in 1994, infecting airwaves with five prosperous singles off their rookie release, Sixteen Stone: “Everything Zen,” “Little Things,” “Machinehead,” “Come Down” and “Glycerine.” While Britain responded mildly to its native sons, Bush soared in the States; Sixteen sold more than six million copies, and their 1996 follow-up, Razorblade Suitcase, achieved platinum three times.
Bush’s massive success is all the more impressive because they acquired such status on an independent label, the Interscope-distributed Trauma Records. Now, Bush ‘which also changed managers recently’ enters the major-label universe on October 23 with Golden State, their premiere release off Atlantic. Produced by David Sardy (Marilyn Manson, System of a Down), the opus contains 12 new tracks: “Solutions,” “Head Full of Ghosts,” “Speed Kills,” “Superman,” “Fugitive,” “Hurricane,” “Inflatable,” “Reasons,” “Land of the Living,” “My Engine Is with You,” “Out of This World” and “Float.”
The rock-steady Golden State differs considerably from Bush’s previous two outings; 1998’s Deconstructed invited electronic wizards such as Tricky and Goldie to remix Bush essentials, and 1999’s The Science of Things was infused with programming, piano and strings. Lead singer and guitarist Gavin Rossdale tells ICE that Bush strove to keep Golden State “band-centric. There’s a tiny bit of programming on ‘Out of This World’ [courtesy of Nitzer Ebb’s Bon Harris, who also surfaces on ‘Head Full of Ghosts’ and ‘Speed Kills’], but ‘we wanted to make a band record.” He adds, “We decided to really keep the integrity of the band’ it’s a return to form, a return to the style we did our first two records in.”
Rossdale wrote all 12 Golden State cuts in September and October 2000. The band devoted the better part of November to rehearsing the songs, then entered Olympic Studios in London with Sardy in January 2001. “We tracked almost two-and-a-half months, so we did a lot of recording,” Sardy explains to ICE.
Bush headed into the studio well prepared. “Everyone was rarin’ to go,” Sardy says. “Even before I got involved, they were already rehearsing like crazy, a month [ahead of time].” Fifteen tracks were recorded for Golden State; the three extras left off the album were “Japanese Freight Train,” “American Eyes” and “Fireball.” Two more songs were abandoned in the early writing stages.
The band recorded all the tracks live with Sardy on his vintage 12-channel Melbourne console, then resorted to Pro Tools afterwards for refurbishing. Sardy says that while the band devoted a great deal of time to recording, the process was much different than producing Marilyn Manson’s latest album, Holy Wood. “It’s a whole different thing,” he observes. “Bush are more about the songs and performances. They’re more into [sonics] on a normal level, and Manson’s into it on more of an insane, obsessed level. The Bush record is much more rockin’ out, live performances.”
When recording was complete, Bush and Sardy headed to Los Angeles to mix the material. Rossdale sums up his experience with a sunny attitude: “We wanted to ‘be in L.A., get a new experience, drive to work’ go on the Golden State freeway, through downtown. I like that sense of euphoria, of excitement ‘the Golden State. It’s an exalted state, positive and open and warm and bright. Welcoming.”
Rossdale says that he originally wanted to title the album Speed Kills, a phrase he picked up from the D.A. Pennebaker film The War Room, in which Clinton and Gore fight George Bush Sr. for the presidency. “They have this great slogan on the back of their shirts: ‘Speed Killed Bush,’ Rossdale recalls. “I liked the phrase so much that I started using it in that song. But as an album title, it’s too aggressive ‘I didn’t want ‘kills’ in the title.” Rumors circulated about another album title ‘Solutions’ in the early summer, but Rossdale denies that that moniker was ever considered.
As it turns out, the song “Speed Kills” also had an alternate title ‘ “The Things We Do.” Says Rossdale of the album’s first single, “Sometimes the worst things we can do is to treat the people we love the worst.” The track is followed by “Superman”; not simply a reference to the comic book hero, Rossdale calls the subject “a mythical figure to elevate you out of a situation you couldn’t humanly get out of. You need Superman to come get you out.”
While the majority of the Golden State tunes are of a straightforward rock ilk, Rossdale points out variations in theme from one to the next. He expands on “Head Full of Ghosts”: “Everyone has voices inside their head telling them to turn left or right, and sometimes the ghost is a rational voice in your head. Sometimes you find yourself in a position you never thought you’d be.” He also touches on “My Engine Is with You”: “That’s a really fast love song. I really like the words in it, some of the best words I’ve done.”
“Out of This World,” Rossdale’s favorite cut on the album, features a guest spot by Eric Stefani ‘brother of No Doubt’s Gwen ‘ on piano. Sardy says the track is “real chilled-out’ [Rossdale] had a little guitar part and a vocal on it, and had no idea what that was going to be. I don’t think we even demo’ed that one. He played it for [the band], and everybody just started playing it naturally. It was all about getting the right vibe of the moment, not necessarily overproducing it.”
Both Rossdale and Sardy cite the high quality of the three tracks left off the album. “Japanese Freight Train” is “a bit of a grinder,” according to Rossdale. “When I listen to it, I’m sad it’s not on the record. But we really wanted to have a 12-song album. I really hate long records, no matter who it is, ’cause they’re so fucking boring.” Sardy says that “Fireball” is “like old Wire meets second-record Buzzcocks. It’s real simple, real minimal. There’s a kick in the chorus’.” Rossdale claims that “American Eyes” was also a possible album closer, but lost out to the fitting “Float”: “We wanted to have an uplifting feeling; it [‘Float’] made sense at the end of the record in the same way that ‘Solutions’ was the right song to start with.”
Rossdale adds that the Golden State song sequence came off without a hitch: “Normally, we’d do it all together. But I did an order, and everyone was like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool.’ The greatest, most effortless one we’d ever done.”