Taking the long view of rock’s short shelf life/Gavin Rossdale Takes Five
by Michael Rubiner
Milwaukee Journel Sentinel
February 27, 2002
Q. How are Gwen and Winston (Rossdale’s 10-year-old dog)?
A. Gwen’s fine. She’s working out right now. But Winston has laryngitis. He’s on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and not feeling too well. He’s at home (in England) with my dad because the heat out here would really be too hard on him, and because of the quarantine (the United Kingdom has a six-month quarantine for pets who enter the country from abroad). So I’ve been calling home constantly like a worried parent.
Q. How do you see the state of pop music today?
A. I think it’s becoming more generic. Well, maybe it always was generic, and having been in the eye of the storm at the time, I just never noticed it. Our first album had, you know, a touch of Nirvana and a touch of the Pixies in it, for example, and, boy, did we suffer for that (in the media).
But I think what’s good (in music) rises and gets recognized, although that doesn’t necessarily mean it gets recognized by 10 million people. I mean, people buy more 99-cent hamburgers than steak, don’t they?
Q. Bush guitarist Nigel Pulsford once said the band is bigger in America than England “because of the loud guitars.” Are musical tastes between the two countries that different?
A. It’s a perception thing that we’re bigger here than in England. We have a beautiful following in England, and in Europe. But I think the issue is that rock music doesn’t have a platform in England. There’s no KROQ, no Lazer, no big radio station. It’s much more underground. People don’t realize that when we do two nights with 8,000 or 10,000 people (in England), that’s just as much as Nirvana ever did there, or the Pixies, or the (Smashing) Pumpkins.
Q. It seems a lot of teens who are into the current crop of big guitar rock bands – the Creeds and Nickelbacks of the world – aren’t interested in listening to Bush because they think of you as a band for their older brothers. Have you experienced this reaction?
A. Well, first, I think we’re a different kettle of fish from those other bands. But it’s funny, isn’t it, when you’re 18 there are so many things you know – and so many things you think you know, but don’t. I was that way, and I found out I was wrong – a lot. Music should be, well, I would hope it would be about what touches you, not who else is listening to it.
Q. Right after Sept. 11, the band decided to change the “Golden State” album cover – from the silhouette of a plane to a plain gold background – and the title of one of the songs (“Speed Kills” became “The People That We Love”). Did you also consider changing the line “I’m at my best when I’m terrorist inside” in “Headful of Ghosts”?
A. I did change it, actually, to “maverick.” I change it in shows and for the radio version and on the album. If it’s still on the album the label sent you, then, well, that’s not very good. It means they’re not through with the first run (of CDs). But that word used to have different shades of meaning – eco-terrorist, for example. . . . Now, I don’t want anything to do with that (expletive) word. I think we should put that word in the fridge for a while, you know?
GAVIN ROSSDALE, 33, front man and songwriter for British band Bush, is taking an “Everything Zen” attitude toward his band’s recent fortunes. In 1994, when Bush released “Sixteen Stone,” fans flocked to the quartet’s melodic, big-guitar rock sound, showcased in hits such as “Everything Zen” and “Glycerine.” However, the quartet’s fourth studio album, “Golden State,” an equally strong effort, failed to crack Billboard’s top 20 when it was released in October 2001 and quickly slid off the charts altogether. Despite shrinking sales, Rossdale – who recently got engaged to No Doubt singer-siren Gwen Stefani after a lengthy courtship – considers his life to be “very blessed” and has “no worries” about no longer being the flavor of the day for fickle rock fans. Chatting from Los Angeles – where the band was preparing for its tour, including a show at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Eagles Ballroom, 2401 W. Wisconsin Ave. – the famously beefcake-y Rossdale told Journal Sentinel reporter Gemma Tarlach he’d rather be a steak than a hamburger, anyway.