Modern Drummer

“There’s no point in being a clever bastard, because all you’ll end up doing is sounding like someone is falling into the drum kit while everyone else is playing the song.” 1995 was a blur to Robin Goodridge, whose band, Bush, had all of about ten days off during the year. “Through a slow filtration of mistakes, you realize the things you can and can’t do if you’re going to perpetuate your touring scenario,” says Robin. “You have to eat decently and learn how to relax. You start off getting drunk every night, and then after a while you realize you can’t do that.

“Musically, we change the set every night, and we jam a lot on the songs. It keeps it fun for us and it confuses the audience–which is fun too,” he laughs. Bush’s album, Sixteen Stone, which has sold over three million units, hit the Top-10 over a year after its release. It’s a great source of pride to Goodridge. “It was definitely the best album I’ve ever made from a drumming point of view,” says Robin. “Many of the albums I was previously involved with included sequencing and click tracks. This one was very much played in just a take, rather than a slow building of pieces. We basically cut live, and I really enjoyed that. It’s very rare to get that opportunity if you’re doing sessions, because most of the time you don’t know the song well enough. You play it and then they say, ‘I liked that, but can you do something here or something there?’. Three or four takes later, it starts to be a bit more boring. We played the songs two or three times, and if we weren’t enjoying them, we played something else. We didn’t grind out performances.

“The songs come in categories, really,” he adds, describing his performances. “‘Everything Zen’ and ‘Little Things’ are one style–very much in the Keith Moon vein. I wanted open cymbal sounds. Then the John Bonham side of me came in to a degree with tracks like ‘Testosterone’ and ‘Swim.’ That approach is a nice, shuffly, pounding feel with the kick drum very syncopated–playing lots of air, letting things breathe and making the sounds very round, warm, fat, and cozy. “‘Machinehead,’ to me, has always just been a bit of a punk song–just hit all the right beats, with a little bit of skippiness and few inside strokes, so it’s not just straight snare on 2 and 4. Move it around a little bit, but generally keep it quite punky. ‘Monkey’ is very much like that, too. “‘Comedown’ was probably my finest hour. I pinched a little bit from Billy Cobham, and we nicked the bass line and drum groove from a song by a group called Massive Attack. My favorite way of making grooves is to listen to something I really like once and then go off from there. By the time you’ve played it and played it you find you’ve completely changed what you originally started with.”

Goodridge was introduced to Gavin Rossdale of Bush when the band was in its embryonic stage. “I got drunk and went backstage and told the guys in Bush what I thought of them,” Robin recalls, somewhat sheepishly. “I thought they were brilliant, but I told them what I didn’t like about them as well. I was just being a cocky drunk. Gavin thought it was great, but Nigel [Pulsford] hated it and said, ‘What an arrogant…’ I gave them a copy of a Beautiful People album I’d recorded and said, ‘I’m a big mouth sometimes, but this is what I’ve done.’ Gav thought it was brilliant and that got me the audition.”

Robin is experimenting with some new sounds for Bush’s second album. “I’m pulling out some whizzes and bangs,” he says, “just to turn a couple corners. The lower end of the kit will stay locked to what’s going on in the band. There’s no point in being a clever bastard, because all you’ll end up doing is sounding like someone is falling into the drum kit while everyone else is playing the song. I’m just trying to find new ways of changing the top end of the kit–trying to work out alternatives. I’m trying to find some little twists and turns to keep the audience on its toes.”

Robin is very excited about the prospect of the next album. “The performances will be really exciting this time,” he says, “because we will have done over two hundred live performances. I think as players and performers we’ll be more attached to the project, so the studio performances will be that much more emotional.”