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Interview with Gavin Rossdale of Bush, by Gabriella

Hard to believe steadfast British rockers Bush have been at it for over nine years. Purveyors of catchy, no-nonsense pop, their first album Sixteen Stone (1994, including hit tune "Glycerine") established them as a fixture in the music business, while their second album Razorblade Suitcase (1996) went onto show they were no one-trick pony. The band's last effort, Science of Things (1999) moved their sound into the techno arena. And, now, with Golden State (2001), Bush return to their roots, carrying their grunge flannel shirts into the twenty-first century.


"The Golden State" sounds like a reference to California, but somehow I can't picture you being californicated....


Well, you know, there was so much talk about how dark I am, what a depressed person I am, the usual clichés, and I wanted to have a very positive title, a warm title and I think Golden State does sound warm and positive. But, to be honest, I can't ever imagine living in California. I do like parts of America but it's simply not home. Home is England, come what may.


But the East Coast is rather European. Parts of New York even seem very much like London....


That's true and I always loved New York City. What happened with the bombing was gut wrenching. The incredible human suffering that took place. I don't want to talk about it; I can't really talk about it to be honest. It was a terrible nightmare; I still have a hard time accepting it as real. In England, you grow up with terrorism. In a way, it's a fact of life, a sad fact of life, but about once a month the subways are late due to a bomb scare. But something like the bombing of the Twin Towers has never happened before in history. I don't know what to say. It's the most cruel, horrible thing that has happened. Nothing can ever justify such a terrible crime.

But to get back on the subject – sorry, I didn't mean to preach but I get so upset whenever I think about it – the reason I couldn't live in America is that I would miss the kind of history that Europe has. In a way, it seems very egocentric how people live, like they're on their own islands, especially in California. In a way, California seems to be a graveyard for musicians. For actors, it seems to be paradise. At least that's what I heard. But I think as a musician you're better off anywhere else in the world.


The album seems to be a step back toward your roots. Of all your albums, this one sounds most like Sixteen Stone....


That's true, it's quite rough. It's kind of coming back full circle. We didn't need to prove anything, after almost a decade of being a band I think we passed the stage of having to prove anything.

With the previous album, Science of Things, I wanted to try another angle and that's why we added computer elements. It was quite weird, all of a sudden we were labeled as an "electronic band" while we always saw ourselves in the tradition of a rock band. It was just something we wanted to do – well I wanted to do it, the other guys were far less enthusiastic about it – but I can't say I regret it. It was okay, but one thing people should realize is that music isn't static. If we'd go back to the studio today or tomorrow and record Sixteen Stone again, it would sound different because we'd be in a different mood. You can't really plan it, or at least I can't.


Does that mean you're done with loops and computers or do you want to keep the option open?


I'm always keeping my options open (ha!). Honestly, if we'd go back to the studio tomorrow, maybe we'd be working with drum loops. I really don't know. It depends very much on the kind of mood we'd be in.

One of the reasons why Golden State is a rock album is because of our preparation. We practiced all the songs for five weeks before we went into the studio, no technical gadgets, nothing. We just played them as a band.


You worked with Dave Sardy who also worked with the Chili Peppers and Marilyn Manson. What was that like?


It was really great. Sardy is a great producer and I went through phases where I wasn't quite sure myself what we should do and I just trusted him completely. The result shows that he was right. I did the ultimate test. I played the songs on a shitty car stereo, because it's easy to make things sound good in a recording stereo, but they still sounded great over the car stereo, so they passed the final test.


Golden State doesn't just have a more positive title, the songs seem to be more positive as well. And you didn't lock yourself away in a cottage this time to write the material....


I'm more happy now. I'm far more relaxed and I guess that influenced the album quite a bit. I just learned that I've got to live my life day by day and that's okay. Maybe if I would find a life style that would make me happy I'd adopt it, but I doubt that there is something like that – at least for me. So I just try to find happiness in what I do and I realized that I am in a rather unique position. I got a job I like. I get paid for doing what I like. I would be a complete idiot to complain about it. Of course, fame is a double-edged sword, but I can't think of any job that hasn't got disadvantages.


Does the change of record companies have anything to do with it?


Oh well, I think the old law suit with Trauma Records got more publicity than it deserved, really. Now we weren't happy about it. They weren't happy about it. But we turned over a new leaf. We're with another company now and, of course, it was a bit of an ego thing. We wanted to show them what we're capable of. I think that's perfectly normal and natural.


You've always been quite an ardent supporter of environmental groups. You support PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals]. You're outspoken about racism and politics but somehow you manage to stay away from scandals in the press. I sometimes get the feeling the press resents you. If you look at the way they label you "Prince Charming" it sounds full of contempt….


I know, but what can one do? I won't start to behave like a complete idiot just to feed the media the scandals they seem to expect from a musician. I surely won't start beating up fans or damaging hotel rooms just to satisfy their need for headlines. I think being a complete idiot doesn't make one a rock star. Quite the opposite to be honest! I was always surprised when I met real stars how down to earth and level headed they were. It seems that arrogance often substitutes a lack of talent or maybe even a lack of self-respect, but that's just my take on it.


And those marriage rumors that swirled around in the papers?


Some journalist asked me at one of the awards parties if I would marry Gwen. She was standing right next to me! Now, I can hardly say I don't want to marry the girl I'm with, so I said "yes." He asked me for a [wedding] date and I said I am not sure when, the usual BS when you're trying to be evasive and sidestep a question. Next thing I read is that I'm a married man. What can one do? Hit the intrusive little bugger? Would only make bigger headlines and, to be honest, I'm quite sure this is not the publicity I want.

December 2001

More Bush:
1999 Interview1997 InterviewScience of Things CD Review
Bush Signs with Atlantic Records

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