Wednesday, 10 December 1997

Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani attend - Scream 2 Hollywood Premiere

Monday, 1 December 1997

Interview with Gavin Rossdale & Nigel Pulsford of Bush

Robin Goodridge, Gavin Rossdale, Dave Parsons, Nigel Pulsford

December 1997
In the U.S., the members of Bush require bodyguards to protect them from legions of crazed fans, while their fellow countrymen in the U.K. have only just begun to forgive them for making it big across the Atlantic, where many Britpop acts fail miserably. With the release of Deconstructed, on which Bush’s single hits were remixed by the créme de la créme of mix-wizards such as Goldie, Tricky and Philip Steir, Bush’s success continues to climb...

Your tour was completely sold out. How do you feel about being America’s darlings?

We love playing live and I think every kid who plays an instrument always has that dream in his head to tour the States one day. You grow up dreaming about the mythos of Route 66. When you’re actually on tour you soon find out that there is absolutely nothing glamorous about sitting in a tour bus for eight hours straight.

It was exhausting. Sometimes I just felt like I couldn’t do another gig. Then I went on stage and man, the audience, the feedback. It was like touching raw energy. When you go on stage, the adrenaline starts pumping and takes over. You get the feedback from the fans and you want to give your best. I can’t describe it. Playing live is so much more rewarding than being in a studio. Some guys love to be in studios and they love the recording process, to see how a song or an album gets put together. Fair enough, but it’s not for me.

You haven’t been releasing any new singles to speak of, and yet you worked on a remix album...
Bush Gavin Rossdale
In the States, we've reached a stage where we needed to create a certain vacuum. We don’t even manage to escape the fist album Sixteen Stones because people refuse to stop playing the singles of the first album. We’re in a position where we can’t release any new singles because there isn’t enough room for any new singles.

Also, it was an interesting idea, to try and mix two completely different genres, maybe influence the whole dance and techno scene with some good old fashioned rock. In a way, they are the old singles, but remixed they’ve got a completely different slant which is certainly interesting.

Bush is a British band, but you started out in the U.S. and then became one of the most successful British bands in the last 10 years. What made you decide to start in America?

It was not so much a decision we made. It was more or less the only chance we had. We started out in England in ’92, and I had already had two contracts with two different record companies. The singles didn’t sell, and nobody wanted to touch me anymore. I was sort of “damaged goods.” The companies were very aware of us, and we had a good reputation as a live band, but there were rumors around like: “Yes, he used to be good but you never know.” “He didn’t sell.” “He might have potential but maybe the boy is already burned out.” All the typical music biz crap and gossip. Our live gigs were always sold out, but we didn’t have a record contract, and from playing live you can’t survive, certainly not in England. We used to work in daytime jobs and play gigs at night. It was very exhausting and tiring. When Rob Kahane saw us and offered us a contract, we didn’t think twice. It was more or less, “Yeah, if they want us in the States, of course we’ll go!” We recorded our first CD, Sixteen Stone, with a small budget and never dreamed that we would enjoy such a huge success. It was simply fantastic, but it was also a long and hard way to get there.

For a while it looked pretty desperate. We had our contract and invested basically the whole budget and every single penny we owned into the album. We wanted to record a great album. It was a make or break situation, but we decided to risk it all and it paid out in the end. Even if it was really difficult for a while. Most of the members of Trauma died in a helicopter crash and those who survived didn’t like the album and didn’t want to release it because they thought it would flop. Some prints found their way to K-ROQ in L.A. and then it was pretty clear that it wouldn’t flop and they had to release it. But before it was released we had over eight months of discussions and negotiations whether it should be released or not. We tried to extract the album, to buy it back from them and all that, and it looked almost hopeless for a while.

In Europe it took a good deal longer for you to break through. How do you explain that? Do you sound “too American” for the European audience?

We didn’t realize that it was such a big deal that our record was coming out in America. You know, good or bad, it was a big deal. If people didn’t like it, they fucking hated it. In fact, it wasn’t so hated. Spin gave us a good review and Rolling Stone gave us a terrible review and we were still number one in their readers’ poll.

Also, in Europe we got blamed for our popularity in the States. And then it was fashionable to dis us. We were successful, that means an easy target. It really got to me for a while. It was the fact that we are British and preferred American rock. I never made a secret out of the fact that I don’t like Britpop. Come on, Britpop isn’t really music. When we started playing together as a band it was just the time when all the nationalistic crap in England started. You know the whole Britpop movement and we really didn’t fit in there. They tried to free themselves from the “American influences,” didn’t like U.S. guitar rock. Just funny everywhere we go we’re an English band -- and I’m not being nationalistic here, not like some other bands who blast the “proud to be British” stuff and do all that flag waving thing. But that’s all in the past now. It just took us a bit longer in Europe, but I think it’s healthier anyway.

Gavin, how do you feel about being 30? All grown up and mature now?
Age is a state of mind and 30 is just another number, nothing more and nothing less. Life is all about what you do with it, what you pack in and not about how much time has passed. What you did with your time is what really counts. Sometimes I wish I’d be 19 again, but I’m not sure that I’d survive again. Sometimes I feel 19 again and that’s fair enough. As long as I still get carded for cigarettes and booze I’m not too worried. Music has nothing to do with age and music has always been what pulled me through. I used to be scared but I’m not anymore. I think I’m just about as old as I feel. Sometimes I feel 100 but the next day I feel like a teenager again. I’ve met some 16-year-olds who were mature, some 40-year-olds who were still young at heart and some people who were barely 20 and already old. Age is a state of mind.
Are you OK now with being a sex symbol? A while ago you seemed a bit annoyed.
Nothing I can do about it anyway. It’s flattering and it’s certainly great for my ego. All the attention can be annoying and some of the mail I get... I think there is certainly something wrong with people who send me their worn underwear or pornographic photographs. It really doesn’t do anything for me. But I also get some of the most beautiful poems. That’s amazing. Sometimes I have days where I avoid mirrors, but everybody’s got those days. I don’t think I’m different from anybody else.
Being a sex symbol, I actually don’t even know what that means. I always thought Cohen was one hell of a sexy guy and look at him, wowee, he got laid well. I think he’s had some of the most interesting and beautiful women. Or Bob Dylan, the guy just had that certain something. Hendrix too. The way he moved, the way he played his guitar. It wasn’t a smooth sexiness. Their music and their lyrics were sexy. I’ve always been a sucker for great lyrics. It’s OK if I get compared with them. I feel flattered, more than flattered.
But you know what? Remember the Cohen song "Chelsea Hotel #2"? When he sings, “You told me again you’d prefer handsome men, but for me you’d make an exception” or “We’re ugly but we have the music,” I thought that was a bit cheap. He knew that he was a great looking guy and he was just playing it down, but then who the hell am I to judge? He probably was just fishing for compliments and we all need reassurance from time to time. I’m having my days where I feel awful, horrible. But that’s something everybody has.

by Gabriella
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