Q&A: Gavin Rossdale of Bush talks music industry, new record

Bush, led by Gavin Rossdale, performs at Stir Cove on Thursday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 at www.ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster retail locations or by phone at 800-745-3000.

Bush, led by Gavin Rossdale, performs at Stir Cove on Thursday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35.

Bush is an interesting rock band.

The grungy alt-rock group is not so popular in bandleader Gavin Rossdale’s home country of Great Britain, but it’s incredibly popular here. Bush has also been derided for aping grunge groups such as Nirvana, even though Bush formed over band members’ appreciation of the Pixies (much like, Nirvana, actually).

And then, despite the success of songs such as “Glycerine” and “The Chemicals Between Us,” Bush took an eight-year hiatus in which Rossdale made a record as Institute and another under his own name.

Since 2010, Bush has released a new album and toured extensively. Before heading to town to open this year’s Stir Cove concert series, we talked to Rossdale while the band’s tour stopped in Milwaukee. He even told us about the band’s upcoming album.

Q. You’ve been playing a lot of shows. How have those been going?

A. Really good, but kind of weird. We’re in between records. I’ve never really done that. I’m in the middle of writing and doing the record, and these dates came up and they were some really good, big shows and stuff you didn’t want to turn down.

We’ve been playing a few new songs. That’s been interesting because I’m not used to playing songs that people don’t know. It’s been intriguing and fun.

Q. The last time I talked to you was right before you reformed Bush. You were playing some smaller venues on a solo tour, and you talked about the admiration you had for Fugazi and bands that played small venues. Now you’re back to playing a lot bigger places. What do you think about the difference?

A. It’s way more efficient to play to 25,000 people, you know (laughs)? You get to play to a lot of people. But we’ve been mixing it up a lot, especially on this tour, to do some big shows and some smaller shows

It doesn’t make any difference in terms of performance. It’s kinda fun to have a mixture, and who doesn’t like a big, crazy show? You know what I mean? I’m not sure it’s the best fan experience. If I go see someone, I prefer a smaller venue like most people do.

Q. When Bush got back together, you didn’t make a very big deal of it.

A. There were two ways to go about it all. There was all the bells and whistles and the big fanfare or to just dive right into the landscape. That’s what we did because it seemed the most natural and organic way to be doing it.

In today’s world, the whole concept of marketing and all that sort of stuff for people to know your record is out there is a pretty delicate thing between complete anonymity and anonymity (laughs). It’s a fragmented world. Where do you start?

If you come from that school of Justin Timberlake — that huge record company, massive, white-washed campaign — it’s a different style of popular music.

With us, it’s rock music, but it felt more the right way. We didn’t have the budget and we were never going to do it that huge.

It was easy having a name, which is a big thing, and just playing.
That’s the best kind of finding that we’re out and doing it — getting on with it really.

Q. When I saw Bush play last year, I noticed that you played really hard. Some bands look older, but Bush hit the stage like no time had passed.

A. Maybe there’s an appreciation thrown in there: the fact that’s what I really wanted to do.

Then you go and do it, and you throw yourself in full force. You know what I mean?

To me, there’s a certain way that feels natural to play a show and that’s it.
I have Corey (Britz) and Chris (Traynor) as well — one of my smarter moves. It just kind of works like that.

Q. You’re playing some new songs. Are you nervous playing songs no one has heard?

A. It’s a different approach for us. It’s interesting because people are respectful. It’s a new song and they go, “OK.” They almost take a moment and check out the song.

Shows are about people getting lost in the music and lost in the moment and lost in the memory of that song, you know? The deeper you go with people, the more lost they get, and that’s what we want. Obviously, if you play a new song for people that like your band, they consciously want to check out the song. … It doesn’t detract, but it diverts the energy somehow.

It’s kinda cool but people go, “OK, this song’s gonna be on the record.” It ends up calming everyone, but at first it’s a bit arresting from the moment.

Q. Do you worry about those songs popping up on YouTube?

A. I want them to. But it seems to be such a fast-changing world that certainly my management doesn’t mind that you have a million hits on YouTube. I’m living in a supersonic bubble and trying to listen to what people around me are saying and what the best way to do it is. It’s such a changing landscape. Everything changes, and I’m trying to keep abreast of that.

Q. Last time we talked, you said you wondered if the future of music was to do shorter albums or EPs. What do you think about that now?

A. Absolutely. I’ve recorded a bunch of songs, and I can’t imagine doing more than eight or nine songs.

I think with rock shows, of course they just want singles. I think with this kind of music, the people that like you don’t mind hearing a record.

Look, you can drip-feed one a month and then after four or five months, you can release all of them together.

Obviously, there’s too much music out there. But the bands that I like, I don’t mind if they give me a few songs. I don’t need 17 songs, but I don’t mind eight or nine.
It’s really hard. We’re in this world of trying to compete on singles.

Q. It’s not uncommon to have a platinum single, but a platinum album is nearly impossible.

A. Yeah, yeah. Which is fine. We just take the expectation out of it, and look at it like it’s an embellished ticket. That’s how I feel about it.

Q. Two of the new songs you’ve been playing are “This House Is On Fire” and “Loneliness is a Killer.” Can you tell me about those a little bit?

A. Songs about regular life. Just two songs about regular life. I think that’s what interests me the most: how we treat each other and how the world is. It’s kind of always been my sort of domain.

I love interpersonal relationships: the way we mess things up, the way we correct things, the way we rise up against challenges.

I think it’s a really tough life for lots of people a lot of the time. Then there’s excellent shards of great happiness in there and it’s real fun. But a lot of the time, people are sort of challenged, all the time. It’s kind of stressful.

I see it in my own life and in people around me, and so I write about it.

Q. So you’re still finishing up the album?

A. Yeah. I’ve always traditionally done two writing sessions. I’m gonna do probably one more writing session and then we all kind of work stuff up. We’ve completed two songs and we just worked on a bunch of other songs. Then we’ll just go back and complete them in June and August when we’re finished with touring. Then we’ll be ready.

A lot of information is already down. But it’s exciting — the songs — especially at this point. You go, “I could really write a really good song now. I’ve written a few good songs, but now is the time.” You’re like, “Now! It’s now!”

Being out here on the road has been an interesting jolt. I’ll go back, and I’ll be really fresh off the road … if there is such a thing.

Q. Do you know when it will be out?

A. You know what’s real nice? With our own label, it really is up to us. We’re looking at different ways of bringing the same record out and just doing it. That has a lot to do with outside elements such as if we were to get a really cool film or something like that.

Then it’s kinda lining up possibilities and then gonna go maybe later in the year. I would like to think November would make the most sense because everything takes so long to set up and everything to circulate things through. We don’t expect it to have fireworks in a way maybe at Christmas. We’ll get crushed by the machine of music — the dying machine of music. It’s dying, but it’s still very, very powerful in comparison to a very small, boutique label.

I dunno. They might say, “You’re an idiot. Don’t try to bring it out at Christmas.”

Q. I noticed that you’re in “The Bling Ring.” Where did you find time to do that?

A. That was pretty amazing, in fact. What was most incredible about that was that (director) Sofia (Coppola) asked me to do that part in the movie. It’s a very, very crux part of the film. I’m joking. It’s a very small part (laughs).

She asked me to do the movie, which is of course insane. And I was so over the moon about that. Then the date didn’t work. They actually moved the shoot dates. I was on tour in Australia.

And then came the big scene in the film or — should I say — my big scene in the film. I went and did it and worked a few days on it and it was an incredible experience.

I’m really happy for her. I saw her the other night and she’s really happy with the movie. She’s incredible to work for. I love her style. It’s really something else.

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One Response to Q&A: Gavin Rossdale of Bush talks music industry, new record

  1. Pingback: The Bush singer talks new songs, when he expects to release the album, more | 90'S ALTERNATIVE POP/ROCK