Rock Revolution

Get ready for some ‘Glycerine’-fueled favorites from Bush’s Gavin Rossdale

Special to the Union Leader
August 01. 2018 1:45PM
Rock band Bush, whose signature tune is "Glycerine," last year released an album called "Black and White Rainbows." 

The British grunge-rock band Bush has seen its share of haters.

Rolling Stone once called them “Nirvanawannabes” for their similarly tortured and heavy sound and stream-of-consciousness lyrics. And while the argument may divide some fans of the alternative genre, songs like the swooning, drowsy “Glycerine” and the slippery guitar work of “Everything Zen” prove Bush was never a flash in the pan.

The band’s singer/songwriter, Gavin Rossdale, had the last laugh on detractors who thought they were just window dressing on the breakthrough ‘90s alternative scene.

“Even if we stop tomorrow, there’s three million people who’ve bought this album,” Rossdale told Rolling Stone in April 1996 about their debut “Sixteen Stone,” the year their sophomore effort, “Razorblade Suitcase,” debuted at the top of the charts.

Rossdale may have a point there.

Speaking with NH Weekend about Bush’s part in the monster Revolution 3 revolving-headline tour with The Cult and Stone Temple Pilots Thursday night at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford, Rossdale says the band is “ready to just go out and slay.”

“It seemed like a really smart, simple thing to do,” he said of hitting the road with the other two juggernaut bands.

“I think that in a very heavily saturated touring world, we come with three bands people know. There’s quite a collection of songs for the night,” he said.

“It’s great to see the resurrection of STP,” Rossdale adds, referring to the often-troubled band that has seen its share of turmoil following the deaths of lead vocalists Scott Weiland in 2015 and Chester Bennington (also of Linkin Park) in 2017.

Rossdale said this tour’s set list won’t contain any “off-the-beaten-track” Bush songs, instead aiming for fan favorites like “Glycerine,” “Greedy Fly” and “The Chemicals Between Us.”

“I think that my band is a little more comfortable to just play surefire, cracker sets where everyone knows every song. I think that’s the MO,” he said, adding that the decision to add certain songs is made democratically.

“Where there’s a deep cut off an old album, this new album, whatever, to me that’s just what I would do, but it’s one vote against two. It’s hard,” he said.

Rossdale isn’t worried whether concertgoers are familiar with one band or another, adding that sharing stage time simply means fans will hear top-shelf hits all night long.

“I’ve always felt that people just like a great band. To like one band doesn’t mean you can’t like another. So it’s a fun thing; we always try to outdo each other,” Rossdale said.

Since Bush’s initial rocket success with “Sixteen Stone” in 1995, their songs have been analyzed and their meanings bandied about among fans. The repeated line in “Everything Zen” — “there’s no sex in your violence” — sung at a frenzied pace by Rossdale, is one of the song’s signature catchphrases.

“That was a line that was in my head at the time. Violence does have a sexual side to it. People love violence, but at the same time it’s healthy of you to combine it with the unsexy, as opposed to the French autre view of, you know, the kind of mystery of sexuality of violence. Also, being violent is not very sexual.”

As Bush catapulted to success, Rossdale became known for his lavish lifestyle, and was even spotted in a ‘90s episode of “MTV Cribs” showing off photographs of artists including the Sex Pistols and Bob Marley that adorned his London pad. Investing in art, Rossdale said, is necessary to its survival.

“I love art, I support art,” he said. “It’s inspiring to have great images around. I love that. And I like the simplistic idea of making music, from being paid to make music and then using that money to buy art. It kind of keeps the artistic world spinning.”

Bush’s latest album, 2017’s “Black and White Rainbows,” was written, mixed and produced by Rossdale, but he takes his role in the band’s latest resurgence in stride, saying the record just came together organically.

“Sometimes things happen out of necessity and out of life circumstances. I was quite far down the road with writing a lot of songs. I was doing the vocals and tying stuff together. The manager that we had at the time felt that the time was right to bring out the record,” he said.

His work ethic is not to enter the studio to do the bare minimum.

“When we write songs, you always end up co-producing anyway. I’m not more apt to just come in put on a vocal and then leave,” he said.

And a new project, even in the rock world, can come together with a minimum of conflict, Rossdale said.

“It looks like it was part of some master plan”: You think the record’s ready — let’s do it, let’s mix it, do the sound ... great. Let’s remaster it, play it to everyone. Everyone’s like, “It sounds great. Let’s just put it out.”

In addition to being the sole front man for Bush, Rossdale has spearheaded other music projects, including writing a song (“Adrenaline”) for the “Triple X” Vin Diesel thriller film series and covering John Lennon’s “Mind Games” for an Amnesty International initiative to help those in Darfur. He’s also appeared as a mentor on the NBC talent show “The Voice.”

Rossdale also remains fond of his previous, short-lived band, Institute, and says fans of their songs will hear them unpacked on stage at a later date.

“The Institute stuff, the deeper cuts, all that stuff — I dig it more. I’m more gung ho about that stuff, and I would love to play that stuff,” Rossdale said.

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