Wednesday, 28 November 2001

Gavin Rossdale

Tanis Taylor - Wednesday, November 28, 2001

GAVIN ROSSDALE IS the smouldering front man of British rock band Bush. Forged in 1992 with Nigel Pulsford, Bush soon became a titanic hit in the US, while fame eluded them on home turf. But now, with new album Golden State, single The People That We Love out on East West/Atlantic Records and a sell-out British tour to bolster their support, Bush look set to sway the pundits, cast off the Nirvana tag and give Blur a run for their money. But does that stop him from being paranoid?

What's it like to revel in relative obscurity at home when you're godlike in the US?
God, that's such a boring question, you don't know how many times I've been asked it. What can you say? Certainly, here rock music is on the rise and everyone seems to love all these American imports so we'll see. But what gets overlooked is that we have a great following here. It's not like in America and we're not going to rival Robbie Williams with our fan base, but that's because no-one ever gives us a chance, no-one plays our stuff on the radio here. We're an English band who've done really well worldwide and are continually beaten with this question like a stick.

But don't you enjoy the anonymity?
I'm kind of borderline here so I do still get paparazzi outside my door just waiting for me to mess up. I mean, the pictures of me with my dog and my girlfriend (Gwen Stefani) have definitely been done now. They're just waiting for the harem to follow.

Are you not tempted to invent a pseudonym and reinvent yourself as a struggling band from up North?
Probably that's exactly what we should do. It's something I was thinking of the other day, but it's sad to have to think so defensively about something we're proud of.

Why are you so unique in the US market?
I've made my living out of words and that's always been our biggest English sensibility - the fact that they're not the same as words in American rock bands. We don't tend to play that same adolescent 'I really p***ed off my parents and took the BMW' genre.

Why Bush - adulation for George W?
Absolutely not. I came up with it driving on the A40 and just seeing the sign for Shepherd's Bush and thinking, 'Yeah it's a great and graphic word.' It certainly has a couple of meanings to me that seem really pertinent. I like it.

Describe Bush's sound
Really dynamic, warm, abrasive rock records. All the chaos of anyone's life. I've always thought that rock music is just a really good way of emphasising words outside other forms of music. Hopefully this one will be our definitive rock record and will open those stubborn doors.

What has made Bush so successful?
We're a pretty resilient band, we've gone through six labels and other stuff that would just slice most bands into smithereens. We've weathered so many storms that it's quite amazing. We're either stupid or resilient - probably a bit of both.

Do you ever worry you'll exhaust your emotions through your lyrics?
No. I keep a vast stash of twisted, bitter emotions under my bed.

Have you finally managed to shrug off the Nirvana tag?
Yes. I think we purged that with the second album, but it's always difficult. Anyone in the media gets distilled into a couple of neat phrases. The idea that it wasn't Britpop and had angsty elements kind of suggested the Nirvana connection. If you asked me if I wanted to watch Blur - walking around naval-gazing - or the raw, visceral physical emotion of Nirvana, I wouldn't know. But the tag did stubbornly stick.

Who is the most exciting band out there at the moment?
At The Drive In, an amazing American band out of Texas. I think there are some good English bands. I really like Tool, Super Furry Animals and Supergrass.

Did you ever anticipate teenage groupies screaming out 'Gavin' adoringly?
I wouldn't have imagined it, but all singers in this twisted, arrogant, profession get screamed at. I mean, what a weird way to make a living, making your voice get as tuneful as possible and having a rant about something that's really bothering you. It's an antiquated, bizarre way of living. But curiously, I really like it.

What's the strangest gift you've received from a groupie?
I've had a really bizarre set of photographs which arrived this week from up in the north of England somewhere. A couple of girls in little rubber pornographic suits. Really intense. I always ask for the pervy ones, they're really fun to look at.

Hopes for the future?
That this record finally gets the audience it deserves.

Why do you think England is so resistant?
The fact is that we've had 12 radio hits off our four albums but I think the press and radio get frustrated trying to pigeonhole us. I mean my favourite records at the moment are not necessarily rock so we're not easily pigeonholed in that guitar bracket. Plus there's only one radio station here, Radio One and if you don't get on it people don't know your music. We have a lot of help from XFM, thank God for them, but between the rock press and XFM that's the basis of our career here.

Stage or studio, which do you prefer?
I get a kick out of both. Touring is amazing and I love that whole thing of conversing but then alternately when you're in a studio and your hearing back your mini creations it's pretty exhilarating. When it goes right

What would you be if you weren't a musician?
I'd love to be a filmmaker - something artistic and creative. Maybe I'd build strange structures out of decaying material. Something hands on, art-driven and communications based.

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