Thursday, August 28, 2008, 10:34 PM - Interviews-This review originally appeared on my Seattle PI Blog, Beat Back.-
Wanderlust, Gavin Rossdale's first solo album, has just hit stores. This is good news for all Bush fans - I really think if you like Bush you will love this cd. And if you don't like Bush perhaps there is no hope for you - but you just might like this cd instead.
Rossdale took some time to talk with me before his show in Seattle. He played a show as part of Samsung Summer Krush and it was a great runup to a planned fall tour. I was struck by how intelligent and modest he is. He's never taken a break from music since Bush began and has ventured into acting as well. He's a very busy man.
Q: Are you interested in doing more acting at some point?
Gavin Rossdale: I don't know. Everything is so great with the record that you've got to enjoy doing the record and playing and concentrating on the music. It's kind of sod's law that it probably will mean that because I am so busy with music that something will come along that's interesting.
Q: Did you feel like had more control on the solo album?
G.R.: I don't want to say this in the wrong way but, no. When you come from bands, especially if you write the songs in the band. We had a rule in Bush, if you loved something it would win out, you could even convince the other three. Since I'm such an emotional person I could often win out. A bit of a cheeky democracy really. It worked the other way too, if someone really felt something, we'd all go, okay. We'd choose our battles. All that kind of electronic stuff - the band hated all of that. I was always interested in trying to progress it. My biggest mistake throughout my career was trying to move forward. I think if you have something successful you should repeat it, just do the same songs in a different order. It's always been my downfall and maybe if I reflect on it sometimes you don't understand what the nature of your success is. With rock music I was always more interested in being a band on Touch and Go rather than being on a major label, which is ironic. When that went a bit belly up (signing to Atlantic) it was like . . . I'm not signed to Matador.
Q: What's some of your favorite work from Bush?
G.R.: I think every album would have a few songs that I would love to have another go at, that I could improve. Every record has certain moments that I think I are really interesting and I'm really proud of. It just depends. It depends on how you view music and how you view things you make. If you view things you make based upon their success then maybe you'd look at your hit singles and say that's the best thing I ever did. But for me it was what I felt most excited about driving away from the studio and listening to. There's one song, Communicator, which is on Razorblade Suitcase, which the band really never liked so they would never play it live. I always loved it. I was so happy with the riff - I just thought it was really underrated. Science of Things was a record I really liked - there's a song called Land of the Living, off Golden State . . . there are songs everywhere . . . English Fire, which I did on Science of Things. We played it one time in London. It's not really complex but it's a quite demanding song, and I remember our manager saying to me afterwards - we were playing a few nights in London, because we were very successful there, contrary to popular folklore - and he goes, English Fire, maybe don't play that one tomorrow night. Give the audience a break. And I was like, I fucking love that track. I don't choose the singles - I get everything wrong. I played that song for Tom Morello one time and he said if he ran (the) label that would be the single. I was like, yeah! On this record I really felt like every where my voice should go in, it went . . . I felt really connected to the songs and there are certain songs where I've felt like that throughout my career. There are other songs I play where I'm like, why didn't I rework that lyric? It's annoying. . . . I heard that Kerouac said something about first thought, best thought. I'm sure it worked for him. I never used to be into that. I do go through the words quite a bit. There are certain songs throughout my career where I know I could do a better lyric if I'd had a bit of more time with it, but I was into that whole stream of consciousness stuff so I didn't want to betray that redundant idea.
Q: I've always liked your lyrics.
G.R.: Thank you.
Q: You started writing on a bass guitar?
G.R.: Yeah, it was the first instrument that I played. My sister's boyfriend gave me a bass. I didn't have an amp or anything, it was just kind of fun because growing up I thought Sid Vicious was cool. My Way. . . stab your girlfriend . . . die of a heroin overdose, it's cool. Firework life.
Q: Was that some of the first music you listened to?
G.R.: In my house my mum had about four records: Queen, Roberta Flack, Abba, and Carole King - on permanent rotation.
Q: That's an interesting mix.
G.R.: Yeah it was really nice. Roberta Flack - those records had some of the best musicians ever, the smoothest musicians. And Abba - fantastic pop music. Queen, you know, great drama - and Carole King, sort of introspective. So it was a really weird four pieces. I probably know their music pretty good without realizing that I do. If you put it on I could probably start singing it, like an out of body experience. And of course the whole punk thing was really exciting. It was the clearest defining era of antiestablishment, anti-authority, anti-parent . . . that was the perfect music for youth.
Q: How did your father select the name Rossdale?
G.R.: I think it was originally Rosenthal - it was Russian/Jew. My family is Russian/Jewish on my father's side and my mother's side is Scottish. And it's weird because the Scottish really don't like the English - I'm half English and half Scottish. I'm such a mass of contradictions, it's no wonder that I slightly overthink things and I'm slightly paranoid.
Q: Some paranoia is good.
G.R.: It keeps you nimble, keeps you looking over your shoulder. You rarely get self-satisfied, that's for sure. Every time I think anything positive, something in me tells me something else. I don't even know what the word is - self-cynical? For every action there's a reaction.
Q: Do you ever think about studying Judaism?
G.R.: No, I have an entirely different mindset. There are so many books that I want to read and so many films that I want to see . . . there's so much to learn and so much to think about without going into a study of faith. I'd rather read Richard Dawkins. I like Buddhism. I like lifestyle systems more than faith-based systems. I do love the theater of faith. I think places of worship are beautiful, absolutely.
Q: What do you remember about making the video for Glycerine? It's such a beautiful video.
G.R.: It was strange because I didn't know much about doing videos. All I remember about doing that video - which was the same when recording the song - was no drums - it's so weird. So doing the video it was kind of like the band sat in the trailer for most of the day. It was the first taste of the separation between us because they're not strictly on it. There's guitar from Nigel[Pulsford] but that's about it. I love that song. I remember playing it for them for the first time in London actually and I remember them talking over it and I was like, I think this song's got something. For me it was a great song for us. I always remember it as their beer and cigarettes time. As soon as I'd start singing there'd be plumes of smoke from the stacks. Time off. Do Glycerine, play it twice. English people are very cynical. I was in a very funny band - funny for humor.
Q: I read that you like to cook. What do you cook?
G.R.: Probably a combination of English and Italian. I'm all about the ingredients. I seem to have a knack for it. Miles Davis said every musician should be able to cook because it's a combination of things. I don't do that much outside of music and hanging out with people I like and I think eating together is really convivial. Whenever I made records I would always make everyone eat together. You break bread and you drink wine together, it's a very unifying process. From a really young age, when I started living on my own in flats with lots of friends, I'd always have loads of people over for dinner before you go out. It's a really good way of starting the night. It's got kind of a bourgeois idea to it but it's cool when you break bread and drink wine - it takes the bourgeois out of it.
Q: What do you see of yourself in your son, Kingston?
G.R.: Individuality. He doesn't want that much help - he'll tell you when he wants help. You can't interrupt him. If he's in a process or if he's on his way somewhere he doesn't want you to crowd him, which I totally relate to. He likes people, he really enjoys it when people come around. He's very social. He likes girls. One of my favorite things is him coming to the shows. I never thought about being at a show with him. It's just such a shock, even two years in, to have a child and be responsible for him. He came to Del Mar - I played at this sort of racetrack - he'd seen the show in LA and he got really upset when he saw me onstage. He couldn't understand why he couldn't come on the stage. He was running around while I was doing soundcheck and he came on the stage so I could hold him. Then when I played the show he was on the side of the stage, and his foot was going in time to the music. It's shocking, he's got really good rhythm. He was in a group of about 20 people on the side of the stage and every time a song would end (there were like 10,000 people there) he would bow.
Q: That is so cute.
G.R.: No one taught him that. It's been really great playing again. I am so looking forward to coming to Seattle again. Obviously there's clear history for me, the whole connection of rock music from Seattle and when I first played there, I think it was Mo's or something, and it felt (like I was) in the backyard of where the music was at. When I first played there I thought is this going to be really difficult? It was amazing. I remember the show. I remember getting super trashed the night before. I was taken out by the label and for the first time I drank - and I think the last time - 50-year-old whiskey. I couldn't even see straight. I was so done in and I was trying to play this show, and I was trying to be good and was so nervous but I got a really warm welcome. Then I did some recording up there in Seattle at Robert Lang Studios. He's got a regular house - this was when it was being built so Lord knows what it's like now - but he had trucks of dirt at his house and he built down into the mountains. He was like Dr. No.
Click here to read my review of Rossdale's show and here for photos.