Capitalizing on grunge’s popularity in the mid-‘90s, Bush harnessed the music’s distorted-guitars style to produce a series of sleek, radio-friendly hits. Critics refused to embrace them, labeling them as poseurs and bandwagon jumpers, but for a five-year span the U.K. band were exceptionally popular in the U.S. Bush broke up in 2002 but attempted a comeback in 2010 that included their first new studio album in nine years.
Bush formed in 1992 in London. At the beginning, the group consisted of frontman Gavin Rossdale, guitarist Nigel Pulsford, bassist Dave Parsons, and drummer Robin Goodridge. Beyond being the band’s singer, Rossdale was also the songwriter in Bush, possessing a powerfully melodramatic voice and photogenic looks that would soon make him a heartthrob in the alt-rock world.
A Smash Debut:
Bush released their debut, Sixteen Stone
, in 1994, seven months after Nirvana
frontman Kurt Cobain committed suicide. At the time, grunge was proving exceptionally commercial, and Sixteen Stone
fit perfectly into the marketplace with radio smashes like “Comedown,” “Glycerine” and “Machinehead.” The strategy was pretty simply: The rock songs featured raging guitars and angst-heavy lyrics, while the ballads had an edgy melodic undercurrent to them. Fans of Seattle bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam
accused Bush of being interlopers to the scene, but such complaints didn’t keep Sixteen Stone
from going sextuple-platinum.
A Harsher Sound for Sophomore Release:
Bush’s follow-up record, Razorblade Suitcase, came out two years later and went to No. 1 on the Billboard album chart. Notable because the group hired producer Steve Albini (who was famous for his willfully harsh aesthetic on albums like Nirvana’s In Utero), Razorblade Suitcase boasted fewer hits than its predecessor, but “Swallowed” conquered alternative radio, although the song only further convinced cynics that Bush were nothing more than a generic alt-rock group peddling a quiet-verse/booming-chorus formula to the masses.
Bush wouldn’t release another studio album for three years. By the time of 1999’s The Science of Things
, grunge had lost its stranglehold on alternative radio, and since Bush never received the critical respect of their peers, the band had to switch up their sound if they wanted to survive. Perhaps not surprisingly, the album moved a little closer to the industrial-rock sound of groups like Nine Inch Nails
, although the emphasis remained on polished hooks. Still, Bush’s popularity was clearly dipping, although The Science of Things
still managed to go platinum.
Parting ways with their longtime label, Interscope, after The Science of Things, Bush released 2001’s Golden State through Atlantic. Seen as a back-to-basics move, Golden State recalled the sound of Sixteen Stone without being able to recapture its spirit. It became the first Bush album not to even go gold, cementing the fact that listeners considered the band to be passé.
Bush Break Up, Gavin Rossdale Moves On:
Bush broke up in 2002, leaving Rossdale to pursue other musical ventures. He formed a group called Institute, which put out one album, Distort Yourself
, in 2005. Then he released the solo record WANDERlust
in 2008. But neither album caught on with the public. In truth, he was perhaps most famous during his post-Bush career for being the husband of No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani
'The Sea of Memories':
In June 2010, Rossdale announced that Bush were getting back together. Of the original lineup, only Rossdale and Goodridge remained. Corey Britz was the new bassist, and Chris Traynor, who had taken over for Pulsford during the band’s Golden State tour, was the new guitarist. The Sea of Memories, their first studio album in 10 years, arrived September 13, 2011.
Corey Britz - bass
Robin Goodridge - drums
Gavin Rossdale - vocals, guitar
Chris Traynor - guitar
Key Bush Songs:
“Everything Zen” (Purchase/Download
(remix album) (1997)
The Science of Things
Zen X Four
(live album) (2005) (Purchase/Download
The Sea of Memories
Gavin Rossdale, on the Bush reunion.
“For eight years I’ve been patiently waiting, gently pressing those guys and saying, ‘Come on, what else is there? What else are we going to do? We’re doomed if we’re not working with Bush.’” (Spin.com, July 29, 2010)
Gavin Rossdale, on how his songwriting approach has changed over time.
“When I first began, I’d mainly play acoustic guitar badly and write songs over that. Then I’d turn them into rock songs. Over the last few years, I got much more into writing from a vibe. Maybe that’s more of a hip hop thing, but I like to sing on atmosphere not just against an E-minor.” (ArtistDirect, July 22, 2010)
Gavin Rossdale, on the thrill of touring.
“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.” (NY Rock, December 1997)
Gavin Rossdale, describing Everything Always Now.
“With this record it’s about finding the balance between uplifting music that’s got real energy and real vibe, but isn’t bone crushing. Bush, to me, was never a heavy band, but we always had the right amount of thrust. I hope we captured that with this record.” (Spin.com, July 29, 2010)
- Gavin Rossdale acted in the films Constantine and Little Black Book.
- Rossdale and Gwen Stefani have two children, Kingston and Zuma.
- Rossdale dated Hole’s Courtney Love prior to his relationship with Stefani.