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Members include RobinGoodridge (born in 1967), drums; Dave Parsons (born c. 1964), bass; Nigel Pulsford (born c. 1963), guitar; Gavin Rossdale (born on October 30, 1967, in London, England), guitar, vocals. Addresses: Record company--Atlantic Records, 9229 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069. Website--Bush Official Website: http://www.bush-music.com.
Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale quipped in Details: "I understand why people are suspicious of us. I'd be suspicious of us." The British rock band rose to fame in the mid-1990s with a thrashing alternative sound more reminiscent of Seattle grunge than London Britpop; the suspicion to which Rossdale alluded had to do with their lack of "indie" credentials and his own matinee-idol looks. Despite being labeled "Nirvanawannabes" by detractors, Bush rocketed up the American charts with their multiplatinum debut album, Sixteen Stone, achieved huge sales with their 1996 follow-up, Razorblade Suitcase, and have earned success with subsequent releases The Science of Things and Golden State.
Singer-songwriter and rhythm guitarist Rossdale was born and raised in North London. His parents divorced when he was eleven, and he grew up under the care of his physician father. He already tended toward adolescent rebellion when his older sister introduced him to punk rock. In school, he told Details, "I was intimidated a lot and I would just sit in the back." He dropped out by age 17, and a few years later began to play with various rock bands. Eventually, his pop-oriented group Midnight got a record deal. "We got signed way too young in the mid-'80s, when everyone was throwing all this money around," the singer recollected in Rolling Stone. "So as far as the A&R community in London, was concerned, I was soiled."
Rossdale went to Los Angeles for half a year, hoping to find a new project and scraping by as an assistant on music video shoots. Though things didn't fare particularly well for him there, he did see a performance by Nirvana at the Roxy nightclub that had a pronounced impact on his musical direction. He returned to England and hooked up with guitarist Nigel Pulsford, formerly of the indie band King Blank. Though the two bonded over their love for such influential alternative bands as the Pixies--who also strongly influenced Nirvana--their band Future Primitive was a far cry from the sonic barrage they would later craft into Bush. The two later enlisted bassist Dave Parsons, formerly of the notorious glam-pop band Transvision Vamp, and continued to play around London.
Eventually, the band came to the attention of drummer Robin Goodridge, an engineer and former member of dance-rock experimentalists Beautiful People. "I thought Gavin was a rock star but the drummer was shite," he told Details. He took over percussive duties and the band--renamed Bush after the Shepherd's Bush neighborhood in London that had spawned them--began entertaining offers. In 1993, A&R executive Rob Kahane signed Bush to his own label, which was affiliated with Hollywood Records, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. When Kahane lost influence at Hollywood, however, the band found themselves with a completed record that they were unable to release. Fortunately, Interscope/Trauma issued their debut, Sixteen Stone, in 1994.
The album scored immediately on modern rock radio stations, thanks to the heavy rotation given its first single, "Everything Zen." With its grunge-influenced bombast, the single appealed to the audience that was still mourning the suicide of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. The accompanying video capitalized on Rossdale's lovely visage and turned the band into teen idols in the United States virtually overnight. Ironically, their success in England was far more gradual and limited. "Here it's been more of a natural growth," Pulsford noted of their homeland in a 1996 huH magazine interview. "In the States we were thrust into the big arena rather quickly."
More hits followed, notably the ballad "Glycerine" and the thundering anthem "Machine Head." Poor reviews and sniping from the hipper stratum of the rock world didn't seem to slow the album's momentum over the ensuing two years, and Bush won the Viewers' Choice Award at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. "I think that's kinda the award for us to win," Gavin said pointedly in his acceptance speech, "you know, we've always been the most favorite with the people out there, the real people, as opposed to the non-real people."
Though accusations abounded charging that Bush had exploited the hard-won inroads made by Nirvana and other alternative rock innovators, much of the criticism leveled at Bush in the wake of their phenomenal success had to do with their audience. Because many of their admirers were teenage girls who worshipped Gavin, Bush were derided as a pinup band. Goodridge even joked in Detailsabout the band's importance in young girls' lives. "We're their first band," he declared, "so we'll take them hand in hand, write about their first boyfriend, their first heartbreak, the whole gamut of events." Later, he added, Bush would provide "a graduation record. After that, we'll have a rather directionless first-year-out-of-school album--that'll be an ambient, underwater thing. [Avant-garde musician and producer] Brian Eno can produce it."
Rossdale was somewhat more defensive about the issue of his looks. "You know," he mused in Details, "some people might like the band because of things that have less to do with the music, and that doesn't flatter me. I was a musician for years, so if my appearance is all there is, then why wasn't I successful with my other bands? Because they weren't good enough." He was particularly angered by a Rolling Stone cover photo that showed him shirtless on a bed; next to this cheesecake pose, the magazine asked archly why Rossdale wasn't taken seriously. "They really sucker-punched me," he complained in an MTV profile, claiming that the magazine had promised not to use the shirtless shot on the cover. "They didn't need to f*** me up like that," he groused.
Rossdale's public friendship with other celebrities also kept him in the news. Of special note, because of the Nirvana connection, was his appearance at various places with Courtney Love, Cobain's widow. Yet both have denied that they were romantically involved. Love--famous for eviscerating other celebs in interviews--confirmed what most people have observed in Rossdale: his decency. "He asked me not to say he's nice," she averred in Spin. "But I'm me and even I can't say anything mean about him." Rossdale also spent a great deal of time with Gwen Stefani, singer for the popular band No Doubt. The two became engaged in January of 2002 after dating for six years, and married later that year in no less than three seperate ceremonies on both sides of the Atlantic.
Bush tempted further comparisons to Nirvana by hiring producer Steve Albini--the man who recorded Nirvana's second major-label effort--to work behind the boards on their sophomore album, Razorblade Suitcase. Released amid much advance hype in late 1996, the album got off to an auspicious start with the single "Swallowed." The Los Angeles Times indicated that the album was not a huge step forward for the band. Most of the songs, argued reviewer Sara Scribner, "are well-crafted diversions, never quite hooky or even memorable. Radio programmers will be pleased, but Bush isn't any closer to earning its hefty paycheck." It seemed that reviews would have, if anything, even less impact on Razorblade's success. Bush had cultivated a devoted fan base with the "real people," and was determined to hold onto it.
The band released a remix collection, Desconstructed, in 1997 and The Science of Things in 1999. The Science of Things would be the last album released under the Trauma label due to a $40 million breach-of-contract lawsuit Trauma filed against the band. The lawsuit grew from a lack of communication between the band and the label. According to Billboard, Trauma Records GM/senior VP of marketing Jim Martone said of the lawsuit, "When a band has the kind of success Bush does, it is inevitable to have contract renegotiations. There was a communication breakdown.... Once communication between the band and the label got back on track, we were able to resolve our differences amicably." The Science of Things, which reunited Bush with producers Clive Langer and Alan Wintanley, who co-produced Sixteen Stone, features the single "The Chemicals Between Us."
Golden State, Bush's 2001 release on East West/Elektra, brought the band back to the basics of rock. Rossdale said of the band's new record on Bush's official website, "It's a very naked record, definitely a real rock record. It's such a rock record it even surprised us. The songs speak for themselves, I think ... it's like the record exists in its own space." Reports surfaced after Golden State's release that Pulsford was leaving the group permanently to work on a solo album and spend time with his family, but the group's founding guitarist said "Why would I quit something I started," in comments at Bush's official website in January of 2002. He was replaced by former Helmet guitarist Chris Traynor on the group's tour in support of the album.
by Simon Glickman
Group formed in London, England, c. 1993; signed with Hollywood Records, c. 1994; left Hollywood, signed with Trauma/Interscope Records, which released debut album Sixteen Stone, 1994; released Razorblade Suitcase, 1996, The Science of Things, 1999, and fourth studio album, Golden State, 2001.
MTV Video Music Awards, Viewers' Choice Award, 1996.
- Selected discography
- Sixteen Stone , Trauma/Interscope, 1994.
- Razorblade Suitcase , Trauma/Interscope, 1996.
- Deconstructed , Interscope, 1997.
- The Science of Things , Trauma/Interscope, 1999.
- Golden State , East West/Elektra, 2001.
October 2004: A DNA test confirmed that band member Gavin Rossdale fathered his 15-year-old goddaughter Daisy Lowe with his longtime friend Pearl Lowe. Source: People, November 1, 2004, p. 24.
June 2005: Group member Gavin Rossdale announced a three-week summer tour beginning in San Diego, California, with his new band, Institute. Source: E! Online, www.eonline.com, July 1, 2005.
- Billboard, October 9, 1999.
- Details, July 1996.
- huH, April 1996.
- Los Angeles Times, November 17, 1996.
- Music & Media, December 2001.
- Rolling Stone, April 18, 1996.
- Spin, December 1996.
- "Bush," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com (June 6, 2002).
- Bush Official Website, http://www.bush-music.com (June 6, 2002).
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