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Bush

+ {Institute} + {Gavin Rossdale}

Britain’s belated answer to the grunge scene still rife across the Atlantic Ocean, NIRVANA clones BUSH succumbed to the lure of the lucre by duly flitting to the States; lock, stock and barrel. Guitarist Gavin Rossdale’s guttural vocals shaped up thereupon the tragic death of pioneer Kurt Cobain, so in true dollar-sign fashion inside the major label mindset, a gap in the market had to be filled. For several years from late-1994’s “Sixteen Stone”, BUSH occupied the high-end of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, having struggled initially to convince home-soil brethren of their metal-core merit. In the light of numerous faceless rock acts to emerge from the grunge woodwork, Rossdale duly drew in countless column inches by dating, then tying the knot, with NO DOUBT temptress GWEN STEFANI.
BUSH was formed in Kilburn, London when the aforesaid Rossdale (ex-Midnight) abandoned Future Primitive, a group including drummer Sacha Gervasi (the latter later became a screenwriter and filmmaker). Rossdale was the son of a Scottish-born mother and Russian-Jewish father; they were divorced when he was 11. Together with Welsh-born lead guitarist Nigel Pulsford (ex-KING BLANK), bassist Dave Parsons (ex-TRANSVISION VAMP, ex-PARTISANS) and drummer Robin Goodridge, Gavin’s experience in video across in Los Angeles and New York (where he’d lived for several months in ‘91), helped pan out fresh contacts by way of MARRS manager Dave Dorrell.
With some persuasive pushing by Rob Kahane, BUSH inked a distribution deal at Hollywood Records, where they cut their debut album. However, due to the death of Kahane supporter Frank G. Wells, other executives on the Disney board were not so impressed. Somehow, though, the demo tapes eventually found their way to Interscope, and with that man Kahane (joint boss of Trauma Records), rotation for the song `Everything Zen’ for L.A.’s KROQ-FM station, turned their fortunes full circle.
The hype and promotion helped steadily bolster sales of the aforesaid SIXTEEN STONE {*8} debut (produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley), whilst the buoyant BUSH packed their suitcases for the rockier climes in America; a highlight at this point was playing New York’s CBGB’s, home to punk rock. During the following 18 months or so, both the band and the album grew in strength. With further crossover US hits, `Comedown’, `Glycerine’ and `Machinehead’ (not forgetting one-that-got-away, `Little Things’), a re-issued version of the debut set finally gave them redress in Old Blighty – fans had finally succumbed to their NIRVANA-via-PIXIES formula.
By the end of ‘96, BUSH were burning a proverbial trail via their chart-topping Steve Albini-produced sophomore set, RAZORBLADE SUITCASE {*6}; an album that also cracked the UK Top 5 when dispatched early ‘97. A string of British hit singles completed their rise to transatlantic fame; the Top 10, `Swallowed’, being one of their more memorable efforts, whilst `Greedy Fly’ and `Bonedriven’ became faves within the Kerrang contingent.
Adventurously side-stepping somewhat into the world of electronica, BUSH delivered a remixed set, DECONSTRUCTED {*5}, later in ’97. This recording – complete with help from TRICKY and GOLDIE – was only for the already initiated.
Towards the end of the millennium, a branching out BUSH were back in contention in order to offer up their third album proper, THE SCIENCE OF THINGS (1999) {*6}; a Top 30 breaker in Britain, and an even bigger smash in the States. On the strength of industrial/grunge-type minor UK hit singles, `The Chemicals Between Us’, `Warm Machine’ and `Letting The Cables Sleep’, Rossdale and Co were still the bees knees to their loyal fraternity. It was “complete madness” as they say when it was revealed that producers Langer & Winstanley played no part; Gavin describing their accredited input as a legal necessity; engineer Tom Elmhirst allegedly helped out the frontman on this occasion.
Two years on, BUSH were back to basics with album four, GOLDEN STATE (2001) {*5}. This was a rather disappointing set for Atlantic Records that failed to win over the critics or any fresh fans. From multi-platinum, to almost falling off that musical tree of life, BUSH tracks (with exceptions `Solutions’, `The People That We Love’ and `Inflatable’), were just not up to scratch in a music industry fickle and always looking for fresh blood.
With BUSH apparently put out to pasture, media attention focused on Gavin’s marriage – September 14, 2002 – to the aforesaid GWEN STEFANI. A few years down the line, the celebrity couple subsequently announced the birth of a son, Kingston James McGregor Rossdale; but were said to have pocketed nearly $600,000 for the press photos. Gavin was in fact the biological father of actress/model-to-be Daisy Lowe (born London, to mother Pearl Lowe, in 1989); this was discovered after a paternity test in 2004.
On the music front, Rossdale had been keeping busy via new alt-rock semi-supergroup, INSTITUTE. Together with guitarist Chris Traynor (ex-ORANGE 9mm, ex-HELMET), bassist Cache Tolman (ex-CIV, ex-RIVAL SCHOOLS), and drummer Charlie Walker (ex-Split Lip/Chamberlain), lead single `Bullet-Proof Skin’ featured in the movie, Stealth. The song also opened the one-off Page Hamilton-produced album, DISTORT YOURSELF (2005) {*6}, a record which fell victim to the hype and changing music fashions. Despite the star appeal of `Information Age’, `Seventh Wave and `Come On Over’, the set languished just a few notches short of a Top 75 place.
Hunk GAVIN ROSSDALE’s simultaneous acting career looked, on paper, more promising via a role (as half-demon Balthazar) in the Keanu Reeves thriller, Constantine; he went on to act/cameo in other movies, including How To Rob A Bank.
A belated solo career was finally underway in 2008, when “Mr. Stefani” (as he was referred to in the nippy press) unleashed his WANDERLUST (2008) {*5}; a vain attempt to wow a decidedly hostile reviewer board. Maybe there was a modicum of jealousy from his journo jury, however, Gavin had the last laugh when the album (and its attendant single, `Love Remains The Same’) both hovered around the US Top 30. Produced by Bob Rock and comprising a star-studded band (Chris Traynor, Jamie Muhoberac, Paul Bushnell and Josh Freese), some eye-candy backing vocal was assured by way of SHIRLEY MANSON (`The Trouble I’m In’), KATY PERRY (`Another Night In The Hills’) and wife Gwen (`Can’t Stop The World’).
A second son to rock’s golden couple, Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale, was born in August 2008; a third, Apollo Bowie Flynn Rossdale, in February 2014; though Gavin and Gwen split in 2015 (irreconcilable differences), and divorced in April 2016. Ironically, the couple had once made a pact to keep their private life… er private.
Revealed more candidly in a 2010 interview of his 1980s “5-year” relationship with Peter Robinson (aka singer MARILYN), Gavin admitted he’d experimented as “part of growing up”, vindicating some of the “j’accuse” revelations within the controversial pages of BOY GEORGE’s 1995 autobiography, Take It Like A Man.
BUSH were back on song when Rossdale and Goodridge re-formed the band in June 2010; aforementioned Chris Traynor replacing Pulsford, and bassist Corey Britz filling the vacancy left by Parsons back on 2002. 2011’s Bob Rock-produced, THE SEA OF MEMORIES {*6}, was deliberately aimed at the arena-friendly hard-rock contingent from prior grooves, though astute critics saw only same-old/same-old for run-of-the-mill riffage, `All My Life’ (very BAD COMPANY), opener `The Mirror Of The Signs’ and `She’s A Stallion’.
From Top 20 to only Top 40 in matter of a few years, BUSH’s MAN ON THE RUN (2014) {*6} was again on the back-foot from the get-go. Working with seasoned “rawk” producers Nick Raskulinecz and Jay Baumgardner, glossy grunge-meister Gavin (and Co) dished out several heavy-duty directives; highlights `Just Like My Other Sins’, `The Gift’ and the opening title track.
2017’s BLACK AND WHITE RAINBOWS {*4} fared better in Britain, where the “Bush with Gavin Rossdale” tag registered a surprise hp#63. For once they’d failed in the States. Lead download singles/promos, `Mad Love’, `Lost In You’ and `The Beat Of Your Heart’, sounded more GUY GARVEY-ish than Kurt Cobain, which was probably a good thing for a man – now aged 51 – trying to escape the wrath of the old BUSH.
A tour that saw the band support The CULT and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS led to a deal under the wing of BMG, though that would be at the expense of original drummer Goodridge; his berth duly filled by Nik Hughes. A refreshed sense of urgency was in tact for movie song, `Bullet Holes’, from the summer 2019 movie, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”, and anticipation for more was rife. A relatively long wait ensued before BUSH arose again with `Flowers On A Grave’, but by post-COVID-19 return set, THE KINGDOM (2020) {*6}, most of the momentum was missing. Sure there were sonic, soaring songs that recalled Rossdale and Co’s heavier days (the title track, `Quicksand’ and `Blood River’ stand out), though post-grunge was old hat while the world was under a dark cloud.
© MC Strong/MCS 1996-2006/GRD // rev-up MCS Nov2018-Jul2020

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