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FEATURE: GAVIN ROSSDALE

 

That’s something, Rossdale is convinced, would never have happened if he stayed with Interscope. “When I went to Interscope it was like I spent a decade in the wilderness. It has been very hard. They were somewhat helpful to me, they facilitated what I wanted to do, but I was a bit like a red-headed stepchild,” he explained. “It wasn’t with any particular focus or care or love or concern. It was like, ‘He made us more than $100 million. Give him some studio time.’”

 

Especially galling to Rossdale is that his song, “Love Remains the Same,” had 1.6 million downloads yet he never received any recognition for that achievement.“I’m not a pussy,” he said. “I know my way out.” He took that way after he told the label he wanted to reinvent Bush.

“I had a meeting with the label to explain it. I said, ‘By the way, you like these songs? They are all Bush songs,’” he recalled. “That met with confusion and then support and then, hang on a minute – everyone is dead. Everyone is dead. This is like blindness. Everyone is gone. That’s when I literally decided to leave. It was like, ‘There’s the door. I’m walking out the door.’ Even then, it took five or six months [to finalize the departure].”

 

It’s not that Rossdale didn’t look back, but he seems to do so more with amazement than sorrow. He talks about trying to work within the major label system, likening it to something akin to moving an elephant. Now, Rossdale has formed his own record label, Zuma Rock Records, named after his youngest son, with a new management team.

 

“Being English, my expectations are really very low,” he admitted. “Every day is like a bonus. We’ve been on tour and done promotional stuff. I had this deal with my four managers…that I want to be as focused as possible. Otherwise, it’s like peeing in the wind. If we have a focus and reason, then I won’t question it. Everything has its logic and it has been incredible…but also strange because I had gotten so used to gorging on humble pie.”

 

Of course, some of that is due to the shifting landscape of the music business that has even left one-time music heavyweights perplexed.

 

“It’s a struggle,” he said. “You do this life and it’s a struggle. The walls, the building, the roof, everything is changing all the time. It is constantly changing and you have to adapt. You can’t stand there complaining. The building is gone, the framework is going, don’t stand there. Be great. No one needs a musician complaining about stuff. Who has time to complain? We just try to embrace it.”

 

Part of Rossdale’s method of embracing the new system is to take Bush almost back to the beginning. On the latest tour, the band played a host of small clubs. That, he said, has given his team a chance to find their sea legs. “We are taking it real slow,” he explained. “We’re playing smaller places and began moving up just a bit more. We’ve seen the reaction to the shows and sales. After really underplaying and under expecting, we’ve been pleasantly surprised things are going so right. And if things don’t go right, we say, ‘That’s okay. That’s what we expected.’ It’s very Buddhist.”

 

Part of staying in that zone might be a result of having a family. Rossdale talks a lot about critics, who famously bashed his music, his band and his life even as Bush was selling 16 million albums in the U.S. and Canada and its tours sold out arenas. Although a younger Rossdale might have lashed out, the mature version seems to have taken a calmer approach to the attention – good and bad. Some of that is achieved just through avoidance.

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