Bush’s Gavin Rossdale: ‘My Lungs + Spirit’ Are ‘Perfect Soundtrack’ for John Wick’s Journey
These are busy times for Bush, who are simultaneously looking at the past, present and future. It was announced earlier this year that the group would be joining Live and Our Lady Peace for "The ALT-IMATE Tour," which pays particular focus to the 25th anniversaries of Bush's Sixteen Stone and Live's Throwing Copper albums.
The band also is back in the spotlight thanks to the song "Bullet Holes," which is getting a boost by its placement over the end credits of the box office smash, John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum. Meanwhile, Gavin Rossdale and the current incarnation of Bush are working toward their latest album, The Mind Plays Tricks on You, which finds Rossdale working on several songs with guitarist and film composer Tyler Bates. We recently chatted with Rossdale about all of the current happenings in the Bush camp, and you can check out the chat below.
The last time we talked you had done some music for Undercover High and expressed your interest for getting more involved in scoring work. Now, a year later, you're working with Tyler Bates who has major experience in that world. How much have you been enjoying working with Tyler and picking his brain?
It's really been a revelation. I've never really written with anybody for Bush, and this is the first time. I did go in to write with him for something and we didn't know quite what it was, but musically and socially we fell into something that was like a musical brothers in arms. He's really such a kindred spirit, and he's just such a talented motherfucker. He's just so musical and it's really fun because I think the shorthand we have, we've worked very fast and he's very focused and he's doing two or three scores, just did the John Wick soundtrack and he's working with us on the Bush record.
But you've really got to be clear on what you want to do cause he's really focused. I wrote four songs with him and I wrote 14 myself, so out of those 18 songs we'll end up with a 10 song record.
"Bullet Holes" was a great way to kick it off. Was that just a good fit to work into the John Wick movie or did you know you were writing specifically for the film?
No, he just sent me the music and I sang it in my kitchen. It took me about seven minutes to write that, cause when music is happening, it's all just going on. I just did it cause it suits my life (laughs). My life has gone parallel for some reason to John Wick. Watching that, my lungs and spirit seem to be the perfect soundtrack to John Wick's journey.
I just love that it's mutual energy. Talking earlier about Undercover High, that I wrote specifically for them and for the kids and being the future of America, but here it's just the opposite. I was really writing for a picture and it was really inspiring, but this was just lucky.
Bringing it all around full circle, you starred on the big screen opposite Keanu Reeves in Constantine. Now you're doing a song for his latest film's soundtrack. Was that coincidence or perfect synergy?
You're so right, and the most incredible part of this is that Chad [Stahelski] was the one directing us for all the stunts [in Constantine] and now he's the director of John Wick, so for him it was complete full circle. It was like, 'I killed Gavin in rehearsals' or actually Keanu killed me. (laughs)
With the new album in the works, and I've seen you discuss things moving in a heavier direction, was there something spurring that?
Well, it was just playing so many heavy metal festivals and thinking that so much of what we do is live-centric. So let's do something that's going to make the live show the best. I really wrote this record to be played live, and I did the same thing with Man on the Run, but that was the miserable time with my hell so I scrapped promoting that record. But it's the same feeling of Man on the Run, and then when I did the last record, Black and White Rainbows, that was such a depressing time in my life and I was lucky to get any music out. It just came out how it came out, but it ended with "This Is War" and "This Is War" really was the precursor to the style of music that I really want to do. So that's what I've done.
It's really opened up a whole new world for me. I also did one ballad as they asked me to write a ballad, so I did it on a Sunday, recorded it on a Monday and it's called "Undone." That really is one of my sad songs.
I did see where the album title is The Mind Plays Tricks on You. If you could, discuss how that title plays into what we'll eventually hear on the new record.
No one really tortures ourselves like ourselves. Whether it be social media, our career, advertising is based on our decisions, and there's a lot of things angled against us that's always telling us we should probably be in more trouble than we possibly are. Depression is so much rooted in fear of the future and fear of the past and the repercussions, but the good news is that nobody really gives a shit. You are generally okay and don't have to be so worried about things.
Plus, it's actually a line in "Undone." It's a line in the record where the mind plays tricks on you, and it does. It really can torture us.
With the tour, there will be special attention paid to the Sixteen Stone era of Bush. Listening back to that album, there's plenty of attitude and aggression in there. Do you find you still connect to the material the same way 25 years later, or do the songs take on a different meaning for you now?
Much like any song that goes out and gets put in the universe, it belongs to everybody, but the meaning is still very personal. So much in the same way that I'll sing those songs in the same mindset or about the people that I wrote them about, they just move. They move and they morph and they stay current with me being loose and flexible about the meaning.
I still am excited about life and trials and tribulations, and there are situations now, like, I'm more on a distant cloud now in 'Comedown' than I was when I wrote it.
I'm not sure how deep you're going on Sixteen Stone, but in the work up for this tour, are there any of the songs from that album that are feeling particularly relevant or that is a favorite for you at the moment that you're finding the joy in revisiting?
Well "Comedown" has always been such an incredible song, and I'm loving "Bullet Holes" right now. But before we had "Bullet Holes," I felt the tour was great. We've got some places sold out, the Greek [in L.A.] is sold out, so I'm just thrilled to be on a tour that is happening. So for me that's what it's about. I'm not really trying to retrace any steps to remind myself of what the genesis of that moment was.
One last thing on Sixteen Stone. Since that was your breakthrough in the States and really a time that saw you rise from unknown to stardom over a short period, what are some of the moments from that album cycle that stand out to you?
I remember the first show we played on tour, which was CBGB's, which of course now is a John Varvatos store, and coming back in from sound check to play, that club was so packed, it took me nearly 20 minutes to walk through the club.
But there are so many milestones in my life. Selling a million albums, meeting Gwen [Stefani], there were so many great things in my life, things that changed my life, so I was spoiled with all the great things that were happening. There were award shows and getting recognition while meeting contemporaries. It was just fun also playing with the band. We met David Yow from Jesus Lizard, worked with Steve Albini, and there were so many fun things that happened for us. But the great thing is that somehow, great things continue to happen. Now I've got the song in the John Wick film and I'm working with Tyler and on and on. I'm just enjoying it and trying to work hard and live hard and there's a lot going on with us now.
I also wanted to ask about the two other acts on the bill — Live and Our Lady Peace. You've all managed to keep the ball rolling from the '90s through now, and I just wanted to get your take on the relationships there and what you're looking forward to in playing with them this summer.
Well, I know Ed [Kowalczyk] a little bit better than I do Our Lady Peace, but I really just think of them as really great songwriters — both bands actually, Live is fantastic. It's funny because when I was listening more to Throwing Copper, I was realizing how much I really liked it. It was such a moment of culture then where you couldn't really avoid it.
But I consider us a really song-oriented band and with Live and Our Lady Peace, they're also very song-oriented and I think it's great for music fans to come in and they're going to know so much material. That's just going to make for such a great show.
Aside from touring this summer, are there other major things you're looking forward to?
Just hanging with my kids, and getting out there on tour. I'm really feeling lucky with this life and I'm just trying to sing good tunes and write good songs.
Thanks to Gavin Rossdale for the interview. As stated, Bush's 'The Mind Plays Tricks on You' is expected this fall. Keep an eye out for that. The new song "Bullet Holes" is available to download or stream at this location. And look for Bush with Live and Our Lady Peace on "The ALT-IMATE" tour at these stops.
Bush, "Bullet Holes"
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