Gavin Rossdale Talks Songwriting and Collaborations on New Bush Album, ‘The Kingdom’

Music theory, song structure and over-planned writing are not things Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale thinks too much about.  Instead he relies on inspiration to kick in and then stock piles each of those moments, a way he has written virtually every one of his songs. 

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Bush has a very reliable dynamic that works for the group.  It’s equal parts pulling from Rossdale’s reserve of lyric compilations and cultivating guitarist Chris Traynor’s quickness to create riffs that mirror Rossdale’s emotive words. 

“I write a lot, but it’s a bit less inspired by something and more I just open my mouth.  It’s very natural,” Rossdale told American Songwriter.  

“I like to base my writing off of my favorite painters,” he said.  “They were all just compelled to paint every day.  You just apply yourself.  That’s why I always write lyrics, so when I go into the studio I have them to build songs around.”

“I generally start with lyrics,” the frontman added.  “I’m usually always working on lyrics and I have a sort of folder of notes and lyrics and that’s what informs it.  That’s how I’ve started every song I’ve ever written more or less.  And the studio gets things up to really great standards then you can bring the band in one by one, usually I start with Chris and we kind of collaborate at that point and that’s usually how it works.”

This organic and fluid collaboration between the group is exactly how Bush’s latest single “Flowers On A Grave” grew into a powerhouse hit and presented fans with a peak of what’s to come from Bush’s hyped forthcoming record The Kingdom, out July 17.  

“There’s something very tying about the lyrics and the loneliness and the idea of flowers on a grave,” Rossdale said of the single.  “It’s just funny how with songs, the more open you are and the more in tune you are, the more they have a strange usage or prophetic nature to them.  I’m most proud of the fact that the band resumed together and this was the last song that was written for the record and everyone came into the studio and just nailed it and was fantastic!  To me it really sums up what is ahead for us.  It was also the first time we recorded with a new drummer, who came along in the summer.  So just the whole process pushed the songwriting.”

The Kingdom is the eighth studio album from Bush and is much harder than previous records, especially in the case of songs like “Bullet Holes” which was featured on the soundtrack for the hit action film John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum.  The heavy hitter bottoms out with groovy and bulky bass lines, projected by intense, grungy and heavy guitar riffs, that spiral into perfect chaos through ascending and climatic solos.  

The push towards a heavier rock sound on the record could be due to with the extensive touring Bush has been doing as part of the lineup for metal festivals such as Rocklahoma.  Another contributing factor to the album’s heaviness was the collaboration with co-writer and Marilyn Manson guitarist Tyler Bates, who also produced the record and has previously composed a laundry list of scores for horror films such as Dawn of The Dead.  

“I wrote a few songs with Tyler Bates this time.  I get along really well with Tyler, so we had a great time and it was a wonderful experiment,” said Rossdale.  

In the wake of Coronavirus, Bush’s timeline to promote and tour for the spectacular collusion that is The Kingdom are up in the air.  And it’s something Rossdale admits is a definite downer.  

“I am just lost about live shows, I can’t believe it,” he said of the potentially long wait to return to the road. 

“I love the nights,” he added.  “The days- some are really good, but people either love being on tour or they don’t and I’ve always loved it.”  

While touring remains in a state of limbo, Bush is making a conscious effort to connect with their fans, but are also careful to not be overkill about it. Bush has been dedicated to their streaming efforts on social media and Rossdale recalls the fans response saying “everyone seems to really like it.”  

“We’re trying not to do overdo it and be annoying, but rather trying to be part of the fabric of giving people something else to think about and connecting with people,” he said.

 “I’ve been doing it super relaxed.  I’ve done three or four from my house now and I’m getting better at it!  The first one I did from my laptop and then I heard the sound back and there was no guitar! I wanted to kill the sound man but it was me,” Rossdale laughed.  “Then I got a different mic and that worked better.  And you know I’m in a two-guitar band, I have an amazing guitar player who plays on songs and makes them all better, Chris, and I didn’t have him there so I had to play five or six songs on my own.  But it’s definitely fun to do and something constructive for people.”

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