In July of 2020, Bush released their eighth studio album, The Kingdom. Originally scheduled for release in May, the album was delayed two months due to the COVID pandemic. This wasn’t unfamiliar territory for Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, as he tells host Steve Baltin on this week’s People Have The Power podcast.
“It’s been quite bizarre, with Golden State, the Bin Laden attacks destroyed that record,” Rossdale says. “There was the cover with a plane and ‘Speed Kills’ was the song. We were chasing our tails trying to change things.”
How Rossdale dealt with the quarantine is just part of the incredibly wide-ranging conversation, which touches on everything from having his lyrics misinterpreted to his choice of protest songs, and how those artists he picks, including Sex Pistols and Patti Smith, have influenced his whole career.
Looking back on his first album, Rossdale says, ” On my first record, ‘Bomb’ was written about growing up in Kilburn, with the Northern Irish/English trouble. I grew up in a terrorist time where people would get bombed and bombs went off in trains and on buses. So I wrote that song ‘Bomb’ and it was written from the perspective of someone who goes out shopping and never comes back. So I’ve always tried to do so. It’s also funny what people pick up on. That point my record was skyrocketing and things were out of control. Peopled loved it or hated it. So no one was looking into it going, ‘Wow, here’s a personal take on the Irish struggles.'”
Rossdale of course is in good company having his work misunderstood. That was a recurring theme in 2020 when even Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello was trolling fans criticizing him for being too political. For Rossdale he has no problem being political, but as he says he doesn’t want to preach to listeners either.
” I get the lost poets, they feel me, they get a sense of me. In terms of politics it’s been not a blind spot, but I don’t like force-feeding people something,” he says. “What I’ve always been very careful of is when you move into a didactic thing where you have a solution. I think it’s the job of an artist to elevate or illuminate things. But no one is looking to Tom Morello to exactly say how to make Medicaid work.”
Of course as well, Rossdale picked his protest songs, starting with the show’s namesake, Patti Smith’s “People Have The Power.”
“It was a great return to form. Remember she’d been away for so long and she came back and she’s such an enigmatic, beautiful writer. Her novels are incredible. Babel was an incredible book of poetry. I just lived off of that. That was like my diet for my adolescence,” he says. “And ‘People Have The Power’ I just thought was a wonderful, simple, elegant message from a beautiful woman.”
He also speaks of how the Sex Pistols were a revolution for him. ” Changed my life, changed everyone’s life in England. Changed the world, the beginning of punk music. Sorry, New York,” he says. “Just for me, it was a revolution. I’d never known anything like it and I saw them on TV when I was 11 or 12 years old swearing at Bill Grundy on the TV. I was like, ‘This is the future.’ I just fell in love with it.”
For more with Rossdale check out this week’s People Have The Power podcast.