By Randy Mastronicola
IF I SAID TO ANY KID WHO’S EVER BANGED OUT “WILD THING” in his or her garage, “Hey, you’re going to be a rock ‘n roll sex symbol. You’re going to write some dark, raucous, alt-post-grunge songs that help define the sound of a decade. You’re going to headline tours throughout the world. You’re going to experience the good fortune of fame (and, of course, a bit of the downside), and sell over 20 million records.” What do you think the response would be? “Hell yeah! Sign me up.”
And then, if I also said, “You’re going to compile a formidable string of 18 consecutive Top 40 hit singles on the Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts, with 11 landing in the Top 5, and six reaching No. 1.” The response is predictable.
“Oh, hell yeah!”
Gavin Rossdale of the British band Bush has achieved all that and much more. At the age of 54, he’s taking a rearview mirror look, embracing the road he’s on, and looking forward to roads he’ll get to. It’s all become a fine fit. The equation of family plus gratitude plus rock ‘n roll is a revelatory place for him to be. Family is paramount because he has three sons from his marriage to ex-wife Gwen Stefani (ranging in ages from six to 14), and an adult daughter with fashion designer Pearl Lowe. Rossdale is as good-looking and fit as a man who’s approaching his mid-fifties has the right to be. He still has those leonine locks and angular features, and there’s a warmth in his eyes. His energy is intense in a charismatic way. He’s erudite, with no hint of pretention. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he doesn’t have that angsty affectation leftover from when they were forming in their youth. There’s a real easiness to Rossdale that draws you in. He has the Zen vibe of a man who’s been there, adjusted to life after the kaboom! of making it big, and been dusted off and come back a time or two.
Bush has recaptured a good measure of acclaim these past few years. Their newest offering, The Kingdom, is no small part of that. It seems to have awakened older fans, and they’ve picked up some new ones in the past five or so years. The credit goes to their 2014 Man on the Run, along with their newest release. Bush’s 2020 Live in Tampa Blu-ray shows they still have the onstage fire and fury that fans have come to expect from early hits like “Everything Zen,” “Little Things,” “Glycerine,” and beyond.
Rossdale and I met up over Skype just after the release of The Kingdom. We were both quarantining in Southern California, and figured this was the best way to have a face-to-face in the age of COVID-19. He gave the quarantine some grace by saying, “Actually, one thing we can take from this is to look at this shutdown, and look at what’s happening when we take a moment to be home. We fall in love with our families. I’ve spent time with my kids, and I’ve read more stories to my kids this week than I have in the last two years of their lives.”
Want more? Read the rest of the article in our digital issue of Cigar & Spirits!