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Gavin Rossdale on Bush’s new album ‘The Art Of Survival’, cooking with Tom Jones and that ‘Woodstock’ doc

Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale has spoken to NME about the grunge veterans’ post pandemic album ‘The Art Of Survival’ – which shines a light on the “destruction of women’s rights, the planet and the rise of AI”.

  • READ MORE: Soundtrack Of My Life: Bush’s Gavin Rossdale

Like many musicians who were aghast at the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – which ensured abortion will no longer be protected as a federal right in the US for the first time since 1973 – Rossdale also felt the denial of women’s rights to an abortion “was the fucking weirdest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”

“To be honest it made me really proud to be English,” he told NME. “It’s just like something no one would ever think of from where I’m from, and a lot of people in America. It’s just pretty horrific.”

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After addressing the issue on recent single ‘More Than Machines’, Rossdale said: “It’s so strange because there’s such an emphasis on progress and trying to make things a little better all the time and we’re more accepting of minorities and all that. It blows me away.”

He continued: “It wasn’t like I set out to write song about abortion rights with this album either. It was just like a thorn in my side when I was writing. Instead of saying too much about it, I wrote it from a first person perspective and illuminated the fact that actually it’s within everyone’s control to vote for situations like that.”

With Bush currently touring the US with Alice In Chains and Breaking Benjamin, NME caught up with Rossdale to discuss their new record, cooking with Tom Jones and that Netflix documentary Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99.

NME: Hi Gavin! How does it feel to be back touring again? 

Rossdale: “It’s a weird time isn’t it? During the pandemic I just felt really happy and lucky that I had enough food to eat and my kids were healthy. I never thought about touring or the fact that no one’s applauding me this week. So when we came back into the world and we felt the trouble of the last couple of years, I didn’t quite realise that we are also in the process of rebuilding. That’s why I felt pretty lucky making this record because it is a rebuilding time and everyone’s coming out.”

‘The Art Of Survival’ tackles some big topics like the destruction of the planet. Are we totally fucked when it comes to climate change or is there hope? 

“The reckoning has already begun for us probably as quasi-adults. It’s probably workable, but for our kids and our kids’ kids and on and on… it does make me wonder. We are really resilient and we seem to always find a way, but there is a seismic shift that’s now going on. We’re seeing the dark side of an industrial age which is destroying itself. It’s a dark and scary time but it’s also full of vitality and life. People are great survivors and it’s amazing really. We always find a way.”

The album also focuses on the rise of Artificial Intelligence…

“Yeah, that whole thing about machines vs people. We see it all the time with AI, with virtual reality, with Tesla’s new thing, with the sprinting robot and checkouts in supermarkets. It’s a funny time for that but I mean it’s quite brilliant. A couple of years ago there were reports of computer programs writing a record in the style of PJ Harvey, The Breeders and Green Day mixed in an algorithm along the lines of the things they’d write.

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“For me it’s an interesting one because I’ve made guitar music my entire career and yet I’m fully aware at the same time that people are less and less interested in guitar music. With this record, it sounds a terrible word, but there’s a modern style to it. I was really trying to elevate what began with Neanderthal-esque beginnings.”

You worked on two songs with film composer Tyler Bates, who scored Guardians Of The Galaxy. How was that?

“He’s just so good and he’s so quick. I met him through my manager. We had a couple of lunches to test out whether he wanted to be in the studio with me and we just started working together. I went to the studio and he showed me this guitar pedal called the Depressor and he bashed it on and I immediately recorded what he was playing on my phone. He is incredibly musical and a lot of fun to work with.”

Are you a fan of the films he’s scored?

“Nah, I’m a bit more drama/thrilller based. But it’s incredible, the movies he’s scored have made over five billion dollars at the box office. Crazy right?”

Tell us about E.A.T., the cooking show you’ve been making.

“I’ve only shot two episodes and I’m just finalising a deal to go and shoot in November. It’s so simple. I have somebody come over and I’ll make food for them and talk to them. I just shot with Tom Jones and [30 Rock alumni] Jack McBrayer. It was fucking magic with Tom Jones. He’s the magic man. We had a good few drinks and we shot the shit about everything I can think of. When we edit that episode, it’s gonna be beautiful.”

You recently made an appearance in the Netflix documentary Trainwreck: Woodstock 99. You went on to headline after KoRn which you described as like “jumping off a ship into the darkest ocean”. How terrified were you?

“For for us it was incredible. I was really stupid and naïve. I didn’t get the sense of what was going on in terms of the looming toxic masculinity there because I was so obsessed with [Jimi] Hendrix and Janis Joplin and that original Woodstock. When I went there I just thought that we had a chronic responsibility to just reflect what they had set out to do. Obviously I’d been at incredible festivals in Europe, but when we first broke in the ’90s they didn’t have these massive festivals [in America]. So it was brilliant to come on there and sort of feel the weight of responsibility of those incredible musicians that went before us and create a sense of unity. I walked out to over 200,000 people and it was madness and brilliant.”

“I never experienced any of that [other stuff that went on] because after the gig we went somewhere else to play. I still can’t get my head around the rapes that happened. There was just a complete lawlessness. At that point, it becomes all about those victims and yet we don’t get to hear enough about their recovery and wellness. They’re the ones that matter. I think the bands like the [Red Hot] Chili Peppers playing ‘Fire’, that wasn’t their fault. They didn’t expect it [fans to set the site on fire]. But yeah what a mess man.”

‘The Art Of Survival’ is out now via BMG. 

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