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Bush’s Gavin Rossdale: ‘Black and White Rainbows’ Is ‘By No Means a Breakup Record’ [Interview]

Liz Ramanand, Loudwire
Liz Ramanand, Loudwire

Bush are back with the new album Black and White Rainbows, a disc that singer Gavin Rossdale wrote, produced and recorded with his band. Rossdale recently spoke with Loudwire Nights host Toni Gonzalez about the band’s new disc and also gave some insight into his role as a coach/mentor on The Voice UK, his Sea of Sound clothing line and more. Check out the chat below:

I contributed to your fortune. You were the first band I went to see with my own hard earned money when I was like 13 years old.

Aww. Thank you. I hope you enjoyed the show.

I’ve been a fan for many years, actually. So the seventh album, Black and White Rainbows, is out. Why did you name it that and what does it mean to you?

It’s really about the chrysalis stage of a butterfly. It’s about starting fresh. It’s about the dark before the light. It’s a really transitional record. I made sure it’s by no means a breakup record. It’s really about the possibility of life and what’s happening there. It’s very exciting. It’s about all the positive sides of life when you’ve had everything sort of going backwards when the buildings falling down and you have the flat level of land and you build your house and your world and your life and your family back up. That’s what I’ve done that’s what I’m doing every day. That’s even what I’m doing on this call.

I know you were deeply involved in writing, producing and recording the album. So it seems like you wanted to be as hands on as possible. Is that pretty standard for you?

I’ve always been hands on. I’ve always been that person. I’ve always been really, really, really hands on. You know? I’ve always been really hands on. So, I’ve written all these songs all these years so of course, I’ve been really at the forefront in the studios. I’ve been the first one there, the last one to leave. Make all the editing, make all the decisions. It’s been my jam.

We’ve been playing “Mad Love” on the show. Can you give us the backstory on that song? What inspired it?

It’s the best make-up song I ever wrote. It’s like the first song I ever wrote for a pub jukebox. It’s like lovers who are estranged and they craze at each other but then they just get back together and are like, “I f–king love you, you’re crazy… You’re a jerk, but I love you.” It’s that side of it — that positive side.

“Toma Mi Corazon” caught my attention, which means “Take My Heart” in Spanish. Do you speak Spanish? Why did you go with a Spanish song title?

Because I was writing so many songs I needed to … I was just like I’m gonna sing a bit in Spanish. I always wanted to sing in Spanish. So that lyric came from me and I speak enough Spanish so that’s it. One of my favorite songs on the album.

What’s the most personal track for you on Black and White Rainbows?

Every single song. They’re all incredible personal to me. “People at War” is really personal to me, I mean they all are because I wrote them. You can’t disassociate yourself from the writing so each and every one. “The Edge of Love” is really powerful because it’s about being on the precipice of love and the danger or potential of falling into the abyss of love and all that stuff, all that splendor. That’s a real exciting thing. It’s a very heartfelt record. I’ve only ever made music that I’ve really felt and identified with. It’s not about anything else.

Sometimes artists draw inspiration from people close to their lives …

Of course! That’s all over the record. I can’t disassociate myself with someone from 20 years of my life.

Bush is going to be hitting the States starting May 4. How do you manage to get in your dad time because that’s a pretty long run, a few months.

There’s just always breaks put in so I’m never away more than 2-3 weeks at the longest. It is challenging, it’s a real high class problem. How do you satisfy the demand for the band to play at this point in my career, it’s a really major thing.

But the kids never come on the road with you, right? You just make time when you can.

Of course they do, they come half the time. In the summer they come all the time with me.

Oh cool!

As soon as they’re off the school for holiday I’m free and easy. Then I’ll just tour and they come with me, 1000 percent. They’ve all got jobs, are you crazy? I have to put those kids to work. They’re not just lazy rich kids, you know?

[laughs] Can they carry speakers? They’re still kind of small to be like hauling gear around.

They don’t haul gear but they’ve got their tortures. They know their jobs and spots. They help out. They love it, it’s goofy fun.

You are a coach on The Voice UK. I believe you just rounded out your team. Did you watch the show before you joined and did you find it challenging to persuade contestants to be on Team Gavin since you’re the new guy?

Yeah, of course I was worried about that. That was my only fear about it. Why would anyone want to be on my team? I’m really loving it, no I didn’t see any of it before. It’s really not my thing. I had seen bits of it obviously when Gwen [Stefani] was on it and fast forward to those pieces, but I’m having a great time now. I’m loving it, really enjoying it. I’ve got a fantastic team, really thrilled with it. Great job.

You said you’re not particularly interested in finding the next big musician. So what is it that you’re getting out of it?

I’ve found a lot of really great people and I just want to have them, find them and be there for them. It’s not that I don’t want to find a superstar, but a journey of a thousand steps is one step at a time and the thousand step, and be like I gotta get there! No, get the first ten right then get the next ten right. Be pragmatic about it. I don’t have those delusions of grandeur. That job is to find a great song for them and believe in them, give them confidence and let them sing it. Then the chips fall where they may. There’s a voting public, i can’t be responsible for them.

Is the Sea of Sound clothing line a new project for you?

Yeah, it’s a new line of clothes I’ve done that we’re going to – kind of getting to the sales and samples stage. We’re gonna try and sell it soon, so yeah, that’s – all these things I was doing, whether it was the cooking show or whether the clothing line, design things I want to do, they’re all ideas I had to do in conjunction with Bush before The Voice. They are just ways of humanizing me, keeping me home, keeping me working and not having to be on the road. Then The Voice came along and blew them all out of the water because I got to travel for that and it took up a lot of time.

I read you have a publishing deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation to write songs for other artists. Have you actually written anything for anyone yet?

Yeah, I’m two songs in for some people. I’ve written a couple of songs just recently and finishing one this weekend and I wrote one when I came back from London last time. So right from the airport, I went to the studio and worked on a song with a guy called Lucas Dedal. So he had done the strings and then they had asked me to come in and could I work on this track? He sent it to me and I think he was expecting me to be like, “Yeah I’ll get back to you in a few weeks” and I was like, “I’m flying in tomorrow come straight from the studio get me a cold beer and I’m all yours.” I went and sang on that.

Is it something we’ll get to hear?

It’s something I want to use because it’s like – I have all this skill set of writing songs and I’ve never written for anyone else and it’s kind of daft. To go to sign at Rock Nation is like, “I want you to write for other people. It’s crazy you’ve got all this talent and you’ve never written for anyone else.” I was like, “Alright, let’s sign with you. I like you.”

Do you get to decide, eh I’m not a fan of this person. I’d rather the song not go to them.

Of course. Yeah. 100%. Of course. I have to do it willingly, [laughs]. I have to be inspired.

New album, upcoming tour, coach on The Voice, clothing line, designer, father. Do you ever feel stretched a bit too thing?

Of course, but that’s modern life. I’m just a modern liver. That’s just it, everybody is stretched. Everybody is spread. But I just never lose my focus with the kids being a priority. After that, I just try and do what I can. Give it the best you can, you can only work until 12:30 at night just to be up at 6 every morning. I do what I can, just like everybody else.

Our thanks to Bush’s Gavin Rossdale for the interview. Black and White Rainbows is available via Amazon and iTunes, and you can look for the band on tour at these locations. Loudwire Nights is airing on stations around the country. Find your affiliate here.

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