PICTURED: Catch Bush at the Ventura County Fairgrounds on Nov. 21. Photo by Dove Shore
by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Bush lead singer Gavin Rossdale is, admittedly, hesitant about playing the Concerts in Your Car series in Ventura County on Saturday, Nov. 21. That’s not to say he isn’t excited.
“I can’t wait to do this,” Rossdale said. “I’m a little apprehensive, in the sense of my memory of shows and people sitting on their cars. The best ones, I’ve heard, are people who drive pickup trucks, reverse into the spot and tailgate. They have a really great time.
“I’m glad people are wearing masks. I want everyone to be safe but not fall ill.”
Bush is pushing its latest album, The Kingdom Deluxe Edition, which was released Oct. 30. The critically acclaimed original collection was released in July without the extras.
“We really wanted to make a stand-alone record,” Rossdale said. “I learned it’s OK to make mid-tempo boring records nobody cares about. I wanted to challenge everything we’ve done and make life interesting and vital and make music that really affects people. They’re crafted songs ready to play to 40,000 people.”
The songs are somewhat prophetic, too. Rossdale said the album is a rallying call to arms that fell into place “quite extraordinarily.” The songs address social injustices, race wars, wildfires, isolation and an uprising — and the songs were written in January and February.
“It makes me look really smart,” Rossdale said with a laugh.
For The Kingdom, Rossdale wrote 30 songs and chose the ones that had the most fluidity.
“I do weird things when I write — weird modulations and key modulations just because I’m untrained and do it from ear. A song’s only as good as its weakest moment. I think I went for what were the most complete things. I went with the songs I believed in.”
He regretted not including the song “The Worthless Prophets,” but got his chance to release it to the public with the deluxe edition.
“Normally, I think of deluxe editions as a marketing ploy to get people to buy it again,” said the cheeky Rossdale. “With ‘Heroes,’ with ‘Undone’ with Mike Garson and the two extra tracks, it’s a good value. I don’t know who needs live tracks. It’s pretty rare that I like a live track. Wait, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Superstition’ is one live recording I would absolutely get.”
“Oh, David Bowie live. I would get that. Normally, they’re all sh*t — even mine,” added Rossdale, whose deluxe edition includes live versions of “Flowers on a Grave” and “The Kingdom.”
The band — which today features Rossdale on guitars and vocals, guitarist Chris Traynor, bassist Corey Britz and drummer Nik Hughes — has sold more than 20 million records in the United States and Canada, thanks to hits like “Comedown,” “Glycerine,” “Machinehead,” “Swallowed,” “The Chemicals Between Us” and “The Sound of Winter.”
Besides the Concerts in Your Car show, Rossdale will participate in a Bowie birthday tribute organized by the Thin White Duke’s keyboardist Mike Garson. At 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 8 — Bowie’s birthday and near the fifth anniversary of his passing — artists like Rossdale, Trent Reznor, William Corgan, Perry Farrell, Joe Elliott, Macy Gray, Ian Astbury, Lzzy Hale, Corey Glover and Judith Hill will honor him.
On social media, Garson said, “We’re bringing together dozens of Bowie alumni band members, too, spanning David’s 1969 self-titled album through Blackstar.” Tickets are on sale through rollinglivestudios.com/bowie/.
Rossdale said this project was important to him as he is a big Bowie fan: “Heroes” is one of six bonus tracks on The Kingdom Deluxe Edition.
“My sort of participation in the tribute began with a track I did for [Garson] for MusiCares and he asked what song we should do,” said Rossdale. “We did ‘Heroes,’ just me and him on the piano. It’s really beautiful . . . he rang me up a couple weeks ago and asked if I would do this five-year anniversary show with a whole lot of singers and all that. I chose the song and it’s really fun to play with Bowie’s band again. I played with them when David died. It’s a real honor.”
The deluxe edition was fun to work on during the pandemic, during which he improved his guitar skills. He’s been spending a lot of time discovering new music as well. Rossdale enjoys James Blake and Joséphine de La Baume’s Film Noir, as well as Deftones’ new record, Ohms.
“With Spotify, it’s so much fun,” he said. “I can listen to Sun Ra and then fall into Chet Baker and Sepultura for a minute, and then into Roxy Music for two days. I fly around the place and listen to anything that takes my fancy. It’s not great for us musicians. We should be buying music. With this, we can buy sandwiches. But it’s something great for listeners.”
As the Concerts in Your Car show nears, one thing Rossdale is excited about is playing close to home.
“It’s a good place for us,” he said. “It’s beautifully close to home. I like shows where I can drive home afterward.”
“It’s just such a great privilege and opportunity to be able to play live and work your craft,” Rossdale added. “It’s beautiful and I like it because the band is really on fire and there’s a really good energy with all of us. We love playing. It’s going to be this unbridled amount of energy.”
Bush performs on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m. at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura. For tickets and more information, visit www.concertsinyourcar.com.