This nearly edible combination was hurt not a whit by Rossdale's romantic alignment with arguably the biggest female heartthrob in '90s rock, No Doubt's Gwen Stefani (sorry, Courtney Love fans, but the grunge goddess--who is a good friend of Rossdale's--doesn't count as a heartthrob), and a solidly predictable sophomore effort, Razorblade Suitcase. Bush had found a formula and wisely stuck to it. Despite critical panning of its music, the band continued to hang on to its huge popularity with a surprising tenacity.
Now, pre-millennium, even the worst detractors of Bush have to admit the band has weathered the decade well. Rossdale, still happily coupled with Stefani, has lost not an iota of his stage presence or cover-boy good looks. The rest of the band's lineup has remained the same--bassist Dave Parson, guitarist Nigel Pulsford, and drummer Robin Goodridge--with no abrupt changes, departures, or even internal controversy. The one glitch that marred the band's perfect record was a legal battle with its record label, Trauma, over an alleged breach of contract and the rights to release Bush's upcoming third album.
After straightening out the legalities, the way was finally clear for Bush to release that eagerly anticipated third record, The Science Of Things, and once again the band has emerged triumphant. While not straying far from the trademark Bush sound, Science has a distinctly fresh, almost electronic-sounding twist, as evidenced in first single, "The Chemicals Between Us." However, Rossdale is practical regarding the fact that life itself is all about sticking to a set blueprint. In fact, he claims the title of the new record even reflects this.
"[Science] really is about how formulaic we are for the most part," he explains. "How we operate around people, how we have levels of getting ourselves in situations that we may not wish to be, or we don't understand why we're there, but we can look through it and understand.
"It's to do with the millennium coming forward," he continues. "Outside of love and instinct, most things are explainable. Logic can be applied to most things. And I liked it, that sort of breakdown--the specific 'science' and general 'things.' And it's just about how things work and sometimes don't work."
Rossdale claims that the period spent tied up in music business legalities "didn't really change the fabric of the record--just that it's out six months later than it should have been," he shrugs. "It's just like everything. There are reasons and often things work in a strange way, and they will work out for the better.
"I don't think it makes much difference," Rossdale continues. "Bottom line is, is the record good? If it's good, it makes no difference when it comes out. No favorite record of mine comes with a date. It's just a bit frustrating for us and our fans. At least it's resolved now. If we'd continued to be obstinate, it could have gone on a lot longer, which would have been terrible."
During his down time waiting for the green light to release Science, Rossdale admitted to feeling angst, as well as being a bit obsessive. "I was always writing, working, thinking about the record, dealing head-on with the problems. It hasn't felt very restful. It just added to all my angst and sustained the career of Bush in a different way. It fed the bad side. It lent drama to the area."
However, on the positive side, Rossdale believes that Bush has finally moved beyond the need for critical respect. "I think we outlasted it--got rid of it on the last record," he wisely notes, regarding the amount of detractors the band has always had. "I've never minded being a band of extremes. I'd rather have someone really hate me than think I was 'well... all right.'
"I think [there's] a lot of people really like us and a lot who don't--and I wouldn't want to occupy that middle ground," Rossdale explains. "I think that's a really dilute place to be. So we just continue on doing what we're doing and try to change within our own potential. I think we're getting there, you know? This one still sounds like us, but inevitably, there are some differences, but not enough to make you think it isn't Bush.
"I think we have a really good, loyal fanbase that's come from not just having a couple of cute videos here and there, but from being out there and playing and being accessible so people can really see you and listen to you."
Another thing besides the trademark Bush sound that has worked well for Rossdale is his relationship with Stefani--a surprisingly solid bond for a celebrity pairing of such magnitude. "It's helpful to be involved with someone who's in the same job as you. The drawback is they're equally busy, so it's hard to find the time. But you understand the highs and lows that you go through," he says. "That's the unifying factor in it. That means you can understand each other to a degree. And that's a good connection to have."
With things so seemingly perfect for Rossdale, both in public and private arenas, one wonders if Bush's success has changed the outlook of the band at all. "We all have nice places to live, but everyone's pretty appreciative of that. We've always been pretty quick at shooting anyone around us who thinks they're special," Rossdale demurs. "Nobody can get away with it too long. Sometimes you get so worn down by your schedule that your tolerance level can fall, but that's like if anyone works a 20-hour day--after two years you get a little short on patience."
The charismatic frontman stops to think, then continues in a mock self-deprecating manner: "Generally, I think we're pretty approachable and pretty easy--we probably could do with a bit more pissy qualities, really!"