After almost 30 years together, 24 million records sold and one billion song streams, frontman Gavin Rossdale and his band Bush have released ‘Loaded: The Greatest Hits 1994-2023.’ In addition to a passion for cooking and his own clothing line, Rossdale has taken on the issue of gun violence in America by playing a series of shows to benefit Artists For Action — including a combined concert with Sheryl Crow, Billie Eilish and Peter Gabriel. I met with Rossdale at Double Chicken Please in New York where we discussed what drew him to this issue, his favorite drinks and why you may want him on your jury if you’re in serious trouble.
What was your first drink?
I had a big night with cider when I was 15 or 16 and I haven’t been able to drink it since. That was not a good journey. Then in England it was a lot of Stella Artois. I had a leaning into Jameson. That was my kind of my West London: The Clash, Sound Systems and stuff, beer and a Jameson in dodgy pubs on Portobello Road.
What do you enjoy now?
Don Julio 1942 or Reposado. I like to nurse tequila with one large cube of ice with a really cold Sapporo. I also love sake. I enjoy the way that it f%$!s me up – in a nice way. Always the dry crisp ones with the floral notes.
I love wine. Brunello, Montepulciano and Bordeaux. I’ve come to realize that I actually don’t like them as old as I thought I did. When they get very old and more prized they make me feel worse the next day. 15 or 20-years-old it’s fine. I feel the same way about dry-aged meat. It’s 28 days max.
When you started touring with Bush did that expand the food and drinks you liked?
No. The money helped me expand what I liked (laughs). Backstage is always a s!#tshow more or less. It was more when I was off tour. I love to find the best restaurants in town.
You’re in New York right now to perform at Artists For Action. Why is this issue important to you.
Well it’s important as a dad and as a human being. It’s been 400 mass shootings in America this year, right? This is not political it’s just humanistic. I got asked by Artists for Action to perform. And there’s another organization called Sandy Hook Promise. Mark Barden, his seven year old son was killed in one of these shootings. So he stopped being a musician to start this charity. I’m thrilled to do this.
Being from the UK, what is your perspective of gun violence in the US?
Well, I’ve got three kids here. Four kids in total, but three young boys in America. So it’s the vulnerability of these kids in school. And for me it’s what is the background that leads people to do this? With the victims the atrocity speaks for itself. But what makes people get to that point? What have they gone through 400 times? They’ve been ignored by their communities. Ostracized, bullied, harassed, ridiculed.
Like every good artist I had a traumatic childhood. No one ever stopped once to ask me about my mental health. It just was like ‘oh, your life’s blown apart? Off to school, live your life, be a good person.’ What I like about both of these organizations is they’re not political. They’re talking about what is it about the perpetrators? So you try to minimize it in the future.
When you play a benefit do you change your setlist or is it best not to overthink it?
That would imply I under-think it on a different night (laughs). Which is not the case.
I read once you recited a Hebrew prayer as a protest at a concert in Austria.
There was this this politician Jörg Haider they elected. He had expressed views similar to the Nazis. People were canceling their shows to Austria in defiance. But it was the old Nazis in the country voting him in. It wasn’t the kids who go to shows. So it seemed strangely punitive to the wrong people.
My grandfather was Jewish and he used to have the Friday night dinners. I didn’t grow up Jewish but a few times I had the challah and the wine and it was a fun thing. I didn’t have much of family traditions in any way so I learned the prayer for the bread.
And when I was in Austria I announced that I was shocked this guy had gotten elected. And then I sang the prayer for the bread against a backdrop of feedback and made my own melody. Whilst I’m not religious my blood is from that tribe. So I can’t help but feel defensive. And it felt good to sing it to feedback.
I’ve heard you’re a great cook and you’re even looking into doing a cooking show?
We’ve recorded two episodes and I’ve been trying to get it made. It’s an interview show like ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’ I love the one-on-one. So basically it’s inviting people around for dinner. I cook in the afternoon, shoot that preparation and then shoot the dinner. And that’s really as simple as it is.
Have you ever had a great dinner with one of your idols?
David Bowie. I toured with him in South America. Got to know him there and built up a great rapport and friendship. I learned so much from him, laughed so much with him. I’ve been lucky enough to meet many famous people and it’s just so good when someone’s not a disappointment. The people with a middling amount of talent always have the biggest egos. The ones who are truly quite spectacular in their work are just a different kind of magic.
Bush is finally releasing their ‘Greatest Hits’ album. Is there one song on there that you think deserves more attention than it got the first time around?
‘English Fire.’ I was so happy to — whatever the phrase is — write it, receive it, get it out the way that when that came I felt really proud. We played it live once and my manager at the time said “I don’t think you should play that song again.” (Laughs) And we never did! And I think he was wrong. It’s wild. It’s a feral song.
Does the retrospective take you back to when ’Sixteen Stone’ first came out and dominated U.S. airwaves?
(Laughs) God bless those halcyon days when it was me, me, me! Turn on your radio and there I am. What a beautiful time. We’ve had so many successful records, but that one really was in the crazy zeitgeist. Any way you get it is unbelievable and so lucky. It’s the biggest compliment when people connect to the DNA in those songs.
I’m full of self-doubt and self-hatred like the next man. But I do get the sense that we made something throughout the career of Bush that is like a very private space. It’s such intense music, you know, you put headphones and it’s in between your ears. It’s in your brain. It’s so personal. I just found out we’ve had over a billion plays on Spotify. (Holds up glass) Let’s cheers to that!
I don’t take it in stride to have a special place in people’s hearts. ‘My son’s name is Gavin, I grew up listening to you.’ I did jury duty and it was actually a fascinating two days. And at the end the judge said, “I’d like to thank juror number 36 for providing a soundtrack to my law school.”
Do you think you make a good juror?
Yeah, but probably for all the wrong reasons. Because I’m really forgiving. So people at their worst moments that will define their lives — like if they go to jail forever — my default is to go straight to compassion. I am just wired wrong. But if you’re looking for leniency, I’d be great on the jury.