Inspired by a love of American music, Bush formed in 1992. In the decade of grunge hysteria that followed, the band scored hits with “Glycerine,” “Come Down,” “Machine Head” and “Swallowed” thanks to heavy MTV support.
Lead singer Gavin Rossdale’s movie star good looks and high-profile relationship with, and subsequent marriage to, No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani made him tabloid fare.
After a flourishing decade, the band quietly broke up in 2002. Mr. Rossdale formed the band Institute, released a successful solo record and tried his hand at acting.
Bush reformed in 2010 with Mr. Rossdale and original drummer Robin Goodridge joined by two new members and releasing records, including 2014’s “Man on the Run.”
As the band engages in its first headlining tour in years, Mr. Rossdale spoke about his rock ‘n’ roll life with Miss Stefani, the band and “the big salad.”
Question: Musically, how has the band evolved?
Answer: This record we made was a celebration. I wanted to have it be the return of Bush — a real rock record in a world that doesn’t care about rock music. I wanted to find a way to make it as interesting as possible — create a hybrid of electronics and technology with an organic side using pawnshop guitars and vintage amps.
What is really fun about this musically [is] we are so in tune with each other. We speak in a musical shorthand. [Guitarist] Chris [Traynor] is unbelievable. I’ll use abstract terms to discuss a guitar, and he’ll just play it. We are lucky to have Chris.
And were lucky to have had Nigel [Pulsford] in the past as well. For the fans, it has been good for the band to have two great guitar players that span the Bush catalog.
Q: You’ve released solo music and had another band called Institute. What brought you back to Bush?
A: The success of my solo record was really massive and really shocking. But I think there was a disconnect when I went to play the live shows. It was as if I had a split personality between the two styles. I was either going to be Peter Gabriel or Frank Black. I had to decide who I wanted to be. I just felt more comfortable being in Bush.
My heart I just wanted to be in Bush. I felt there was unfinished business. It felt like the band never broke up as much as it just slipped apart.
Q: Has there ever been any animosity between your bandmates and you because you’re the lead singer and have a high-profile life?
A: I don’t think so. Maybe it was a bit jarring at first. You start out as four idiots in a shabby rehearsal room with no knowledge that anything is going to happen to you. Then you start moving up and magazine covers start happening. People [ask], “Can we put you on the cover and not the band?” That sort of malarkey.
But everyone was in it to win it. That’s understood.
I don’t get any special treatment within the band. I don’t get the biggest salad.
Back in the day, we used to all do the interviews. Nowadays, I basically do them. I do all the behind-the-scenes stuff that I’m not sure they want to do. As long as they get on-stage and feel the thrill of the crowd and the audience. People they meet after the show are just as happy to meet them as they are to meet me.
Q: How has touring changed for you?
A: It is really about the music. When we first toured, we wanted to go out after the show. We wanted to try every bar in town. Then you just realize it really is just about trying to make the show great. If I’m not home with my family, I’d really better be doing a great show.
I believe that people are either built for touring or are not. And although it’s very painful for me to be away from my loved ones, I love touring. I love playing every night. I love doing the show and changing the set. I think the days get a bit more depressing until you do the show and think, “This is the best thing ever!”
Q: How do you balance being a husband and dad with being the lead singer of a rock band?
A: I just have to come home as much as I can. It’s very difficult. I began this job before I had anyone. Being in a band is one of those things, like having a tattoo on your face, [that] seemed like a good idea at the time.
Q: Do you and Gwen have to sit down and schedule when each band is going to be active?
A: We do. We have the same management now, which makes it a little bit easier. But the problem is that offers are offers. People come in and they say, “Hey, do this.” They entice you to go do something at times you didn’t plan to be away.
The best thing about being with Gwen is that we understand each other and understand the demands and commitments of the job. The bad thing is that really I wish that, when I hit the road, she was coming with me. On the bus and being my wife just hanging out with me. But instead she’s going crazy for her rehearsals.
This morning I said, “I wish you could just come with me on the bus with me.” She said, “I would like to just do that.”
That’s our life in a nutshell.
Q: What can people expect to hear on tour? Mix of old and new?
A: A good mixture. We try to satisfy. People have to hear the hits. We then play some of the new record and some deeper tracks. We have prepared 35 songs. Each night we play 24 tracks, and we are going to keep rotating songs. I want people to be like, “Wow, they played that track!”
We want people to love the show and not just in a nostalgic way. I don’t want to be a band wheeled out of retirement just to play our debut album, “Sixteen Stone.”
The best part for me is the new songs — keeping it as current as possible. It is essential to play new stuff. I don’t want to be riding into the past.
Q: Phil Collins said he can no longer play “Abacab” because it no longer makes sense to him. Are there any songs in the Bush catalog that you can’t play?
A: The way I look at it, when you make music, when you create a song, it goes out to the world, and they want it or they don’t want it. When they want it, it becomes theirs; it no longer belongs to just the songwriter.
I couldn’t possibly try to stand up there and sing “Glycerine” about what I wrote it about. But I can certainly think about how it applies to my life today. “Come Down” is about searching for the cloud — whatever the cloud is that I’m experiencing at the time. I find it is easy to transfer or transport the lyric into something that is real for me now.
I don’t have any problem playing any of our songs. I wish I was cooler and had that sort of thing to say, “I’m too cool to play that song.” I can’t say that because that song gave me everything I have. I just find the balance between the old songs and new.
Q: Do you have favorite cities to play?
A: It’s hard to not love playing major cities, because there is more of a chance you’ll see people. You’ll see friends. Catching up with people [is] really fun. But it really comes down to the audience that night. We have to motivate the audience.
When you come out and play and the audience is fantastic, it doesn’t really matter where you are. It comes down to the connection with the audience. Are they involved? Are they responding to what you’re doing? That’s all I care about, really. There is good pasta everywhere.
IF YOU GO:
Where: The Fillmore in Silver Springs, Maryland
Info: Visit FillmoreSilverSpring.com or call 301/960-9999 for tickets