Gavin Rossdale Talks New Bush Album & High Cost of Touring: Behind the Setlist Podcast

Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale is excited to be touring in support of a new album he’s genuinely proud of — but it’s a tough time to be on the road.

“This year has been equally as disastrous for me as the other two years I didn’t tour,” Rossdale tells Billboard‘s Behind the Setlist podcast. After six weeks in Australia and another six weeks in Europe, Bush joined Alice in Chains and Breaking Benjamin for a 30-city tour across North America that wrapped up Oct. 8 at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Mass. As an opening act with a new single to support, Rossdale likens Bush to “a quintessential baby band” rather than a veteran act that gets more than 3 million monthly Spotify listeners. 

Rossdale’s need to promote a new album and reacquaint with fans has run into the harsh realities of the post-pandemic world: a glut of bands rushed back to touring in 2022, inflation has reached a 40-year high and equipment is in short supply. “Rooms are more expensive. Buses are more expensive. What about the f—ing gas companies? OK, hey, there’s a war going on. So sorry, but we have to hike prices up or $8 a gallon in L.A., right?” he says sarcastically.

Rossdale pauses and changes to an optimistic tone. “But creatively, we’re on a high,” he says. Bush’s ninth studio album, The Art of Survival, released Oct. 7, finds Rossdale and company full of bombast, huge guitars and memorable hooks. “I think this record is fire. And thank God it’s a good record. Imagine doing all this and having a mediocre record!”

Rossdale and Bush hit it big in 1994 with Sixteen Stone, one of the most successful albums of the grunge era that has been certified six-times platinum in the U.S. on the strength of such tracks as “Everything Zen,” “Glycerine,” “Comedown” and “Machinehead.” Sixteen Stone accounts for about half the songs in a typical set on the recent tour. “It feels mean-spirited to not play those songs,” he says. The balance of the set are tracks from Bush’s 2020 album The Kingdom, and the first single from The Art of Survival, “More Than Machines.” Other songs made occasional appearances, such as “The Sound of Winter” from 2011’s The Sea of Memories and “The Chemicals Between Us” from 1999’s The Science of Things.

Bush has gone through cycles over the last three decades, and Rossdale is realistic about the band’s position. “There are times I’ve reaped the benefits of this band, and there are times I’ve laid the groundwork so that the band continues,” he says. “It’s just the hard reality of life. I feel like I never want to discuss the business, but it’s good for people to know that we’re truthfully in it together, and I’m just planting seeds.”

At times acerbic (when talking about corporate greed) and passionate (when talking about the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade that inspired the song “More Than Machines”), Rossdale comes off as more grateful than anything else. “I’m living like everyone else: just day to day, getting through it as best I can, and appreciating that I’m damn lucky to be alive and have this great record.” 

Listen to the entire interview with Gavin Rossdale with Behind the Setlist on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeart, Amazon Music or Audible.

Glenn Peoples