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The Bush rocker — whose new greatest hits album is out now — opens up about his difficult career beginnings and life as a dad (and grandfather!)
Putting out a greatest hits record was never on Gavin Rossdale's radar.
“I thought that it would be considered a swan song, or a sign you’re taking your foot off the gas and moving to Monaco to grow grapes or something,” the rocker tells PEOPLE.
Grape grower he is not (at least, not yet), but Rossdale, 58, has changed his tune on taking time to reflect upon the legacy he’s built through nearly three decades with Bush; Loaded: The Greatest Hits 1994-2023, a 21-track compilation record, is out Friday.
Since releasing the album Sixteen Stone in 1994, Bush (Rossdale, Chris Traynor, Corey Britz and Nik Hughes) has become one of the biggest draws in rock, selling more than 20 million albums, notching a Grammy nomination and garnering over 1 billion streams on the back of hits like “Glycerine” and “Comedown.”
“I completely changed my opinion about [a greatest hits record] because I really got into the concept of just compiling the legacy,” he says. “It’s a really amazing stretch of time to be given the thrill of making music.”
For Rossdale, the chance to actually make music for the masses is something he doesn’t take for granted, especially considering the difficult road he faced early in his career trying to get things off the ground. The rocker was rejected by every label in his native England, and got by painting houses and working in construction until he finally signed a deal with an indie label in the United States.
“For many years, I was denied making records. I wasn’t deemed good enough. Maybe I wasn’t, but I sort of feel that maybe they didn’t have much foresight,” he says. “I don’t know if I was really confident and dumb, or dumb and a bit confident. Most people would’ve given up and most people would not have stumped the amount of rejection because it was just relentless. And it got to the point where I think that people around me just felt a bit bad for me. Because it wasn’t really happening, and it’s all I would do.”
Things had a way of working out for Rossdale. After forming Bush in the early ‘90s, the band broke through with Sixteen Stone, and continued to find success before going on hiatus in 2002. During Bush’s break, Rossdale briefly formed the band Institute and also embarked on a short-lived solo career, releasing the album Wanderlust in 2008.
The rocker says he was inspired at the time by the creativity of fellow musicians who’d branched off from the bands that made them famous to do their own thing through side projects (“I just wanted to look more interesting,” he quips.)
Still, Rossdale soon found life as a solo artist wasn’t what he expected, especially after his label released the ballad “Love Remains the Same” as a single. Though the song was a Top 40 hit, Rossdale says its release “destabilized me because it confused me.”
“I was like, ‘Not the ballad. Everyone will think I’ve gone really, really soft,’” he recalls.
As he toured the album, he found himself becoming exceptionally “aggressive” on stage, breaking his drum kit at the end of each show. He knew he was struggling to find his identity, and also knew that back with Bush was where he belonged.
“I was like, ‘Who am I?’ I was a bit lost,” he says. “I just left [the label] before I was pushed [into another solo record]. I left with my dignity and a bunch of songs, and then had a really great record with [2011’s] The Sea of Memories. I was just so happy to be back with the band. It just feels right for me.”
Though he’s settled into a groove since reuniting with Bush (the band is set to embark on a North American tour starting Tuesday), life on the road isn’t without its setbacks, especially when it comes to family matters.
Rossdale is dad to daughter Daisy Lowe, 34, with ex-girlfriend Pearl Lowe, and sons Kingston, 17, Zuma, 15, and Apollo, 9, with ex-wife Gwen Stefani — and knows that sometimes, being a rock star means having to sacrifice milestone moments whether he wants to or not.
“I don’t really think I have found the balance. My priority is my kids. I’m really focused and present and just trying to build something worthwhile [that I can] share with my family, and so I am always working,” he says. “Everything has its price. The biggest cost is my kids — I missed the first [high school football] game.”
The singer-songwriter also became a grandfather for the first time in April, when Daisy welcomed a daughter named Ivy with her fiancé Jordan Saul.
Rossdale says he brought the boys to meet the baby this past summer, and they were “great” with her.
“At first my ego was like, ‘What?’” he jokes of becoming a grandpa. “[But] she’s the greatest thing. It fills me with happiness and it makes me think that everything is alright... It's just great when you get these moments where things come together. So for me to be patriarchal in a real sense, you know what I mean? It's just fantastic."
Meanwhile, Rossdale keeps busy not only with Bush, but with other ventures, too, like his Sea of Sound clothing line and the cooking show he’s currently shopping. Among his guests on his cooking show? Singer Tom Jones, who’s still rocking at 83 years old. But don’t expect Rossdale to do the same down the line.
“Absolutely no way. No way, no way, no way. I’m already slightly nervous at this point,” he says of continuing to perform into his golden years. “It’s like being in a dance competition—you don’t want anyone to tap me on the shoulder.”
He continues, “My friend told me that I will do my best work into my 80s. I still want to be creative —maybe writing, maybe still design clothes or plates or knives,” he says. “I just don’t know. If I’m going to be 85, I’ve got to rethink my stage act.”
Loaded: The Greatest Hits 1994-2023 is out now. Bush’s North American tour kicks off Tuesday in Orlando, Florida.
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