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The more things change, the more things stay the same. This axiom can easily be applied to famed British alt-rockers Bush as they celebrate the recent 20th anniversary of their multiplatinum debut, Sixteen Stone, and promote their new album, Man On the Run, released late last year.
The band, led by singer-guitarist Gavin Rossdale, became famous in the mid-'90s for post-grunge hits like "Everything Zen" and "Glycerine," which were reminiscent of the heavy grunge sounds of Nirvana and Soundgarden and strongly resonated with American audiences. Interestingly, Bush gained much more notoriety Stateside than in their native U.K., where the lighter sound of Britpop was on the rise at the time. Since releasing Sixteen Stone in 1994, the band has sold more than 20 million records in the U.S. and Canada alone.
Now the band, which also includes guitarist Chris Traynor, bassist Corey Britz, and drummer Robin Goodridge, has just released album number six, which Rossdale says is an ode to everyone who finds themselves pulled in too many directions at once, constantly trying to meet daily deadlines while striving to define their larger legacy.
"[Man On the Run] is for everyone — it's not just for men but [also] for women, girls," Rossdale told Yahoo Music at the of the album's release. "It's just that thing that so much is expected from us, from ourselves and other people; it's so competitive in any lane, any field, doing anything. And it feels we're all just running to make stuff on time, running for deadlines, running to achieve things and make some kind of sense of our lives and have some kind of legacy... so that's the whole 'man on the run' thing. It's a universal feeling."
The album's title track, replete with grungy layers of sound and a decidedly '90s Nirvana vibe, speaks of a man who "feels the walls closing in" — a sentiment that's very relatable to anyone who juggles life's multiple challenges and responsibilities — as most of us do these days. Rossdale, who has three young children with pop-star wife Gwen Stefani, says that by no means is his quest to find balance at all unique. "It's a constant challenge," he said of trying to juggle work, family, music, and the other important things in his life. "I don't believe there's anyone out there who doesn't find everything challenging. I don't feel unique in that."
When writing the album, Rossdale worked primarily at his home studio in Los Angeles, drawing from a journal of notes he had been keeping for the past couple of years.
"They say the hardest thing for a writer is putting yourself in a seat to do it," he admitted. "I'm really untrained with music, so it's always a natural process of understanding more about music by writing songs. So it's a grand voyage of discovery. I have a good time doing it, I love my job. I just dive right in. I have a collection of words that I've been writing over the previous couple of years… I have a file of that stuff and each day I dive into that and see if there's anything I can salvage. Then I think of the tempo and the feeling of the songs and how it fits my mood for that day."
Rossdale finds it hard to believe that morte than two decades have passed since the release of Sixteen Stone, and expresses gratitude about continuing to have a successful career in music. "How exciting it is to be able to still be getting to make music, because it's a slippery slope even to get going, let alone to have a career," Rossdale noted. "We're blown away by that. The 20 years is a real surprise, because no one ever feels you'll be aware of that amount of time in your life. But there it goes — there it went."
While many things have changed — Rossdale got married and started a family, and Bush weathered a few lineup changes and even broke up for a few years in the early '00s — the core of the band remains the same: "We got a bit better, a bit more tuneful, we play a bit tighter, but we're not forfeiting that spirit that got us into music."