Gavin Rossdale wanted to make sure there was an element of happiness and optimism in Bush's new album, Black and White Rainbows. But rest assured there's a gray cloud, both personal and political, inside that silver lining -- including in the track "Dystopia," premiering exclusively below.
"I wanted to write a record about what it's like coming out of a cannon before you take off through these watershed times," Rossdale, who founded Bush 25 years ago in London and produced Black and White Rainbows, tells Billboard. "I think it really is important to have the element of hope and repair and sunshine because it's such a divided world now. It's so divided and crazy and unstable and vulnerable. It's fallen at my feet as a lyricist to consider the position that we're in -- and unfortunately chaos makes for really fertile ground to write from."
The thumping, dark "Dystopia," in fact, "was where the record takes a really interesting turn," according to Rossdale. "It's a real hybrid of stuff I like, using machines and analog stuff -- the band plus machines," he explains. "I was just thinking of this dystopian world, this underbelly of frustration and fear and persecution and distrust just everything that's going on around us all the time. You have a president who half the country voted for and suddenly nobody voted for him. Nobody can make their mind up about him. So it's a very strange time, all the way around."
Rossdale, who wrote the new track "People At War" about the Syrian refugee crisis, does not plan to flee the Trump administration and return to his native England. He loves California for starters and, more importantly, his three young sons with ex-wife Gwen Stefani. "My life is totally about them, so wherever they go to school is where I live," he notes -- though he has been overseas this year as a judge on The Voice [U.K.]. So he's vested in seeing what transpires.
"It just feels like it's in its very early stages, like a torrential downpour of confusion, and it's hard to see where things are going to take shape," he notes. "It's like no one's wearing a seat belt and there's crazy tidal waves of stuff just coming at us. Usually people get involved just around election time in any country and then go back to their lives, but it's such a big thing going on now that there's such a big, sustained interest because everybody loves their country so much and is like, 'What's happening.'"
The tumult of his 2015 split from Stefani, however, was not a substantial factor on the new album -- by design. "I didn't choose those songs," Rossdale notes. "There's a lot of songs that could be on the record. I did write for a while before I began to think I had the right songs to release. It's impossible to write and not have that in my brain; I'm an artist and my real life informs loads of it. But sometimes it informs none of it because everything is so fluid. I can't tell you about something I wrote about six months ago because it means something different today. That's the nature of music."
Black and White Rainbows comes out Friday (March 10), and Bush starts a North American tour that mixes headline dates with festival appearances on May 4 -- shows that he promises will dig deep into Bush's seven-album repertoire. "I want to be as adventurous as possible," Rossdale says. "I want to play loads of the new record -- though not to the point where people are like 'Not the new record only!' -- but enough of the new record and then songs that we haven't played. There's obviously a certain core of songs we always feel we should play, but there's so many hidden songs that we haven't played that I'm really excited about. So I think we'll really be mixing things up."