The first album, 1994's "Sixteen Stone," went platinum in the U.S. Two years later, the followup, "Razorblade Suitcase," debuted on the Billboard charts at No. 1. The band's third release, 1999's "The Science of Things," also went platinum.
But "The Science of Things" was infused with a techno influence, with mixed results for many of Bush's fans. Lead singer Gavin Rossdale, guitarist Nigel Pulsford, bassist Dave Parsons and drummer Robin Goodridge went back into the studio to concoct "Golden State," a return to their radio-ready hard rock bluster.
The English quartet's North American tour in support of the new album will begin at the Fillmore Auditorium on Thursday night.
The turbulent "The People That We Love" had been originally titled "Speed Kills," but the single was renamed out of respect for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York. Rossdale sings, "The things we do to the people that we love/The way we break if there's something we can't take/Destroy the world that we took so long to make."
"There's two elements to it," Rossdale said recently. "There's a family side I was thinking about. My sister was away in the Far East under strange circumstances, and we lost her for a bit. I was missing her and was worried about her. Then I was thinking about how people are destructive - errant families, or difficult situations growing up - and wondering if they regret missing out on those childhoods.
"Overall, it's about how we should learn to appreciate things. For me, sometimes making music is trying to work out how to be a better person, to understand and express how something has distressed me or made me happy or feel dreamy. Unless you're a lump, you believe in the power of good, the contribution of art and literature. I just do my thing."
Another dark track, "Headful of Ghosts," is filled with buzzing guitars, an aching vocal and the line "At my best when I'm terrorist inside." Rossdale will change it when the band performs live.
"It's just not right anymore," he said. "The song is more important than a line of poetry taken the wrong way."
Rossdale's best vocal performance occurs on the ethereal "Out of This World," his favorite song on "Golden State." The arrangement is a series of disquieting guitar accents and muffled drumming.
"People say that horrible cliche when they write songs that other people like. "Yeah, it just sort of happened.' It was very instinctive. I spent the whole time trying to get out of the way of myself and let that song happen. It's magic."
Where Bush fits into the music scene these days is a touchy subject.
"Having lost Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden. . . . A whole era has passed. There haven't been many people who have stayed the course.
"But there are loads of great hard-core bands or underground bands always coming up. It's just hard to get a sense of universalism."
The tousle-haired Rossdale regularly shows up on paparazzi pages with partner Gwen Stefani of No Doubt. He's the first to admit that their five-year relationship has been tempestuous. Nonetheless, they're recently engaged.
"It feels really good, I've got to say," Rossdale said. "What's cool about us is that we have each other's lives in a certain way, like being in the process of a band, despite the different styles of music. We're both working, on tour, in some country singing somewhere. It's kind of romantic.
"Most people as busy as us are with people who have more time on their hands. What was interesting about me and Gwen was that, timewise, we were the worst people to choose each other. We could be with each other every single day if we allowed it. But your time gets filled. It's a big world."
Bush with Default: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Fillmore Auditorium, $28.50, Ticketmaster