Front Magazine
"Hole Lotta Bush"
December 1999
Written by Duncan Kane

When Bush got together with Courtney Love's Hole in Paris, FRONT made sure we had passes to get round the back, too...

'Excuse me, monsieur. Er, but izzat Courtney Love?' The setting is a cosy upmarket Parisian drinking club, all dimmed lights, velvet cushions and... incredibly sexy table girls, one of which has just enquired about the company we're keeping. 'It is, darling,' confirms Tim, the Bush tour maestro. 'Oh sank you!' the Parisian saucepot smiles back. This isn't the normal scenario for Tim. Anywhere else on this planet, Bush would cause a virtual riot just by cruising past the club door. Not in Paris, however, which makes it the perfect city to play a low-key warm-up gig with their mates from Hole. For those of you who have just returned from a five-year holiday on Mars, let me spell it out: as far as the rest of the world are concerned BUSH are BIG - no, in fact, Bush are MONSTER GODZILLA GIGANTICUS!!

A few hours earlier found FRONT with exclusive access (Bush hate most English press) travelling with the band via the Chunnel. Singer Gavin Rossdale is - if such a thing exists - the perfect Rock Star: he drives a '67 Fastback Mustang, owns a set of lungs to die for, writes hits on any one of his 15 guitars faster than Porge Michael can jerk his gherkin at any undercover copper, and to top it all off he's a good-looking geezer. With all that, he could be a right wanker, but he's not. In fact, he's one of the soundest blokes you could hope to meet.

I ask him what's the coolest thing about being in Bush. Mr Rossdale takes a thoughtful sip of his booze before replying, 'Just the luxury of being able to make records forever.' His north London accent is soft, almost a whisper, contrasting with the colossal belter of a singing voice he unleashes on stage. 'All that cash, the houses and the cars were never our incentive. The whole thing just went fucking mental!'

With the French countryside rolling behind him he moves on to the once sensitive subject of Brits always saying, 'They're not very big in the UK though, are they?' 'Our last album sold more in the UK than Pulp,' says Gavin without a hint of malice. So we check the rock 'n' roll rating by asking drummer Robin Goodridge if he's trashed any hotel rooms recently. 'No,' he answers. 'We don't do hotels - last thing we trashed was a jumbo.'

Didn't they get chucked off?

'Nah, we were the only bastards on it!'

Noticing my look of confusion, Rob elaborates. 'We had to fly from Canada to Dalas to play this gig in front of 400,000 people so, er, we booked our own 747, complete with air hostesses, the lot. The Canadian support band asked if they could come along for the crack, you know. So I said sure, just bring your passports; you won't need your ticket cos we own the plane!!!'

Bassist Dave Parsons turns his head round from the seat in front at this point, chipping in, 'It was the party on the way back when things got really outta hand - trays flying everywhere, food fights - we still had queues for the toilets, though... people were either powdering their noses or joining the mile-high club.'

We arrive in Paris a little worse for wear, and the culture shock hits hard. Just three hours since leaving Blighty, and we're surrounded by people selling croissants and baguettes, and beret-wearing old men on push bikes in striped black T-shirts with onions and garlic draped around their shoulders. Well, OK, so I made that bit up, but it felt like there should have been.

The hotel is situated across la rue, next to cafes and bistros with tables out on the pavement. To say Bush stick out with their multi-coloured hair, obligatory dark glasses and minders is something of an understatement - they may as well be carrying a large sign reading 'BAND IN TOWN' - but at least they can cross the street without being mobbed.

As we stumble into the foyer Rob asks if I've got enough cash to get to my hotel on the other side of town (he's an old mate who I once played in a band with when he was a painter and decorator - how times change). I say I'm fine, but he still slings me a bundle of French cash. Top guy! Eight o'clock spins round and sees us in a huge stadium in the heart of Paris. A few bands have already been on and no one has taken much notice - until Bush, that is. From the first hummings of the intro tape you just know it's going to be a happening. The tape ends and Bush slam in, forcing the French crowd into submission like true music veterans - as indeed they are, of some 2,000 shows.

Gav's voice is a growling, ball-busting, snarl. Four tunes in and the place has metamorphosed from a library of nuns into an amphetamine-fuelled slamming convention. As the band launch into their latest single, Chemicals Between Us, I'm in the wings with Bone, the band's security and all-round Mr Fix-It - a 40-something boyish dude with a slicked barnet and a black belt in everything from maiming to massage. Suddenly the huge grin he wears disappears as he stares at Gav. It soon becomes apparent why.

'Awww, fuck man, he's gonna do that surf shit again!' and Bone's off like a man possessed. Sure enough, Gav has decided to hurl himself back-first into the mosh pit, his guitar still plugged in, and is soon floating on a sea of grasping French hands. It should be remembered that all he has to do is break one finger and 100 or so people will be out of a job, including Bone. He needn't have worreid on this occasion as the crowd handle the Bush man with care and return him onstage, fingers and all. Back in the wings Bone breathes a sigh of relief. 'He promised he wasn't gonna pull that shit today, man. Jeez!' At this point Gav looks over at us mid-song , throws a wink and a sly smile at the perspiring Bone, and you get the feeling they play this game very night.

Backstage, Courtney Love - Hollywood movie star and Queen of Grunge - glides by dressed like a Christmas porn fairy, complete with short skirt, tinsel and angel wings. We all are sitting round a long table munching on grub that is laid out for whoever wants it. The area is restricted and is smack bang in the middle of all the dressing rooms. You can't help but notice that everyone seems a little scared of her, and she definitely has the air of a woman who gets what she wants.

But that hard exterior drops the moment she spots Bush sitting alongside us and suddenly she's turned into a pussycat, purring up to Gav's ear, sticking her ass in the air as she bends down to whisper something. She wiggles off and all eyes turn to Gav. 'Courtney fancies clubbing later. We up for it???'

Much later, as myself and the FRONT lensman are leaving the club, Courtney drags Gav up onto the dancefloor. It's a strange sight, the former Mrs Cobain and Grunge Queen having a boogie with the man who has inherited the crown, a title he never wanted, never asked for, but still got a lot of shit about. Those Nirvana taunts of a few years back seem laughable now. Since then, Bush have shifted about 15 million albums and with the recent release of latest album, The Science of Things, look set to add quite a few more to that total. Oh yeah, Bush have conquered the world...