Hit Parader
December 1999
"Bush: Blinded by Science"
Written by PJ Merkle

If the members of Bush were ever surprised by their incredible run of success, one would be hard pressed to make them admit it. From the moment these British lads first burst upon the scene back in 1995, they have continually taken to the spotlight of public adulation with an England style too often lacking in today's blue-collar rock world. Seemingly no matter how high they may reach towards the pinnacle of industry acclaim, vocalist/guitarist Gavin Rossdale, guitarist Nigel Pulsford, drummer Robin Goodridge and bassist Dave Parsons appear to remain calm, cool and casually collected -- totally at peace with the on-going rush of international stardom that surrounds them. Scrape away their super-hip, chart-topping, MTV-ready veneer and what you're left with are four still-very-young, very talented, very down-to-earth guys who despite selling more than 15 million copies of such discs as 16 Stone, Razorblade Suitcase and their new The Science of Things, remain totally in control of their star-studded surroundings.

Even as fans around the globe wallow in the warm glow provided by the appearance of Bush's latest album (which reaches us after an extended delay brought on by business machinations that went on between the band and their label), let's not forget how far these English aces have come in such a short time. Five years ago Bush was little more than another struggling, London-based unit continually finding themselves on the outside looking in. While their countrymen were rallying to the then-avant-pop sounds of Oasis, Bush's distinctly grunge-influence stylings fell virtually on deaf ears. Their debut album, 16 Stone, was treated less-than-favorably by a majority of the European music press -- most of whom loudly expressed the opinion that Bush had "pandered" to American tastes -- while Continental fans viewed the band's riff-heavy sound as "too mundane" for their supposedly cerebral palate. But just when things were beginning to look rather bleak for the Bush boys, something surprising happened -- America's rock-starved masses suddenly discovered this hard rocking quartet.

"I don't think we were really surprised by the way the folks back home viewed us," Goodridge explained at the time. "English music fans are rather notorious for their trendy tastes. There seems to be a very noble tradition among the British music publications to build a certain band or performer up, then very unceremoniously pull the rug from under them. So perhaps in a way the fact that they never really got behind us was a blessing. Since they never supported us, they really can't slag us now." Even now, half a decade removed from their successful-yet-somewhat-precarious entrance into the rock world, Bush continue to approach the contemporary music scene with a smile on their faces and their attitudes firmly in check. While some fans still cling to the misguided notion that these guys are always serious -- thanks in no small part to the angst-riddled images the band puts forth in their videos and live shows -- the fact is that the Bush boys remain amazingly up-beat and relatively unaffected by their swift trip to the very top of the rock and roll mountain. Despite the ever-shifting tastes of the music consumer, and despite the well-documented battle with their record label which served to delay the release of The Science of Things for the better part of eight months, the members of Bush can still laugh at the way critics remain uniformly steadfast in their refusal to acknowledge their artistic acumen. And they can smile at how some stubborn fans in their British homeland still prefer to view them as little more than "carpet baggers" more atuned to the State-side soundscape.

"We've learned to live with all of it," Parsons said. "There's really little point in trying to win over those who choose to turn their backs on you. We'd rather focus on those who accept us." Acceptance by the music masses -- especially on this side of the Atlantic -- has indeed been Bush's key to success. Their heavy, yet instantly accessible sound, mixed with Rossdale's incredibly charismatic personality, have together helped foster the group's reputation as a unit geared for appealing to as wide an audience as possible. Yet all one need do is check out any of the material contained on their latest presentation to realize just how cutting-edge the Bush brigade is attempting to be on The Science of Things. With millions of fans ready to rally to Bush's cause, it seems that Rossdale and crew have once again proven that their special formula of heavy guitars, powerful vocals and insightful lyrics remains without peer on the hard rock landscape. Indeed, while a number of "classic" Bush elements remain very much in evidence throughout their new disc, in style and substance this is a group that has clearly come a long way since they first entered the rock and roll wars.

"Every time you make new music, you want to try and push yourself to the limit," Rossdale said. "There's really no point in treading over well-worked turf. Each time we record we try and see what time and experience has added to what we do. But at the heart of things remain the four of us, and when we play together, there are certain elements that always remain constant." Having already performed a number of special shows in theater-sized venues across America -- as well as the gigantic Woodstock '99 festival last summer -- Bush have certainly been keeping busy. But now it's time for the band to launch a full-scale world tour, and the prospect has proven to be a daunting one for this still relatively young band. They concept of headlining their own tour -- and deciding upon which size venues to play -- has given the Bush boys more than a few moments of consternation. But as their new album continues to climb the charts, and tickets for their initial run of shows have instantly sold out, that good ol' Bush confidence has begun to reemerge in all its glory. Once again it seems quite apparent that this talented quartet is about to set the artistic and commercial standards against which many new-comers to the rock and roll scene will eventually be measured. "We try not to think about the bigger picture," Parsons said. "We don't want to think about our impact or even out success. That takes the focus away from the music - where it really should be."