photo & text by nacrowe
often getting pegged as a opportunistic NIRVANA wannabes by music critics, which to some extent is accurate, what always struck me in retrospect about this BRITISH post-GRUNGE ALTERNATIVE ROCK band is how disconnected they were from what was actually current on there side of the pond at the time, namely BRITPOP.
all the manufactured ALTERNATIVE ROCK trappings are there: off-set guitars (check), opaque lyrics (check) soft verse/loud chorus a la THE PIXIES (check), vague anthems celebrating discontent (check). whereas KURT COBAIN had a troubled solitary upbringing that scarred him psychologically as an adult and unquestionably influenced his sense of identity and his art, with BUSH frontman GAVIN ROSSDALE you get the opposite. you are presented a polished, well-adjusted BRIT with model looks. it was an interesting inversion of a ROCK N ROLL archetype.
not that i knew or would have cared about any of this the first time i heard BUSH. i can remember during my elementary years in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA hearing several tracks off of their debut, SIXTEEN STONE (TRAUMA, 1994), like "MACHINEHEAD," "COMEDOWN," "LITTLE THINGS" and especially "EVERYTHING ZEN" and never picking up on the fact that they were ENGLISH. in fact, i thought GREEN DAY were BRITISH given the unique cadence and affectation of BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG's voice at the time. i should also mention i had the benefit of growing up sans MTV since my family didnt have cable during that period and none of my classmates did either (the internet was still almost a decade away from popular widespread usage).
with all that being said, i think that the one thing ROSSDALE is never given credit for, especially with SIXTEEN STONE, was his ability to write some memorable songs. were they derivative and openly mimicking NIRVANA? absolutely. but they werent the first or the last to do such and arguably they were probably better at it than most (do i need to even mention CANDLEBOX or COLLECTIVE SOUL?). i just wish that ROSSDALE had the sense not to be so obvious about his hero worship, like getting STEVE ALBINI to record the follow-up a la IN UTERO (DGC, 1993). why force the comparison between you and a celebrated icon whose cultural gravity will swallow and ultimately dwarf your creative efforts.
i never understood that.