“It doesn’t make sense to me that 400 times this year, someone’s gone into a school and shot more than four people,” Rossdale said while speaking with Us Weekly ahead of Bush’s show at New York City’s Irving Plaza benefiting the anti-gun violence initiatives. “This doesn’t f—king make sense. You can’t rationalize it. It doesn’t make sense.”
Rossdale, 57, and his band Bush aren’t generally thought of as a socially-conscious rock band, but as he explains to Us, he has always been aware of what’s happening around him.
“I’ve always been quite political and particularly underrated for it because I do it in a way that’s always been on the personal politics,” he says. “On the first record [Sixteen Stone], the song ‘Bomb’ is about growing up in the shadow of the IRA and the Protestants, the Orange Parade march, and things. Where I grew up in North London, there were these bombed shopping centers and buses, and people died, and it was the real thing.”
He continued: “The hunger strikes, and [IRA member] Bobby Sands and all that stuff, I grew up with that as the backdrop. And where I lived, my area was next to Kilburn. It’s where I played football for an Irish team. I went to all the Irish pubs on Quicks Road. I was really in it.”
“I’ve been quite heavily into that stuff without ever being flag bearing, just conscious of it,” he adds, “and aware of it as a human being, as anyone would be.”
Rossdale will utilize his awareness and voice on Friday, September 22, when Bush takes the stage at Irving Plaza for a show billed as “a celebration of unity in the fight against gun violence.” It’s also the first in a series of national events held by Artist For Action, a coalition of musicians working to end the epidemic of gun violence in America.
However, even Rossdale knows it’s an uphill battle. “My son [Zuma Rossdale] is a country guy. He has a whole life over there with this other side, where they’re shooting, hunting. It’s their culture,” says Rossdale, who shares 15-year-old Zuma, Kingston, and Apollo with his ex-wife, Gwen Stefani. Stefani, 53, married country star Blake Shelton in 2021 after six years of dating.
“You’re never going to take guns out of America. Never, never, never. So it’s a moot point,” explains Rossdale. “But I suppose, the [assault] rifles, to me, it’s got to be more about, how does someone in a community get so isolated?”
Rossdale — who changed his citizenship because of his love of America, and three of his four children were born in the country – sees the epidemic of shootings as not necessarily being about the actual gun. “What about the person? What about the community support, the people losing their minds, the lone wolves? How are teachers not recognizing those kids in the class?”
Rossdale wants to highlight how “the mental aspect” of this highly-politicized issue is “the most open to change.”
“How do you stop these people going so far out?” he asks.
Even Rossdale knows that it’s going to take a lot for Artist For Action and Sandy Hook Promise to end the endless shootings in America. “It’s an uphill struggle to change gun culture,” he says, “but it’s less of a struggle to try raise support for people who are driven [to violence]. Because I think, ‘Are there 400 inherently bad people, or are there are 400 people that are driven beyond something?’ It is terrifying, as well.”
Rossdale says that the issue of gun violence can’t be reduced to a simple fix. “It’s not as basic as, “Oh, hello, I’m nuts, I’m going to go and kill people,'” he says. “It cannot be that basic. It has to be a culture of alienation, a culture of disconnect, a culture of a lack of support that allows these people to turn into psychotic killers. And I think that’s a huge area.”
“I’m just saying, isn’t that part of it?” he says. “It’s not just like, ‘oh, access to guns.’ What about the people pulling the f—king triggers?”
The Artist for Action show will kick off a busy season for Rossdale and Bush. His band will release a career-spanning greatest hits compilation – Loaded: The Greatest Hits 1994-2023 – on November 10 via Round Hill Records. Rossdale wrote and released a new song, “Nowhere to Go But Everywhere,” the namesake of the upcoming North American tour to commemorate the project.
“I’ve always had a weird relationship with [the collection],” Rossdale tells Us. “I’ve never wanted to do a greatest hits. It’s almost like a ‘sayonara.’ I [have always been] more interested in writing new stuff. Obviously, I did write a new song for [Loaded], but yeah. Greatest Hits.”
Rossdale doesn’t want Loaded to be the closing of his career. The group released its ninth studio album, The Art of Survival, in 2022. For new fans, Loaded will be a perfect introduction to the band.
“We literally [included] songs chronologically,” says Rossdale. The track list includes 90s alternative radio staples like “Everything Zen,” “Comedown,” “Machinehead,” “Swallowed” and “Glycerine.” Latter hits like “More Than Machines” and “Bullet Holes” are included, as well as a formal recording of the band’s version of The Beatles’ “Come Together.”
“There were 26 Top 40 hits, but we could only put 22 on there or something,” said Rossdale. “So there were four that didn’t make it, which is a bit of a shame, but they said, ‘We ran out of vinyl.'”
For Rossdale, Loaded is exciting because he collaborated with Chris Ashworth, graphic designer and former art director of alt-rock magazine Ray Gun: “On my first record, Sixteen Stone, I got [Ray Gun graphic designer] Dave Carson [to design the artwork].”
“When I signed a deal [with Interscope], they asked me what I would like, and I said, ‘Ray Gun is the greatest magazine there is. Can we try and contact them?’ So they contacted Dave Carson, and Dave did a fantastic job. We loved it. It had my dog on the album, jumping in Regents Park,” says Rossdale. “We had just his artwork, and it was the sensibility that I loved. And weirdly enough, then full circle, how life is, what, 30 years later, I ended up doing a piece for Marvin Magazine, [owned by] Marvin Jarrett, who used to own Ray Gun. He even had Nylon, and now he has Marvin, and he’s like, ‘I owned Ray Gun.'”
“I said, ‘Oh, my God, I love Dave Carson.’ He goes, ‘Oh yeah, Dave’s an interesting character, but Chris Ashworth is really the guy,'” he explains.
From there, Rossdale began to follow Ashworth on Instagram, who subsequently followed the Bush singer back. The two were in each other’s orbit when it came time to do Loaded. “I thought it’d be cool to come full circle and get Chris to do the artwork for the greatest hits,” says Rossdale. “And Chris’s work is just gorgeous, and it was such a thrill to work with him. I’ve worked with a lot of great artists. It’s such an excuse to collaborate with great people, whether it’s videos or photographers. Yesterday, I worked with Sante D’Orazio, doing the best pictures, and it was just incredible,” he adds. “I love all that stuff. So yeah, I’m so thrilled. The most exciting thing of the record, to me, is the artwork.”
Rossdale explained that during Bush’s tenure, he’s “always chosen the songs on the records, but I’ve never chosen the singles because I’m not the one who has to go and work them.” As a self-professed believer of “people staying in their lanes,” he says, Rossdale hasn’t tried to micromanage his career down to the smallest detail.
“I thought if I try to dictate what things should be, to that degree, even drifting into someone else’s job of knowing what radio wants or what’s happening? That stuff is just not my jam,” he says. “So, I’ve never chosen the singles.”
“I’ve never been surprised or disappointed, like ‘don’t bring the ballad out!'” he adds. “I deliver a record, and they tell me which song they’re excited about. And the label I have now, Round Hill, is great.”
Rossdale’s creative ambitions have seen him expand beyond music. He dabbled in acting, appearing alongside Keanu Reeves in 2005’s Constantine, in 2004’s Mayor of the Sunset Strip, and The Bling Ring in 2013. He launched the Sea of Sound fashion line and hopes to launch a cooking/interview show, spotlighting both his love of food and company.
“I have a Nutrition Facts thing, which is a guide to humanity, and it incorporates food,” Rossdale says of one of the standout pieces in Sea of Sound. “It’s kind of cool because we have labels on the back of food. I did that for fashion and humanity, a good way of living.”
Rossdale hopes to translate that passion for the culinary arts into a new venture, as he’s been working on a potential cooking/interview show. He says that he’s close now to getting it made since the WGA/SAG-AFTRA strike has resulted in studios who “turned [him] down last year” to reconsider it.
“I just always loved food,” he tells Us. “I’ve always really enjoyed it. I just found a knack, I think – I just found a connection to it, a natural ability to time things, a natural ability to flavor things, so things taste good.”
He went on to reference his seven-year split from Stefani. “When I got divorced, I thought, OK, new life, how can I do this?'” he continues. “Whenever I cook for people, people will always be a bit surprised. It’s an anomaly. I have people come to my house in LA and say, ‘Well, no one’s ever cooked for me at a house before.’ Very strange. So I just got into it.”
For Rossdale, his creative exploits are all tied together with a similar philosophy. “I’ve always been into this idea of curation. A life well lived should be a life well curated,” he explains. With cooking, however, he adds that there was a more personal reason for him to pick up the whisk and ladle. “I was honestly just trying to get straightforward ways to stay home and not be leaving my boys, not have to go on tour.”
Though Rossdale will have to hit the road soon, he seems optimistic about the future – as much as a British man with a self-described “gallows’ humor” can be. “I do believe in an order, and an energy, and a connectivity to the universe, and a timing of things,” he says toward the end of the chat. “I really believe that.”
“So, I simply have had the opportunity to make those shows or to bring that clothing line out, where it’s sort of found a way,” he says with a smile. “Now, I feel that there’s a shift where I have set myself up with the greatest opportunity.”