Each year, more than 41,000 people are killed in automobile accidents in the United States, and experts agree that motorists driving too darn fast cause many of these fatalities.
That was just one of the things on Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale’s mind when he wrote “Speed Kills,” the first single from the band’s new album, Golden State, which comes out October 23.
Rossdale admitted that he rarely focuses on only one thing at a time. “Often it’s really hard to explain what I’ve written because of that,” he said over the phone from his London home. “Sometimes there are so many ideas in there, I can’t even understand it fully myself. At least it’s honest.”
Addressing velocity termination from different vantage points, the song is an insistent stormer that layers screechy guitar harmonics over blasting power chords and contrasts bass-dominated verses with distortion-drenched choruses.
“I was watching D.A. Pennebaker’s amazing documentary ’The War Room,’ which is about the Clinton/Gore campaign battling George Bush,” Rossdale said. “On the back of their shirts they had the slogan ’speed kills.’ I just loved the idea of killing with the speed of thought. Not just traffic. I like the idea of being powerfully whippetlike with your brain.”
Somewhere in the writing process, Rossdale shifted focus from politics to personal issues. He thought of friends who were single parents and his sister, who disappeared in Southeast Asia for months before resurfacing.
“There’s this collage of family stuff and relationship moments,” he continued. “One line goes, ’Can you tell she’s coming up roses, can you tell she’s coming up sweet.’ That’s about kids who are raised by single parents and the other parent doesn’t even know his or her child.”
Since “Speed Kills” confronts the listener from a variety of angles, it’s understandable that Rossdale decided not to commission a narrative video for the song. Bush hired Canada-based video director Ulf Buddensieck, who, though widely respected, has primarily shot undiscovered bands such as Chevelle and Big Wreck and local bands such as Finger Eleven and Moist.
“He came up with a treatment that was exactly what I was looking for,” Rossdale explained. “It was as if I wrote a list and ticked off boxes. He wanted to do something that was edgy and vibrant and alive, and that’s exactly what I wanted. Too many videos today are just too dark and moody. They all look like they were shot in a garage. We wanted to be unmoody and undark.”
The band shot the “Speed Kills” video last month in a large studio just up the road from Rossdale’s London house. While the footage will feature computer animation and unconventional camera work, it will be strictly a performance video.
“I just wanted to use the visuals to emphasize the song,” said Rossdale. “I haven’t seen that many other bands use the same approach, so I thought it was interesting.”