On Tuesday, Wanderlust, the first true solo LP from former Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, hit shelves worldwide. While it does boast an exhilarating cameo from Garbage's Shirley Manson (on the track "The Trouble I'm In"), the album will not feature a duet with No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, Rossdale's pregnant pop-star wife. In fact, it's unlikely such a collaboration will ever materialize on tape, he admitted.
That's because for Rossdale, the idea is just too much of a rock-and-roll cliché. He's no Sonny, and Gwen's no Cher. They're too very different artists, and he said they'd like to avoid combining their professional and personal lives.
"It's bad enough with the whole intrusive, paparazzi-celebrity-weird-photo life," he said. "I like mystery. The people I care the most about, whether it's in music or films or art or whatever, I don't really need to know anything about them. The less I know about them, the better, because then I can just have my own unfiltered image of them, and whatever they do publically, for me, can just work its magic. When we get burdened by people at Starbucks, it just takes away from that mystery."
Wanderlust, which was produced by Bob Rock (Metallica), is Rossdale's first studio offering since Institute — the band he formed after Bush's 2002 split — released their 2005 debut, Distort Yourself. And Stefani's hunky hubby claims that anyone who liked his work with both bands will find something to love on this new record.
"There's a reality that, when I sing with a guitar, it can sound similar to the last time I sang with a guitar," he said. "I can't help that. So people who enjoy either of those bands will enjoy this record. It's quite an aggressive record, which emancipated me a bit. I could bring the guitars back a little bit and let the atmosphere take over, which is what I've always tried to do anyway. This record allowed me to try something different, and with every record, I've always tried to do something different. Sometimes, when records have been less successful than others, I've always thought I'd screwed up, and that I should have done the same record."
Distort Yourself was one such record, having sold a mere 57,000 copies to date in the U.S. And the lukewarm reception to it was disappointing for Rossdale, who ruled out an Institute revival.
"Bands are like sharks — they've got to keep moving," he said. "[Institute was] a dead shark. It didn't really work out, but I just think that if people hear [Wanderlust], and they like it, they may investigate the Institute record. There are tracks on the Institute record that could've fit on this record easily, but that's just the way it goes. You try to make everything good, and every once in a while, you get one that takes off."
What struck Rossdale most about Institute was how "indifferent" people seemed toward the disc. "Love and hate...that's the sort of thing you get used to if you sell more than 20 copies of your record. So, it was just the fact that it couldn't make a big enough of a splash," he said. "We went on tour with U2, and they liked the record. I guess it's just too difficult to come from a successful band and start a new band, and I felt weird doing it anyway."
Rossdale said he gets political for the first time on this album, but the message isn't as overt as the kind you'd find in, say, Rage Against the Machine tunes.
"Some of the songs are reflections on the war," he said. "I took it quite to heart when Neil Young said bands of the younger generation weren't really making too much music about the war, and I thought, to a degree, he was right. I would never clothe it in a political statement, because I think Rage are the only band that can do that and have a kind of resonance to it. For me, it was about personalizing it. I have to go on tour and do this life, and it's hard for me to leave my family, but I can't imagine what it would be like to leave your family, and be under the threat of gunfire, the threat of being killed. I only get killed in print."
This summer, Rossdale will be touring mostly overseas in support of Wanderlust, but he is mapping out a U.S. headlining run for the fall.