Brit-Rockers Bush Showcase New Songs At West Coast Dates

Band mixes guitar-rock with synthesizers to reveal new sound at first U.S. gigs in more than two years.

British grunge-rockers Bush, in their first U.S. dates in more than two years, unveiled seven new songs Tuesday from their upcoming album, The Science of Things, augmenting their signature grunge-pop sound with an electronic texture.

Among the new songs played at the mini-tour opener in San Diego was "Prizefighter," which the band's publicist, Michael Pagnotta, described as oscillating, in true Bush fashion, among gliding mellow verses, distorted guitars and screaming vocal choruses.

"People were flying all over the place and crowd surfing," said Danny Sutherland, spokesperson for 91X (91.1-FM), which sponsored Tuesday's show. "My buddy was up front and said he got worked."

Also included in the set were the new tunes "Warm Machine," "Jesus Online," "The Chemicals Between Us" and "Forty Miles From the Sun," a mellow, spacey jam with singer Gavin Rossdale's vocals floating over ambient processed noise, according to Pagnotta.

"The new material went over really well," Pagnotta said. "The girls are still going crazy over Gavin."

The band kicked off the tour at a packed house of 91X listeners on the campus of San Diego State University. The three-date tour then stopped Wednesday night at the Glass House in Pomona, Calif., and was expected to finish up Friday night (June 11) at the Roxy in Los Angeles.

For live performances and their upcoming album, Bush have enlisted longtime friend and keyboardist Sasha Puttnam. The band decided to add Puttnam's electronic noodlings to the hard-driving guitar-rock found on its two previous LPs after the success of its remix album, Deconstructed (1997).

"It won't be like a Depeche Mode album or anything," Pagnotta said. "It's not an electronic record. It's a rock record with some electronic textures to it."

Bush are known for writing their albums on the road, even composing during soundchecks and onstage jams. Most of the material from the band's 1996 album, Razorblade Suitcase, which featured the hit "Swallowed" (RealAudio excerpt), was written on tour.

But that's not the case with The Science of Things. For that album, songwriter Rossdale spent last winter holed up in Ireland and emerged with 20 new songs. From September to February, he and the rest of the band -- guitarist Nigel Pulsford, bassist Dave Parsons, and drummer Robin Goodridge -- refined, recorded and mixed the new songs with producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who had manned the boards for the band's debut album, Sixteen Stone.

At the end of Tuesday's show, the band casually walked offstage, while the crowd chanted, "We want Bush!" The rockers, whose plain attire was set off by Rossdale's newly minted platinum locks, accommodated them with another rousing set of songs, including their breakthrough hit, "Everything Zen" (RealAudio excerpt).

Bush will return to Europe to play some festival dates before returning to the States in July for three shows at New York's Irving Plaza. Those dates will serve as a warm-up for the band's performance at Woodstock '99.

The Science of Things is tentatively due this fall, although a legal battle between the band and its label, Trauma/Interscope, may delay the release.