Gavin Rossdale Explains New Bush Song That Seemingly References Gwen Stefani (Exclusive)
By Jackie Willis
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Some of the songs on Bush's new album, The Kingdom, are deeply personal for frontman Gavin Rossdale.
"[Just] 12 songs to transport you, to comfort you, to energize and give strength and power and identification," Rossdale tells ET's Keltie Knight of the record.
To Rossdale, "it was really essential to make a record that really could exist in its own place." "You didn't have to know the catalog, didn't have another band [as reference], didn't have to know anything. This is a standalone piece of music," he says. "The Kingdom is meant to be this place where like minded individuals [can exist], free of self righteousness and hatred and bigotry and all those things that we good people are trying to eradicate."
One song in particular, "Ghosts in the Machine," seemingly references Rossdale's 2016 split from Gwen Stefani, the mother of his three sons.
"I used to think that you could fix me," he croons. "I used to think that 'till death us do part."
Rossdale says the lyrics are actually about slowing down, like most of the world had to do in quarantine. "You're just like a worker bee and then you lift your head up and 20 years later in your life is gone," he explains. "I think we're all guilty of that and we all want to be better. We all look at social media because we want a better life. We all kind of look at people that we're attracted to because they might complete us and perfect us."
The 54-year-old singer adds that "Ghosts in the Machine" is also about trying "to be someone special for someone and that didn't work out."
In another part of the song, Rossdale sings, "I found a place where I can love my black heart."
The rocker admits he sometimes wonders if he has a heart, especially "after so many years in the rat race of the emotional life."
"I think it's in there somewhere," he jokes.
The Bush frontman also goes into detail about the emotional meaning behind the band's song, "Quicksand."
"It's really hard to know yourself, there's no greater mystery than our own hearts and our own emotional journeys," he says. "It's really difficult because we are plagued, bombarded with reasons why someone else's life is better than us just all day long."
While Rossdale didn't outright say if any of his songs are about Stefani, he did tell The Guardian recently that one of his more embarrassing moments was "the gross and lopsided specter of the crumbling of my marriage."
As for what he wants people to know about him now, Rossdale tells ET that there are way more than two sides to every story. "There are at least 17 sides to every situation," he says. "The easiest thing for me to think about is that it's laughable for people to assume, which they're very good at."
He adds, "...Everything is the gray area, especially in affairs of the heart or the mind."
Rossdale and Stefani will always be connected through their three kids -- 14-year-old Kingston, 11-year-old Zuma and 6-year-old Apollo. The singer proudly boasts he's "obsessed" with his kids, who he's been keeping busy at the beach amid quarantine. He'll play them some of the music he's been working on, but in doses.
"It's funny because when I first had kids, people would ask me, 'How did they affect songwriting?' And I was like, horrified. Like, 'I don't write songs about them,'" Rossdale quips. "What I find with all my kids is I love them so much and I respect them. I want them to be proud of me and I want them to like [my music]."
His sons are big fans of Billie Eilish, Green Day and the Sex Pistols -- so Rossdale isn't trying to compete with that. "I just want them to like the music. That's the only pressure, is they like it. And the good news is they do," he says.
The Kingdom comes 25 years after Bush's debut album, Sixteen Stone. There are a few things Rossdale would have done differently throughout his career -- like not releasing his solo record -- but the musician notes you "can't airbrush your history."
"It's messy and there are times when you take wrong turns and times when you hit brick walls," he says. "One thing that I can't believe is that it sustained 25 years."
"But we're on the cusp of a record -- and this is really a good one," he adds.
The Kingdom is Bush's eighth studio album and is out Friday, July 17.