I'm an alien, you're an alien...
Hello! Welcome to the FOURTH issue of Beautiful Rain, I hope this 'zine has been satisfactory so far for you guys, if it hasn't, tell me what I should do to make it better! There hasn't been much news in the BUSH world lately, they aren't really doing anything except recording their album, which I cannot wait for! Well, enough with the babble onto the 'zine!
Nigel's solo album, A Portrait in Three Colours, has a new release date which is not known as of yet, it will be released from collectingdust.com, they shouldn't have taken the name so literally, don't you agree?
In the world of rock music, critical acclaim and commercial success rarely go hand in hand. Except in a few rare instances, it always seems as if the very artists praised and raved about the press have trouble selling out shows in small clubs, let alone theaters and larger venues. Meanwhile, bands that fill arenas and large auditoriums recieve harsh criticism from journalists or are simply ignored by them.
Ther may be no better example of this phenomenon today than Bush. Although they are one of the most popular bands in America at the moment, with a pair of chart-topping, multi-platinum albums and a top-grossing tour, the American music press regards them with contempt of the sort usually reserved for child molesters and terrorists. Rolling Stone and Spin routinely criticize and mock the band, describing them as opportunistic nivana wannabees, baiting other artists to bash them and dwelling on topics such as singer/guitarist Gavin Rossdale's alleged romantic exploits with No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and Courtney Love. But whereas Bush have come to expect the kind of dirt shoveled on them by magazines like Rolling Stone and Spin, they were completely surprised when Guitar World delved into similar shady realms in its January 1997 interview with the band. "We felt like Guitar World was trying to turn people who liked us against us, says Bush guitarist Nigel Pulsford, shaking his head in disbelief. "They pictured us as arrogant." In their interview with Guitar World, Rossdale and Pulsford ridiculed several American alternative bands, including Soundgarden, Smashine Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. While Pulsford doesn't deny having the words that were printed (although he says some of his quotes were mistakenly attributed to Rossdale), he is upset about how those words were presented. "All the irony and humor was left out," Pulsford complains. "It made it look like we were slgging off these other bands, but that wasn't our intention. Soundgarden was actually one of our favorite bands. It's sad that they've broken up. Gavin and I were just egging each other on to say something silly. It was a very negative piece, and it didn't really say anything about our playing. It didn't seem like a guitar magazine story. It was more like a National Enquirer piece. So why is Pulsford talking to Guitar World now? Mainly because he wants to set the record straight. But he is also serious about his musicianly pursuits, and he finds it difficult to turn down a rare opportunity to talk about music and guitar equipment and songwriting. And so , after the band's soundcheck in Cleveland, Ohio, Pulsford has decided to give Guitar World another go.
GUITAR WORLD: Why do you think the press gives Bush such a hard time?
NIGEL PULSFORD: Maybe it's because we don't come from the States and we don't have an attitude like the Offspring, although lately they seem to be getting as hard a time as we do. We mgiht have been treated differently if Gavin wasn't so good looking, or a number of things like that. Part of the problem was that when our first record came out over here, we had only played in bars around London and we didn't have much press over there. When we came to America it seemed like we emerged from the middle of nowhere. No one was claiming us as their own.
It seems like we're the whipping boys of certain elements of the press right now. Rolling Stone doesn't seem to like us very much, so, as a consequence of that, Spin and these other magazines then try to get other people to say bad things about us. Trent Reznor made a disparaging remark about us, and Spin didn't just print it, they highlighted it.
GW: How is the band reacting ot the negative press?
PULSFORD:We've suffered from bad press, so we've learned to not say anything and leave yourself open to interpretation. Any time you do an interview, you never know how the piece is going to come out. The thing is you have to live and stand by those pieces, no matter what. If you're in a bar talking to someone one night and you say something flippant, it may or may not be remembered by whoever you're talking to. But if you say something flippant in an interview, it's there forever. You can't let your guard down, or else the press will take advantage of you.
GW: Many of Bush's critics claim that the band is just imitating Nirvana.
PULSFORD: We've always listened to bands like the Pixies and Big Black who have lots of aggression. The press tagged us as Nirvana sound-alikes, which is the easy thing to do. You can hear that on a few songs, I agree, but if you scratch the surface there's a little bit more than that.
GW: What has been your most frustrating experience with the press?
PULSFORD: The Rolling Stone article was particularly despicable. The writer of that article became like a part of the group for a few days. We seemed to get along. He like the same records as us. We let him into our family, and then he went home and wrote this two-faced piece about us. You have no control over it, so we've found the best response is to not say anything. We can't make a writer like us, but we don't need to because we already have fans.
I also thought it was despicable when Guitar World printed that statement about my wife. [During post-interview banter, Pulsford and Rossdale were casually joking about pre-nuptial agreements, and Pulsford jested, "I can always kill [my wife] if there are any problems.] It was really malicious for the writer to print that. All that did was cause damage. I don't think that writers realize the harm that stuff like that can do. I had many sleepless nights after I read the piece. Fortunately, my wife and I were able to talk about it and work things out.
GW: Bush's fans seem to love the band as much as the press enjoys slagging you. What is the main reason for the band's success?
PULSFORD: We've played so much that we've gotten to be a good band. I think that's why we've done well - because we can deliver. We're not a band with some song on the radio that can't play. And we really enjoy playing live. It's exciting when it goes well and you have a good audience. We worked hard. I spent a lot of time being a lazy musician, so I was definately overdue on the hard-working musician role. When Gavin and I started the band we both realized that that's what we needed to do. Our success didn't happen overnight. It took a year before Sixteen Stone got into the Top Ten. The more we toured, the better it sold, and we saw that it would sell more in the areas where we had just toured. We'd play the same cities three times in a year, going to bigger and better venues. In New York we went from CBGB's to Irving Plaza to Roseland to Nassau Coliseum. That's a nice curve upwards.
GW: How did you find time to write songs on the road?
PULSFORD: We had quite a few songs written before we went away on tour in the U.S. the first time. We also worked on stuff in sound checks, but it's quite hard to do that. We really do our best work in the rehearsal studio with a tape recorder. We bring in an 8-track and have someone record it, so we can hear better what we've done and remember it. It's better than using a dodgy cassette recorder where you can't decipher anything you've done. We've made some good demos that way. One of those recordings came out as a b-side.
GW: Does the songwriting process begin with one person?
PULSFORD: It starts with Gavin bringing in a song, then we work on it together. Some of the songs on the album started off one way, but the feel changed when we were jamming around in a room. It goes back and forth. Some things stay true to their original form. Some change a lot until they find their feet and become Bush songs. There's no set formula. Soem things don't work out at all. We'll keep trying until we finally figure out that it's not working, and we'll ditch the song. But most of the things work out.
We spend a lot of time trying to get all the parts right. The idea is to get everything right before we go into the studio, rather than sitting in the stuido and going, "umm." One exception is the intro to "Greedy Fly," which came to us just as we were about to record. I was trying a run-through and we said, "Oh. Okay. Let's do that." But generally we work as quickly as possible in the studio and just get on with it. Then all we have to worry about is sounds and getting them right.
GW: Has your playing progressed?
PULSFORD: I've learned to play less. I gradually learned not to try to be flashy like Larry Carlton or some of those players. I try to play direct instead of wheedling around. That has its place, but not anywhere near me. [laughs] I appreciate people like Hendrix who can do whatever they like and make it work and a few virtusos like Eddie Van Halen who are amazing and, therefore, always copied. I still listen to loads of jazz. I like hearing people play together, like a 20-minute Charles Mingus thing, with people blowing away and hearing which ways they take off and what they incorporate. The guitarists I like the most are Neil Young, Robbie Robertson, Alex Chilton, and Blixa Bargeld, who played with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. They play in a minimalist way. It's that Miles Davis approach of listening to the spaces, even though I don't leave many spaces. [laughs]
GW: You're not a lead guitarist in the traditional sense. What is your general approach to the guitar in the band?
PULSFORD: I play more with Robin [Goodridge, drummer] than anyone. Because we have such a good drummer, we try to be more rythmic. Our solos are more rythym-based than just wheedling away, and we try not to overplay. We try to keep in one direction, although we do mess around sometimes.
When we started off, Gavin was just singing - he wasn't playing. Gradually, he started playing acoustic and then electric. He's got a good sense of rythym. We work against each other counter-rythmically. We rarely play the same thing together. Sometimes I'll drop out altogether - all sorts of unheard stuff for guitar players. It's always difficult for us to shut up. [laughs] But it works because it gives the music more breathing space.
GW: The tonal textures vary from song to song. Is that the result of using a variety of effects?
PULSFORD: I've acquired quite a lot of effects. Gavin uses only an Expandora and MXR Micro Amp and a few heads for different sounds. But I find that I don't use most of the effects that I buy. I keep looking, though. Sometimes I'll use a pedal for only 10 seconds in a song, and that will be it. But it's a nice sound for that one moment. I spend most of time looking for the perfect fuzz box. The Expandora is pretty close, and I've got an old Boss pedal and some Fulltone stuff that sounds pretty good. It depends on what you want them for. Some pedals cut through better than others. I mainly use Expandora, a Boss Turbo Distortion, a Mu-Tron Octave Divider and a Boss PS-3 Pitch Shifter. All the Mu-Tron stuff is really good - I have a flanger and a phaser. I've also got an Echoplex and a couple fo t.c. electronic delays, which are okay; they're Space Echos, which are warm but you can't really hear them because they're too noisy.
GW: You seem to prefer Fender and Mesa/Boogie amps on stage, instead of Marshalls like most bands use.
PULSFORD: There are really lovely Marshalls, like the old plexi models, but I find them a little harsh. There are individual ones that are really good, but I've never come across one that I've been able to buy. The Mesa/Boogie Trem-O-Verbs are brilliant. Gavin and I have used them since we first came to the States. They're a little bit warmer and more responsive to playing dynamics, whereas Marshall can be one-dimensional. Boogies are round and warm. I've tried lots of different amps, but that remains my favorite one. I also got a Fender '62 Tremolux, which is great. I use a 2x12 cabinet with it, which is brilliant as well. It's got an amazing distorion when you play it loud. It's great whe you play a Strat though it because you can get a nice, clean sound that breaks up perfectly when you play harder. I also use a Mesa Blue Angel too, which has a nice brassy sound. I'm also checking out an old Sixties Fender Bassman.
It's tempting to use too many amps on stage, because I can. Being in a successful band is like being a kid in the biggest toy shop. I can try anything my heart desires, and people are always trying to give me stuff. I always have to look and see what I'm actually using. Usually it's half of what I've got up there, so I'm trying to simplify it all. We did this show in Europe and all of our usual equipement was packed up, so I plugged straight into an amp. I'd forgotten how good that can sound. There's a lot to be said for just plugging straight in. The more equipment you have up there, the greater the chances of something going wrong. It's an accident waiting to happen.
GW: A Strat seems to be an unusual choice for someone who prefers a warm and round sound.
PULSFORD: My first proper guitar was a Les Paul that I got when I was 18. I had the Les Paul for a few years, but I broke it and needed a replacement. All I could afford to replace it with was a Squier Strat. I fancied a Strat anyway, and at the time the Squiers were better than the regular Fenders. I really got into the Strat from there. I like the variety of tones. It can do most of the things I want to do.
I also use my '58 Les Paul jr. a lot. It's really, really good. Between that and that Strat, they cover everything. The Jr. has only one pickup, but it's very responsive to how hard you hit it. The pickup is quite powerful, so anything next to it sounds a little thin. The Gibson ES-345 that I just got sounds great, but it's a bit unruly at the moment. I'm trying to get used to that on stage. I've bought a lot of nice guitars, and it would be great to use them all the time. I'm trying to rationalize it. [laughs] It's a matter of matching the right guitars with right amps and adjusting them. We need to spend five days a week, four hours a day in sound check because there are so many variables in the equation, but we never seem to get enough time to do it. By time the rigs and the lights are up it's 4:30 and almost time for the doors to open.
GW: How has the reaction to the band changed in England?
PULSFORD: It's gone really well. The new album debuted in the Top Ten over there when it came out, and we play reasonable sized shows in England. We probably would have done better if we weren't always over touring. We did tours in the U.S. for the first album. When we got home, we did small gigs and spent a pitiful amount of time in Europe. We decided to play wherever people liked us. In America we had exciting audiences so we played here a lot. We sacrificed building a huge following in Europe because of that. But our first album has already gone Gold in England and the second is almost there as well, so it's turned around for us. We're not like Oasis or anything, but they're not like we are here. Life is good for us, because we do okay everywhere we go now.
GW: In what direction do you see the band going in the future?
PULSFORD: The acoustic route is very appealing. I think we'll end up doing Unplugged at some point. That's why I got a Martin D-28. We're examining stuff and seeing what we can do. We just stumble across things that point us in the right direction. It's almost by accident or default. We're not really a studio band, but who knows? We may go down that path.
We may be using more strings. We're looking at interesting ways of doing that, trying dissonant things, like Bartok. I just got a Schoenberg album that I've been listening to. I'm coming at it from a slighty different angle than the usual George Martin strings. I'm trying to educate myself. There is so much music to listen to.
We're also going to collaborate with other people on the side. I think that's good for a band - it pushes you forward because you bring in different ideas. We'll probably do that during our time off. We did a few things with Tricky and Goldie, who have done some remixes of our songs. We'll follow that up a little bit and see what happens there. We've been lucky because people are quite happy to work with us. We can get a foot in the door without having to struggle.
GW: Are you working on any new songs right now?
PULSFORD: Not at the moment. The last album came out just a few months ago. We work on stuff all the time, but we're thinking about taking six months off after we finish touring next April and then reconvening to record. And we don't want to spend a long time recording. We might want to re-examine ourselves by that time. "Do we want to sound the way we sound? Would it be better if we change?" We presume that we're going to change anyway, but we are what we are. We can't just start playing keyboards. But we're going to experiment more with textures and move on a bit. That's quite a few months away right now. It would be nice just to get through touring.
GW: Bush started headlining shows immediately, instead of opening for other bands. Why did you take that route?
PULSFORD: On our first tour over here we opened one show for Simple Minds, but we've always tried to do our own shows. We've been lucky. When it's your own show, you control the environment, no matter how small it is. If you end up supporting you can get treated really badly. All of our supporting bands get sound checks and get treated really well. But you hear stories about bands that don't get sound checks and aren't allowed to have this or that. We always make sure everyone has a good shot at it. The opening band has to sound check after we do, so if we get there late we let them do the sound check instead of us. We always try to do the decent thing. Because it's our show, we can.
GW: You've always picked really strong supporting bands.
PULSFORD: We're going to be touring with the Jesus Lizard, who are really good. We wanted to take two other bands out with us on the tour, but we couldn't because the unions really clamped down. The show can only last for four hours from the time the first band goes on until the last band goes off. Otherwise, you pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines, union fees and overtime. We had a list a foot long of all the bands we wanted to take out with us. We're in the position where we can turn people on to other music, which is what we should be doing. Veruca Salt are doing well now, as they should because they do a great show.
GW: What impression do you want people to have of Bush?
PULSFORD: Oh, that we're the scummiest people in the world. [laughs] Certain journalists don't like us, but, hey, we don't like them either. Perhaps we should respond with a critique of their magazines and the quality of their writers. The press is completely out of our hands. We try to leave people with a good impression. We try to be even-handedand avoid treading on anyone. We're not nasty people. We treat people well. We're not trying to be egotistical rock stars. We seem to have managed so far, although we may change completely over the next six months. [laughs] We try to be nice to everyone - you know, "Peace man" - and love your parents.
This week's contest:
No question, a little more thought provoking than that. Write a song, or a poem, using almost exclusively BUSH lyrics, send it to me and I will read them and choose a winner. Example of what that means is: I am the Greedy Fly that Swallowed the Insect Kin.
Make sure that you CAPITILIZE The First Letter In All The Song Names. You can also use the word BUSH, have that be in all upper case letters. And you cannot use the example that I gave you, you can change it a little and then use it, but no cut and copying. Since this is a little more than just sending in an answer you will get an actual hard copy of a BUSH bootleg, an audio of your choosing from my list. Good luck!
Hair Left Morning Wet
I was relieved when Derek left to go into town to his own cottage, I think his idea of visiting me was a bad one. I had told him that I still needed to take about 20 more pictures today, which was true, so he had the common curtesy to leave. Now if only I could find my camera! I stepped outside of my cottage, the sun low in the sky, I headed off towards the lake where I was pretty sure my camera was left at. "Where are you?" I said to myself as I searched for my camera as the day was coming to a dim dusk. I kneeled on the grass, searching with my hands more then my eyes, which wasn't a good idea. I reached out and touched a thorny plant, the thrones digging deep into my hand. "Ouch...owww.. oh fuck!" I screamed looking at my hand with blood that was slowly trickling down my hand. I barely swore and when I did it either meant I was really having bad luck or hurting, this was the situation of both. Ok, I thought to myself calmly, as I pulled out a couple of thorns painfully, no need to panic. I looked down at my hand that was still trickling blood, thats when I slightly started to panic. I got up quickly, wincing at the pain from my leg and from the pain in my hand. I ran across the grass as fast as I could, limping ever so slightly, and onto the dirt road, towards Gavin's house. I walked towards it, the lights from his house giving some pathway to where to walk since the night had finally swallowed the last of the sun's light. I knocked on the door with my good hand, my other hand still dripping with blood. The door was opened by a man I had never seen before, he had dark, reddish curly hair, with high cheek bones and dark eyes. He had a curious scar on his neck and was dressed completely in black. "Oh, I must have the wrong house," I said, a bit embarassed as the man glanced down at my hand. "Are you hurt?" he asked. I nodded, looking down at my hand,"I'm sure I'll find his house, its somewhere around here." "Let me help you first," he said, putting an arm towards my shoulder and gently pushing me in. "Who's at the door?" I head a familiar voice say. Gavin looked around the corner and saw me, standing there, holding my hand in a bit of pain. "This is...uhh.." the man said, trailing off and staring at me. "That's Oceania," Gavin said for me, coming closer and finally noticing my hurt hand. "You know each other?" Robin asked, he seemed a bit jealous to me. "Yeah," Gavin said, gently picking up my hand and examining it. I felt myself flush, I wanted to hide it but I know I couldn't. "How'd this happen?" he asked, leading me towards the nearest bathroom which was down by his bedroom. He toke a wet wash cloth and gently whipped the blood off my hand. "I'm sorry for coming without notice," I said as he wrapped my hand in a white bandage. "You don't have to apologize. How'd your hand get hurt so badly?" "I was looking for my camera, and since it was pretty dark I didn't see the throne bush and my hand got caught in it." ¤¤ "How does that feel?" I asked as I finished wrapping Oceania's hand, which was so tiny and fragile it almost looked like it could break in my hand. "Good," she said, her green eyes looking up into mine,"much better." We both walked out of the bathroom and towards the living room, where Robin sat on the floor in front of a small fire. I sat down on the couch, Oceania sitting next to me with Winston between us. "So, Oceania," Robin began, turning to face her," How did you meet Gav?" I watched him as he listened to her, the way he seemed to linger on her every word. Oceania's voice really was beautiful, her soft tone that was supported by yet a confident one, making it seem that she always knew what to say and felt good about saying it. "I didn't catch your name," she said, leaning forward a bit. "It's Robin, Goodridge," he said reaching over and shaking her hand. For the next two hours or so Robin and Oceania talked about Glynis, and Robin's problems. Oceania was giving advice on how to deal with the break up. After listening to her I noticed that she was making Robin smile for the first time he had gotten here. "Can you excuse us for just a minute?" I asked, eyeing Robin for him to get up, which he did. "Sure," Oceania said, yawning through a smile. "Oceania is a great person!" Robin said as we both walked into the kitchen. I nodded,"But you have Glynis." Robin shrugged,"Who needs Glynis when I've got Oceana?" To my surprise I felt myself burning with rage, who was Robin to invade my home and then steal Oceania from me. Thats when it hit me with one hard blow, Oceania wasn't mine, but she wasn't Robin's either. "Oceania?" I laughed,"When are you planning to tell her about your future plans? You know.. informing her that you are going to...eh.. marry her, or so it seems by how you talk to her." ¤¤ I wasn't intentionally listening in on Robin's and Gavin's conversation, but it was hard not to, since they were talking pretty loud and my name had been in their words more then once, and after hearing what Gavin said I knew I couldn't listen anymore. I grabbed my shoes on the floor and slipped them on, quietly getting up from the couch and creeping past the kitchen. "It seems to me that Oceania is kind of interested in me," was the last thing I heard Robin say before I slipped out the door. I had to laugh a little, I was not in the least but interested in Robin, in fact the man scared me in a way. I was glad to get out of the cottage, even if it had meant sneaking out, I just didn't have the stomach to hear two men talk about who would have sex with me first. Neither would have been my answer.
"Isn't it silly we still have to defend our music?" -Robin