WANDERlust is the first solo album by Gavin Rossdale — an inspired song cycle by the former leader of Bush that turns out to be a trip in its own right.
“The wanderlust I’m talking about isn’t that desire to travel and see the world, Rossdale explains with a grin. “It’s my overwhelming desire to get out and play music for people. I feel like a racehorse that’s been stuck in the stables a bit too long. The doors are locked and no one can find the key — worse I’m not sure who’s looking for it.” With WANDERlust, the doors – and the floodgates – seem wide open and the result is the most mature, sensual, honest and compelling work of Rossdale’s life in music.
After years spent at the top of rock’s grungy heap — and then a couple more in a peculiar sort of high-profile musical wilderness — Rossdale has brought it all back home on a vivid, widescreen rock album that found him working closely with famed producer Bob Rock. Now that WANDERlust is finally completed, Rossdale can hardly wait to get back on the road. “This album is my way of saying `Let me out,’” Rossdale says. “I’d love to take my family with me, but I do have a burning desire to go out and play for people again. I’ve felt too corralled for too long so this deep sort of wanderlust has set in.”
From the mid-Nineties into the early 21st century, Rossdale was seeing much the world from the stage of an ever-changing procession of theaters, arenas and stadiums as the dashingly tortured lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for Bush, a band that first came together in Shepard’s Bush area of London in the early Nineties. Right from their 1994 debut Sixteen Stone, Bush connected powerfully with post-Grunge America through a series of jagged yet infectious hits songs including “Everything’s Zen,” “Little Things,” “Comedown,” “Glycerine,” “Machine Head” “Swallowed” and “The Chemicals Between Us.”
The music of Bush successfully married a guitar-driven modern rock with the fantastically twisted lyrics of Rossdale, a poetic sort heavily influenced by the likes of Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg and his longstanding musical hero Tom Waits. If Bush were not exactly the critics darling, they were immediately the people’s choice as 1996’s Razorblade Suitcase album hit #1, followed by 1999’s The Science of Things and 2001’s Golden State.
Still for all his past experience, there is an emotional and musical depth to WANDERlust that takes Rossdale far beyond Bush. Here Rossdale has delivered the most personal and direct set of songs of his life. Like Peter Gabriel after leaving Genesis, Rossdale has moved beyond his past in a massively popular band and used the opportunity of going solo to stop hiding and more explore his life lyrically and musically.
“There’s such a minefield of people who have gone from bands that had success to the solo thing,” says Rossdale. “There’s a chasm to get from one to the other –it’s like Death Valley and you look down and there’s fucking scorched singers.”
WANDERlust is not Rossdale’s first post-Bush album. In 2005, he released a hard-edged album with a group he dubbed Institute, produced by Page Hamilton of Helmet fame. “We went on tour with U2 and I think those were Institute’s four fans right there,” Rossdale recalls with a laugh. “I loved some of what we did, especially a song called `Ambulances,’ but Institute felt like a really painful left turn. It scared all the chicks away. My goal wasn’t to get one hundred of Tool’s audience. The expectation was quite high but the reaction was just confus