Gavin Rossdale: 'I just quit everything to work on my private life, which was a waste of my time'
The past few years have been a little rocky for Gavin Rossdale, but he's adamant joining The Voice was one of his 'best decisions', and working on the new Bush album proved a much needed catharsis.
Gavin Rossdale is a busy man. Aside from his role as a coach on ITV's The Voice UK, the Bush frontman has been working on a new cookery talk show, his own clothing line, is currently promoting the band's latest record, and the ink is still drying on his first venture into songwriting for other artists.
The past few months have also seen him play his first UK gig in more than five years, amid frequent trips to see, and visits from, his three youngest children (he has three sons with ex-wife Gwen Stefani, and is also the father of 28-year-old model Daisy Lowe).
It all seems quite remarkable given that, two years ago, Rossdale had cancelled a tour and decided he'd never record music again - because, he says, he wanted to focus on trying to fix things with then-wife Stefani, who he'd been married to since 2002 (however, their divorce was finalised in early 2016).
"I just quit everything to work on my private life, which was ironic because that was a waste of f****** time," explains London-born Rossdale (51). "I stopped working when I got divorced, I didn't care, I didn't want to work... I went insular and I put all my time into them (his sons)."
Slowly but surely, however, the pain subsided and he returned to work, which involved writing two albums - the first of which he "spared" everyone, while the second is Black And White Rainbows, Bush's seventh studio album, released in March.
Then there's The Voice. Rossdale calls the decision to join the series one of the best he's ever made, but admits it perhaps seemed a little strange.
"I know it was unusual that someone like me, a street urchin, from counterculture corners where this ancient transcription called rock music exists, [would do something like that], so I know it was a bit of a weird thing, but I'm really proud to be on it and it's nothing but a total pleasure," he insists.
Rossdale was also recently signed by a new record label, after his dealings with BMG came to an end. He claims they feared that he would release a "manic depressive" album, admitting the unreleased material perhaps swayed towards that.
But it was never intended for consumption, he says: "I wasn't writing for anyone but just for me, to find a way for me to mourn, so I went through the mourning process and then a record appeared - and because I'd decided to be as English as possible and take the high road and never discuss it, it meant I had to put everything I felt into the music.
"It was really cathartic and pure because I wasn't trying to sell anything, I wasn't trying to get a hit record."
Bush are famed for being a UK band embraced by America, a trend that's continued with Black And White Rainbows.
However, for a group rarely treated to praise from the Press, Rossdale argues that concern over what the critics think is almost beyond him.
"Of course it bothers me being bashed around, but the funny thing is the world is so serious and difficult, and whether you take the 16 million people who are facing famine, or look at Syria or at the refugees in other war-torn areas, it's a bit much to shed tears because someone says, 'You're pants, you're not very good, we don't like you'."
He thinks The Voice offered a platform for the UK public to see him as a "three-dimensional character", as opposed to "a headline or the t*** who is successful in America and not here".
Rossdale continues: "It was never a situation where I was concerned or worried about a lack of success, I was just as successful as The Pixies, just as successful as The Jesus Lizard, all the bands I grew up with and love and admire. How greedy can you be? 'Oh love me more', it's b*******, man up."
On a roll, he recalls how, when touring with Bowie, the late pop superstar told him to "outlive your critics".
"And I have, I hope. Also, I don't really read as much about our albums because I'm sick of getting a hiding," he adds with a laugh, before suggesting he had a lot of critics in the UK media because of his success in the States.
Despite all this, Rossdale is a charming interviewee. He makes frequent jokes, cheerfully compliments questions, and critiques himself as a hypocrite when suggesting some celebrities cross platforms too readily.
He's also surprisingly funny. After being reminded of a television appearance on The Nightly Show, in which he sat quietly as his fellow Voice coaches did the talking, he admits he was kept silent by a dilemma over whether to have Chinese or Italian for dinner.
His new-found friendship with fellow coach Sir Tom led to the Welsh singer attending Bush's recent gig at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, and perhaps more poignantly, prompted a conversation about Elvis, which has left a mark on Rossdale.
"People can't go through a week without having a good day, a bad day; it's being human and no matter your stature in life, life is just there.
"I realised this recently after chatting to Tom and he was telling me about a phone call he had from Elvis in 1965. He'd (Elvis)had a tough couple of years, had Kissin' Cousins, the worst Elvis song, he'd stopped making music because he took part in some dodgy movies and he was lost," Rossdale explains. "Tom told me this, and I thought, 'Oh my God, if Elvis was lost for two years, how the f*** are the rest of us going to cut it?'"
- Black And White Rainbows is out now (Zuma Rock)