"These are great mushrooms,” Gavin Rossdale said, checking out the produce during a stroll through Pike Place Market. Life has changed since his multiplatinum days as lead singer of the British grunge group Bush. But Rossdale’s recent solo CD, Wanderlust, scored a swoony hit (“Love Remains the Same”) on the adult contemporary charts, so he was headlining the Samsung Summer Krush tour at the Showbox SoDo. No, he doesn’t get mobbed in public anymore, but Rossdale, at 42, still attracts double takes from the occasional shopper visibly thinking, “Hey, isn’t that…?”
“Do you cook?” he asked, running his fingers over the tops of the mushrooms. “A little,” I said. “Do you? Or do you have a hired cook?” He turned to look me square in the face. “Yeah—it’s me,” he said, wagging his head in mock offense. “And I do it for love.” The object of his affection, pop queen Gwen Stefani, was at home in LA and would two weeks later give birth to the couple’s second son (name: Zuma Nesta Rock. Sorry I didn’t get to ask him about that).
Some women spotted Rossdale by a flower stand. Hearts fluttered. Flashes flashed. Rossdale put the whole group on the guest list for his show. We moved on.
I mentioned that Wanderlust sounds like the songs of someone who feels lost. Maybe, he suggested, a bit of that comes from the disappointing response to Institute, the group he formed after Bush disbanded. “You know, people always say no one teaches you how to prepare for success,” he said. “Well, they don’t teach you how to prepare you for demise, either. I don’t know how to stop or move backward. I just kept on moving through everything. The only way out is through, right?”
He stopped at a vendor to buy a colorful tepee for his son, Kingston (“We would’ve had to get three tepees and negotiate seven times,” he laughs, had the two-year-old been there). We sat on a bench in Victor Steinbrueck Park, sunshine catching fine lines around the dreamboat eyes that had made those ladies back in the Market weak in the knees. “Musicians are on this wheel of fortune, spending a certain amount of time in the light,” he reflected, “and the rest of the time you’ve got to keep working in the dark. So you’ve got to have this sort of strange self-belief, this tenacity, to keep going.”
He pushed up his sleeves, leaning back a little to enjoy this moment in the light.