Nigel Pulsford interview (2009)

Nigel Pulsford

The Bush guitarist quietly sold 14 million albums in the 1990s when no-one was looking. He tells the full story here.

Last updated: 12 November 2009

What were your formative musical influences and what influenced your guitar style?

I started off liking Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Derek & the Dominos, Traffic, Joni Mitchell, The Band, Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young and The Beatles amongst others. From then on I went more West Coast in my tastes and I played along to records by Neil Young, The Band etc.

"When punk rock came along I took it onboard but it wasn't until '79 that I took more notice of it. We played songs by the Stranglers, the Cars, the Band, Steely Dan, Television and Neil Young amongst others in my school bands. In London I became a big fan of The Birthday Party, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Sonic Youth, Foetus, The Fall, The Cure, Elvis Costello, Big Star, The Clash and a lot of the stuff that John Peel was playing at the time.

The late 1980s brought The Pixies, Big Black, PJ Harvey, then the whole grunge thing a while later, then the slacker thing. I really liked Pavement. I could go on and on about influences!"

How were Bush formed?

After dropping out of university and moving to London I played in a few bands without any success. I did a variety of jobs to make ends meet eventually forming my own band The Charms, although we were-short lived and became King Blank.

"We did a couple of albums, toured Europe and a promo tour of the States before we split up in 1991. I was quite fed up with the music business at this point and I was working doing soundtrack music for corporate videos and conferences.

"I hooked up with Gavin [Rossdale] backstage at a gig a mutual friend was playing and we got together quite soon after discovering similar tastes and aspirations. I had decided that this would be my last stab at making it in a band as I could see a bleak and broke future if things didn't work out.

"Gavin and I started working together soon after we met. We had different line-ups but Robin [Goodridge], our drummer, joined just before we were signed in mid 1993. We worked very hard in that time, doing demos, rehearsing, playing any gigs we could, TV shows; basically working just about every day on songs which we demo'd in my little home studio, paid for by those corporate videos."

Was it clear from the start that America was the market in which Bush would do best in?

"America wasn't a thought; we were just playing music that we liked. But it became apparent that we had a definite American bent to our sound which is why we choose Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley [the duo famed for many British new wave and pop records] to produce our first album in the hope that they would make us sound more British."

Once Bush started doing well, what did you think about getting criticism for apeing the grunge style?

"Criticism is only noticed if you've got time to read it. Once we'd started to tour and sell records it really didn't matter as we had fans - who are presumably who you make the music for - really happy to see us play and buy our records so we couldn't have cared less. I'd rather 20,000 people in an arena than two pages in the NME any day of the week."

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