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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Gavin Rossdale covers Joy Division for 'Criminal Minds'

Gavin Rossdale guest stars as a rocker suspected of murder on the Nov. 11 "Criminal Minds." CBS photos
Gavin Rossdale gets to exercise his acting muscles this month on "Criminal Minds," but the guest-star role had a bigger perk for the singer.

The former Bush frontman got to record "Love Will Tear Us Apart," the iconic tune by British band Joy Division.

"I love that song," Rossdale told me last week. "I really wanted to see if I could ruin that. And they let me ruin it."

In the episode airing at 8 p.m. Nov. 11, Rossdale plays Dante, a "Goth rocker, junkie, very upset with life" whom the BAU team suspects might be a brutal killer after victims begin turning up in all the cities where his tour stops. Producers at first wanted Rossdale to perform Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows," for the show, but he offered Joy Division as an alternate, and they gave him "free reign."

"I was a bit worried, especially for me being English," he said. "I just have so much respect for that band. I've just regretted it so much ever since I did it ... You can't [bleep] with perfection, you know?

"I feel a bit scared about it but I really enjoyed doing it and selfishly loved singing on it and playing on it."

Rossdale wasn't looking for acting work when "Criminal Minds" producer Ed Bernero called out of the blue. Rossdale said Bernero told him he had an episode "with a vampire in it, and I thought of you." Dante has a vampirish stage alter ego that includes white make-up, black lips and black eyes, which meant extra time in the make-up chair for Rossdale. Even off stage, the character wears eyeliner.
"I must admit I enjoyed [the eyeliner]," Rossdale said. "I didn't enjoy getting it put on--that's [bleeping] crazy. But it's not a bad look."

Even after acting in five movies, including "Constantine" and "Little Black Book," the acting thing still is perplexing, Rossdale said. The self-deprecating singer, who has two children with wife Gwen Stefani, is not even sure how the episode will turn out.

"I just [bleeping] hope I'm not a jerk," he said. "But you gotta go for it. You can't be half-assed about it. You gotta [bleeping] dive in. So I dove in. I just can't even tell you right now whether it works."

Rossdale and I chatted more about "Criminal Minds," his music and whether we'll see a "Gavin & Gwen" reality series.

Did you know the producers beforehand?
No, he said he was a big fan of Bush. It was fantastic.

They couldn't have treated me better. If I fall flat on my face I've got no one to blame but myself. They couldn't have been cooler and easier and more accommodating. My scenes that I did with Paget Brewster, she was fantastic. Everyone was brilliant. I was surrounded by talent, so there's no where to hide.

I read you were something of a punk rocker in your younger days, so was that just normal for you?
Yeah, punk rock, that was how we grew up. I didn't do eyeliner. I just did egg white in the hair. That's really good to make your hair stand up. Egg white was wicked. It definitely look like dandruff by the end of the night, but well worth it at first.

But you didn't do make-up?
No, Public Image was my thing, so I always wanted to be like Johnny Rotten, John Lydon.

Are you planning on doing any other acting, or is that something you do only when called?
That was literally a one-off. [My acting] had gone dormant. I hadn't really thought about it. I'm just obsessed with music and thinking about music. And I was happy about that. [Bleep] it, it's hard enough trying to do music let alone trying to do two things. So that's all I cared about. Then this came along and it was like, OK.

So you don't pursue acting jobs?
If something comes along and I was interested, I would audition. I'm not stuck up about it. But I didn't have to try out for "Criminal Minds."

Will we ever see a reality show titled "At Home with the Rossdales" or "Gavin & Gwen"?
That was pitched to us a little while ago by NBC. It was like, "Mmm, no." The problem with those things is that it would make fantastic TV. Like anyone's life it's full of intrigue and a lot of dynamic. But the things that make it interesting are the last things you want to be seen nationally. And the more you close off to retain you privacy the more sterile the show becomes.

Do yo think we'll ever hear a Gavin and Gwen duet?
I hope not.

Is that just a private thing for the kids?
It's a private thing for no one. It's so private we don't even do it for each other. I asked her to sing with me this weekend on "Sometimes It Snows in April" ... She was kind of playing hard to get. Then when she heard me do it, she said, "Oh, I really regret it. I should have just done it with you." I said, "Well, you only get invited once. Rude." ... It would have been great, but some other time.

So it's not in your plans?
Because we both come from bands, we just really work hard at keeping that separate. I think it's so much better for that. If we were country acts I think it'd be perfect.

Well, doesn't every singer do a country song at some point?
It's so nice to not be like everybody.

Paget Brewster, Gavin Rossdale and Shemar Moore in "Criminal Minds."

Rossdale performs Wednesday in Libertyville and Thursday in Chicago, when he headlines a Dare to Dream benefit for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The Lovehammers are performing at both events. Rossdale talked more about ...

... the Dare to Dream benefit:
"These different things come up, different charities and different ideas. Children with leukemia and cancer is just a heinous thing. It's just fantastic to be part of that and try to help them out by drawing attention to their charity ... I don't think a charity exists that you could be like, 'Oh, [bleep] it, I'm not helping them.'"

... what else he'll do in Chicago:
It's a fantastic city. I've got friends there. ... Steve Albini and Heather. I hope to see them, hang out with them ... It's a good excuse to see some people. I'll be flying solo [without his family], so I will be out very late."

... his new solo record, which he is finishing up:
"I wrote my record the day after I came off a tour. I was like 'OK, I've played those songs. Now I need to do some exciting songs.' So that's what I endeavored to do on this.
"I've collaborated a long time with Chris Traynor, who played guitar with me. So it doesn't feel completely un band-like [now], but it certainly feels like I'm a bit more marooned. I think there's such a great power in bands. I love bands."

... his first solo record, "Wanderlust," and going solo:
"I couldn't help being a bit self-conscious to come out with a new record and put it under my own stupid name. It's totally awkward. You know it's a [bleeping] wasteland desert of death--people in big bands going off to do solo records. Like who cares. Do the band [and] shut up.
"I'm more of a natural band person. I never consider myself to be a solo artist. I never thought that would happen to me. But it's like being hit by a bus, you wouldn't think that would happen to you either ... Boom. Splat."

... Bush getting back together:
I hope so. I don't know. I'm always fantasizing about it, but you never know.

... who he'd like to work with:
"Having just seen Neil Young, that was unbelievable. I'd love to collaborate with him. But let's talk about the people I'd love to collaborate with who would never collaborate with me: Neil Young, Chan Marshall [Cat Power], Manu Katché ... Low is my favorite band. I'd love to work with them."

... what music he's liking:
"Jesus Lizard--Chicago's finest ... I saw Shellac as well. Fantastic ... I like the Kills. I love that band a lot. I went through a Yeah Yeah Yeahs spell. I like the Dirty Projectors, kind of weird, off-beat kind of thing. I just saw the Fleet Foxes who I like."

... his tennis game (He'll leave Chicago this week for Florida, where he'll play in a pro-am benefit event sponsored by Chris Evert.):
"It's OK. But I just had a week off because I've been traveling and on tour. So I played this morning and it was like--I wanted to hit myself in the head."

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