The first single from "The Sea of Memories," the British band's first album in 10 years - it bowed on the Billboard 200 earlier this month at No. 18 - marks the group's first Alternative Songs No. 1 since "The Chemicals Between Us" began a five-week reign 12 years and one week ago. (The group's gap between leaders is the chart's second-longest. Jane's Addiction waited 12 years, seven months and three weeks between the toppers "Been Caught Stealing" in 1990 and "Just Because" in 2003).
"It's the most brilliant start we could have imagined," says Bush vocalist/guitarist Gavin Rossdale of the response to the set's first single. "Having a No. 1 song at radio is a testament to not only the band, but the great team that surrounds us, the support at radio and, of course, the tireless fans who give us daily oxygen.
"Thank you all."
Bush's Five Alternative Songs No. 1s:
1995, "Comedown" (five weeks)
1995, "Glycerine" (two)
1996, "Swallowed" (seven)
1999, "The Chemicals Between Us" (five)
2011, "The Sound of Winter" (one to-date)
"Memories" is the first Bush album to be released on the band's own Zuma Rock Records imprint, through an exclusive partnership with eOne Music, and "Winter" is just the seventh No. 1 of the Alternative Songs chart's 292 leaders dating to the list's 1988 inception released on an independent label. Notably, the prior six such songs - the Offspring's "Come Out and Play (Keep 'Em Separated)" (Epitaph, 1994); Everlast's "What It's Like" (Tommy Boy, 1998); Silversun Pickups' "Panic Switch" (dangerbird, 2009); Phoenix's "1901" (Glassnote, 2010); the Dirty Heads' "Lay Me Down," featuring Rome of Sublime (Executive, 2010); and, Mumford & Sons' "Little Lion Man" (Glassnote, 2010) - were released on established independent labels, unlike Bush's model of self-releasing its new product.
The chart success of Bush's latest single reinforces that heritage acts remain an essential ingredient in alternative stations' programming strategies.
"Winter" displaces "Walk" by the Foo Fighters - a format staple act since its 1995 arrival - after eight non-consecutive weeks atop Alternative Songs. Red Hot Chili Peppers interrupted the command of "Walk" with "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie" for four weeks; the band has been charting on the tally since 1989.
This year has also brought Jane's Addiction's first Alternative Songs top 10 ("Irresistible Force") since 2003, Social Distortion's first top 10 title ("Machine Gun Blues") since 1996 and Blink-182's first visit to the top tier ("Up All Night") since 2004.
While such acts as Foster the People, AWOLNATION and the Joy Formidable are gracing the Alternative Songs chart with debut top 10 singles, a prior track record at the format isn't proving a hindrance.
"The alternative format has been around for well over 20 years. Many of our listeners grew up with these heritage acts, so it's not surprising that they are embracing this great new music," says Sean Lynch, program director of alternative KVGS (107.9)/Las Vegas. The station played "Winter" 48 times in the Oct. 10-16 tracking week, according to BDS.
Reflecting the adaptability of Bush, whose albums have sold a combined 10.9 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, the band is currently on tour with relative upstart Chevelle (which first reached the Alternative Songs ranking in 2002) and Filter.
"I think the key to the longevity of these longtime alternative artists is that they continue to put out quality material that is relevant to today's audience," says Lynch.
"Bush came back with one of the best singles of its career," echoes Josh Venable, PD of KDGE (102.1 the Edge)/Dallas, which spun "Winter" 50 times last week. (The band will partner with the station for "one of my favorite contests in recent memory," Venable says: it will perform in a lucky listener's living room later this month).
"This has been the summer/fall of the '90s all over again."