Burette and Gabrielle Douglas have been playing together since they met through mutual friends. Their first music project, Buck Jones, broke up three albums and several tours later, but Burette and Gabrielle never did, and have been married for nearly 30 years.
The couple founded Fort Worth psych-rock band The Cush in 2000. Now, after nearly three decades of playing music together, The Cush has been signed to Ben Harper’s new label Mad Bunny Records and is set to release the band's new album Riders in the Stardust Gold on April 23.
“We're lucky,” Burette says over the phone one rainy April afternoon. “Even before this latest thing happened, getting picked up with Ben Harper's label, getting to play music and being married to somebody that's, like, a good musician … it's awesome.”
“We've had so many experiences through playing music," Gabrielle adds. "We've met amazing people through the process and had lots of adventures along the way. All of the hard work is definitely worth it.”
Working together as a couple has provided the Douglases with more than just a creative outlet to share with one another, but the couple says that touring together leaves a lot to figure out.
“When you both play music, it also makes, like, going on tour a little bit more difficult,” Burette says. “When you're both away from home for that time, there's nobody holding down the fort or, like, staying at their job or anything like that.”
Working together in such close proximity with a spouse, especially for as long as Gabrielle and Burette have, does not come without its creative disputes, and for The Cush, there is really no secret to how the couple has managed to handle those disputes without blowing up. It’s all about communication and space.
“As we get older, you know, you figure things out, and you learn how to not react to things so dramatically, or take things so personally, and just kind of get out of your own way for the process of the art,” Gabrielle says. “We don't stifle the creative process because we need to be right, you know what I mean?
“There have been times where we were butting heads, but we've just learned to just give each other some creative space, and usually, when we come back around to it, it's totally different.”
“The most important thing for me is to just keep making music, keep recording new ideas and new songs,” Burette says. “We've had talks when we've had hard times where we ask ourselves what we can do so that doesn't keep happening.”
Riders in the Stardust Gold had been complete for almost a year at the point Harper signed the band, and he was mostly pleased with what the band had accomplished on their own. However, there was one thing he felt needed changing. For “Haters,” the first single from The Cush’s new record, Harper asked that Gabrielle sing lead instead of Burette.
Up to that point, whoever wrote the song was going to be the singer by default, but Harper’s challenge to the band opened yet another creative door.
“I'm a fan of her singing and her recorded voice and stuff,” Burette says.
“I don't think we were over closed-minded to it, we just never even really thought about it,” Gabrielle adds.
“If you have your own song, you sing it, right?” Burette says. “But, I would definitely be into that in the future.”
“It might be a cool way to approach songwriting if you’re stuck or something?” Gabrielle says. “You’ll sing mine, I’ll sing yours.”
They both laugh.
With new opportunities and creative outlets on the horizon, the couple isn't bothered that it took so long to be noticed. The life they've created together in music has been enough and would have been had Harper never heard their work.
“We play music because there's a need to, and we want to,” Gabrielle says. “We've had enough, you know, I guess whatever you want to label ‘success’ as over the years to keep us inspired to keep exploring, and having some fans that love what we do helped to keep us inspired to do what we do. We didn't really need the recognition from others to keep doing it, but it sure has been nice."
“I mean we were happy and satisfied with being able to make our albums and having people that like them,” Burette says. “We've done plenty of DIY touring and we’ve gotten to go play in Europe. So, we really felt lucky already, you know?”