No Doubt In Their Own Words

An oral history of OC's greatest band and their newest album, 'Push and Shove'

No Doubt In Their Own Words

The biggest band to ever come out of Orange County have come to terms with juggling parenthood with their music careers, their OC roots and international fame, Gwen's solo career, and the realization that No Doubt have been together for 26 fucking years. All that, as Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont and Adrian Young get ready to release their sixth album, Push and Shove. Of course, everyone has an opinion about No Doubt, so OC Weekly talks to the band, their producers, their peers, their fans, and the movers and shakers of the OC ska scene from back in the day.


I. YOU MAY ASK YOURSELF, HOW DID I GET HERE?

Can we take back that whole "Don't Speak" thing?
Billy Kidd
Can we take back that whole "Don't Speak" thing?
From Beacon Street to the big time
Photo by Jill stefani/Courtesy of Tazy Phyllipz
From Beacon Street to the big time

THAT 10-YEAR HIATUS BETWEEN ROCK STEADY AND PUSH AND SHOVE
Adrian Young, drummer:
A lot has happened since the release of Rock Steady—we toured it in 2002 and in 2003; we had a Greatest Hits record that we toured in 2004. And the beginning of the decade was when we all started having babies as well. So there was a lot of energy going on. Gwen went on to record two solo records, and after that, we started writing. We thought it wasn't working out, so we said, "Let's just go on tour" [in 2009]. We were definitely tighter and ready to go after that.

Gwen Stefani, lead singer: We had to go on tour to get inspired. Just by playing all the songs we'd written together and being up on stage together and doing what we think we did best—which is perform live—it just calmed me down a lot. I realized that [the fans] are there waiting for us, and I didn't have to be in such a rush. I had done so much—I'd done the two solo records, had two babies. It was the first time I was writing the record with the band since I had gotten married. Life had changed so much, and there was so much pressure for me to come up with [new music] in the middle of having a brand-new baby and a toddler—and it was a lot.

Spike Stent, Push and Shove producer: I moved from London to Los Angeles for six weeks to do this record and ended up staying five years! Adrian called me initially, and we started doing sketches of songs. That's how it started. We didn't think it would be 10 years in between projects.

Sophie Muller, music-video director for "Settle Down" and "Don't Speak": In the "Settle Down" video, we had to address the fact that they hadn't been together for 10 years, so I think the obvious thing was to have the idea that they were all coming from different places—Gwen is coming from Harajuku, Adrian from Vegas, Tom from suburbia and Tony from India—they've come from faraway places for a long time, and they come together to be No Doubt at the party in the parking lot, where they meet and be No Doubt again. I think it fit well for that song; the chaos of the scenes of Gwen's life is the sort-of dance-party bit.

* * *

THE CHALLENGES OF MAKING PUSH AND SHOVE
Tom Dumont, guitarist:
The album title sums up a little bit of what it took to make this album. This is the first No Doubt album for which we're all parents—it changed the way we made this album, in that we just all have a lot less time. In the old days, the band came before everything. This time, it was a daily struggle to physically get to the studio together. Tony, Adrian and I all had babies last year in the middle of making the album. When you have a baby, sleep itself is something that kind of goes away. All of us would go to the studio in the afternoon and ask, "What time did you sleep last night?" and talk about our night schedules because we're all pretty involved dads, and we're up early, so by the time we get to the studio, it's been a long workday as parents.

Tony Kanal, bassist: When you get to the studio, it's not like a 9-to-5 job. You really have to find those moments in which magical things happen, and you can't really put a schedule on that, and that was why it took longer than the previous records had taken because we are so focused on so many things now between our families and life and everything else.

* * *

BEATING WRITER'S BLOCK
Kanal:
We would get together at my house and start at 4 p.m., and we'd spend the first couple of hours just talking about stuff. Like, we'd literally just catch up on life every time we'd get together, and that was really important because when we were taking a break as a band, we all went off and did writing with other people and other projects. One of the most important things about being friends for so long is that there is that family feeling, so sitting down together for the first couple of hours, [talking] about life and kids is a really great way to spend the day.

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