No Doubt In Their Own Words

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

Stefani: I think we finally settled in by just getting together and hanging out—me, Tony and Tom would listen to something that we wish we had written, like anything from our childhood or through high school, and listen to the song in a new way, where you actually listen to lyrics and hear and see things you've never seen before and getting into that mental place to get that vibe. We followed that pattern through the whole making of the record.

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Tony and I wrote all the lyrics and melodies, and Tom wrote all the chords. It was a different form of writing, and once we had a basic form of demo, we would bring in all these programmers who would do remixes. So the whole beat could change after that, and we'd pick out our favorite parts, and we'd rework the song to be the song it ended up being. It was a lot of rewriting, reviewing and just trying to get it right.

Kanal: So we'd hang out for a bit, and then we'd start getting into music, and we'd write into the evening and hope something cool would happen. I would have a mic, Gwen would have a mic, and Tom would put some chords down, and we'd sing over those chords, and just do it over and over and over again. We'd develop a couple of songs, and we'd say, "That's a great chorus; now we have to come up with a verse." Then we'd say, "Well, that verse is even better. The chorus isn't good enough; let's rewrite the verse," and we just kept doing it until we felt the songs were done.

Dumont: We wrote our first song for Push and Shove at the end of 2009. In the past, it seemed as though every album has had a clear theme, as to musical direction where we were going, and this one didn't. What emerged with Push and Shove was kind of a big mix of influences of everything we grew up listening to, from U.K. music from the '80s to reggae and ska music to the new-wave stuff such as Depeche Mode and OMD.

Stefani: We just said, "Let's try to write songs that are going to be really catchy."

Stent: No Doubt cover so many different areas of music, and their music has changed so much over the years that it's a reflection of who they are and what they've been doing through the years. Some of these tracks, we did them god knows how many different ways and styles. And that was just because we wanted a new approach for everything.

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I love "Push and Shove." I think that song feels like everything we've ever been and everything we've ever loved. It's definitely a fun song, and being able to work with [DJs/producer duo] Major Lazer was really cool.

Dumont: "Push and Shove" starts off in a really traditional kind of ska beat, and it's funny because we used to be known for being a ska band in the old days, and we've never had a song that had that particular beat and groove, so that song kind of reminds me of our past but is completely new and different. Vocally, it's amazing. It's kind of like a ska "Bohemian Rhapsody"—it's epic.

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On this record, it was more like we went back a lot to the music that was the fabric of our life. The music that we discovered when we were just discovering who we were as people.

Young: A lot of our records come from '80s inspiration—that's what we grew up on. So it always finds its way into what we do, but when we try to go for a certain vibe, it always ends up being a No Doubt song because we can't escape ourselves. That's just the way it's always been.

Stefani: All the songwriting that I do—besides on the solo records, which are about having fun and not getting too deep—I just try to draw from my life as things are going on. Anything from being in a relationship to being overwhelmed—and I have a lot of overwhelmed feelings. When I started 10 years ago, when I got married and started my clothing company and had my two babies . . . I didn't know I would be doing everything at once. I feel like it's impossible to do and be all these things all at once, and I think I wrote a lot about that on this record.

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When you have a family and get married, your priorities change so much. The band has become something that's so special to us because it's fun—life is so serious once you have a family. It's so amazing, but you have to grow up and be a parent. So the band is a fun way to escape, in a way. To be able to go and hang out with my friends and play music is a total luxury compared to going to school and not sleeping at night. But this year has been super-challenging. Gavin [Rossdale, Stefani's husband and lead singer for Bush] has been on tour all year, and this is the first time that that's happened. Up until this point, with the kids, we've been really lucky that we're all together. . . . And [the rest of No Doubt] all have wives. Neither one of us has a wife. [Laughs.] I think everything will work out; these things usually do.

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