No Doubt In Their Own Words

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

Kevin Lyman, founder of the Warped Tour: Everyone loved No Doubt. Everyone loved touring and working with them. They were a band that crossed over and helped break out of the Orange County scene. That's when people started paying attention to OC.


When we started, we were trying to make music that was so the opposite of what could possibly get on the radio. We were doing it because we discovered this music that defined us, so it's crazy that we keep going. It's a miracle, and we really are appreciating it more than we ever have before.

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

Kanal: I was 16 years old when I joined No Doubt in 1987. I could play at bars, but they were 21-and-over, and I would have to sit outside and wait until it was our time to go onstage.

Young: We always prided ourselves on being a live band. I think that's what we do best, and we were crafting that early on—we practiced so much. As we were going to high school and college, it was always, "I can't wait to go to band practice to get ready for that next show."

Kanal: The thing about OC, growing up, there weren't a lot of great places to play. Fender's Grand Ballroom in Long Beach was one of our favorites, and it was a super-duper dive, incredibly punk-rock venue, and it was the most incredible place.

Jerry Miller, lead singer of the Untouchables: We played at Madame Wong's West in Santa Monica, and this girl invited them over to her apartment to listen to music and hang out before the show. When they showed up, they brought seven large pizzas. And before we were going to play the show, the whole band just started cleaning up! They vacuumed the house, washed dishes, took out the trash. . . . It was the coolest thing. They were probably 15, 16, yet they had the wherewithal to show their appreciation and cleaned up this girl's house after bringing us food to eat. They're good, clean kids.

Lyman: I worked with Goldenvoice and Paul Tollett, and we had No Doubt on lots of shows back in the day. In the late '80s and the early '90s, we put them on lots of shows. We used to do a lot of ska shows, with 10 or 12 bands on the bill, and they'd be third or fourth from the bottom. When Tragic Kingdom came out in '95, they did part of the first Warped tour, that first year.

* * *

When I wrote Tragic Kingdom, I was very open because I didn't think anyone would hear it—I didn't even know I could write songs! We worked really hard for eight years, and we finally had a record, and we went from being this big fish in a really small pond to, like, having this commercial success we'd never experienced. Having to face everybody with all our private lives was really complicated.

Tazy Phillips, founder of Ska Parade: When Tragic Kingdom came out, I thought they had overshot in terms of it was so good. It wasn't only something you'd hear on KROQ; it was something you'd hear on KIIS-FM. It was too pop—but in a good way. It was pretty obvious to me that "Just a Girl" was a smash.

Muller: When I met the band, it was a really big thing for them to wear Orange County on their sleeves. People didn't know anything about Orange County. In some ways, they still have that homegrown feel, even though they're much more world-class and have done everything everywhere all over the world. They still feel like a gang from OC. You still have the feeling they're approachable. . . . I had been hired to shoot the "Don't Speak" video, and it was so intense. I remember Gwen was all sparkly—remember when she used to wear the jewels around her eyes? She was very charming and really excited and sweet. They'd been a struggling band [getting famous], and, of course, Gwen was an extraordinary artist, so she was getting loads of attention. The band didn't like it, and it was causing huge problems for them, and it was really embarrassing for Gwen because it wasn't like she asked for it—it just happened. They were so open and said we've got nothing to hide, and I was so impressed—why wouldn't we make a video about what was really going on? I really admired them for it.

Barrett: No Doubt were already local heroes when we discovered them. When Tragic Kingdom came out with those hit songs, everyone started writing articles about that. As soon as they got big, that helped us. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have gotten a record deal; we owe it all to them.

Phillips: I made a ska compilation for KROQ that included No Doubt and Sublime's "Date Rape." And Sublime weren't the easiest band to work with, so it got to a point where you had to think, who would you rather work with? The band that lights up in the studio with Jed the Fish, a recovering addict, or No Doubt, the band that was a total dream to work with, wrote great songs, had a pretty girl who made freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies and brownies for the DJs? The answer was more than obvious.

« Previous Page
Next Page »