No Doubt is back with a retro-new wave album called Push and Shove, which juxtaposes 80s synth pop with modern house beats and dubstep drops. On Thursday, OC Weekly's cover story will have Anaheim's fab four talking about the challenges of making the album. Here, cohorts from back in the day talk about Gwen Stefani's appeal, even before she was a fashion icon.
There's no better frontperson than Gwen. The first time I ever met Gwen, she was charming, she was nice to me. She was at that point the cutest chick I'd met in my life, and she was so real and she had the pipes. She was the OC chick and a lot of people could relate to that. — Miguel Happoldt, producer and manager, Sublime
The appeal? Obviously there's the pretty girl. If anyone could've been the new Madonna, it was Gwen. — Tazy Phillips, founder, Ska Parade.
Everyone had a crush on Gwen, how could you not? I once gave Gwen a candy necklace. It was my first meeting with her; I was a little ska kid. I just went up to her and said, “Hi, I got you this.” They were already rock stars then, always surrounded by a hundred people. — Aaron Barrett, lead singer, Reel Big Fish
I remember being a teenager and having a crush on Gwen, so I guess you could say I've been a fan for a little while. It was cool that they were coming back. Gwen and her husband Gavin had been getting paintings from me over the last couple of years and from that it wasn't completely out of the blue that they asked me to do a cover for their next album. — El Mac, artist, creator of Push and Shove cover art
Obviously Gwen being a star came out right from the beginning. The band had to go through all these transitions to see their true success. As with a lot of female-fronted bands, bands would try to be a band more than be a star first. I remember we'd sit at the side of the stage and say, “When they realize she's the star, the band will go along,” but [back then] it was never really Gwen as a total front person.
Once they accepted it they were great — I'd seen it in bands like Paramore, where everyone thinks it's all about the band, but to be honest, when you have a lead singer who is such as star — the earlier you recognize that, I always tell young bands now, if you can recognize that she's the star, then you'll be fine because you'll be able to make a nice living, you can go on tour, you can buy cars, you can hang out with your friends, but if you fight it you'll eventually get replaced in the band. When No Doubt all got back together they realized they all had their own personalities but also realized that Gwen was the lead singer and star of the band. — Kevin Lyman, founder, Warped Tour
You can tell a good band; a good band is a tight band. And they were always a tight band.They were just a fun, enthusiastic band — really enthusiastic about ska. Of course Gwen is so beautiful and unassuming … they're a good representative for Southern California music. I am so happy they became major pop stars. Their attitude is great, they're not full of themselves, they have a great upbringing, I have nothing but love for those kids. — Jerry Miller, lead singer, Untouchables