You´d think that this story would be telling you about No Doubt´s new album. After all, the group 7-million selling disc, Tragic Kingdom , was released in October 1995. It´s been nearly two-and-a-half years, obviously time for a new record. But no, theres nothing to say about No Doubt´s forthcoming fourth release. The band is still on tour- it´s been more than two years now- and vocalist Gwen Stefani. guitarist Tom Dumont, bass player Tony Kanal and drummer Adrian Young are planning to take some time off before they start work on the next record. Sure some songs have been written, but no producer has been secured, no studio time tied down. The record company doesn´t even know if it will be a record in 1998. “Touring is tiring”, notes Gwen. “You´re just so worn out all the time. I just feel like a dirty old road warrior trying to stay healthy and find toothpaste. It´s fun, it´s rewarding, and exciting… and wierd and tiring But, I can´t complain. Touring´s everything I love! You eat, you sleep, you play shows. What more could you want in life?”
The Modest quartet, who turned a love for ska and all things ´80s into an infectiously appeling potpurri that won over the hearts of the world are making the most of success of Tragic Kingdom . This multi-platinum accomplishment means a big step up. No Doubt can laeve behind their Econoline rental vans for travellingin a massive, plush tour bus. They´ve gone from appearing in those dirty little clubs they played since their formation in 1987, to giging in 5,000-seat venues where the whole audience is on their feet pogoing. These days, looking into a box crammed with Mexican jumping beans.
“Pogoing is better than moshing, defineteley,” observes Gwen. “Why would you want to hurt youself while you´re trying to have fun? Moshing, I don´t get it. I bruise easily and I don´t like having marks all over my legs.”
Live, No Doubt have created a thoroughly entertaning enviorment for presenting such nouveau radio staples as Jus A Girl, Spiderwebs and Don´t Speak. Using designers like Mike Keeling and Luc LaFortune, the band has created a surreal stage backdrop with dangling glowing bulbs- a light show and a rain of silver confetti.
We´ve always been a live band ,” declares Adrian. “It´s really our strongest point. By continuing to tour, we continue to build our following.”
No Doubt have been together since 1987, but they didn´t see their self-titled debut released until 1992. The next four years were a very slow build… until thing exploded. Now they´re sold out every venue and are playing to a pleuthora of people… mostly teenagers. No Doubt´s target\ audience is the age of the band when they started making music togther 10 years ago.
Tom admits that it´s been strange watching the age of the crowd remains in it´s late teens and early twenties as he approaches 30. “I love the style of music that we play and I think I´d still go to shows to see bands. But I am 28, and I feel older. I guess I plan also do what 28-year-olds do, get married or stay home and play on the computer,” Tom laughs.
“Old, young, I love it all,” insists Gwen. “I´m not at all tired about everything that´s happening. Understand that for four years we were this underground cult band that sat in the garage and made fun of every other band on MTV. Now that we have hit, it´s like a whole new feeling for a band that´s been togther ten years.”
MTV has taken Gwen´s Californa blond looks and made her this year´s poster girl for female rock and rollers. Sure, she´s got a voice that´s screaming fame regardless of what kind music she´s singing. It´s a careening, confident voice and a brilliant vehicle for Gwen´s startling proficiency as a front-person. She´s also cute, vivacious and incredble photogenic. Simply put, she´s a star; she has the aura and the style. Her personal panache has influenced No Doubt´s leigon of fans. Girls constantly turn up at shows wearing bindis (the red dot in the middle of the forehead that Gwen sported in the Spiderwebs video), despite the fact that the singer no longer wears one. She´s also helped along the “let me show you my bellybutton” midriff style. Then there are the hairdoes; every time Gwen changes, so does everyone in high school.
I come to the shows, and all the girls look better than me, and they have my old hairdo,” Gwen relates. “It´s like it, ‘Wow, remember that hairdo. I should have that one again. Darn it.'”
For the record No Doubt´s self-titled debut album was released 1992, five years after the band formed. Unfortunally, the rest of the world still hasn´t heard much of it, or the self released compilation, The Beacon Street Collection .
Is this the fault of No Dobut´s record label? In fact, one of the reasons No Dobut is in no hurry to make a new record is because there´s a lawsuit pending. No Dobut´s label, Trauma Records has filed suit against it´s distributor, Interscope Records, in a legal tug-of-war that places No Dobut smack dab in the middle of the fray. The independent label (which counts Bush and Shaquille O´Neal among it´s roster of performers) claims that Interscope assigned No Doubt´s contract to the smaller Trauma Records when the band was an unknown entity. The suit goes on to claim that once Trauma expended their own time and energy to make No Doubt´s Tragic Kingdom a multi-platinum seller, Interscope negated the previous agreement, and claimed that No Doubt was a part of the Interscope roster. The band itself is not named as a party in the lawsuit.
In the suit, Trauma charges Interscope (which also distributes Death Row Records) with breech of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and termination of the label agreement. The suit is seeking damages in excess of 1000,000,000.
Early on, the band claimed to be a part of the Trauma label. As Tony told the Southern California magazine Mean Street in December 1995, “To make a long story short, we switched over to Trauma, and it´s really great for us, because now we have the attention and the focus of a small indie label.”
When they were a little band, nobody wanted them, but now that No Doubt is huge, everyone wants to reap the profits. Recently, a European band called Clueless took No Dobut´s hit ballad, Don´t Speak and given the song a high-energy techno treatment.
“The first time I heard it, we were in Spain,” recalls Gwen. “I walked into a gym and people were working out to a techno version of Don´t Speak and I thought that I was in a dream. I felt kind of queasy. There is something kind of exciting about the idea that everyone in the gym was working out to it and listening to our music, but it wasn´t our music. That song just does not work to a techno beat, if you ask me.”
Tony´s not nearly as polite about the remix. “It´s quite embarrsing,” he insits. “We did not approve on these mixes being released. It´s really, really sad.”
Yeah, now that No Dobut´s big, everyone wants a piece of the band. Latley, Hollywood´s been beckoning Gwen. Following in the footsteps of Madonna and Courtney Love, Gwen recently signed on for the United Talent Agency in hopes of landing feature film roles.
“I´m looking into it,” she says. “Not because I have to do movies, but because it might be fun to work with some really creative people.”
With the success of Tragic Kingdom No Dobut has dozens of options to choose from. As making a record isn´t something they´re prepared to purse right away, one wonders, if they pull a Hole or Def Lepard and wait four years between the albums, will people still care? They may release new music and have it fade into obvlivion.
“If everything was taken away tomorrow , I´d still be fulfilled,” offers Gwen. “I can honestly say I never expected us to get this far. It´s kind of sad in a way, we´ve done so much that we probably won´t do it again. I mean, we did MTV. We did Conan O´Brien. You just don´t go back and do those things again.”
“We have to remember that with our next record, everyone might hate us,” Tom concludes. “We´re setting ourselves up mentally so we don´t expect success. No one gives us anything.”
“We´ve got two years of experience touring around the world,” Gwen finishes. “It seems like when we finnaly get around it, we could make an amazing record. But we haven´t done it in so long, we´re just going to have to see what happens.”