July 02, 1992

Ska-influenced, it’s everything thrown together into a big mix. It’s energetic.

The view of 805 area code Golden Staters toward Orange County has usually been one of negativity, as in “we don’t want to be like Orange County,” a place so crowded that you need to leave for the beach a week in advance in order to find a place to pay to park. We’re the “before,” Orange County is the “after.” If it weren’t for the street signs, there would be no telling the difference between, say, Fullerton, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley or Tustin. It’s one big cement city where only the cops in the different cities drive different color cars.

Something far less daunting than a concrete nightmare is coming to us from Orange County Wednesday night: ska-inspired music from those home-grown heroes of the 714 area code, No Doubt. Still, they pack a threat, and it might be worse than traffic, according to singer Gwen Stefani.

“All of us are so close, like a little family,” she says. “We get to play something we made together and show it to other people, but the guys in the band are really stinky. They smell. They’re disgusting. Besides that, I can live with it.”

No Doubt spends quite a lot of time on the road, presumably with the windows down, because there’s not so many places to play in Orange County, which seems strange given the large number of bands there. And maybe we were right all along – from Costa Mesa north to L.A., the only differences are the street signs. It’s L.A. everywhere.

“There’s not really a division between Orange County and L.A.,” says Stefani. “Orange County kids will go up there to see us, but L.A. kids usually won’t come down (to Orange County). There’s a couple of little clubs in Orange County, but we turn down a lot of gigs because we need room for our fans to slam and dance. Most of our gigs are in L.A. In fact, we just had our record release party last night at the Whisky. It was incredible. It was totally packed. We gave away a bunch of No Doubt stickers and No Doubt kazoos.”

But like kazoos, David Lynch, Screaming Yellow Zonkers and the Cubs, ska has a built-in group of hard-core fans that won’t go away, no matter what.

“Originally, we were just a bunch of friends doing a bunch of ska covers just for fun,” Stefani says. “We weren’t serious at all. We were just playing the music we wanted to play. We grew up listening to Madness, so automatically, we played the kind of music we liked. Also, we just got lucky. The ska crowd dug us. The ska scene is really like a cult scene. Ska music is really simple. There’s definitely ska elements in our music, but that’s not all we’re into. We just add stuff to it – just everything thrown together into a big mix. It’s just really energetic music.”