Our favorite rock and fashion original tells all: what makes this superstar feel like a geek; who inspires her (Julie Andrews! OK, and Bjork); and her romantic first words to Gavin.
To us, your life seems so glam – jetting around the world, making videos and doing photo shoots, performing in front of thousands of fans, and wearing beautiful clothes to awards shows. Do you ever wish you weren’t rich and famous?
Uh, nope. My life is spectacularly glamorous and insane, but I just feel really really lucky. I did this for nine years before it was glamorous, with my band, because they’re my best friends and we’re passionate about making music. So all the rest of it is icing on the cake for us. A big blessing. We don’t take it for granted for one minute.
Your look – from bindis to bikini tops – has always been very original. Who influences or inspires you?
Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I feel like in my life it is Halloween every day, an excuse to wear something different. My mom made my clothes when I was little – I’ve always loved to make my own things. I was a girly girl, influenced by Cinderella, Julie Andrews. Now I’m influenced by Bjork. I think she is super-extra-talented and creative. I’m totally inspired by fans – they inspire me and I inspire them. And Angelo Moore, from this band called Fishbone, was a huge influence on me. He just had a sparkle to him. And that was always my goal, to give off that kind of energy.
Is there anything you’d never wear?
I think there is a fine line between sexy clothes and – I don’t know what the word would be. There is only a certain amount I like to show off. I usually show the things I like about myself and hide the things I don’t. But I never say never, because you never know!
Do you take your role as a trendsetter seriously? Do you try to come up with the next big thing?
Obviously I’m aware of it because everyone always seems to bring it up. But on a day-to-day basis I don’t think about it that much. I think fashion is something you just do and you don’t really talk about. I think the way I dress is an extension of the music I make.
You like to mix clothes that you’ve made yourself with designer pieces. Do you have any words of advice for budding young d.i.y.-ers?
Everyone should go to the fabric store. I love trying to do things myself, being creative and original. And people make me stuff all the time. This girl just made me a denim bag that says NO DOUBT ROCK STEADY all over it – she bleached it and it is so rad. I wore it to a party the other night with U2. It’s really creative and it’s really cool and I totally support that.
Although millions of people buy your albums and tons of girls want to look like you, you have said you still feel like a big geek sometimes. Why?
I think everyone has gifts and everyone has talents. If you are successful at it, it feels really good but it never really penetrates completely. There are moments where I think that we made an amazing record and I’m so proud of it, but I don’t wake up and go, “Wow, I’m amazing.”
Are there specific situations that call out your inner nerd?
Definitely, Tony and I were in the pit at the U2 concert after we opened for them, and we were standing on the side and Bono was coming down the catwalk, and he saw us, and he reached down and held our hands, and sang to us, and I felt like a kid, like a total geek. Also, I got to meet John Galliano, who is an incredible fashion designer; he ended up making a dress for me for the Grammys last year, and it was a total Cinderella moment. I just couldn’t believe that that was my life. So yeah, it happens all the time.
Which celebrity still has the power to make you starstruck?
There are loads of talented people that I get to meet all the time, which is what is so crazy about my life. People that I totally look up to. I’ll tell you some of the people I’ve met recently that I’m starstruck by: David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris.
Whom would you most like to meet?
I still haven’t met Julie Andrews. She is probably one of my favorites – she and her film The Sound of Music had a really big impact on me.
What is the best part about being the only girl in No Doubt? What is the worst?
I’m so used to being the only girl, I barely even think about it anymore. The only time I do is when I’m around other girls. I have these new girlfriends, dancers that I met when we did the video for “Bathwater.” And they’re really cool girls, and when I’m hanging out with all of them there is just a whole other kind of energy and I feel like sometimes I missed out on that. And then the best is just having the special relationship I have with them.
The band has been together for almost half of your life – ever since you were seventeen. How do you guys get along after all that time?
We have so much in common. We grew up together. I just feel really lucky to have friends like that, and our friendships have only gotten stronger and we only understand each other more, and it just keeps growing. We’re together all the time, and we really depend on each other because if something happened to one of us, we wouldn’t be who we are – No Doubt.
And do you think – or hope – that you guys will stay together forever? Would you ever go solo?
I think that all of us have things we want to do, so many things we haven’t done yet. The boys, Tony and Tom, want to be producing records. Everything post-Tragic Kingdom has been such a blessing, we pretty much take it one record at a time. So I don’t know if we’ll be together forever, because I didn’t think we’d be together for this long – that is certainly for sure.
You recently sang hooks on two big hits, Eve’s “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” and Moby’s “South Side.” And No Doubt worked with big-name people like Prince when you were making Rock Steady. Do you have any more high-profile collaborations planned? Which musician would you most like to work with?
I don’t. Those things just happened very naturally. They Moby thing happened when I came off Tragic Kingdom, like so long ago. And the thing just had legs. Who would have thought? And then Eve – I had told my label, if Dr. Dre ever needs me for anything call me up, and he called and I did it just because I wanted to work with Dre. It was such an awesome experience; this whole kind of cultural collision happened, and it was magical and it opened the band and me up to a whole new audience. Tony and I are really inspired by the Thompson Twins, and we’d love to do something with them. I would love to do something with Bjork. But I don’t have anything planned. It was fun to do those things, but my passion is here with the band.
You’ve said that you would like to try acting. Is that still something you want to do?
Yeah, the funny this is, there is no time. I’d love to, but I don’t know if it will happen.
How did you meet your fiance, Gavin Rossdale of Bush? What was the first thing he ever said to you?
Our record-company guys introduced us. And I just remember looking up at him, because he is very tall, and going, Wow. He looked so familiar to me; in his eyes, there was something about him. I said something like, “You’ve got gorgeous eyes,” and I never say stuff like that. It was really cheesy, but it just came out. I don’t know what he said to me right then, he was just being cool, but that night he told me I was gorgeous. I thought that was pretty great.
Is it hard to keep up a long-distance relationship?
Of course. Any relationship is hard, but there are definitely things that are good and bad about ours. Because we both do the same thing we understand exactly what the other is going through, but because we’re so passionate about what we do, that passion takes up a lot of time. So the seperation sometimes can be good because we can be creative and just focus on ourselves. But as the years go by we both think it sucks being apart. We’d prefer to be together, and our lives are more balanced when we’re together.
What’s the most annoying or untrue thing you’ve ever read about yourself?
I really try not to read things. But when I do once and a while sneak a peek, I just don’t like when people get the facts wrong. I like people to know that we’re a homegrown band; I don’t like them to think that we’re any kind of manufactured band, that we don’t make our own decisions and we don’t make our own music. To me that is everything that I’m passionate about, that we’ve created this whole thing from nothing. We decide everything. And I hate when people think it is like in the video for “Don’t Speak,” that we don’t get along and the guys are jealous of me. All those issues are so old, and we all are best friends.
What CDs are in your stereo?
I’ve been listening to loads of No Doubt stuff lately. When you’re making an album and you’re mastering it, you have to listen to it a lot, and you want to. Yesterday we listened to U2. We still listen to loads of dancehall to get us pumped up to go onstage. Reggae – we were listening to Steel Pulse the other day. Not always specific artists – we have those compilation albums, like Biggest Reggae Dancehall Anthems 1999, Lady Saw, Bounty Killer.
What is your ideal vacation? With whom, and where?
Right now at this very moment my ideal vacation would be at my house in L.A. with Gavin and loads of movies and loads of food. A sunny day.