YM (April 1997)

Being in a group can be like a soap opera! Find out how sudden fame, serious jealousy, and a gorge guy named Gavin almost broke up the hippest band in the land.

It’s been a most major week for No Doubt. Their Tragic Kingdom album has hit number one, they’ve rocked out on Saturday Night Live, and they’ve had a private tour of the White House. But even with all that under their belts, the Anaheim, CA, quartet is stressed about tonight’s concert, their first full show in a few months.

Backstage at Rockland Community College in New York, the band members chill out in different ways. Bass player Tony Kanal is taping the scene with his camcorder. Drummer Adrian Young is hanging with his girlfriend , Christine. Guitarist Tom Dumont is digging through his huge bag of free Diesel gear,trying to find something cool to wear for the show. Singer Gwen Stefani, meanwhile has the college’s gym all to herself – a starstruck staffer was only too glad to open it just for her.

Stretched out on a mat, Gwen stares at her stomach. “No boys liked me in high school because I was chubby ,” she says.

Anyone who’s seen No Doubt’s babe of a lead singer high-kicking it in their videos or in concert will find it hard to believe that there was ever a time when Gwen wasn’t in great demand – or in great shape. But she remembers it differently. “I was fat all over,”” she says of her teenage self.

You’re probably thinking, Yeah, right!But Gwen insists that she’s forever battling her weight – in fact, this very minute, she’s working on dropping the five pounds she’s piled on during her vacation. But she’s not stressing over it. “I’m enjoying being a little chubby,” she insists.”I love life, and if I want a rad slice of pizza, I’ll have it!”

Right now, Gwen has good reason to love life. After ten years of struggling for stardom with her best buds and band mates Tony, Tom and Adrian, she couldn’t possibly be happier – or luckier.

ROCK ROMANCE

“That’s my boyfriend,” Gwen says as Bush’s song “Swallowed” comes on the radio. She used to play the “we’re just good friends” game whenever Bush singer Gavin Rossdale’s name came up. Till now,she’s admitted to having had only three boyfriends in her life -the most significant of them having been Tony, No Doubt’s bassist, who was her prom date and main man for seven years.

Gwen was guy less – and heartbroken -after Tony broke up with her two years ago. She tried to deal by writing songs about feelings; many of those tunes, including”Don’t Speak,” ended uo on Tragic Kingdom. But as hard as she tried, she just couldn’t get over him. “Then I met Gavin,” she says. “And that one night was all it took for me to say ‘Okay, I need to move on”

Her first close encounter with Brit babe came around Christmas ’95, when No Doubt was booked as the opening act for Bush’s tour. “The first thing he said to me was, “You’re gorgeous,”‘ she remembers. Gwen, though,was not impressed. “I wasn’t looking to go out with a boy ina band – especially one who’s that good-looking. I’m usually attracted to guys with personalities, ones that make me laugh.That’s what I think is sexy – not some dude with flowing curls who’s tall and gorgeous.” But once she got to know him, she just couldn’t resist: within days, the singers were smooching.”I couldn’t believe he liked me!” Gwen says. “I’d been down about the Tony thing for so long that my self-esteem was way down, too. And suddenly this guy thinks I’m great – and he has a British accent!”

Last year, as their bands went on to rule the charts (it was Tragic Kingdom that bumped Bush’s Razorblade Suitcase out of the number one album slot), Gwen and Gavin continued to date but kept their private lives just that.When the Bush – No Doubt tour ended, their separate schedules put distance between them and put their relationship sort of on hold.”We kept it quiet – if we didn’t even know what we were, why tell everyone we’re girlfriend and boyfriend?” she says.

LONG-DISTANCE LOVE

Though being separated from her sweetie on a daily basis bums her out, Gwen works hard to keep their romance alive. She has a photo of Gavin taped inside her makeupboz, takes her cell phone everywhere so she’ll never miss one ofhis call, and even phones other Bush members to track him downwhen she just has to hear his voice. Still, she can’t wait forthe day when they can do “real stuff” together, like”watch TV, go to the movies, and just hang out.”

Until recently, No Doubt had all the time in the world to hang out. Together since they formed in high school in 1987, Gwen, tony, Tom and the group’s founder, Gwen’s big brother Eric Stefani (Adrian joined late), were beginning to think they’d never make it big. Their self-titled debut album,released in 1992, pretty much bombed. Three years later, they forked over the money themselves to put out another CD, Beacon Street Collection, which also went unnoticed. Frustrated, Eric bagged the band to become a cartoonist. Then came the release of Tragic Kingdom. Incredibly, the first single, “Just A Girl,” rocked the charts, followed by “Spiderwebs”and “Don’t Speak.” To date, Tragic has sold more than 5 million records.

The only glitch is, their sudden success has caused more internal band problems than all their years of struggling ever did. For nearly a decade, nothing could come between them. But for a while last year, it seemed like Gwen’s overnight super stardom might tear them apart. Suddenly, all people were interested in was Gwen’s singing, Gwen’s clothes, and Gwen’s bindi (the Indian jewel on her forehead). The press treated No Doubt as if it was just a girl and three anonymous background boys. Naturally, the guys felt like they’d been kicked to the curb. “For so long, we were all equal,” explains Tom. “Then we have a hit, and it’s like we’re Gwen’s backup band.”

The group bravely addresses the situation in its “Don’t Speak” video. “We made a video about breaking up at a time when we thought we might actually break up,” says Gwen. “It was so real. We were fighting while we were filming.”

MAKING UP

Luckily, the “Don’t Speak”video has helped clear the air and allowed the group to go back out on the road, where they’re sometimes forced to chill together 24/7 – which isn’t always so easy for Tony. Being in a band with an ex-girlfriend who’s just become a megastar and hooked up with an English rock hottie can be a major adjustment. At No Doubt’s next gig in Asbury Park, NJ, Tony’s standing before a door marked”group’s dressing room.” Next to it, there’s an other door marked “Gwen’s room.” Tony is not amused. He asks a concert staffer to rectify the situation. “Can you take that down and put up something like ‘number tow room’? This makes us feel weird.”

Later, Tony opens the door that still bears the “Gwen’s room” sign and finds her talking about the short list of men in her life. “Don’t include meon your list,” he says. “I want to remain anonymous.” “We were inseparable for seven years,”Gwen pouts. “Until you met Gavin,” he shoots back.”Shut up!” she groans. “That’s exactly what happened,” says tony, who’s kind of teasing, but not really.”Everything was awesome until, ‘Oooh, big rock star. Well,Tony, he has a private jet. Bye-bye!’ That’s how I remember it.” “I really love you a lot,” coos Gwen as he walks off. Then she reminds him, “We’re number one!””You’re number one,” he says over his shoulder.

But all traces of resentment and jealousy vanish when the band takes the stage. In concert,they’re simply unstoppable. At the end, delirious fans chase them across the auditorium as they head for their dressing rooms.

Backstage, Gwen lets it all sink in.”There was this kid sitting in the front row wearing a Gwen shirt that he’d painted himself,” she begins. “He was singing along with every word and crying. I smiled at him and said, ‘It’s ok.’ I wanted to say, ‘I understand; I’ve done that too,’ When you see someone like that, you realize how long they’ve spent listening to your record and how it’s going to impact the rest of their life. Whenever they heard No Doubt, it will bring them back to this time period. That’s really special.”

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