Gwen made her debut on radio host Howard Stern’s SiriusXM morning show today and gave one of her most fantastic and honest interviews in recent memory. Many fans were skeptical about Gwen being on the program due to Howard’s reputation for being harsh, but the interview which lasted close to two-hours was incredible and had Gwen opening up about her brother Eric, No Doubt, her personal struggles and past relationships and much, much more that we’re not used to hearing from her. Howard also came across like a professional and really seemed to have done his homework — impressing her with facts spanning her career and childhood.
Gwen said it was weird meeting and being with Howard since he was a good friend of Gavin’s. Robin (Howard’s co-host) mentioned how he was under the impression that Gwen didn’t like him and she said that she’s always been scared by him and his reputation since she doesn’t like confrontation. Gwen said she grew up listening to Howard with the band and was really happy to be there.
On No Doubt’s 2009 summer tour
No topic seemed off the table and Gwen opened up about No Doubt’s 2009 summer tour saying that left her feeling “depleted.” She admits that it wasn’t necessarily her idea to go on tour but felt pressured by management and the band since she had taken so much time for herself outside of No Doubt. Gwen said that she was exhausted once the tour wrapped up and said, “I just wasn’t the same after that.”
On her relationship with Tony
Gwen is asked about her past relationship with Tony and shares that she would have married him instantly if the opportunity every arose back in the day. She told the story that there was an unspoken rule in the band that she wasn’t able to date anyone and how they kept their relationship a secret until former lead singer John Spence took his own life. Gwen said that she was head-over-heels for Tony instantly and was infatuated with everything about him. When asked if there is still any weirdness between the two of them, she says that there has always been an evolution of feelings. Gwen stops Howard when he brings up the idea of Tony possibly regretting breaking up with her over the years saying, “No, he was really clear that it wasn’t meant to be us. I have a little obsessive nature and I was just quite obsessed with him.” Gwen goes on to say that she understood what being a guy meant in a band and not wanting to be tied down saying “that’s what broke us up.” She started to tell the story about what “the last straw” was between her and Tony after a show ended up turning into a “strip club” but was cut off unintentionally and she never continued.
Gwen admits that she sometimes wonders what her life would have been like if Tony and her were still together. “That was a really huge and long part of my life… I think we were together seven years. He was 16 when we started dating!”
Gwen shared that she was single for about a year after breaking up with Tony.
On her brother Eric
Gwen opened up about her brother Eric saying one of the reasons he moved on from the band was to focus on animation. She said that she was “destroyed” but his departure and thinks it may have had more to do with him not wanting to comprise his art with a major record label. Gwen describes her brother as an “interesting person” and “eccentric” and praises him for being so dedicated to himself and his craft.
She assures Howard later on in the interview that she knows her brother feels no jealousy towards her and has no regrets in leaving the band.
She credits both Tony breaking up with her and Eric leaving the band for her outlet of songwriting that took her by surprise. “… that’s where I finally found that passive girl gone, and I found a focus, and I found a power.” Gwen shared that she’s responsible for lyrics and melodies and was inspired by “heartbreak.” She said that she felt changed from that moment on and decided to dye her hair blonde.
Later in the interview, Gwen shares that she thinks some of her best songwriting came out of Return of Saturn and admits that she needed to edit herself. She says that it’s been challenging at times having to compromise with everyone on songs considering No Doubt has always written together. With Rock Steady, she said that the band’s “attitudes changed” and they had finally been able to reach out of their comfort zones and collaborate. “I hadn’t had kids yet so we were going out — we went to clubs — we were super inspired.” Gwen says that the album was a triumph for the band since they were so open to trying new things which said she needed.
Gwen shared later that some of her favorite songs are ones that she collaborated on outside of the band, “…everything went to a different place.”
Gwen says that being on The Voice also helped her regain confidence in her songwriting since it pushed her to reflect back on what she’s done.
She shared that “Baby Don’t Lie” was originally titled “Baby Don’t Cry”. Gwen also opened up about the first song she wrote when she decided to go back into the studio on her own titled “You Don’t Know Me” which Gwen described as “how can you love me if you don’t know me?”
Gwen’s first song she wrote about Blake was “Obsessed” followed by “Splash”. She shared that she sent him songs throughout the writing periods and said that “everything happened really quickly.” She would play him songs when he would be in town for The Voice since he didn’t live in Los Angeles.
On going solo
Gwen says that the dynamic of the band changed once the band started getting married and starting families of their own. “It has to, of course it has to.” The band all agreed to take a hiatus for the first time after the Rock Steady tour. During this time, Gwen had a feeling that she wanted to make a dance record and wanted to create music that she had grown up on outside of ska. She shared that Tony was on board with the idea since the beginning and supported her along the recording process.
Gwen felt an immense amount of pressure writing on her own with different people but says she hit her creative peak since she was free to do whatever she wanted.
She shared that she went back into the studio eight weeks after giving birth to Kingston cause she felt like she “wasn’t done.” “How do you ignore this voice in your head and inspiration?” Gwen reveals that she wanted to have another child since she was nearing 40 and was blessed with her second son Zuma only a month after wrapping up her Sweet Escape world tour.
On Push and Shove
After the 2009 tour, Gwen said, “I was burnt out… I went in to write with [No Doubt] and I had gotten pregnant. Like, ‘I can do it! I can be pregnant and make it!'” Gwen said that the dynamic in the studio writing Push and Shove was different because she didn’t feel inspired. She shares that the majority of the writing was on her since she’s responsible for the melodies and lyrics. “They were writing chords and people can write chords all day long. It’s all the same chords… I didn’t have the inspiration in me because I had just been depleted. I had clothing lines, I had gotten married, I had given birth twice, I had gone around the world… there was a lot of output and there’s only so much.” She says that she attempted to write the album when she was pregnant but couldn’t. Gwen shares that she wasn’t physically feeling well either and refers to it as a “dark period” in her life.
Four months after giving birth to Zuma, Gwen shared that both her manager and the band pushed her to tour to help with inspiration in the summer of 2009.
Gwen opened up about the success of the album saying that it wasn’t anyone’s fault with how it turned out. She hints that her manager (possibly with Rebel Waltz) suggested that her career may have been over and found it disappointing the the band’s hopes of the touring Push and Shove didn’t happen. Gwen feels like her getting pregnant than with Apollo may have been a let down for the rest of the band.
On playing No Doubt songs on tour
Howard gets direct with Gwen and asks if the the band has harsh feelings towards her due to performing No Doubt songs for the first time on her solo tour this summer (including “Underneath It All”, “It’s My Life”, “Don’t Speak” and “Just a Girl”). She answered by saying, “I think that at the end of the day, we’re so supportive of each other. The only reason I’m doing them… it felt like I hadn’t toured in seven years and I don’t know if I’ll ever tour again… and I wanted to do a show that represents me — right now where I’m at. It’s such a triumph to get to this point for me and I’ve had such a crazy year… it just felt right. It felt weird to not do songs that I wrote that represent who I am.” When asked if she approached the band about playing their songs on the road, she seemed to shy away from answering by saying, “I think that we’re in a place now where we’re so grown. Everyone’s doing their own thing and that’s understood.”
Later in the interview, Gwen admits that it’s hard to tour nowadays and finds it difficult to get people to come out to the shows.
On auditioning for Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Howard asks Gwen about her well-known audition for the lead role in Mr. and Mrs. Smith that went on to star Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Gwen said that she felt like she “almost got it” and had participating in a bunch of auditions. She shared that the casting crew even visited her home but knew that she would have to focus on acting and not music calling the industry competitive.
On her wild year
Gwen discusses meeting Gavin for the first time by saying their record labels (Interscope and Trauma) pushed for No Doubt and Bush to tour together. She said they met during KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas in December 1995 after being requested to come to the show by Gavin (during the second night when they weren’t performing). Gwen admits that she wasn’t into Bush but was told by her label to meet them since they would be touring together the following spring. She says she felt like she was in a crazy place in her life and was smitten by him. Gavin ended up having her phone number and the two started dating only a few weeks into the tour.
Howard shared with Gwen how he was shocked when he heard that they had separated since he always considered them a “perfect couple.” He said that he felt bad for them both saying that he thought Gwen and Gavin were each other’s “lucky break”. Howard came across as extremely sincere and as a listener you could tell that he really got to Gwen. “It’s been an unbelievable journey and you can’t even imagine.” She became emotional and broke everyone’s heart by saying, “I always wondered… why did I get so unlucky in love? I have so much love in me.” Gwen says that she felt like “such a loser” after everything happened. She admits that it’s tough for her to perform “Used To Love You”.
She shares again that her world was turned upside down on February 9, 2015. “I didn’t know what I was going to do… I was in a panic, I was in Hell. And I was going back to The Voice in the middle of it with this big secret.” She said that she didn’t want anyone to know what was going to happen and didn’t want to rush anything. “I wanted to try and figure everything out.” Gwen shared that she leaned on her parents and her faith in God to get her through which helped her “wake up spiritually.” Pharrell Williams was also a really good friend to Gwen during that time and pointed her in the right direction.
Upon joining The Voice, Gwen admits that she didn’t know Blake Shelton and knew nothing about his music or country in general. She calls them getting together the “most unlikely situation”. Gwen reveals that when she came back for season 9 last July, she had a huge weight on her shoulders. Blake made the announcement first that him and wife Miranda Lambert were divorcing on the first day back on set. “I think I might have went white and I was in shock because it felt like he was exposing me. I couldn’t even get my head around it and it was during The Blinds, and he walked up to my chair, the first time he’s ever walked to my chair… and I never saw him look so upset. So then I was like, ‘I got to talk to you.’ But I wasn’t going to tell him anything… and then we ended up talking.” Gwen admits that she wasn’t completely upfront with him at first about her situation but they started to develop a serious friendship. She finds it incredible that they were both going through the same thing at the right moment. Gwen reveals that Blake’s separation had been going on since January of that year and Gwen’s a month later. “I wasn’t trying to start a relationship, I was trying to not die.”
On how her and Blake’s relationship progressed, she shared that they had started emailing each other back and forth and then it blossomed. She said that she had toured alongside No Doubt last summer when everything was happening and it was tough keeping it all under wraps, even from the band themselves.
Howard pokes fun at Gwen for becoming a country girl and she said she’s having a really fun time living in the moment and being exposed to his world. Howard hypothetically brings up the idea of Blake proposing to Gwen in the future and she laughs along and refuses to answer the question if she would yes or not.
— Stern Show (@sternshow) July 20, 2016
— Stern Show (@sternshow) July 20, 2016
— Stern Show (@sternshow) July 20, 2016
Gwen has shared on her official site that she’s scheduled to be a guest on The Howard Stern Show while in New York on July 20. She’s set to “get candid” with the notorious radio host and will be on the show starting at 9:00AM EST on SIRIUSXM Radio channel 100.
If you’re not able to tune in, Howard Stern tends to share clips and portions of interviews with guests on his YouTube, Soundcloud and official site.