Thanks again so much to our good friend Maribeth for sharing with us, but check out a couple of rare shots taken from No Doubt’s infamous record release party in 1992! Also, did you know that Sublime opened for the band back at this show on June 24 1992? Well it turns out a other good friend Eric Keyes also uploaded some videos of Sublime performing before No Doubt, and they are just as awesome. I also found an LA Times review of the show back from July 1992 — I would have done anything to see No Doubt back in the day.
LA Times — 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.”
No Doubt got it going in 1987, influenced by English ska bands such as the Specials, the English Beat and Madness. Originally, there were two lead singers, but John Spence, who named the band, committed suicide. He was 18. After Spence’s death, Stefani sang with one of the horn players, then gradually assumed the spotlight. Eventually, the band began to play with some of the local big names in ska such as Fishbone and the Untouchables.
“We were doing headlining shows when we hooked up with a promoter, Goldenvoice,” Stefani said. “They always get good shows. We played the Roxy and the Whisky a lot, but there was no industry interest for so long, it was like ‘why?’ Then we hooked up with this guy from William Morris who got us this industry showcase, and a lot of people showed up. Interscope was ready to sign us that night, but Chrysalis and Atlantic were also interested. But, Interscope just seemed like the right ones, and they gave us some money to put the record out.”
Besides the ska dudes, No Doubt also played with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, opened for Ziggy Marley at Irvine Meadows, and even had a forgettable gig one time inside a photography store in the mall. Then, in the tradition of the Surf Punks-Journey and the Nymphs-New Kids on the Block bills, there was No Doubt and Bad Religion.
“You know, Bad Religion is really hard-core, and their fans were really mean,” recalls Stefani. “I was afraid; but after four or five songs, we won them over. Our music is the main thing, and we always seem to get a good response. People totally get into it. We used to get the ska kids, now we get everyone. I don’t recognize too many people anymore. We even get a lot of girls in the pit, slamming, stage diving, just going off.”
So there you have it: From wanna-bes playing stuff they like to a signed band with an album going on tour, it’s the rock ‘n’ roll dream come true. Between gigs, you just sit home, order a pizza, watch “Leave It to Beaver” reruns and wait for that check in the mail. Well, almost. . . .
“We don’t have day jobs anymore, but we’re out of money,” says Stefani, proving her point by trying to cut the conversation short and save on the phone bill. “It’s almost impossible to work. What do you tell the boss–‘we’re leaving for two weeks?’ Nobody will go for that. And there’s always some band stuff to take care of. Today, I’m doing this interview, mailing back some defective kazoos. Besides that, we need to get out and play more. We have enough stuff right now for another album and a half. It’s hard to pick out a set list.”
The boys in the band include Eric Stefani on keyboards, Adrian Young on drums, Tony Kanal on bass and Tom Dumont on guitars. There’s also a three-man horn section. If you pass them on the freeway, Gwen Stefani will be easy to recognize–she’s the one with the clothespin on her nose constantly rolling the windows down.
* WHERE AND WHEN
No Doubt at the Anaconda Theater, 935 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, Wednesday night, 8 p.m. 8 bucks. For more information, 685-3112.