Tony gave a new interview with Las Vegas Review Journal and talked about how good it feels to be back with the group after five years, but of course he kept himself busy during the downtime. He actually bought a house with girlfriend Erin about three years ago and has spent time fixing it up, producing for Pink, Pepper, and Gwen, and working on new material. Tony and Erin are in deep discussions about having children now, yay! He goes on about how the band is spending a lot of time talking about the old days and trying to write new songs, and they are still trying to find their creative muse for the album.
There was a time when he and his bandmates used to scrounge around on the floors of their cars after practice, hoping to find enough change to score some 33-cent burritos from Del Taco for dinner.
That was more than two decades ago, when they were kids just out of high school, still sweating it out in the garage, four friends with grand intentions and humble diets.
In the years since, No Doubt has become one of the bigger bands in the world and Tony Kanal a bona fide rock star.
But five years ago, it all came to a halt for a time.
The ska-inflected pop rockers had either been on the road or in the studio virtually nonstop since their inception.
Their singer, Gwen Stefani, wanted to pursue a solo career.
And so the group decided to take the first prolonged break of its career.
But for Kanal, whose identity and day-to-day life in the band were threaded together like twine, the hiatus was akin to leaping off a cliff without being able to see the ground below.
He found himself at a loss, unsure of what to do with himself, his world having temporarily pivoted off its axis.
“It was tough at first, because the band, to me, is like my life,” Kanal says. “I’m obsessed with my band, and I spend every waking moment doing stuff for my band. It was an adjustment period.
“But looking back on it now, it was a really necessary and healthy thing to do,” he continues, “because it gave me perspective on it. I was in it, and I couldn’t be objective about it. It just gave me an opportunity to get away from it for a second.”
And so Kanal took some time to buy a house with his girlfriend. They spent three years working on it. They watched as Stefani notched a pair of hit records on her own.
After a while, Kanal hit the studio again, working as a producer and songwriter for artists such as Pink, Pepper and Stefani herself.
Eventually, it came time to get the band back together, and Kanal purrs like a kitten getting its belly rubbed as he shares his enthusiasm for No Doubt’s return.
“Coming back to it, the dynamic is completely different. I think we all realize how important the band is to us,” he says, reflecting on how things have changed within the group. “The rest of my bandmates have kids now. My girlfriend and I are in major discussions about when we are going to have kids. We’ve just grown up, but we’ve also gotten to have all these great experiences from being kids to being where we are now.”
Still, there was a process of getting reacquainted with one another, all of them having seen their lives change in their downtime. It wasn’t an instantaneous reconnect, they had to get used to the new headspace they found themselves in.
“One of the things we’ve been doing is talking a lot,” Kanal says. “We try to write, but we end up spending hours just talking and reminiscing. I have three other people in my life who have the same points of reference about all these experiences that we’ve had — that’s it. We’ve all experienced this stuff for over 20 years. We were the band that started in high school, that played in the garage, that started playing locally and then started touring in vans. We’ve seen everything together.”
And so it was only a matter of time before No Doubt returned to action. The idea, at first, was to get together to pen a new album, and the band has been writing off and on since ’07.
But when they met up late last year to carry on with the writing, they knew something was amiss.
“We started again, and that’s when we looked at each other and said, ‘We need to go play some shows, it’s been too long,’ ” Kanal recalls. “The one component that was missing from the writing process is that we hadn’t played in five years. We started out as a live band, and it was just time for us to regroup and just remind ourselves, ‘OK, this is who we are.’ ”
Thus No Doubt is set to kick off its first full-fledged tour since 2004 with a headlining set at Tiger Jam on Saturday in the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The goal is to revel in the past in an attempt to get a better understanding of their future.
“There’s so many different things that may happen in the next months,” Kanal says. “Every record we make, we always have to find this point of inspiration for all of us. On ‘Rock Steady,’ it was Jamaican dance hall music. We went to Jamaica and worked with great Jamaican producers. I think we still have yet to find that muse, that creative inspiration.
“It’s not something that you have to necessarily agree on, it’s something that just has to be there, and it’s guiding you,” he adds. “I don’t think that we’ve found that yet. Until we find that, I think we’re on a little bit of a quest. And this tour is going to be the answer to that quest, I think.”