A new article (which features more about the album’s sound) is featured in Germany’s Piranha magazine.
When they first started this band they were just a bunch of kids. Now they are all in their fourties, but still as snappy as they were back then. No Doubt are finally returning with their new album “Push and shove”, making a lot of people, who have missed them happy again.
One can hardly say that the immigration authority staff at american airports is popular for its “soft skills” such as humour or geniality, at least not while being at work. You let them check your fingerprints, smile wearily into their cameras and answer lethargicly all of their questions, in case those silent grumps ask you any. The exception from this routine comes in form of a middle-aged lady working at the Los Angeles airport, who certainly didn’t expect me to answer her question “What’s your reason for visiting the USA?” with “Listening to the new No Doubt record.” The woman lightens up without any warning, you could also say she finally wakes up: “No Doubt? They are still around?! That’s awsome news!” As I walk away from her, I can hear her humming the melody to “Hey Baby”.
The next day Gwen Stefani, Tom Dumont, Adrian Young and Tony Kanal have all gathered in a small photo studio somewhere Downtown in Hollywood. Photoshoots for glossy magazines and some interviews are on that day’s agenda. Singer Gwen Stefani welcomes us dressed in a white bathrobe talking to her husband Gavin Rossdale on the phone, who is currently touring Europe. Two stylists are sitting in a corner preparing and brushing super long and super blonde hair extensions. We sit down first with Adrian Young and Tom Dumont and share our little airport story with them. “Awsome”, says the naturally rather quite Tom, “those oldschool fans really didn’t forget about us. They are so loyal. See, that’s exactly the kind of people we did this album for, to make them happy. Those are the people, whose expectations we’d like to live up to with this record.”
“Push and shove” will be the first new No doubt release after 2001’s “Rock Steady”. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the band loves to hear that their fans didn’t forget about them as they are facing a lot of pressure and high expectations. “The pop world has changed dramatically”, says Gwen Stefani, who joins our conversation a little later with her ex-lover – and now best friend – Tony Kanal. “We don’t know if we’ll be able to catch up with today’s trends and lifestyle. We really had to start from nothing again and find out how we wanted to sound.” When the band released their last album boybands still dominated pop music and Lady Gaga, Rihanna or Katy Perry could only dream of becoming singers while they were going to school.
No Doubt have always been one of those unpredictable bands. They have known each other for most of their childhood in Orange County in west L.A. and after some bumpy early years and slight line-up changes they finally made a stand in the early 90s. In 1995 they entered the spotlight with the unexpected success of their breakthrough album “Tragic Kingdom” and its singles “Just a girl” and – most notably – the monster ballad “Don’t speak”. After facing a less successful period they made their first comeback in 2001 with “Rock Steady”. “We actually never repeated ourselves and even all of our hits are so totally different”, Tom Dumont points out. “Instead of thinking what’s popular right now we’ve always tried to set our own mark, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.”
Even though “Push and shove” offers a broad variety of music, it is undeniably a No Doubt record, produced and polished by their long time friend Mark “Spike” Stent. You instantly recognize their distinctive sound on this record. Stefani’s vocals, the formative ska and reggae influence, the 80s and new wave inspired sound, the occasionally appearing latin horns, the – as some may call it – vibe. Everything you would search for on a No Doubt record is there, all merged into 11 brand new songs. There is “Settle down” the “out there” party anthem, “Gravity” the perfect soundtrack for some peppy summer night’s barbecue, “Looking hot” the bands little homage to the club scene, “Undone” the heartache ballad, which is dominated by a soft guitar and then there is the title track, which is a little bit of everything. “A lot of the new sons are quite danceable”, Adrian Young remarks and Dumont goes on explaining how they created the title track: “The verses actually seem to come from some oldschool ska song, but then there is the chorus, which is more heavy and kinda rock-ish.” “Push and shove” was a joint venture between No Doubt and Major Lazer, back then still consisting of Diplo and Switch.
Making the album ended up taking much more time than expected. The band first started trying to write on new material in 2008, but while the boys were ready to go, Gwen just wasn’t. During No Doubt’s extended break she launched her fashion line L.A.M.B. and released two solo records, ultimately turning her into a pop icon. â€žThat was incedibleâ€œ, she reflects. â€žThat little dance project got out of control, which was scary but at the same time so much fun. I got so much attention back then and some journalists even interviewd my mum! They never did that before.â€œ â€žLove. Angel. Music. Baby.â€œ (2004) and â€žThe Sweet Escapeâ€œ (2006) made Gwen the coolest popstar for several years and at the same time she got involved in another little project: Making babies with her husband Gavin Rossdale. After her first son Kingston in 2006 she gave birth two Zuma two years later: â€žWe were just about to start writing this record when I realized that I was pregnant again. I just couldn’t get anything done. I was sick again all the time, but I just couldn’t take it slow, because I already had a two year old child around me.â€œ Without any exception all of the boys of No Doubt also became dads since 2001 â€“ currently counting eight kids between the band.
2009 the band decided to go on tour and play the hits once again. After that they were finally able to let it be and the creativity returned. They wrote the songs for â€žPush and Shoveâ€œ in 2010 and spent all of 2011 on recording them without rushing it. Dumont: â€žWe had high expectations on ourselves. We wrote up to four different choruses for each song always thinking ‘Hey, we can still do better than that!’â€œ Gwen, who is often portayed as some sort of â€žsuper mumâ€œ in the media still had a hard time making this record. â€žTony, Tom and Adrian were so supportive and really patient all the time. We actually only met in the afternoons to work on the songs. I was so tired and exhausted after Zuma’s birth and I felt so guilty all the time: I felt guilty for the album taking so long and that I’m just wasting everybody’s time when I couldn’t write anything after a hours in the studio. I would constantly miss dinner with my family and felt really bad about this too. I got better after some time, though.â€œ
Lyrically Stefani wrote a lot about that certain dilemma most working mums schould be familiar with. Songs such as â€žHeavenâ€œ, â€žLooking Hotâ€œ or â€žEasyâ€œ are all about feeling torn apart between everything, yet trying to appear perfect on the outside. Stefani says: â€žI know i’m tearing myself apart. I know I should take more breaks and I regret being so rushed and stressed all the time, but at the same time I feel bad when I can’t get everything done. I always feel like that if I just stopped swimming, I might drown.â€œ
While the lives of No Doubt will probably keep on being a challenge, we can be sure that they won’t drown with their new album â€žPush and Shoveâ€œ.
Thanks to yeahyeahyeah for sharing his scans and says he will post a translation of the article soon but summarized it for everyone.
The author went to one of the pre-listening sessions and here is what he says about some of the songs:
“Settle Down”: the “out there” party anthem.
“Gravity”: the perfect soundtrack for a peppy summer night’s BBQ.
“Looking Hot”: a little homage to the club scene.
“Undone”: “heartache” ballad dominated by a soft guitar.
“Push and Shove”: a little bit of everything.
He also says that “Heaven”, “Easy” and “Looking Hot” are about gwen trying to handle her busy life and how she is insecure and afraid that she might be a failure at some things.
The author also quotes Adrian, who said that most of the songs are “very danceable”.
The author also says that most of the lyrics on the record are about Gwen’s insecurities and how she tries to be perfect at everything all the time, even though she knows she’s not. He refers to this as being “the overall theme” of the album.