For this week’s special edition of Song Saturday, we’re looking at one of No Doubt’s most classic tracks (and my favorite song), “Spiderwebs”. The single kicks off the Tragic Kingdom record and has been performed at practically every show since the album’s release.
“Spiderwebs” was the band’s second single from Tragic Kingdom and was released on November 19, 1995. Written by Gwen and Tony, he said of the track, “We wrote that one at my house, my parent’s house in Yorba Linda, in my bedroom, Gwen and I sitting on the bed with a four-track recorder. I think the initial inspiration was trying to do what Blondie did when they covered ‘The Tide Is High’ with a different tempo intro going into a different tempo main part of the song.” Tom reflected on how Tony gave him a cassette tape demo of the song featuring vocals and bass only and he figured out the guitar parts on his own at home. “I remember playing it over and over again and thinking ‘this is a really good song.'”
To this day, Gwen still remains mum about who the lyrics are written about. Tom jokingly commented that the song was about a singer of a British rock band that rhymed with “Boasis”.
The “Spiderwebs” demo was recorded at the Band House on Beacon Ave. in 1993 and had a much slower pace. Adrian called the original version “kinda funky”. During the Tragic Kingdom recording sessions, it’s known that the band was going back-and-forth over the album and offered “Spiderwebs” to the record company if they could re-record “Excuse Me Mr.”, which originally had a more twangy sound.
“Spiderwebs” debuted at #10 on Billboard‘s Modern Rock chart and peaked at #5 three weeks later. The single also did well internationally by hitting #16 on the UK Singles chart and #8 on the Canadian RPM Alternative 30. “Spiderwebs” was released as a CD single in the US, UK, Germany, Spain and Australia. B-sides included live versions of “Spiderwebs”, “The Climb” “DJs” and LP versions of “Let’s Get Back”, “Doghouse”, “Oi To The World” (Spanish release), “Sailin’ On” and videos for “Spiderwebs”, “Just a Girl” and “Excuse Me Mr.”
The music video for “Spiderwebs” was directed by Marcus Nispel. Two different videos were made for “Spiderwebs” featuring the video that is available now and and earlier version which MTV asked for the band to alter before they would air it. The original version featured the band performing as well as “walking around being covered in ‘spiderwebs’ made of strings sprayed out of aerosol cans and Gwen being tangled in various telephone cords” (portions still remained in the final cut). MTV thought this version of the video could be found to be “inappropriate for younger viewers” and requested more footage of the band.
The second version (which was released) sees the band hired as performers at a Japanese wedding. No Doubt notably are not fans of the music video and call it one of their least favorites. “Spiderwebs” did however become a smash on MTV and led to many memorable television performances.
No Doubt also performed the song on many notable television programs including the Late Show with David Letterman and the 1997 Grammy Awards.
“Spiderwebs” continues to be a live staple for the band (which Tom calls a “triumphant” song) and is usually featured as their set’s opener or closer. No Doubt also invited many acts with them live onstage to during tours to make for very special performances.
Even after it’s mainstream success in 1996-1997, No Doubt still continued to perform it on television until recently in 2012 while promoting Push and Shove.
Fans were also treated to a previously unreleased extended version of “Spiderwebs” which was included on the video game Guitar Hero. The track includes an extended ending and breakdown with a full second guitar solo from Tom.
On a personal note, “Spiderwebs” will always be my ultimate favorite song. After hearing it (and No Doubt) for the very first time on Seattle’s 107.7 The End, I was hooked. Their performance of it as well as “Just a Girl” at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards had me head-over-heels with this band. I renamed my fansite “A Likely Story” from the lyrics. Even after all of these years, No Doubt still delivers and inspires us all with their energy and their love for what they do with “Spiderwebs”.