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No Doubt

No Doubt

Pop group

For the Record…

Selected discography

Sources

After nine years melding an eclectic mix of musical styles into a dance-happy retro sound, the southern California band No Doubt attained chart-topping success and MTV fame in 1996 on the strength of the radio-ready single “Just a Girl.” The song appears on the breakthrough album Tragic Kingdom, the band’s third, which represents “a virtual Cuisinart of the last two decades of pop,” David Browne wrote in Entertainment Weekly. He went on to describe the CD’s sound as “a hefty chunk of new-wave party bounce and Chili Peppers-style white-boy funk with dashes of reggae, squealing hair- metal guitar, disco, ska-band-horns, and Pat Benatar.” The band’s frontwoman, Gwen Stefani, sets the tone with ferocious vocals and on-stage swagger that contrast with her glam-queen platinum blonde hair, spit curls, bare-midriff, and fire-engine red lipstick. “Female rock stars like Gwen Stefani,” Browne wrote, “aren’t supposed to exist anymore.” For her part, Stefani is not letting her reputation as a rock goddess go to her head. “I think I’ve been able to fool a lot of people,” she said, “because I know I’m a dork. I’m a geek.”

No Doubt was founded in Anaheim, California in 1987 by Stefani, her brother Eric, and high school classmate John Spence. “The first time I ever performed was at a

For the Record…

Members include Tom Dumont, guitar; Tony Kanal, bass; Gwen Stefani (married Gavin Rossdale, 2002), vocals; Adrian Young, drums.

Group formed in Anaheim, CA, by Stefani, her older brother Eric, and high school classmate John Spence, 1987; group developed a regional following and a reputation as a ska- influenced party band in Orange County; released two albums, No Doubt and The Beacon Street Collection, before achieving huge success with the 14-song CD Tragic Kingdom, released 1995; toured regularly, 1996-99; released Return of Saturn, 2000; released Rock Steady, 2001.

Awards: MTV Music Video Awards, Best Pop Video and Best Group Video for “Hey Baby,” 2002; Grammy Award, Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Hey Baby” and Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for “Hella Good,” 2003.

Addresses: Record company—Interscope Records, 10900 Wilshire Boulevard #1400, Los Angeles, CA, 90024. Website— No Doubt Official Website: http://www.nodoubt.com.

talent show when I was 17,” Stefani told Spin magazine. “It was me and my brother and some other people doing a cover of the Selector song ‘On My Radio.’ No Doubt kind of grew out of that. Originally it was just a bunch of people that didn’t know how to play their instruments trying to imitate the music they liked, which was ska. I never wanted to be a rock girl. Basically, I have no idea what I’m doing or how I got here.”

In December of 1987, Spence took his own life; he shot himself in the head. “He was a very important part of the band,” Stefani said. “He was the one who said, ‘Look, I want to be a singer.’ He was the one who used to say ‘No Doubt.’ And that’s where we got the name. It still haunts us in a way… When your friend dies like that, and it’s so unexpected, it’s very traumatic. I think it taught us all a big lesson in how much one person can influence so many different people.”

No Doubt persevered. Bass player, and Prince aficionado, Tony Kanal joined the band shortly after its inception. Guitarist Tom Dumont came aboard in 1988, bringing a heavy-metal style forged from earfuls of Kiss, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Drummer Adrian Young, who was raised on the 1970s sounds of Journey and Steely Dan as well as punk and new wave, joined the following year. Gwen, who took over lead vocals following Spence’s death, grew up as a huge fan of The Sound of Music and, with her keyboardist brother, the Brit-band Madness. No Doubt played local parties and gained a reputation for shows that were frenetic and fun. Gradually, the players merged into a band and crafted a genre-hopping sound from their varied influences. “We were labeled a ska band forever and it was always something we were trying to get away from,” Gwen Stefani once said. “We wanted to become our own sound. For the first time on this record (Tragic Kingdom) I think we were able to do that—to mix up all the different influences without freaking people out.”

Even after signing with Interscope Records, however, it took No Doubt years to hit the charts. After the band’s self-titled debut was released in 1992, Interscope withdrew support for a No Doubt tour and shelved plans for a second record. In frustration, the band started recording songs in a garage and released the album The Beacon Street Collection on their own in 1995. Eventually, an Interscope subsidiary called Trauma showed interest in No Doubt and got Tragic Kingdom back on track. Meanwhile, Eric Stefani left the band to pursue his interest in cartooning (he became an animator for The Simpsons) and Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal ended a seven-year relationship. “Eric was my biggest musical influence,” Gwen said. “He’s the one who said ‘you be the singer,’ when I was sitting on the couch watching the Brady Bunch and being as lazy as possible. If it wasn’t for him I don’t know what I’d be doing. It was really hard when he left, because I felt like this was his baby—his band.”

Again, No Doubt stayed the course and—finally—attained success. “We went to New York to do MTV,” Kanal recalled in Axcess magazine, “and we were all there in the set and Gwen and I just looked at each other and said I can’t believe we’re doing this right now. I can’t believe we’re here.’ It’s really incredible.” And despite Spence’s death, Eric’s departure, the Tony-and-Gwen breakup, and the record-company politics, there is no sense of angst or bitterness in No Doubt’s music. Rolling Stone called it “ear candy with good beat … a spry white-suburban take on ska and Blondie-esque pop.” No Doubt is, basically, antigrunge. “As people, we’re angry,” Stefani has said. “We went through some really bad times in the past couple years—personally and band-wise—and our whole way of dealing with that is humor and I think that’s apparent in the record. Even though things may have been bad, and some of the songs are sad if you really listen to them, there’s still an element of humor to it all.”

Stefani once was asked if she worried about No Doubt being a one-hit wonder. “I think that if everything was taken away tomorrow, if they dropped the tour and everybody hated us, I’d still be fulfilled,” she responded. “Because I can honestly say I never expected to get this far. For years, we were this underground cult band that sat in the garage and made fun of every other band on MTV,” Stefani said. “Now that we have a hit single, it’s like a whole new fresh thing. It’s a really amazing thing for a band that’s been to gether nine years.”

Stefani had no reason to worry. The band toured relentlessly for over three years following the release of Tragic Kingdom. They finally returned to the studio, releasing Return of Saturn in 2000, nearly five years after their breakthrough record. The sound of Return of Saturn reflected the growing maturity of the band both as a group and as individual members. Stephen Thomas Erlewine reflected in All Music Guide, “With Return of Saturn, No Doubt have made a terrific, layered record that exceeds any expectations set by Tragic Kingdom. Not only have they found their voice, they know what to do with it.”

Not wanting to repeat the five-year time span between Tragic Kingdom and Return of Saturn, No Doubt went right back into the studio and released Rock Steady in 2001. Stefani also collaborated with a series of influential artists at this time, including electronic artist Moby (on “South Side”) and rapper Eve (on “Let Me Blow Your Mind”). Influences from hip hop, reggae, dancehall, electronica, and and dance showed up on Rock Steady, and No Doubt managed to meld the many and varied influences into a cohesive, successful album, winning two Grammy awards in the process. “After fifteen years together you naturally create all kinds of rules about how things should be,” Stefani wrote on the band’s official website. “There comes a time when you’ve got to throw the rules out and start all over again. That’s what keeps it fun and interesting. For us that time has come.”

Selected discography

No Doubt, Interscope, 1992.

The Beacon Street Collection, self-released, 1995.

Tragic Kingdom, Trauma/Interscope, 1996.

Collector’s Orage Crate, Interscope, 1997.

Return of Saturn, Interscope, 2000.

Rock Steady, Interscope, 2001.

Sources

Periodicals

Axcess, April/May 1996.

Entertainment Weekly, February 16, 1997, p. 62; May 12, 2000, p. 32.

Heckler Magazine, 1995.

In Style, February 1, 2003, p. 264.

Newsweek, January 13, 1997, p. 72; December 17, 2001, p.67; January 27, 2003, p. 75.

People, May 12, 1997, p. 103; September 30, 2002, p. 104.

Rolling Stone, December 26, 1996, p. 195.

Sassy, June 1996, p. 32.

Spin, June 1996, p. 75.; November 1996, p. 52.

Teen People, August 2, 2002, p. 138.

TV Guide, February 22, 1997, p. 32.

Online

“No Doubt,” All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (April 23, 2003).

No Doubt Official Website, http://www.nodoubt.com (April 23, 2003).

Dave Wilkins

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No Doubt

No Doubt

Pop band

Haunting Memories

Selected discography

Sources

After nine years melding an eclectic mix of musical styles into a dance-happy retro sound, the southern California band No Doubt attained chart-topping success and MTV fame in 1996 on the strength of the radio-ready single Just a Girl. The song appears on the breakthrough album Tragic Kingdom, the bands third, which represents a virtual Cuisinart of the last two decades of pop, David Browne wrote in Entertainment Weekly. He went on to describe the CDs sound as a hefty chunk of new-wave party bounce and Chili Peppers-style white-boyfunkwith dashes of reggae, squealing hair-metal guitar, disco, ska-band-horns, and Pat Benatar. The bands frontwoman, Gwen Stefani, sets the tone with ferocious vocals and on-stage swagger that contrast with her glam-queen platinum blonde hair, spit curls, bare-midriff, and fire-engine red lipstick. Female rock stars like Gwen Stefani, Browne wrote, arent supposed to exist anymore. For her part, Stefani is not letting her reputation as a rock goddess go to her head. I think Ive been able to fool a lot of people, she said, because I know Im a dork. Im a geek.

No Doubt was founded in Anaheim, California in 1987 by Stefani, her brother Eric, and high school classmate John Spence. The first time I ever performed was at a talent show when I was 17, Stefani told Spin magazine. It was me and my brother and some other people doing a cover of the Selector song On My Radio. No Doubt kind of grew out of that. Originally it was just a bunch of people that didnt know how to play their instruments trying to imitate the music they liked, which was ska. I never wanted to be a rock girl. Basically, I have no idea what Im doing or how I got here.

Haunting Memories

In December of 1987, Spence took his own life; he shot himself in the head. He was a very important part of the band, Stefani said. He was the one who said, Look, I want to be a singer. He was the one who used to say No Doubt. And thats where we got the name. It still haunts us in a way. When your friend dies like that, and its so unexpected, its very traumatic. I think it taught us all a big lesson in how much one person can influence so many different people.

No Doubt persevered. Bass player, and Prince aficionado, Tony Kanal joined the band shortly after its inception. Guitarist Tom Dumont came aboard in 1988, bringing a heavy-metal style forged from earfuls of Kiss, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Drummer Adrian Young, who was raised on the 1970s sounds of Journey and Steely Dan as well as punk and new wave, joined the following year. Gwen, who took over lead vocals

For the Record

Band members include Tom Dumont, guitar; Tony Kanal, bass; Gwen Stefani, vocals; and Adrian Young, drums. The band was formed in Anaheim, California, in 1987 by Stefani, her older brother Eric, and high school classmate John Spence.

No Doubt developed a regional following and a reputation as a ska-influenced party band in Orange County. It released two albums, No Doubt and The Beacon Street Collection before achieving huge success with the 14-song CD Tragic Kingdom in 1996.

Addresses: Record company Interscope Records, 10900 Wilshire Boulevard #1400, Los Angeles, CA, 90024.

following Spences death, grew up as a huge fan of The Sound of Music and, with her keyboardist brother, the Brit-band Madness. No Doubt played local parties and gained a reputation for shows that were frenetic and fun. Gradually, the players merged into a band and crafted a genre-hopping sound from their varied influences. We were labeled a ska band forever and it was always something we were trying to get away from, Gwen Stefani once said. We wanted to become our own sound. For the first time on this record (Tragic Kingdom) I think we were able to do thatto mix up all the different influences without freaking people out.

Even after signing with Interscope Records, however, it took No Doubt years to hit the charts. After the bands self-titled debut was released in 1992, Interscope withdrew support for a No Doubt tour and shelved plans for a second record. In frustration, the band started recording songs in a garage and released the album The Beacon Street Collection on their own in 1995. Eventually, an Interscope subsidiary called Trauma showed interest in No Doubt and got Tragic Kingdom back on track. Meanwhile, Eric Stefani left the band to pursue his interest in cartooning (he became an animator for The Simpsons) and Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal ended a seven-year relationship. Eric was my biggest musical influence, Gwen said. Hes the one who said you be the singer, when I was sitting on the couch watching the Brady Bunch and being as lazy as possible. If it wasnt for him I dont know what Id be doing. It was really hard when he left, because I felt like this was his babyhis band.

Again, No Doubt stayed the course andfinallyattained success. We went to New York to do MTV, Kanal recalled in Axcess magazine, and we were all there in the set and Gwen and I just looked at each other and said I cant believe were doing this right now. I cant believe were here. Its really incredible. And despite Spences death, Erics departure, the Tony-and-Gwen breakup, and the record-company politics, there is no sense of angst or bitterness in No Doubts music. Rolling Stone called it ear candy with good beat a spry white-suburban take on ska and Blondie-esque pop. No Doubt is, basically, anti-grunge. As people, were angry, Stefani has said. We went through some really bad times in the past couple yearspersonally and band-wiseand our whole way of dealing with that is humor and I think thats apparent in the record. Even though things may have been bad, and some of the songs are sad if you really listen to them, theres still an element of humor to it all.

Stefani once was asked if she worried about No Doubt being a one-hit wonder. I think that if everything was taken away tomorrow, if they dropped the tour and everybody hated us, Id still be fulfilled, she responded. Because I can honestly say I never expected to get this far. For years, we were this underground cult band that sat in the garage and made fun of every other band on MTV, Stefani said. Now that we have a hit single, its like a whole new fresh thing. Its a really amazing thing for a band thats been together nine years.

Selected discography

No Doubt,Interscope, 1992.

The Beacon Street Collection,self-released, 1995.

Tragic Kingdom,Trauma/Interscope, 1996.

Sources

Axcess,April/May 1996.

Entertainment Weekly,February 16, 1997, p. 62.

Heckler Magazine,1995.

Newsweek,January 13, 1997, p. 72.

People,May 12, 1997, p. 103.

Rolling Stone,December 26, 1996, p. 195.

Sassy,June 1996, p. 32.

Spin,June 1996, p. 75.; November 1996, p. 52.

TV Guide,February 22, 1997, p. 32.

Additional material from the Modesto Centre Plaza home page on the World Wide Web.

Dave Wilkins

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No Doubt

NO DOUBT

Formed: 1987, Orange County, California

Members: Tom Dumont, guitar (born Los Angeles, California, 11 January 1968); Tony Kanal, bass (born Kingsbury, London, England, 27 August 1970); Gwen Stefani, vocals (born Fullerton, California, 3 October 1969); Adrian Young, drums (born Long Beach, California, 26 August 1969). Former members: John Spence, vocals (born 1969; died Anaheim, California, 21 December 1987); Eric Stefani, keyboards (born Fullerton, California, 17 June 1967).

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Tragic Kingdom (1995)

Hit songs since 1990: "Just a Girl," "Spiderwebs," "Don't Speak"


No Doubt first came to prominence as part of the mid-1990s ska revival, but transcended the movement to become one of rock music's most successful mainstream radio acts.


Orange County Origins

The band had its origins in Orange County, California. Siblings Eric and Gwen Stefani and friend John Spence shared a common affection for British ska bands of the early 1980s such as Madness and English Beat; the trio, which came to be known as "No Doubt" after one of Spence's favorite expressions, incorporated ska's frenetic, horn-driven reggae styling into its developing sound. Eric Stefani manned the keyboards, while Spence and Gwen Stefani shared vocal duties.

No Doubt brought its raucous music to the Anaheim party circuit, relentlessly gigging and, in the process, securing a sizable cult following. To flesh out its sound, the band added bass player Tony Kanal and, later, guitarist Tom Dumont and drummer Adrian Young. In December 1987 Spence committed suicide, leaving Gwen Stefani alone at the microphone.

Interscope Records signed No Doubt to a recording contract in 1991 and released the band's self-titled debut the following year. The album barely made a splash on alternative radio, which was then dominated by the dark and moody sounds of grunge acts such as Nirvana and Soundgarden. A national tour also flopped, and Interscope temporarily withdrew its financial support of the band. No Doubt took a further hit when founding member Eric Stefani left the band to pursue a career in animation.


One More Chance

Interscope gave the band one final opportunity to prove itself in the studio; the band responded with what would become Tragic Kingdom, released in 1995. The album served to document another setback that the band had experienced during its recording, namely the breakup of Gwen Stefani and Kanal, who had dated for seven years. The album was a slow mover at first, but ultimately the single "Just a Girl" landed in MTV's coveted Buzz Bin. MTV audiences embraced "Just a Girl," seizing upon its driving, propulsive guitar riff as well as Stefani's lyrical beef with men who sought to constrain her existence: "'Cause I'm just a girl, little ol' me / Don't let me out of your sight / I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite / So don't let me have any rights / Oh . . . I've had it up to here!" With her unique fashion style that juxtaposed athletic wear with traditional Indian jewelry, Stefani quickly became the band's visual reference point.

The band also scored hits with "Spiderwebs" and "Don't Speak," the latter topping the singles charts. "Spiderwebs" fuses the band's ska influence with punk-rock sensibilities, with Dumont's guitars alternating between frenetic reggae upstrokes and heavy distortion-laden riffs. The ballad "Don't Speak" generated significant interest as a result of its curious video, which depicts Kanal, Dumont, and Young ostracizing Stefani for what they consider disproportionate media coverage of her; the video's subtext was rooted in fact, as the band apparently nearly broke up at the height of its success because of the inter-band divisions.

No Doubt benefited from an increased public awareness and interest in ska music in the mid-1990s, largely the result of the Offspring and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones having made minor inroads in commercial radio in the preceding years. No Doubt's success bolstered the movement, and a host of other ska-influenced acts such as Sublime, Less Than Jake, and Save Ferris experienced their first mainstream airplay.

It was five years before No Doubt released Return of Saturn (2000), the much-anticipated follow-up to Tragic Kingdom. Return of Saturn represented a great leap forward for the band, in terms of musical and lyrical development. The band retained its ska sensibility, but broadened its sound, incorporating the sound of 1980s new wave music as well as modern electronic flourishes. Stefani's lyrics touched on more adult themes, including her desire to marry and have a family. The song "Marry Me" garnered much attention, as gossip columnists seized on Stefani's seemingly telegraphed plea to current boyfriend (and future husband) Gavin Rossdale of the band Bush: "I can't help that I liked to be kissed / And I wouldn't mind if my name changed to Mrs." The hit single "Simple Kind of Life," the first song for which Stefani composed the music in addition to writing the lyrics, also resonated with listeners in its emotional honesty: "And all I wanted was a simple thing, a simple kind of life."

Stefani made a pair of high-profile collaborations with Eve and Moby, fueling speculation that she would soon depart No Doubt for a solo career, but the band's lineup remained intact for Rock Steady, released in 2001. The album, recorded in Jamaica, featured a decided reggae vibe, a not-so-subtle nod to the band's ska origins. The lead single "Hey Baby," with its call-and-response engagement with listeners ("All the boys say, 'Hey baby, hey baby, hey' / Girls say, 'Hey baby, Hey Baby, hey'") was a major hit, as were the follow-ups "Hella Good" and "Underneath It All." Rock Steady sold 2 million copies and earned the band its first Grammy Award.

No Doubt surprised many critics by shaking off the limitations of ska and evolving a powerful and unique mainstream sound. And, by charting three consecutive smash albums for the band, mainstream audiences illustrated their willingness to follow No Doubt in its continued development.

Spot Light: Tragic Kingdom (1995)

Much like Fleetwood Mac's landmark album Rumours (1977), No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom fascinated audiences with its frank expression of inter-band turmoil. In the case of Tragic Kingdom, it was the breakup of singer Gwen Stefani and bass player Tony Kanal that served as the flashpoint during the recording of the album. Stefani and Kanal had dated for seven years before breaking up prior to the recording of Tragic Kingdom. Their breakup occasioned a flood of intense, highly personal lyrics from Stefani. On songs such as the hit single "Don't Speak," Stefani wallows in confusion and self-doubt: "I really feel I'm losing my best friend / I can't believe this could be the end." On other tracks such as "Happy Now?," Stefani angrily lobs lyrical salvos at Kanal: "No more leaning on your shoulder / I won't be there, no more bother." Kanal and Stefani remained professionals throughout the ordeal, completing the recording of the album. The pair's friendship survived the painful breakup, and they would ultimately come to joke about their highly public split. In the promotional video for "Ex-Girlfriend" from Return of Saturn (2000), for instance, the pair struggle to kill each other before falling out a window together.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

No Doubt (Interscope Records, 1992); Tragic Kingdom (Trauma/Interscope Records, 1995); Return of Saturn (Interscope Records, 2000); Rock Steady (Interscope Records, 2001).

scott tribble

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