taken from: Ohio.com
Singer Gwen Stefani reunites pop band, although technically it never broke up
By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal music writer
Old alt-rock bands don’t break up forever.
Sure, we may never see a reformed Husker Du or the Smiths grace the stages of Coachella Festival or All Tomorrow’s Parties where many defunct bands such as Faith No More, My Bloody Valentine and other beloved alternative/indie rock bands reform.
But if fans wait around long enough, one of those seminal bands from their salad days is likely to reunite to take a lucrative victory lap (see Pixies, the), or to see if the band members still hate each other more than they enjoy making music together (see Jesus & Mary Chain, the) or perhaps because their solo efforts didn’t quite perform up to snuff, commercially, (see Stapp, Scott; Bridge, Alter and Creed).
No Doubt, the Orange County quartet that rode a mix of ska, alt-rock, dancehall, reggae, pop and their lead singer Gwen Stefani’s cutesy voice and general fabulousness into an impressive decade-long run of multiplatinum success that included hits such as Just a Girl and Hey Baby, never actually broke up.
The group simply went on an extended hiatus (see Fugazi) in 2004 following the release of a single collection (also a standard sign of a band’s ending) that included its awful, but successful cover of Talk Talk’s It’s My Life, while Stefani did what everyone expected — she started a successful solo career.
Stefani was already well on her way to becoming a fashion icon in the eyes of many fans. The singer’s solo albums and tours not only established her as a solo artist but as another music/fashion mogul.
Her first solo album, the heavily ’80s dance and synthpop-influenced Love.Angel.Music.Baby, was a quintuple-platinum-selling success and helped launch Stefani’s successful L.A.M.B. fashion line. (It’s an acronym for the album title. That’s called synergy, folks.)
Love.Angel.Music.Baby included the No. 1 single Hollaback Girl, an answer song to Courtney Love, who referred to Stefani as a cheerleader.
Other hits on the album included What You Waiting For? and Rich Girl, based on the dancehall duo Louchie Lou & Michie One’s 1993 reworking of the classic Fiddler on the Roof tune, If I Were a Rich Man.
Stefani’s initial solo success, followed by an equally successful arena tour featuring the Harajuku Girls, her ever-present phalanx of hip, Asian dancers, fueled the assumption that No Doubt might not record again (see Sync,’N), despite No Doubt bassist and Stefani’s former lover Tony Kanal’s presence on a couple of the tracks.
Stefani’s second solo album, the equally stylized The Sweet Escape, was less beholden to the sounds of the ’80s, but was not received as well critically or commercially, though it still earned Stefani another platinum plaque.
Also during that time, Stefani, who has always been vocal about her desire to have a family, gave birth to two sons with her husband, Gavin Rossdale, who was the lead singer/guitarist of the rock band Bush.
Kingston James McGregor Rossdale was born in 2005 and Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale was born in early 2008.
Meanwhile, the other band members, all of whom are 40 save Kanal who will turn 39 this year, were also getting on with their lives, though not quite in such a public manner.
Guitarist Tom Dumont produced singer/songwriter Matt Costas’ debut album, Songs We Sing, and expanded his family matching Stefani — dual baby boys with the birth of Ace Joseph Dumont and Rio Atticus Dumont, born in 2006 and 2008, respectively.
Drummer Adrian Young toured with reunited ’80s group Bow Wow Wow and appeared on albums by Unwritten Law and Scott Weiland, singer of the reunited Stone Temple Pilots.
Kanal worked with Stefani on several tracks from her solo albums and produced American reggae singer Elan Atias’ debut album. He also worked with Pink on her 2008 album Funhouse.
Though there were never any publicly aired problems within the group, as members’ lives grew outside of the band, the rumors and assumptions continued.
”Everybody’s making it like there’s all this tension, you know, like I stepped away from the band and now they’re jealous of me, and look, maybe there is a little bit of that,” Stefani told Elle Magazine earlier this year.
”I wasn’t even married,” Stefani said about the band’s last studio album, 2001’s Rock Steady. ”Now I’m a wife and a mother of two. It’s a really different role. I always referred to No Doubt as a marriage, because that’s what it’s like to be together for so long and go through what we’ve been through.
”I can’t really have that relationship with them anymore,” she continued. ”My priorities are always going to be my husband and my family now. That’s a huge, huge thing.”
Indeed, many bands that manage to stay together for years find that the lust for collective success that fueled members when they were young and hungry is replaced with the responsibilities of adulthood, parenthood and ”creative” freedom. But according to Dumont, it was Stefani who initiated the reunion.
”At first, there was a little bit of an unknown,” Dumont told the Fresno Bee in April. ”Like, have we grown apart? Are we going to get along?”
Apparently, the answer was yes.
”We’re kind of like siblings,” he said. ”That’s the way I look at it.
”We have that kind of bond and friendship. We’ve been through this incredible thing together, even though there are periods where I didn’t see Gwen for months on end, or might not have seen Tony for a month or so, we would hang out again, or we would go out to dinner or go to a bar, and it was just like brothers and sisters.”
The band’s original idea was to have an album ready to tour behind, but Stefani’s second pregnancy was not conducive to creativity.
”I don’t know how other women feel, but I lose connection with myself because my body becomes this other vessel for this other human, even after a few months, you don’t have your body back, you’re not yourself,” Stefani said to the Bee.
”I was feeling not very modern, not very creative,” she said.
So the band has hit the road in an effort to reacquaint itself with its fan base and to also get members on the same page.
Members say their creative process takes time. They are hoping to jump-start their creative juices by taking a portable studio on the road for the first time to do the basic work for what will hopefully be the band’s sixth album tentatively planned for a 2010 release.