taken from: Edmonton Sun
It’s all Gwen Stefani’s fault. No doubt about it.
Anyone wondering why the ’90s ska-pop chart-toppers are regrouping this summer for their first tour in five years — even though they still haven’t recorded a followup album to their 2001 CD Rock Steady — need look no further than their blond bombshell frontwoman.
“There was a game plan,” explains the 39-year-old singer. “I was going to go on tour, then I was going to come home and get pregnant.
And that worked.
“Then I was going to write an album with No Doubt. But that wasn’t working while I was pregnant, because all I was doing was eating. So I stopped doing that. Well, I continued to eat and have a baby. And once I had the baby, I thought, ‘OK, we can make this record.’ But it still wasn’t coming; I felt very homebound and I couldn’t picture myself for the next year in a room trying to write music. I (thought), ‘I have to get out there and feel modern, feel inspired … let’s just go out on tour.’ It was very spontaneous, very naughty. Now here we are.”
Here, in their case, was a meeting room in California, where Stefani and the rest of the band — bassist (and ex-boyfriend) Tony Kanal, guitarist Tom Dumont and drummer Adrian Young — gathered for a conference call with Canadian reporters while Stefani’s 23-month-old Kingston played in the background.
Here’s some of what they had to say about their reunion tour (which stops in at Rexall Place July 16), their decision to give ticketbuyers a free download of their entire catalog, and their plans to turn their summer road trip into a family affair.
On being perceived as a nostalgia act
Tom: We don’t think in those terms. For us, it’s really as simple as being excited to play music and revisit what we’ve always been about as a band. Which is playing shows and getting to enjoy that incredible gratification of being onstage and rocking together and doing that with an audience that’s happy to be there. And that’s as far as I think we consider it. All that stuff about nostalgia, to me personally, is overthinking it a little bit.
Tony: I think it’s really hard for us to have perspective on that and be objective about it. We’ve been in the band for a long time. To me, it doesn’t feel nostalgic because I think Gwen’s idea of going on the road and getting inspired and reconnecting — the four of us reconnecting, and reconnecting with all the people who have supported us for so many years — is really forward-thinking. That was the one component that was missing from our writing sessions; we haven’t played for a number of years and it was time for us to bring that part of our band back. That’s how we started; we started as a live band. That was obviously missing; and I think that’s going to help us make a great record.
On their favourite songs to play
Adrian: It’s hard to say because it changes for each of us night to night. One song that we’re going to be playing live that’s part of the catalog and the downloads is a song by Adam and the Ants called Stand and Deliver. It’ll be the one song we’ve never played before on tour. So I’m excited to play that one.
Gwen: For me, the bigger hits are obviously pretty exciting when you’re playing live because the response from the audience is at such a level that it’s not even about the song anymore … I don’t have a particular song that I love playing more than another, but Don’t Speak, Just a Girl, the hits — there’s nothing like that feeling when you’re playing songs people love and are singing along.
Tony: There’s a couple of tracks we might be playing off Tragic Kingdom that I’m really excited about: A song called Happy Now and a song called End it On This. We haven’t played them in so many years … it brings back memories.
Tom: I feel a little bit the same as all my bandmates. I love the older songs that we haven’t played as often in recent years. And I love the big hits. I especially love any song that has a really great guitar solo. I plan on trying to milk that if I can. (Laughter)
Adrian: We encourage Tom to guitar solo on every song … I think he should be competing with Gwen’s vocals all the time.
On giving away a download of the band’s catalog with tickets
Tom: You’re not seeing it, but the band is all pointing at me. It was my idea to do that, I suppose. To me, it’s just so exciting that the technology is there to deliver your music to people in such a simple way. And everybody has changed the way they listen to music. If the technology is there, I’m glad we were able to embrace it. The idea is to get our music into people’s ears.
On whether they’ll be working on the CD while on tour
Tony: I want to answer that question, because all my bandmates have kids, and all their families are coming along with us on the tour this year. So by default, my bus is going to have a studio on it. And I’m going to invite my bandmates to come on the bus and write music with me. It may happen, it may not, but the option will be there. There’s something kind of cool about being able to play shows and then go write music. We haven’t done that a lot in the past, but you never know.
On the songwriting process
Gwen: It’s just such a magical thing. You can’t really press a button and write a song. It’s just one of those things. And to actually write a hit, a song that people really connect to … you don’t really know how it happens. What’s happened for me — and it’s only me, because the rest of the band guys have tons of ideas and they’re very inspired and they’re ready to go — but I do this every single time pretty much; I always have this little procrastination, writer’s block, whatever-you-want-to-call-it moment. I’ve been in that moment for a minute and that’s the whole reason why we’re doing this tour — to get out there and get inspired. To just change the atmosphere, to get me out of my house, so I’m not just in mom mode. I just had a baby, which is totally emotional and physical. So to get out there onstage and see people singing these songs that we wrote, there’s nothing more inspiring than that. I don’t expect that I’ll write any songs on this tour. But I think that on the other side of the tour, I will be a different person from singing these songs. So, it’s kind of an experiment.
On touring with their families
Tom: I think that’s a really positive influence. Maybe in previous years some of the guys in the band — not Gwen, of course — did a little bit of drinking, which could have been a little unhealthy. Now, with families of course, all that’s in the past. It’s just clean living and doing a great job onstage every night and really putting everything into great performances. The rest of the band has always been this way, but for me, personally, I think I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been. And I’m doing great things out there. (Laughter)
Adrian: The children are going to bring an awesome vibe to this tour. We’re also probably going to do things we’ve never done before on off days. Like Tom said, there was more partying on off days, but now it’s going to be, ‘Let’s go rafting down the Grand Canyon with the kids,’ or ‘Let’s go to Niagara Falls with the kids’ or ‘Let’s go to the White House’ or ‘Let’s go to DisneyWorld.’
Tony: We used to have a room that would be our afterparty room. We’d set up the DJ rig, we’d have a bar in there. We’d celebrate the show by inviting people back there and just having a dance party afterwards. Now with the kids on the road, I think I’ll be the only one in that room. So I’ll be DJing for myself.
On the hardest part of the reunion
Gwen: I feel like it hasn’t been that hard, really. The hard part was sitting in a studio thinking ‘Oh my God,’ and panicking about making a record. As soon as everybody decided, ‘You know what? Let’s just go on tour, let’s just go have fun and take the weight off our shoulders,’ suddenly it was fun again and got really exciting. To tour together is really hard because of our crazy schedules … But playing these songs again was like riding a bike. We hardly had to do anything to remember them. It’s hard, but it’s fun hard.