[19 May 2009]
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
Let’s make this clear right from the start — No Doubt never broke up.
Yes, it’s been five years since we’ve seen the ska/pop band together as one, but guitarist Tom Dumont was sure they would re-form.
In fact, he had No Doubt.
“It was always very clear. We were not breaking up. Hiatus is the best word,” Dumont said last month from Southern California, where the band was making final preparations for its reunion tour.
Lead singer Gwen Stefani and the band announced their reunion last year, but they left zealous fans clamoring for tour dates until earlier this year.
While No Doubt was on hiatus, Stefani’s star status grew. She made two popular albums, which included the hit singles “Hollaback Girl” and “Wind It Up,” and toured extensively.
Stefani also had two children. After her second — Zuma, born in August of last year — No Doubt became her musical focus again.
It was Stefani, Dumont says, who urged the band to hop back on the road.
“You know what would be fun?” Dumont recalls her suggesting. “Let’s just go out next summer and play a bunch of shows.”
As you can imagine, coming off a long hiatus is no easy task.
“At first, there was a little bit of an unknown,” Dumont says. “Like, ‘Have we grown apart?’ ‘Are we going to get along?’”
Pretty quickly he figured it out.
“We’re kind of like siblings. That’s the way I look at it,” he says. “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 (Kanal, the bass player) 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.”
While they clicked personally, they didn’t necessarily click creatively.
The original plan was to have new music ready for the tour. The band had been meeting for writing sessions while Stefani was pregnant last year, but Dumont says those weren’t too “fruitful.”
“For us, for some reason, making records has always been a process,” Dumont says. “‘Tragic Kingdom’ took two or three years. It’s just slow for us. We’re not extraordinarily prolific.”
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Stefani said pregnancy and creativity didn’t mix for her.
“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.” she said. “I was feeling not very modern, not very creative.”
That’s why it made sense for the band to tour first, then worry about a new record. They wanted to get “reacquainted as a live band,” Dumont says.
So the band is bringing a portable studio on the road and hoping that inspiration strikes while it plays its past hits.
“That’s kind of what this is about. Let’s go out and get that incredible gratification of playing shows and have fun together again,” he says. “Hopefully that will inspire us and help us figure out what we want to make a record about.”
So there’s no new material on this tour, but No Doubt fans aren’t too concerned.
“I don’t care that they don’t have any new music,” says Stephanie Nguyen, a 23-year-old fan from San Jose, Calif. “I just want to hear all the old stuff.”
She’s planning on seeing six California shows on the band’s tour, which stretches into August.
Dumont isn’t too committal about No Doubt’s future.
“We’ve never been ones to make long-term plans,” he says. “Really, the plan is to make a No Doubt album and that’s as far as we know.”
He knows that without new material, No Doubt runs the risk of living too much in the past.
“We don’t want to do this for nostalgic reasons,” Dumont says. “We do want to have fun and have people be stoked, but we hope we have something new to offer the world in the next year or so.”
And after that? No ones knows yet.
“We all have a really good time doing this,” he says. “We get along well and we’re friends. I don’t see why we can’t do this for 20 more years. But it’s not going to be ever year for 20 years.”
NO DOUBT’S HISTORY
No Doubt got its start in the Orange County, Calif., ska scene in the late’80s but didn’t take off until the’90s.
1992: Release self-titled debut album to little fanfare.
1995: Release “Tragic Kingdom,” which generates the hits “I’m Just a Girl” and “Don’t Speak.”
2000: Release “Return to Saturn,” which includes the singles “Ex-Girlfriend” and “Simple Kind of Life.”
2003: Release singles compilation, which includes a cover of Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life.”
2004: The band completes its tour and then goes on hiatus. Later that year, Stefani releases her debut solo album “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.”
2006: Stefani gives birth to her first child and releases her second solo album, “The Sweet Escape.”
2008: Stefani gives birth to her second child. No Doubt announces plans to reunite, record new material and tour.