A young and energetic Gwen Stefani moved into the music spotlight in 1987 as the sexy lead singer for the band No Doubt. One of her biggest hits in the '90s with the cross-mixed group of ska-punk and new wave fashion was a single called "Don't Speak," one of the tracks from No Doubt's Grammy nominated third album Tragic Kingdom. The video for "Don't Speak," a play on inner jealousy in a band, accumulated plenty of play on MTV, giving the group and its lead singer a chance to reach even more fans. Stefani was born and raised in the glittering sunshine of Southern California. Others shared musical talent in her family, including her brother Eric Stefani. When he and a friend, singer John Spence, put together a new band called No Doubt in 1987, of course Gwen was brought in as co-singer with Spence. That same year, Spence ended his life by suicide, leaving a saddened teenage Gwen to step up to the microphone alone. During those first hard years in the group, playing gigs where ever they could, Gwen somehow managed to finish high school and enter college without missing a beat. Other members of No Doubt are guitarist Tom Dumont, drummer Adrian Young, and bassist Tony Kanal. The latter would become Gwen's love interest for a number of years. In 1992, after signing with Interscope Records, No Doubt released its self-titled debut album. When the record label didn't like the numbers that came in from that first album, they wouldn't agree to back a second. Refusing to give in, even though her brother Eric left, Gwen and the other band members put up money of their own in 1995 to record a sophomore album called The Beacon Street Collection. Stefani kept up the hard work, and soon she and the band had Interscope's full attention again, and were working on another album, Tragic Kingdom. The old saying about the third time being the charm, proved true, and there was nothing tragic to be found in this third offering. The Grammy nominated album hit number one on the Billboard charts, and three of its tracks charted as well, including "Spiderwebs" and "Just a Girl." Another full-length album, Return of Saturn, appeared in 2000 with Gwen Stefani still taking her spot in front at the microphone, where she seems to shine her best.
Gwen Stefani Slams Hollywoods So Called Natural Beauties
STEFANI SLAMS LAZY BEAUTIES
NO DOUBT frontman GWEN STEFANI has launched a scathing attack on Hollywood beauties who claim their figure "comes naturally".
The stunning singer, 35, spends hours selecting outfits and pampering herself before she attends premieres or album launches, and is disgusted when other celebrities claim their sexy look was "just thrown together".
Stefani fumes, "I hate those people. I have to work out every fricking day. Five days a week on average."
The WHAT YOU WAITING FOR hitmaker admits she has "cute little boobies" and hasn't ruled out the prospect of cosmetic surgery in the future.
She laments, "One day maybe... I don't say 'never' about anything.'"
Gwen Stefani Gives No1 Fan VIP Tickets To Grammys
STEFANI GIVES FAN A GRAMMY TREAT
Sexy singer GWEN STEFANI made a fan's dream come true when she took her to this year's (13FEB05) GRAMMY AWARDS.
The mother of Ohio native ABBEY, a lifelong fan of the NO DOUBT frontwoman, wrote to talk show titan OPRAH WINFREY begging for her diabetic daughter to be chosen to meet with Stefani.
Abbey, an art instructor for mentally disabled and autistic adults, was quickly whisked off to Los Angeles, where she was treated to a make-over from Stefani's hair stylist and make-up artist.
Abbey was then handed a VIP pass to the star-studded ceremony, where she met and chatted with celebrities including BILLY BOB THORNTON, JOSS STONE, QUEEN LATIFAH and STEVIE WONDER before coming face-to-face with her idol Stefani.
The singer says, "I'm here today because of people like her that actually gave me this unbelievable career of being creative and making music."
Gwen Stefani Refuses To Work Sundays
STEFANI: 'I DON'T WORK SUNDAYS'
Sexy singer GWEN STEFANI refuses to work on Sundays because she feels compelled to spend time at home with her husband GAVIN ROSSDALE.
The relationship between the NO DOUBT frontwoman and the BUSH singer was rocked recently by revelations Rossdale had fathered a child during a brief relationship with designer PEARL LOWE 15 years ago.
Now Stefani insists on spending at least a day a week with her man and she is keen to brush up on her domestic skills such as ironing and cooking.
She says, "I always dreamed of being the perfect wife and mother and I'm trying to get there.
"Sometimes I say no to things because I just have to be at home with Gavin on a Sunday. He's an amazing cook and I love to eat, so I scored there."
Gwen Stefani Answers No Doubt Fans With 'Attitude Song'
Singer worked with Pharrell Williams on B-girl anthem 'Hollaback Girl.' Gwen Stefani — still glowing from "The Aviator" 's Oscar wins — is turning her attention away from movie cameos and back to promoting her solo album, Love, Angel, Music, Baby. She's just shot a video for the next single, the
Like most of the songs on her solo debut, this was a collaboration — but one borne out of a bit of jealousy instead of pure camaraderie. When Stefani originally booked time with Pharrell Williams, it was at the end of the project, when she figured her sessions were mostly over, since she'd already co-written some 20 songs. The pair did two tracks back to back, so she cut short the session and packed her bags. Then he complicated things considerably by calling her back into the studio.
"I was tired. I wanted to go home, but he was like, 'Don't leave yet,' " she said. "So I come back, and he starts playing me his solo album. If something's really good, I get really jealous. So I'm like, 'You are a fricking genius. I can't believe I'm sitting in here with you right now, and you have these songs. We have to write another song.' I'm greedy."
So the two started talking about what she felt like the record might be missing — a tough task, because she already felt like she had too many tracks to begin with, enough to put out two albums. But of all the styles she had dabbled in — from blinged-out R&B to new wave to retro dance — she felt like she didn't have anything that explained why she was doing this in the first place. "If I'm being honest with myself, I don't know why," she revealed. "But I needed something about how the [No Doubt] fans probably are like, 'Why is she doing this record? She's going to ruin everything.' "
The track won't exactly alleviate that anxiety, but it does give Stefani a chance to respond to would-be detractors: "Meet me at the bleachers/ No principals, no student teachers ... So I'm gonna fight, gonna give it my all, gonna make you fall." "Hollaback Girl" also borrows the beat from Queen's "We Will Rock You," typically used in high school pep rallies and sporting events, and then lyrically references yet another Queen song — "Another One Bites the Dust."
Keeping with the song's high-school references, Stefani shot the video for "Hollaback Girl" at a Southern California high school with director Paul Hunter. In one scene, she drives a yellow sports car with her Harajuku girls in tow.
"To me, it was the most fresh attitude song I've heard in so long," Stefani said.
Gwen Stefani Gets A Potato For Valentines Day
ROSSDALE'S POTATO GIFT FOR STEFANI
BUSH heart-throb GAVIN ROSSDALE once gave wife GWEN STEFANI two sacks of potatoes as a Valentine's Day gift.
The British rocker admits that at the time he considered it to be a very thoughtful present, but things didn't exactly turn out as planned.
He explains, "There was a time I was writing a record in Ireland so I sent (Gwen) two sacks of potatoes - just something from where I was from, like I was thinking of her.
"But I think it kind of backfired because when they arrived they were from Oregon so I was a little unlucky. Bad idea... no one eats carbs these days."
This year (05), Rossdale treated the NO DOUBT frontwoman to an antique heart necklace, as they spent the day together in New York City.
Gwen Stefani: The Solo Express
Dancing with Eve in the laundry room, listening to Fiddler On the Roof with Dre. The love angel explains her music, baby.
It started out with a Club Nouveau record, and grew into a monster. At first, No Doubt front-woman Gwen Stefani just wanted to make some dance music. Then the Neptunes got involved. And Dr. Dre. And Andre 3000. And Love.Angel.Music.Baby, named after the blonde singer's clothing line, crashed into the chart at No. 3. It's one of the friskiest pop albums of 2004, no question, but could Tokyo's Harajuku Girls ever replace that naked drummer? Read on.
VH1: So you've gone solo.
Gwen Stefani: I'm not really calling this a solo record, because my ego's too big. It's very much a collaboration. I wish I could claim it as my own, but it's less of me than I've ever been. With No Doubt I'm doing all the melodies, the lyrics. This is like opening up my writing world to other people. It's like, "Oh, you have a lyrical idea? Well, that's very threatening, but OK." [Laughs] It's like it was kind of that whole game.
VH1: For a long time fans speculated that you'd release a solo album. When did you decide you were going to make it?
GS: I heard a Club Nouveau song and that's what ticked me off. I was like, "God, I want to make a dance record! I want to sing 'Rumours'!" So I had said something to Tony, our bass player. He's the one that turned me onto a lot of music that I never really listened to in high school because I was so into ska music. He was really into Prince, the Time, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, and Club Nouveau. So it seemed like a fun side project for us to do.
VH1: How did the others get involved?
GS: I wanted to make a record like those early Madonna or Cyndi Lauper records, but I wanted it to be modern. So I tried to get the people that were in the club today, like the Neptunes and [Dr.] Dre and Andre . I was like, "Hey, do you want to write a song?" And here we are! [Watch Clip]
VH1: What was supposed to be side project didn't stay very quiet, though.
GS: Exactly. I intended to put it out only if it was great, but I never intended for it to take as long as it took. That year off that we were going to take from the band, ended up being the year that we put our greatest hits out. We ended up doing a video, going to the Grammys, going to the MTV Awards; we went on tour for like seven weeks and then on top of it, [at] the same time I started writing this record.
VH1: You also started your own clothing line, which has the same name as your album.
GS: I'm super-passionate about LAMB. It's beyond a dream come true for me, because I've always made clothes. My mom made my clothes. Her mom made all her clothes. It's in my blood, y'know? So I was just starting that and spending a lot of time working on designing and stuff like that. Then I made The Aviator as well. Also I had to find my inspiration, you know? I had to find my Harajuku Girls and get inspired and think about things to write about after being on the Rock Steady tour and working so hard on that. Sometimes it takes a minute to recharge. [Watch Clip]
VH1: I've read that you didn't know if you wanted to work with hitmaker-for-hire Linda Perry when the label suggested it.
GS: Things get mixed around in whatever you read. Everything was purely, totally up to me. I've known Linda for years but when I thought about this record, I didn't think, "Oh, Linda!" I was thinking Prince, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.
VH1: So what happened?
GS: She came up to me at the Grammys right when Pink and Christina [were happening] and she was getting of her rewards of all her hard work. I was so happy for her, because I know her whole story. We were the first two girls signed to Interscope. She put me in a choke hold and said, "We're gonna write songs together!" I was kind of like, "Okay." And then, when I came off the tour, that's when the label called and said, "She's ready to go." And I'm like, "I'm not ready to go yet. I've been sleeping. I'm tired and I'm not ready."
VH1: What made you change your mind and get out of bed?
GS: I said, "Just go. What are you going to lose? You're gonna lose a couple of hours sleep. You've never worked with a woman before. She had the eye of the tiger and she was looking at you and believed in it so much." Thank God I went that day. I knew she was talented, but I didn't know how amazingly inspiring she was and how versatile she is! I learned the lesson that things just happen and they happen for a reason. My first initial thought was, "I'm not going there." But it was exactly where I was going. We wrote my first single "What You Waiting For?" and it was the whole inspiration for everything.
VH1: I never would have guessed it was written by the woman behind "Beautiful."
GS: I hear everybody that I work with in the songs I did with them. "What You Waiting For?" sounds so like much like Linda, but it also sounds totally like me. It's so weird to not be sitting here with them, explaining it. Usually I write with Tony and Adrian and Tom, and we sit and we discuss the songs for six months on tour. It's been a bizarre trip to go into the studio with people you barely know and be so intimate and write a song that's going to be there forever and then go off on my own talking about them behind their backs!
VH1: How did you corral the talent you ended up working with?
GS: I don't have my little black book with Dr. Dre's number in it or anything like that. But Dre was one of the first people I met with. Years before I did the Eve thing ["Let Me Blow Ya Mind"], I would always be like, "Hey, if you ever need the chorus girl to sing the hook, call me." It was such a scary thing working with him, because it was like Gwen from Anaheim and Dre from Compton. It was an honor, but it was really outside of my world.
VH1: Now you, Eve and Dre are back together on "Rich Girl."
GS: Recently I had a party and Eve came over and we danced the night away. It was one of those nights where we ended up in the laundry-room of my house and we were like, "We got to do it again." Dre actually came to me with the idea of doing "Rich Girl" from Fiddler on the Roof. I was like, "OK. It's a cover. The lyric is pretty much there. How am I gonna make that work?" He's like, "You got to play a character. You go work it out." So me and Eve went into the studio together and we wrote it together.
VH1: It's hard to imagine Dre sitting at home listening to the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack.
GH: There's actually like a kind of underground dancehall version from the late '70s. I ended up panicking, like, What am I gonna make this about? I got to write the verses! I ended up going to see the musical on Broadway, just to get inspired. It was incredible, because it had an incredible message - if you don't have love, you don't have anything. Even if you're poor and you have love, you're rich. So the weight was really on my shoulders, because the song has so much history, y'know? I was like, Oh God, how am I going to make all this work? It was the last song I ended up doing on the record, and it was kind of like, Oh my God, when I get this done, I'm done with the record. I was on the treadmill in London and I finally came up with the verses and I was like, "Yes!!! I know what I'm going to do."
VH1: Will you alternate between band and solo projects from now on?
GS: I don't really see the future at all right now. For the first time in a while, I just don't even know what's going to happen next. I went and did this surprise show at the Jingle Ball the other day. The first live thing that I do happens to be in Anaheim, where I'm from. So it was very nostalgic driving down the five lane! One good thing about getting outside of the comfort zone of the No Doubt family is that it sounds very appealing to me to go back into that little nest and flirt around about writing some songs.
Gwen Stefani Wants To Be A Man
Gwen Stefani says she hopes to be reincarnated as a man.
The No Doubt singer, who is married to Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, says she would like to experience life as a randy Romeo and bed as many women as possible.
She said: In my next life I am going to be a guy and I’m going to be a complete slut.
Last year, the stunning singer, who has made no secret of her desire to start a family, was rocked by revelations that her husband had fathered a child with another woman.
Insiders said the sexy star’s two-year-marriage to rock star Gavin was shaken after it emerged he had a secret daughter with fashion designer Pearl Lowe and owed more than 15 years of missing child support payments.
A source said the time: The situation is really messy with Pearl and Gavin refusing to talk. It’s terrible and it’s proving a real strain on Gwen.
The couple don’t have any children of their own so it’s difficult for Gwen to deal with.Finding out her husband has a secret child is bad enough, but the prospect of a court case and accusations flying around is worse.
Gwen Stehani: Career or Motherhood Choice
STEFANI'S MOTHERHOOD DILEMMA
GWEN STEFANI wants to settle down and start a family - but fears children won't be able to satisfy the vain lifestyle she enjoys as a singer.
At 35, Stefani realises she only has a limited amount of time to make the most of her current status as one of the most successful females in pop, but she's also aware she can't put off motherhood for too long.
She tells ROLLING STONE magazine, "You think about how you're gonna get away and have a normal life. I imagine children will save me from my vanity, and they will become my passion and fill whatever fears I have right now.
"I don't want to drop off and not be on the radio and not be able to talk about myself for hours. I don't want it to go away.
"But at the same time, I never expected to be here in the first place.
"I'm 35. I don't have that much time left to do this kind of record. Let's be real."
Young, Stefani and Eminem win
Will Young took the award for Best British Single for the track Your Game at the Brit Awards.
His award, presented by actress-turned-singer Minnie Driver, was followed by the gong for Best Pop Act, won by McFly, presented by model Jodie Kidd.
McFly beat Westlife, Natasha Bedingfield, Girls Aloud and Avril Lavigne to the award.
Young beat Jamelia, Shapeshifters, LMC vs U2, and Band Aid 20's Do They Know It's Christmas to win the Best British Single award.
Gwen Stefani won the award for International Female Solo Artist, beating Kylie Minogue, Kelis, Anastasia and Alicia Keys.
Stefani who spent 17 years as lead singer of ska-pop-punk-rockers No Doubt before going solo, arrived on stage with an entourage of Japanese women dressed in sailors' outfits.
Wearing a low-cut top and Puffball skirt, she said: "I have been inspired by British groups while growing up, during my whole life. To be sharing the stage with these people is such an honour."
Eminem won the award for Best International Male over former Beach Boys' star Brian Wilson, Kanye West, Tom Waits and Usher. He sent over a message of thanks on video.
Gwen Stefani: 'I'll cry just talking about it'
She's fashion's favourite rock star whose new solo album sold half a million copies in just two weeks. A streetwise Cinderella who has turned her outrageous dress sense into her own luxe label, now she's even flying high in Scorsese's Oscar-nominated Aviator ... But what Gwen Stefani's really waiting for is a baby.
The lobby of New York's Mercer Hotel is a haven of downtown chic - all angular furniture in shades of aubergine, with oblong oversize lampshades atop carved wooden posts. A wall lined with bookshelves displays volumes on Toulouse-Lautrec, Robert Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol alongside studies of designers Vivienne Tam and Salvatore Ferragamo and anthologies on modernist architecture. The place is, as Gwen Stefani puts it, 'super frickin' trendy cool', the kind of hotel where everyone pretends not to notice when Nicky Hilton saunters past the reception desk.
But someone has taken notice of Stefani, lounging inconspicuously on a leather cafe chair on this late December evening. Stefani is done up in the luxe street style that has made her an international fashion icon: dark-wash jeans from her own L.A.M.B. label ('They look good whether I'm a little fatter, or not,' she says), a L.A.M.B. wife-beater [man's sleeveless vest], suede Christian Dior clogs that add 3in to her height and platinum-blonde hair extensions bubbling out from under a blue knitted ski cap. She slouches lower in her seat. 'There's this guy over there and he won't stop staring at me,' she says.
I turn around and see a toddler - big blue eyes, hair so fair it blends in almost completely with his scalp - gazing in our direction. Stefani giggles. 'The little baby,' she says. 'So cute.'
Stefani has always been the kind of songwriter who lives out her private dilemmas in public. 'Don't Speak', the song that sent No Doubt over the top in 1996, was about the break-up of her seven-year relationship with bass player Tony Kanal. In 2000, after four years of dating Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, she made a video for No Doubt's 'Simple Kind of Life', where she ran wild in a wedding dress while singing, 'I always thought I'd be a mom/Sometimes I wish for a mistake.' The first single from her recent solo debut, 'What You Waiting For?', chronicles her baby lust - the 'tick-tock' refrain of the chorus, she says, was inspired in part by the sound of her biological clock.
During the three days I spend with her, her desire to have children is a continual theme, whether she's talking about how she never planned on being a pop star ('Before that, all I ever did was look at Tony and pray that God would let me have a baby with him'), or the joy of marrying Rossdale ('It's such a beautiful, magical feeling, I can't explain it. It's like having a baby. I can imagine what it might be like. But that love I've never experienced'), or her plans for the future ('I don't know what I'm going to do, but I've always wanted to do the family thing').
Like any successful woman on the mum track, she worries about the conflicts of career and family, although most women don't have to stress about the demands of dressing as fairy-tale characters in music videos. 'At a certain point I'm going to want to have a family,' Stefani says, 'and I'm not going to have time to be running around the world doing this shit and being greedy. I can always write songs. But can I always wear an Alice-in-Wonderland costume? I probably shouldn't. I can at home. I was thinking that when I have children, that I should always dress as a character for them, so they think their mom is Alice in Wonderland or Cinderella. It would be totally messed up!'
'I hope she chooses to do both things,' says Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Stefani's label Interscope, of the star's career and family ambitions. 'She can handle both. I think she would regret not fulfilling her potential as an artist. But her potential as a mom is equally as powerful.'
'This is the first time in a long time that I don't know what's gonna happen next,' Stefani says. 'As a famous person you think how you're gonna end it, get away and have a normal life. I imagine my children are going to save me from my vanity and be my passion and fill whatever fears I have of the amazing time I'm having right now being gone.
I don't want to drop off and not be on the radio or not be able to talk about myself for hours. I don't want it to go away. But at the same time, I never expected to be here in the first place.'
Disturbing but true: listen to US rock radio these days and you'll hear a woman's voice only if it belongs to Gwen Stefani or Evanescence's Amy Lee. Lee has sold a lot of records in the past few years, but Stefani is the only true female rock star left on American radio or MTV. 'She's toured from when she was 18 years old, playing small clubs, to playing small theatres, then amphitheatres and then arenas,' says Iovine. 'She is the only woman on pop radio right now who has toured with that vigour, and she's the only one who could as easily tour with U2, Green Day and OutKast.'
Almost 10 years after 'Just a Girl' hit the airwaves, Stefani has an instantly recognisable voice, an inimitable sense of style and an impact on popular culture on par with Madonna's. 'There will never be anyone else quite like her,' says Garbage singer Shirley Manson, who has known Stefani since the mid-Nineties and toured with No Doubt in 2002. 'She's got an extraordinary mixture of the elements that make a great pop star and the elements that make a great rock star. She's like the perfect Trojan horse: she seems very benign and wholesome, but underneath lurks an incredible toughness and powerful directness.'
Indeed, Stefani is one of the only Nineties stars who has managed to hold the attention of the ever-churning teen audience. Her solo debut album, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, sold half a million copies in its first two weeks. She recently scored a pair of Grammy nominations: one for 'What You Waiting For?' and one with No Doubt for their cover of Talk Talk's 'It's My Life'. (If she wins both, her Grammy collection will expand to five.) In December, she made her big-screen debut, playing Jean Harlow in Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator. And last night, she went to a party for her clothing line, which is now preparing its fourth collection for autumn 2005.
Love, Angel, Music, Baby is the kind of Eighties-style electro-dance album that Stefani grew up on in Orange County, California. It's so Eighties, in fact, that members of New Order are playing on 'The Real Thing', alongside collaborations with OutKast's Andre 3000, Dr Dre and Eve, the Neptunes, Dallas Austin and Linda Perry. 'Right now I'm all about trying things I've never done,' Stefani says. 'I'm a woman and I'm 35. I don't have that much time left to do this kind of pop record. Let's be real.'
The idea for the album, she says, came to her one morning during No Doubt's Rock Steady tour two years ago. She heard one of her favourite Eighties dance tracks, Club Nouveau's 'Why You Treat Me So Bad', turned to Kanal over breakfast and said, 'I want to do that song.' It was Kanal, after all, who had introduced her to that kind of music when the two were teenage sweethearts, before she turned him on to ska, before No Doubt had a record deal.
'I was super-ska girl when I met Tony,' she says. 'I wore only black and white and hoop earrings. Tony went to Anaheim High School, the big cholo [Mexican] school. He came over here from England at 11. He has Indian parents, and he was the first-born, so he didn't have any influences. He thought he was Prince. Because I had a crush on him, he turned me on to Prince and Lisa Lisa and Debbie Deb, and that stuff has always had a special place in my heart.'
When No Doubt got to the end of the tour in late 2002, the band was ready for a break. Stefani had just married Rossdale, Kanal 'had his first real girlfriend', guitarist Tom Dumont was engaged, and drummer Adrian Young's wife had given birth to their first baby. 'Everything started changing,' Stefani explains. 'All those years we were only committed to each other, but then we grew up. You could tell people in the band needed a break.'
The night before she is scheduled to perform at the 2004 Billboard Music Awards, Stefani sits on the couch in a Las Vegas hotel room looking like Alice in Wonderland on dressdown Friday. Her hair is held off her face with a thick velvet headband, and she's dressed in a black sweater, jeans and white sweatsocks. A keyboard with coloured tape marking specific keys sits next to the couch so that Stefani can rehearse the intro to 'What You Waiting For?' in her spare time. She starts by showing me a blister on her thumb that she got after one of the candles in her hotel room tipped over and spilled hot wax on to her.
'I can't stop playing with it,' she squeaks. 'I was in such a shit mood before you came,' she says. 'I'm really on my period right now. I'm so emotional. I'm gonna cry just talking about it.'
Many of Stefani's stories involve her either crying, or nearly crying. 'I'm really emotional,' she says. 'I don't fight with people - like, I can barely fight with my husband because I'll just start crying instead. I've learnt not to do that. Period week, I cry a lot. And the week when I was going to Anaheim to play my first show by myself, I cried on the way, because I was like, "This is surreal. Why does the first show have to be in Anaheim?"'
Gwen Stefani's parents - her dad is a marketing exec and her mum quit her job as a dental assistant to stay at home with the kids - still live in the same house in Anaheim where she grew up with her older brother Eric, younger sister Jill, and younger brother Todd. 'My mom and dad met at Anaheim High School,' she says. 'After they got married, all they wanted to do was have four children, and they did.' When the kids were still small, their parents would take them to bluegrass and folk festivals; one of the first shows Gwen remembers seeing was Emmylou Harris. 'She had just had a baby,' she says, 'and she took a break in the middle of the show to go feed the baby. I couldn't believe it.'
The Stefani kids still all live relatively close to home, and though Gwen says she's very close to Jill - the two call each other simply 'sister' - it was Eric whom she idolised as a teenager. No Doubt was his band before he recruited Gwen to share singing duties with the late John Sinclair, who committed suicide in 1987. Eric quit the group before Tragic Kingdom came out and now works full-time as a cartoonist. 'Everything Eric was into, I got into,' she says. 'He's supercreative, and he was this high-school cartoonist and had all these wild artist friends. I don't know if he really was cool or not, but he seemed cool to me.'
By comparison, Stefani says she was 'pretty lazy' and 'passive'. She had trouble with her grades at Loara High School and didn't even know if she was going to be able to graduate. By the time she got to Cypress College in 1987, she discovered that, even though she couldn't spell to save her life, she was getting pretty good at writing song lyrics. 'After Tony broke up with me, I realised I had something to say,' she says. 'When I started writing songs, it was like, "I'm a real human, I can do something."'
Love, Angel, Music, Baby, though, proved a major challenge to Stefani's confidence as a songwriter. Her original idea was to make an old-school dance album 'with Tony in his bedroom and the two of us singing in a microphone', she says. Jimmy Iovine wanted something bigger and pushed Stefani, pairing her with producers such as Dallas Austin and Linda Perry in hopes of striking chart gold. 'She was nervous about it,' says Iovine. 'It was her first time doing something without her band, and it was a big step. I said, "Let's just experiment and see what happens."'
But when it was time to start work on the album in earnest, her insecurities kicked into high gear.
'I cried before I went in the studio,' Stefani says. 'I was just terrified.' Writing songs with her band of 17 years seemed like a piece of cake compared with trying to be creative on cue, alongside Pharrell Williams or Andre 3000 or Dr Dre. 'It was very threatening to let these people into my world,' she says. 'Because that's what I define myself as - a songwriter. The hardest part was letting someone even suggest an idea and then my ego being able to take it if it was good.'
She got together with Perry, and on the first day they wrote a song called 'Fine By You' that didn't make it on to the album. 'It was all about: "I don't want to be inspired. I don't want to call anyone. I just want to sleep and wear the name you gave me. And everything I do is fine by you and you don't judge me and you love me,"' Stefani says. 'It was a stupid love song, but really good. I went home and felt good, like, "I did it. I wrote a song today." I was still scared to go back, and when I got there the next day, Linda had been sitting up writing all night. That whole jealousy happened - like, "You did that?"' The song Perry had written was 'What You Waiting For?'; it was her way of telling Stefani to get off her backside and stop complaining. 'It was like a dare, and I don't even remember writing the words,' Stefani says.
'I just barfed them out.'
Once Stefani felt comfortable with the direction of the album, her quirky creativity took over. She became fixated on the idea of dedicating a song to the wildly dressed Japanese women she had admired ever since her first visit to the Harajuku section of Tokyo in 1996. 'Everyone had this crazy personal style,' she says. 'The last couple of times I was there, it had evolved into all these different things like the Gothic Lolitas and girls with blonde hair and dark tans and high heels, like they were from Hollywood. I was working with Linda, and I did a shout-out to them: "Harajuku girls, you got the wicked style." That's when the dream started.'
The dream, that is, of having four Harajuku girls help promote her album. The girls, whom Stefani named 'Love', 'Angel', 'Music' and 'Baby', are actually professional dancers whose main job - other than performing onstage with Stefani - is to stand behind her and look cute. But the idea also evolved into a running theme on the album: not only did she write a song dedicated to them ('Harajuku Girls'), but two other songs on Love, Angel, Music, Baby reference the Japanese fashionistas. 'I was thinking about calling the album Stolen Goods,' she jokes. 'Or It Was Yours and Now It's Mine.'
Maybe one day, she says, after she's started her family, maybe she will make a 'real' solo album.
'I would love to learn to play something so I don't have to rely on someone to collaborate with,' she admits. 'I've written songs on guitar, but I don't play guitar good enough to be free. If I could play every chord? I could write a million songs if I had that.'
But how will she know when it's time to stop fighting the ticking in her head and start her family? For a moment she seems at a loss for words. 'I've been making a conscious effort not to think about the future,' she finally says. 'I'm lucky to not have a real job, to be able to express myself, be creative and be relevant. I don't know what I will be doing in 10 years. How old will I be? Forty-five. I don't want to think about it to be honest, because it's a waste of time. Tomorrow night I'll be in bed with my husband again and it will be really great. It's all about right now.'
Fame Sucks! Pity Me!
It's hard being famous. No, really, it can suck, OK? Britney Spears will tell you, and so will other stars ... just turn on the radio.
Britney's "My Prerogative," Gwen's "What You Waiting For?," Lindsay's "Rumors" and Paris' soon-to-come cover of David Bowie's "Fame" all have one thing in common: the singer's love/hate relationship with fame. For fans, it can be hard to take this kind of bellyaching — don't these people have anything else to sing about? They've spent years clawing their way to celebrity, and they're complaining it isn't all it's cracked up to be?
as the nature of fame changed, with the rise of celebrity-oriented magazines like Us Weekly and cable channels like VH1, E! and, um, MTV, total saturation coverage has taken over, and today's stars don't like it. "Leave me alone!" Michael Jackson screams. "Whatchulookinat?" Whitney Houston demands to know. Is there anything that can be done to help these victims of fabulousness? We can try.
Victim: Gwen Stefani
Song: "What You Waiting For?"
The message: She wants solo fame — but she's scared. And time is running out.
Her problem: Putting together a solo album turned out to be such a hassle. And she hasn't even got a posse to comfort her. Unless you count those pint-sized Harajuku girls. Which nobody does.
The solution: No Doubt are still a great band, and they've got a few records still left in them — go and make them. What more do you need? Walk-ons in Scorsese movies? Your very own fashion line? Why? Why? We know you have more to sing about than this.
Star's dress stolen
A RED vinyl dress worn by pop singer Gwen Stefani of No Doubt for the band’s first hit album has been stolen from a museum.
The dress disappeared from an exhibit on the history of rock music at the Fullerton Museum Center in Orange County, California.
Stefani, 35, wore the sleeveless dress, said to be worth £2700, for the cover of the 1995 album Tragic Kingdom.
Gwen Stefani Cuts Loose
Life is sweet for the reigning queen of rock & roll. So why is she always crying?
The lobby of New York's Mercer Hotel is a haven of downtown chic -- all angular furniture in shades of eggplant, with oblong oversize lampshades atop carved wooden posts. A wall lined with bookshelves displays volumes on Toulouse- Lautrec, Robert Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol alongside studies of designers Vivienne Tam and Salvatore Ferragamo and anthologies on modernist architecture. The place is, as Gwen Stefani puts it, "super frickin' trendy cool," the kind of hotel where everyone pretends not to notice when Nicky Hilton saunters past the reception desk.
But someone has taken notice of Stefani, lounging inconspicuously on a leather cafe chair on this late December evening. Stefani is done up in the luxe street style that has made her an international fashion icon: dark-wash jeans from her own L.A.M.B. label ("They look good whether I'm a little fatter, or not," she says), a L.A.M.B. wife-beater, suede Christian Dior clogs that add three and a half inches to her height and platinum-blond hair extensions bubbling out from under a blue knit ski cap. She slouches lower in her seat. "There's this guy over there and he won't stop staring at me," she says.
I turn around and see a toddler -- no more than a year old, big blue eyes, hair so fair it blends in almost completely with his scalp -- gazing in our direction. Stefani giggles. "The little baby," she says. "So cute."
Stefani has always been the kind of songwriter who lives out her most private dilemmas in public. "Don't Speak," the song that put No Doubt over the top in 1996, was about the breakup of her seven-year relationship with bass player Tony Kanal. In 2000, after four years of dating Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, she made a video for No Doubt's "Simple Kind of Life," where she ran wild in a wedding dress while singing, "I always thought I'd be a mom/Sometimes I wish for a mistake." True to form, the first single from her recent solo debut, "What You Waiting For?," chronicles her intense baby lust -- the "tick-tock" refrain of the chorus, she says, was inspired in part by the sound of her biological clock.
During the three days I spend with her, her desire to have children is a continual theme, whether she's talking about how she never planned on being a pop star ("Before that, all I ever did was, like, look at Tony and pray that God would let me have a baby with him") or the joy of marrying Rossdale ("It's such a beautiful, magical feeling, I can't explain it. It's like having a baby. I can imagine what it might be like. But that love I've never experienced") or her plans for the future ("I don't know what I'm going to do, but I've always wanted to do the family thing").
And like any successful woman on the mommy track, she worries about the conflicts of career and family, although most women don't have to stress about the demands of dressing as fairy-tale characters in music videos. "At a certain point I'm going to want to have a family," Stefani says, "and I'm not going to have time to be running around the world doing this shit and being greedy the way I have been. I can always write songs. But can I always wear an Alice in Wonderland costume? I probably shouldn't. I can at home. I was thinking that when I have children, that I should always dress as a character for them, so they think their mom is Alice in Wonderland or Cinderella. It would be totally messed up!"
"I hope she chooses to do both things," says Jimmy Iovine, the chairman of Stefani's label, Interscope, of the star's career and family ambitions. "She can handle both. I think she would really miss not fulfilling her potential as an artist, and she'd regret that. But her potential as a mom is equally as powerful."
"This is the first time in a long time that I actually don't know what's gonna happen next," Stefani finally says. "You think about it as a famous person. You think about how you're gonna end it. How you're gonna get away and have a normal life. I imagine my children are going to save me from my vanity and be my passion and fill whatever fears I have of the amazing time I'm having right now being gone. I don't want to drop off and not be on the radio or not be able to talk about myself for hours. I don't want it to go away. But at the same time, I never expected to be here in the first place."
Disturbing but true: listen to rock radio these days and you'll hear a woman's voice only if it belongs to Gwen Stefani or Evanescence's Amy Lee. Lee sure sold a lot of records in the past few years, but Stefani is the only true female rock star left on radio or MTV. "She's toured from when she was eighteen years old playing small clubs, to playing small theaters, then amphitheaters and then arenas," says Iovine. "She is the only woman on pop radio right now who has toured with that vigor, and she's the only one who could as easily tour with U2, Green Day and OutKast."
Almost ten years after "Just a Girl" hit airwaves, Stefani has an instantly recognizable voice, an inimitable sense of style and an impact on popular culture on par with Madonna's. "There will never be anyone else quite like her," says Garbage singer Shirley Manson, who has known Stefani since the mid-Nineties and toured with No Doubt in 2002. "She's got an extraordinary mixture of the elements that make a great pop star and the elements that make a great rock star. She's like the perfect Trojan horse: She seems very benign and wholesome, but underneath lurks an incredible toughness and powerful directness. Nobody can copy her, because she's this uniquely extraordinary contradiction."
Indeed, Stefani is one of the only Nineties stars who has managed to hold the attention of the ever-churning teen audience. Her solo debut, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, sold half a million copies in its first two weeks. She recently scored a pair of Grammy nominations: one for "What You Waiting For?" and one with No Doubt for their cover of Talk Talk's "It's My Life." (If she wins both, her Grammy collection will expand to five.) In December, she made her big-screen debut -- albeit in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it role -- playing Jean Harlow in Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator. And last night, she went to the holiday party for her clothing line, which is preparing its fourth collection for fall 2005.
Love, Angel, Music, Baby is the kind of Eighties-style electro dance album that Stefani grew up on in Orange County, California. It's so Eighties, in fact, that members of New Order are the backing band on "The Real Thing," alongside collaborations with OutKast's Andre 3000, Dr. Dre and Eve, the Neptunes, Dallas Austin and Linda Perry. "Right now in my life, I'm all about trying things I've never done," Stefani says. "I'm a woman and I'm thirty-five. I don't have that much time left to do this kind of pop record. Let's be real about it."
Rock Star Gwen Stefani Has A Rock Body
Ab Fab -- Gwen Stefani. Why we picked her:
There's "No Doubt" Gwen Stefani possesses the midriff of the moment; her middle is long, sleek and strong but still sexy. In the middle of performing the band's 1995 breakthrough hit at the First Union Spectrum, the platinum blonde hipster dropped to the ground and did 10 pushups, proving that her tunes made for great workout music.
Clearly great abs didn't come naturally to Gwen. She told YM magazine that "No boys liked me in high school because I was chubby." If only she knew then that at 32 she'd be a national sex symbol and married to hottie rock star Gavin Rossdale.
How she does it:
Stefani was the star of her high school swim team. She still exercises, including a regular ab training routine, but doesn't go overboard. She says she's not obsessed physical perfection and is quite comfortable with her body. In fact she told YM that when she isn't on tour she really relaxes. "I'm enjoying being a little chubby," she insists. "I love life, and if I want a rad slice of pizza, I'll have it!" Well, if Gwen is considered chubby -- then pass me a slice of pepperoni!
Get the look:
True Gwenabees will want to follow this routine to get her I Dream of Jeanie-like abs. Do the following Hover exercise, 2 to 3 repetitions, 2 to 3 times a week.
Balance on toes and elbows, keeping back straight and abdominals pulled inward. Hold for 30 to 90 seconds without letting your back sag downward or your butt stick upward
Gwen Stefani's pizza cravings
Blonde babe Gwen Stefani has revealed she battles pizza cravings and throws herself into exercise in a bid to keep her super trim figure.
The What Are You Waiting For pop singer admits to gruelling work outs if she has indulged in too many fatty foods, reports US website TeenHollywood.
"If I want to eat pizza I do, but then if I want to wear cute clothes I don't. I have to get into these clothes, so I exercise outside, such as hiking, and work out with a trainer.
"I go through waves of cravings with food just like everyone else. I get into my healthy fitness rage and I take care of myself really good, the I'm like, 'Hurray, let's go get pizza.'"
It's been a busy year for the No Doubt star who has launched a solo music career and made her first foray onto the big screen in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator.
She plays platinum-haired Hollywood goddess, Jean Harlow, in the movie based on the life of American billionaire and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes.
Despite the high-profile cameo modest Stafani says it's too early for the movie star tag.
"I'm not a movie star. It's almost embarrassing talking about a movie that I'm only in for a couple of minutes. It's like, don't blink or you'll miss me".
"Leo(nardo Dicaprio) and the rest are the stars and I'm just lucky enough to have a moment in it playing Jean Harlow - a real Hollywood legend."
Fans need not fear the stylish singer will swap her microphone for a pile of scripts just yet, although she openly admits to wanting to unlock her inner thespian.
"I've been trying to do films for years, but it's hard to find the right roles. I would love to get to a position where I was known for my acting as much as my singing," she says.
With such a stunning silver screen debut it's hard to know what she's waiting for.
Gwen Stefani's best year
Gwen Stefani was like vishnu this year. While No Doubt have taken a hiatus, she has seemingly had a hand in just about everything. She released her first solo outing, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, a frothy disc that blends hip-hop attitude with the Eighties club music she loved as a kid: Prince, Lisa Lisa, L'Trimm. She also cranked out a clothing line, L.A.M.B., and played Jean Harlow in the Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator.
It would seem, with all you've done, that this was the best year of your life.
Well, I had this idea of doing a dance record that I thought was going to be so fun and easy, and it just turned into a major challenge, with all these expectations and pressure. I feel like I was chasing the White Rabbit. So, no, it wasn't my favorite year or anything. It was a hard-core work year.
Describe it in five words.
Creative. Draining. Intimidating. Exhilarating when the songs came. A year I'll never forget. How do you say that in one word?
"Unforgettable." What, for you, was the best album of the year?
I don't ever listen to records. I listen to the radio -- I'm one of those girls. But I love that Keane record. The head of my label actually gave it to me because he wanted me to write with those guys. It's such a beautiful record.
How about the best concert this year?
I saw Madonna in London, and I was really impressed. Her singing was amazing, and I know what it takes to do a show like that. We were in the third row, and she kept wandering on our side and making me feel embarrassed because I was right there. I was like, "Oh, my God, she just looked at my husband."
Who did you meet this year who really impressed you?
I got to hang out with Robert Smith. My first kissing boyfriend in high school, he was Robert Smith. He had the hairdo and the makeup.
How about 2004's most surreal moment?
Your audition for The Aviator with Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio?
Talk about pressure. . . . You should have seen my underarms.
Gwen Stefani discovers the key to solo success
These days, blonde bombshell Gwen Stefani is a girl caught between two worlds, balancing collaborations with artists like Dr. Dre, Andre 3000 and Jimmy Jam with her appearance in Martin Scorsese’s Howard Hughes biopic “The Aviator” playing Jean Harlow.
Her latest release, “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” finds her mixing it up with a stellar lineup of yesterday and today’s stars to produce a sound rooted just as firmly between both worlds, part Depeche Mode and Debbie Deb, part gangsta rap and Britney Spears.
You really don’t know what’s in store when the album opens with Stefani singing a soft a cappella intro, but within seconds, “L.A.M.B.” sizzles as it kicks off with “What You Waiting For?” a pop anthem about triumphing over procrastination. Stefani says the song was inspired by the final nudge from former No Doubt band mate Linda Perry.
“Rich Girl,” featuring bad-ass diva Eve, is definitely inspired by the current style of shout-out rap songs, with the innovative use of the “Fiddler on the Roof” refrain of “If I Were a Rich Man.” Watch out, Tevye. From these first two tracks, Stefani also begins to give props to the Harajuku girls of Tokyo’s underground scene, whose funky fashion sense has inspired her new look. (Stefani has teamed up with Le Sport Sac to produce her own line of accessories, also titled L.A.M.B.)
With Johnny Vulture, Stefani turns to the past for inspiration in the campy, infectious track “Bubble Pop Electric.” This fun, bouncy pop song borrows from the style of the musical “Grease”––or more precisely, “ Grease 2,” the wretched sequel with Michelle Pfeiffer as a Pink Lady––in relaying teenage lust at the drive-in movie. “Tonight I’m gonna give you all my love in the backseat,” croons Stefani, the sound of car wheels peeling out in the background.
And Stefani practically guarantees that she will be big in Japan with her track, “Harajuku Girls,” with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. This tech-infused tribute to Japanese fashion has Stefani singing, “What’s that you got on? Is it Comme des Garçons? Vivienne Westwood can’t go wrong, mixed up with second hand clothes.” This ode to couture also pays homage to A Bathing Ape, Hysteric Glamour and John Galliano, the designer who Stefani says is her biggest inspiration. The Japanese girl back-up singers add some international flavor to an already stellar track.
Stefani gave a taste of her latest fashion inspiration at the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards earlier this month, when she sang a medley of “What You Waiting For?” and “Rich Girl” accompanied by a troupe of Harajuku girls dancing amidst giant “Alice in Wonderland” toadstools.
Sophomoric, yes, but even these campy, pop-heavy tracks are enjoyable. The cri de coeur “Serious” has staying power. Despite your best attempts to shake it, you will find yourself humming the chorus. This heavily synthesized track reminds me at first of “Rock Me Amadeus,” by one-hit wonder Falco, but soon devolves into an almost comically sultry song, like Madonna’s track “Erotica”—about five years after it was released. “Tell me what my treatment is, your love’s got me insane. My prescription is your kiss and boy you got me wantin’ it,” sings Stefani.
Some critics, especially in Europe, have criticized “L.A.M.B.” as merely a sugary pop album. Admittedly, several tracks, including the saccharine “Cool” and the only slightly more substantive “The Real Thing,” evoke memories of Debbie Gibson headlining at the local shopping mall—its refrain of, “I need you, you’re my love supply” makes me cringe. And “Crash,” with it’s lyrics, “Drive back baby to me fast in your car/ I’m here waiting/ Crash into me real hard,” reminds me of warmed-over Duran Duran. But the album is a triumph of tiny treasures that compensate for the undeniable lapses.
It is not always so easy to discern when Stefani is being sincere and when she is shooting for irony. In her track “Luxurious,” Stefani sets up the typical rap bling-bling song, with lyrics like “We’re so rich in love, we’re rollin’ in cashmere, got it in fifth gear, baby. Diamond in the rough is looking so sparkly.” She goes on to catalogue her fortunes and fame, “trying so hard saving up the paper. Now we get to lay back.” Two-thirds through the song, however, she adds comical “ca-ching” sound effects, which somehow shakes the image of Stefani tooling through L.A. in her Escalade.
She teams up with OutKast’s Andre 3000 for “L.A.M.B.”’s final track, “Long Way to Go,” a song about battling racism. The two begin the track with a somber, spoken word introduction, cutting into fast synthesizer and drums. “When snow hits the asphalt, cold looks and bad talk come,” the two sing. The song is followed by a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
In her press notes, Stefani remarks, “This record is a collaboration of a lot of great talents coming together and trying to make something that’s classic. Something that you want to listen to over and over.” If this is her goal, Stefani succeeds in producing one of the best new classics of 2004.
Gwen Stefani was too shy to go on dates
Gwen Stefani claims she never went on dates at school – because she was too shy.
The sexy singer, who is now married Bush star Gavin Rossdale, used to pretend she already had a boyfriend because she didn’t have the confidence to go out with anyone.
She said: “I was too shy to go on dates.
The only line I ever used was, ‘I have a boyfriend.’
I loved that excuse.
I have no experience to give on love advice.”
Gwen Stefani: My hair was pink because I was depressed
Gwen Stefani claims she dyed her hair pink because she was depressed.
The sexy No Doubt singer has confessed she was suffering a personal crisis when she went through her pink hair phase in 2000 because she was turning 30.
She admitted in an interview with Britain’s Q magazine: “I was f***ed in that period.
Maybe that was how I flipped out. I was depressed.
If you look at my style then it shows.
The pink hair really reflected my needs at that time. When I look back at pictures now I’m like, ‘Wow, you were searching!’
I was turning 30 and didn’t know who I was.”
Stefani: 'I'm no movie star'
No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani wants it to be made clear that she isn't a movie star following her debut in Martin Scorsese's THE AVIATOR.
Stefani insists she will remain primarily a singer, although she is keen to continue her recently launched solo career.
And she dislikes all the attention lavished on her for her role as legendary actress Jean Harlow in The Aviator, because she is only onscreen for a few minutes.
Stefani says, "I'm not a movie star. It's almost embarrassing talking about a movie that I'm only in for a couple of minutes. It's like, don't blink or you'll miss me.
"LEO(NARDO DiCAPRIO) and the rest are the stars and I'm just lucky enough to have a moment in it playing Jean Harlow - a real Hollywood legend.
"I've been trying to do films for years, but it's hard to find the right roles. I would love to get to a position where I was known for my acting as much as my singing."
Gwen's post-disco bash a blast
Five years ago, all Gwen Stefani wanted were the simple things, the simple kind of life. And all she needed was a simple man, so she could be his wife.
What a difference 1,826 days makes. On her nostalgically new wavy solo debut Love Angel Music Baby, the saucy, sassy No Doubt nymphet has other goals in mind -- like putting on her weirdest outfit, flying to Japan and partying like it's 1989.
Naturally, Gwen has no trouble finding companionship -- in this case a Who's Who crew of pals and producers. Dr. Dre fiddles on the roof on the slinking Rich Girl; Nellee Hooper helps Gwen get all Lene Lovich on the single What You Waiting For?; The Neptunes loop-de-loop on the jump-rope groover Hollaback; Andre 3000 cruises in to duet on Long Way to Go and the perfectly titled Bubble Pop Electric; and Jam and Lewis dress their natty funk in a kimono on Harajuku Girls. And like most of these tracks, it's a perfect fit. Kooky and playful, the dozen cuts on this 48-minute post-disco bash sharpen the classic beats and bleeps of '80s pop of Madonna, Blondie and Toni Basil with the cutting-edge cool of contemporary hip-pop and funk.
Simply put: It's a blast.
Gwen Stefani's Wonderland
Stefani had decided to do Love, Angel, Music, Baby — which she calls her "dance record" or her "collaborations record" — when she was on the Rock Steady tour with No Doubt. One day, she happened to hear the old Club Nouveau song "Why You Treat Me So Bad" and immediately was transported back to high school, when she used to go dancing at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. She turned to No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal and said, "Wouldn't it be fun to do music like that?"
Or not. It looked like this '80s flashback fantasy would have to happen outside of her band. So she made a list of influences she wanted to explore in an updated way — Prince, Lisa Lisa, Debbie Deb, the Time, New Order, Depeche Mode, early Madonna. And then she made another list of musical idols she'd like to do some exploring with. The game plan was simple, but strict: Love the '80s, but make them modern. The concept for a solo record was born.
If I was doing a solo record, it means basically pouring my heart out, the real Gwen," she said. "Like the years with No Doubt, that was just No Doubt, this is me." In some ways, the new album "is actually less of me, because I'm letting all these other people into my world and trying on their clothes, their music and melodies."
The list of those people was long — Dr. Dre, the Neptunes, Andre 3000, New Order, Nellee Hooper, Dallas Austin, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were among the producers and musicians with whom she collaborated. Perry made the cut primarily because she'd put Gwen in a headlock at the Grammys, looked her in the eye, and told her they could make beautiful music together.
That was a good start, but Stefani didn't have a "huge game plan" for how she wanted to get there. "I know one thing," she said. "You can try not to like this album, you can try real hard; but it will at least be your guilty pleasure. It's like the ABCs — you can't get them out of your brain. I wasn't trying to go for an art record or a deep record. I just wanted to make you feel good for a moment and forget everything else." There was just one problem — she wasn't feeling so good herself. Instead of the big cast of contributors helping to take some of the pressure off, it only made her feel worse. In fact, it scared her stiff.
"I think every record No Doubt's made had its own challenges," she said. "But this one, for me, was the hardest. When you've never really written with other people, you're exposing yourself, taking your clothes off, saying, 'All right, here we go, this is me, this is you.' And then there's the whole fan thing going on, when you're a fan of the person you're working with. It's humiliating and intimidating even if they're sweet and excited, because you're drowning in their creativity."
Stefani's ego got a beatdown during her first writing sessions with Perry. The freelance songwriter/producer tried coaxing Stefani out of her shell, but it wasn't until their second day and second song together that their sessions turned fruitful — by writing about Stefani's very fear of writing (on "What You Waiting For?").
"I think every record No Doubt's made had its own challenges," she said. "But this one, for me, was the hardest. When you've never really written with other people, you're exposing yourself, taking your clothes off, saying, 'All right, here we go, this is me, this is you.' And then there's the whole fan thing going on, when you're a fan of the person you're working with. It's humiliating and intimidating even if they're sweet and excited, because you're drowning in their creativity."
Stefani's ego got a beatdown during her first writing sessions with Perry. The freelance songwriter/producer tried coaxing Stefani out of her shell, but it wasn't until their second day and second song together that their sessions turned fruitful — by writing about Stefani's very fear of writing (on "What You Waiting For?").
Pumped up, Stefani canceled everything and locked in with Kanal instead — only to run into writer's block. "We totally thought we were on to something," she said. "But we didn't write anything for two weeks straight. We thought, 'We are the biggest a--holes ever in the world.' It was just frustrating and embarrassing to sit there and think we could write songs."
Six months later, she and Kanal took a second look at some of the earlier tracks they had tossed, and one of them, a "Lisa Lisa/ Prince wannabe song" called "Serious" pleasantly surprised them. This moment made her realize she was being way too hard on herself, letting her ego interfere with the songwriting process. She decided to change that.
"I don't want somebody writing something better than me on my own record," Stefani admitted. "But at the same time, it's not about that. If I were to write the chorus of 'Yesterday' by the Beatles, and that's all I wrote, that would be good enough to be part of that history. It's like this whole thing with your ego: 'No, I did that part,' 'No, I did this part.' For the most part, people don't care. And I wanted to take that away."
She found that change freeing, and as she began working with other writers and producers, songs came more easily. She even started mixing things up a bit, turning one session with Dallas Austin into more of a party by inviting Linda Perry (whose studio was across the street) to join them.
"They both worked on the same records, Pink, Christina Aguilera, and they never knew each other! So when Linda called to say, 'I have this mix for you,' I was like, 'Come over,' " Stefani recounted. "Dallas didn't even know what she looked like. So she walks in, and immediately they start talking about all their stuff from the past, and everybody starts having a drink, and the next thing you know, we're playing the tracks and Linda's getting really excited. 'Oh my god, you have to use my mellotron!' And she's punching Dallas in the arm, 'Come on, dude, we have to write a song!' "
Within 45 minutes, the three wrote the new wave rocker "Danger Zone," on which Stefani gets her Pat Benatar on, ripping her lover for trying to keep "all of your secrets, all of your lies." Her session with Austin was even faster on the sweetly nostalgic "Cool," a midtempo track he was trying to write about remaining friends with an ex — something she could relate to. This time, the lyrics took her all of 15 minutes to write.
"When he started to play it for me, I was like, 'Wow, this is my song,' " she said. "I was never intending to do personal songs, you know? But when he told me about the track and where it came from for him, it just triggered something in me. It really captures a feeling and kind of puts an end to a chapter in a really nice way."
The song "Long Way to Go," which is about an interracial relationship, came courtesy of another collaborator who made Gwen feel insecure: Outkast's Andre 3000.
"He's crazy talented," she gushed, "like totally get-down-on-yourself talented. I didn't have a lot to offer. If I'm super honest, it makes me look stupid, that I'm sitting next to him, feeling all blank brain, hoping I can come up with something good. And meanwhile, he keeps writing away. But you're in with Andre, so even if you don't get all your ideas in there, you're going to make something great."
Later on, Stefani had an idea for a melody that evolved into the curiously catchy "Bubble Pop Electric," in which Andre's alter ego Johnny Vulture takes her out on a date. "It sounds so weird and it's so Andre," she said. "If I could be a boy, I would be him."
Her confidence restored, Stefani, having co-written some 20 songs, figured the sessions were over — until she decided to give the Neptunes another chance. She hadn't felt a spark the first time they got together for the project, but then she reconsidered and booked seven days with Pharrell Williams.
She decided during those sessions that she needed an "attitude song." "I need something about how the [No Doubt] fans probably are like, 'Why is she doing this record? She's going to ruin everything.' " Her response is the b-girlish "Hollaback Girl" — the third song in three days she cooked up with Pharrell.
But her speedwriting streak ended when she tried to finish up the album with Dr. Dre. Stefani had previously worked with Dre, along with rapper Eve, on "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," and she had been hoping to recapture a little of that track's magic. But after she played Dre the songs she had been working on, he rolled his eyes.
He was like, 'You don't want to go back there,' and I'm like, 'Yes, I want to,' and he's like, 'No, you don't.' "
Still, Dre found something for Stefani he thought would work — a dancehall reggae reworking of a song from "Fiddler on the Roof," "If I Were a Rich Man," which, transformed into "Rich Girl," had already been a minor hit for Louchie Lou and Michie One in the early '90s. All Gwen needed to do was update the track with Eve. "I was helping with her rap, she was helping with my part, and we made the demo for Dre, and he basically told us to go rewrite the whole thing again. And I was like, 'Oh, no, what am I going to do?' "
Eventually, during a brainstorm while running on her treadmill, Gwen got it. At a dinner party another night, Stefani ran into 50 Cent, and in swapping Dre stories, she discovered that the rapper/producer was strict with everybody, not just her. "You kinda go with him last," she said. "You get the doctor in." If she had gone in with Dre first, she realized, she might not have had the confidence to keep at it as long as she did — completing enough tracks for two albums over.
"What I learned is that you can get a lot done if you push yourself," she said. "I made all my dreams come true of working with these people, even though I have so many insecurities. I still have this whole ego issue, and it's all bruised up and messed up. But at the same time, the record is so spectacular, and I can say that without bragging because I worked with so many talented people.
"I totally feel like I am Alice in Wonderland right now," she mused. "It's been such a journey. It's been so magical. I don't even know how I got to this point, it's been such a maze. I've been dropping down this hole for a year. But now, I've landed."
Acting is a lot much harder than singing for Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani is such a big star, it sometimes seems like everything comes to her easily.
But no — she said breaking into film was just as daunting a process as making her solo album. Marty's daughter loves No Doubt," Stefani said. "So when he saw my picture from the Teen Vogue cover, like on the side of a bus stop, he said to her, 'Who's that girl? We should get her to try out!' " (see "Gwen Stefani Feeling Hella Good About Role In Scorsese Flick").
This, of course, came five months after Stefani had first expressed interest in being in the director's upcoming Howard Hughes biopic, "The Aviator." The singer's agent had cautioned her not to get too excited about it, but once Scorsese was expressing interest back, Stefani thought she had a real shot at landing the part of Jean Harlow, who starred in Hughes' 1930 aviation melodrama "Hell's Angels." Then came the call to come audition. "My stomach was on the floor," Stefani said. "It's totally humiliating to walk in and have to try out. They know who you are, but it's a casting-call thing."
Stefani tried to calm her nerves by telling herself that it was just a small part, so small that she couldn't even find it in the script. "But let's face it, there's never a small part in a Martin Scorsese film," she said. The people running the casting call also tried to ease Stefani into the process, giving her advice about how to act and dress. "They told me, 'Don't dress like a rock star, you have to dress up nice,' " she said. "They couldn't have been more helpful and wanting me to get it. These casting girls let me do it a million times, but I left there with sweat."
Then came the callback. Stefani auditioned again, this time in front of the film's star, Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as Scorsese himself, which was even more nerve-racking, she said, because she could hear the other actresses trying out in the other room. "It was really awkward," she said. "And all these other girls were coming out of there going, 'Oh, God!' "
Despite her fears, Stefani nailed the part. Noting the parallel in her situation and that of her character — "[Scorsese] gave me my first role in a major film, Howard Hughes gave Jean Harlow her first big lead role" — she sent Scorsese flowers with a note echoing her one line, swapping Scorsese's name for Hughes, of course: "I would like to use this occasion to publicly thank Mr. Scorsese for the opportunity he gave me. Thank you."
It's been a year since Stefani shot her part for "The Aviator," due December 17, and while playing Harlow was a dream come true for the singer, it only made her all the more eager to get another chance at being on the big screen.
"Obviously, [Harlow's] the original blond bombshell," Stefani said. "You can see that she inspired me. And [the part] was really familiar, walking down the red carpet, so it wasn't really branching out. Acting is a lot different than singing. It's not as theatrical, it's a lot more subtle, and that's a lot harder. Simpler is usually harder. So I would love to do more. I got my feet wet, but I would love to go swimming."
Gwen Stefani enjoys fashion design
No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani is enjoying fashion designing so much, she's vowed to do it for the rest of her life.
The What You Waiting For Singer, who recently unveiled her L.a.m.b line, says working in the world of fashion has been a refreshing change for her.
She explains, "I think I can confidently say that designing is something I want to do for the rest of my life. It's such a passion for me, and there's no emotional stress involved, whereas music is very emotional."
Gwen Stefani just enjoying the moment
If you want to know how Gwen Stefani maintains her youthful enthusiasm, not to mention her girlish figure, try chatting with her for half an hour. I'm just going to keep talking until you ask another question," Stefani chirps, plopping onto a sofa in MTV's green room. No Doubt's 35-year-old, cellulite-free lead singer has described herself as having been a chubby teenager, but her breathless energy suggests the metabolism of a hummingbird.
"I actually have thought of myself as, like, lazy," Stefani says. "Like, I love sleeping and eating and watching TV. But once I find something that I'm passionate about, I get this crazy drive. Because you hear the clock ticking, and you're like, 'Omigod, I want to do all these things, and I have to hurry up because I'm going to die soon.' "
Certainly, Stefani's schedule in recent years would challenge the most determined multitasker. Since No Doubt's last studio album, Rock Steady, was released in late 2001, she has toured extensively, gotten married — to fellow rocker Gavin Rossdale, frontman for the British group Bush — and acted opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, opening Dec. 17, in which Stefani plays '30s starlet Jean Harlow. Late last year, she also launched her own fashion line, called L.A.M.B., an acronym for "Love Angel Music Baby."
That's also the title of the latest product of Stefani's relentless drive: a new CD. Out today, it's the singer's first album not featuring the three other members of her multi-platinum-selling rock band. "I can't really call it a solo project, because it's so collaborative," Stefani says. No Doubt bassist and co-songwriter Tony Kanal, Stefani's onetime boyfriend, is a contributor, as is tunesmith du jour Linda Perry (Pink, Christina Aguilera), who teamed up with Stefani for the single What You Waiting For?
Other co-writers, producers and musicians appearing on Love constitute a contemporary pop/hip-hop wish list, sprinkled with names harking back to the new wave and R&B that shaped Stefani's youth: Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Dallas Austin, Dr. Dre, Nellee Hooper, The Neptunes, Outkast's Andre 3000, New Order's Bernard Sumner and Prince cohorts Wendy and Lisa.
"It's a nice name-dropping situation," Stefani says. "I wanted to make a record inspired by the feeling of all that fun, melodic dance music from the '80s, but to work with people who are in the club today."
Craig Marks, editor of music magazine Blender, says Stefani's approach is both bold and canny. "She seems to be an astute and voracious consumer of pop culture, and that's what she wants to give back. It's a pretty weird, progressive, avant-pop record, so she's in no danger of forsaking her credibility." Sean Ross of Edison Media Research speculates that while Waiting hasn't taken top-40 radio by storm, it could be that listeners "haven't caught up with it yet. But they certainly want her to have a hit."
But Marks acknowledges that a solo debut, whether the artist wants to call it that or not, "always poses a bit of a risk. Gwen really seems to have enjoyed being with the boys in her band, and that security blanket isn't there now."
Stefani concedes that recording Love was more daunting than she had anticipated. "After 17 years of being in this little comfort zone with my best friends, I had to walk into a room with these people I hardly knew and totally admired. It was like, 'OK, I'll take my clothes off. I know you totally have expectations of me, but let's get intimate.' It was horrifying, but once you get over that hump and the song comes out, you have this little thing that you made together, and it's there forever."
That Stefani would describe her creative process in such terms seems fitting for a self-confessed "girly-girl" who thrives in male company. "I love that contradiction of being feminine but playing in the boys' treehouse. My whole life's been like that." Her fellow players on Love encouraged Stefani to explore her own womanhood and, on tunes such as Bubble Pop Electric and the Asian-influenced Harajuku Girls, try on different voices. "Usually, I write about whatever I'm inspired by that day," she says. "But I also got to play characters here and there, which added a nice balance."
Stefani, who is considered one of pop's coolest clotheshorses, adds that starting up L.A.M.B. further fired her juices. "I was designing and starting to write the record at the same time, so there was a lot of cross-pollination going on." She adds, "I think I can confidently say that designing is something I want to do for the rest of my life. It's such a passion for me, and there's no emotional stress involved, whereas music is very emotional."
More films may also be part of Stefani's future, though she stresses that she has only a couple of lines in Aviator, in a scene where her Harlow appears with DiCaprio's Howard Hughes. "I definitely got my feet wet, and I got to do it in the big pool. And everyone was so amazing and welcoming, from Leonardo to John C. Reilly to Jude Law. ... There I go, name-dropping again."
For all her celebrated chic, in fact, Stefani still seems less than comfortable with certain aspects of celebrity. "At a certain point with fame, you have to learn boundaries. Or else it's like, 'OK, I think an insane asylum looks really comfortable right now.' "
Stefani's own boundaries, predictably, do not extend to discussing recent tabloid reports that Rossdale has a teenage child from a previous relationship. Asked if she and Rossdale plan to have a baby of their own, Stefani says, "I want to have children, but I feel weird talking to the whole world about that, because it's my business. And it's not really up to me, you know? If you see a bump on my belly, then you'll know I'm having a baby."
Stefani concedes that there have been significant changes in her personal life since No Doubt rose to fame in the late '90s, and in the lives of Kanal and bandmates Tom Dumont and Adrian Young. "Tom just got married, Tony's in a really serious relationship and Adrian has a 2-year-old with his wife. And I'm married, obviously. Everybody grew up. And when you marry, that becomes your priority."
In spite of that, and her own ambitions, Stefani insists that "the band is totally still together. Tony was very involved in my record, and we put a greatest-hits record out. When you are in a relationship that many years, you have to recharge the batteries. Now we can start flirting about making songs together again."
Granted, Stefani's pop life may not remain as chaotic as it has been lately. While she's doing a promotional tour for Love, there are no plans for the kind of concert trek that No Doubt's fans have looked forward to after each CD. "I've done so much touring in my life," Stefani says. "I love it, love it, love it. On the greatest-hits tour (No Doubt) just did, it was incredible to watch those crowds. I cried at every show. But life just feels so short right now. Maybe that's what happens when you turn my age."
Not that Stefani is complaining. "I feel pretty filled up with everything. I feel like maybe I can take a breath and go, 'OK, I've done all these things; now I can just enjoy the moment.' For the first time in a long while, I can't even see tomorrow. But I know that something is going to surprise me."
Gwen Stefani confession about ''Fight Club''
Gwen Stefani has confessed she was disappointed when she didn't get Helena Bonham Carter's role in 'Fight Club'. The sexy singer, who makes her movie debut opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in new film 'The Aviator', has admitted she was desperate to land the part of chain-smoking Marla Singer in the cult movie, but she didn't get past the audition stage. Gwen revealed: "Something I really tried out for was 'Fight Club'. When I got the script, I thought, 'I can't do that, it's too nasty.'
But when you meet the director, David Fincher, he makes you think it's the most incredible women's role ever.
Gwen Stefani ''born to blossom''
Gwen Stefani is a modern female rocker. Her sound is unique and individual - she's the real deal. Thank god there are females that can make good music and get recognized for it! I think Gwen is very talented performer and cool, and I think the song is pretty good. The melody is catchy and the production is interesting. One line I do think is awesome: "Born to blossom, bloom to perish," and I do expect that the other songs on the upcoming album will have the same result. On this project, she has enlisted some of the biggest names in music (Dr. Dre, Eve, The Neptunes, Andre 3000, Nellee Hooper, Dallas Austin, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Linda Perry and Tony Kanal) to create a genre bending masterpiece that is guaranteed to be one of the most talked about records of this year (2004) and beyond (4/5).
Gwen Stefani's debut solo album ''Love, Angel, Music, Baby'' drops November 23
Gwen Stefani's first single, "What You Waiting For?," is more than a taste of what her debut solo album, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, will sound like — it also serves as her statement of purpose.
All the ideas in the song, from off-the-cuff references to the stylish girls in Harajuku, Japan, to the fears and concerns about how she's going to be received (see "Gwen Stefani Battles With Herself On First Single From Solo LP"), were sprung from the singer's real-life anxieties, anxieties she didn't anticipate or expect when she first set out on the project. Her first idea was to do what she thought would be a "fun, easy, silly" dance record, a record that would give her the opportunity to explore music with people outside her band, maybe even her idols, who might teach her something along the way. But after 17 years of working with her close-knit band No Doubt, she found that writing songs with other people was pretty tough. "You're exposing yourself, taking your clothes off and saying, 'Alright, here we go. This is me, this is you.' "
Her early sessions with Linda Perry — the first collaborator to grace Stefani's solo project — sometimes brought her to tears. "I basically cried in my bed," Stefani explained, "because I was so scared." She didn't feel ready when Perry's schedule dictated the only five days she had open to work with her, so with some hesitation, Stefani tried to get her act together in time to work with former 4 Non Blondes singer-turned-hit-producer. "I could not keep up," Stefani revealed. "There were times I was in with Linda, and I can just remember going in to write lyrics in the other room, and I'd come in, and she'd written a whole song. [I was thinking,] 'Dude, slow down. This is my record; let me be a part of it.' It was really frustrating at times. I don't want somebody writing something better than me on my own record, but at the same time, it's not about that."
Perry and Stefani's first song together, "Fine by You," didn't exactly push Gwen's buttons, since it didn't fit her vision of doing a dance record, but the next day, Perry came in after staying up the whole night working on the beginnings of "What You Waiting For?" "She presses play, and it's like, 'Gwen, what the f--- you waiting for?'" Stefani said. "It was almost kind of like a dare. I had told her my whole drama, 'I'm tired,' and she had this whole crazy new wave track, and I was just really blown away: 'You did not just write that!' I just started going for it, and we wrote 'What You Waiting For?' "
The song encapsulated Stefani's fears — about being scared to do the record, about wanting to do it anyway but not knowing why — and eventually grew to include other inspirations that recur on the record, such as her fascination with Japanese schoolgirl style. "Out of nowhere, I was thinking, 'I can't wait to go back and do Japan,' " she said. "Because when you do your record, you go around the world. That became my muse for the entire album, that one line, thinking about these Harajuku girls, and it ended up being a theme for the whole record. It just keeps coming up over and over again."
Even though she is satisfied with her album, Stefani still has her inner conflicts, insecurities and occasional writer's block. "You can tell I'm still having issues," she said, "but the outcome has been so worth it. I feel like I got something out of the way. I needed to do this to feel like I wasn't missing out on something. And that clock that was ticking, ticking, ticking? I feel like the clock isn't as loud in my ears anymore. I feel like I got it out of my system."
Gwen Stefani got a shakey welcome in Japan
Singer Gwen Stefani's promotional tour of Japan got a shakey welcome as the hotel she was staying ,was rocked by an earthquake. The singer was in Tokyo, preparing to go on TV when a sever earthquake rumbled the foundations of the hotel. "We were literally rattled, but not really scared. The last time (No Doubt toured Japan) we had a huge one as well. The buildings here are all on rollers, they're so incredibly engineered. I wasn't panicking, I was just thinking, 'This is so weird how the earth can move," she was quoted by ratethemusic, as saying.
A holiday gift from Gwen Stefani
If you need a gift for that special someone, take a look at the latest collection of L.A.M.B. bags designed by Gwen Stefani. The Fall-Winter line is now available at http://www.lesportsac.com and includes tote and travel bags, handbags and mini-bags in a variety of styles. They also come in several patterns called Donegal Ribbon, Icon Pebble and Rasta Ribbon. But if you want a L.A.M.B. bag, don't delay. Several styles have already sold out.
Gwen Stefani has a stepdaughter
Gwen Stefani has made no secret of her desire to have kids, but this probably isn't what she had in mind. The No Doubt front woman's British husband, Gavin Rossdale, has just learned he has a daughte. DNA tests have reportedly confirmed that the Bush front man, 37, is the father of 15-year-old model Daisy Lowe (mom is London-based designer and singer Pearl Lowe).
"Yes, it's true but out of respect to all parties concerned, I've no further comment," Rossdale said. Gwen, who wed Rossdale in 2002, is said to be "devastated" by the news. "Pearl has always had slight suspicions, but it only really occurred to her in the last six months that Gavin could actually be Daisy's dad," a source told London's Daily Mirror. "They only had a very brief fling way back when." The insider adds, "It was never about getting Gavin's money or anything like that. It was about finding Daisy's real dad."
Gwen Stefani just rises from pop star to superstar
Gwen Stefani is having her hair done, and it's a wonder she can sit still. "I'm buzzing," she rasps, in her hyperactive, girly voice, a few disconcerting seconds before instructing her stylist to pass the scissors. The previous night she put the finishing touches to her debut solo album. Now the No Doubt singer is chatting to international press about it on her cellphone, while having her trademark platinum tresses tended to.
"My problem is I get so passionate and enthusiastic about some things," she says of her multi-tasking, "that if they don't get done, I feel bad." Love, Angel, Music, Baby is Stefani's first official detour from No Doubt in almost 18 years. Accelerating her rise from pop star to superstar is her first major movie role, playing Hollywood's original blonde bombshell Jean Harlow in the Martin Scorsese-directed Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator. "It was an amazing experience working with people like Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio ... I had two lines, so it wasn't like I could go deeper into the character."
Famously down-to-earth, Stefani distances herself from the hype. "It's like, well, who am I? What do I know? I'm just a girl from Anaheim." Just a girl with her own fashion label, that is. L.A.M.B. (also the album title's acronym), capitalises on Stefani's outlandishly mix'n'match vintage style and her reputation as one of the most photographed fashionistas on the red carpet. Unlike some stars who simply put their name to other people's designs, she insists she is "absolutely hands-on". To say she is overworked is possibly the understatement of the year.
"I know it sounds insane, but I've just started another label, Sub L.A.M.B. But I'm thinking about changing the name. It's more accessories and I want it to be more accessible, more affordable, you know? My bedroom is just full of clothes right now. I don't even know what I'm going to do with them all. And it's such hard work, I had no idea. My chief designer just quit and I was like 'What?! Oh man'."
The time couldn't have been more appropriate - or more difficult - for Stefani to branch out on her own. Over the past nine years No Doubt had carved a niche as a Top 40 band of considerable street cred, fusing ska and new wave with Stefani's breathy, quavering melodies. They burst onto the scene with Just A Girl and Don't Speak in 1995, and it certainly helped that Stefani looked like a punk who'd stepped out of a 1940s film.
On their last album, 2001's Rock Steady, the band diversified, working with reggae maestros Sly & Robbie, Soul II Soul's Nelle Hooper and the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart on the Grammy Award-winning Underneath It All. After that, however, No Doubt's reign appeared to draw to an inevitable end. In 2001 Stefani collaborated with hip-hop star Eve on the single, Blow Ya Mind, singing, "I've paid my dues and done my time / So I'm going to enjoy this while I can."
The following year she wed long-time boyfriend, Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, and during interviews talked about babies. (Last month, Stefani discovered hubby has a 15-year-old love child.) When No Doubt returned from touring Rock Steady, she and bass player Tony Kanal sat down to talk about the band's direction. "I just suddenly realised, I've been doing the same thing for 17, nearly 18 years. I've travelled the world and it's been amazing, but there are so many things I haven't done in my life that I still want to do. I would love to do film work, have a baby, work on my fashion, find a balance.
"It was a really exhausting time - I was feeling burned out. I had a new husband and we just wanted to take time out to re-energise and like, refuel our creativity - also, all I really wanted to do was sleep. We thought, wouldn't it be cool to take a break for a year?" Not surprisingly that soon flew out the window as she and Kanal slipped into enthusiastic discussion about the bands they loved back in high school: Club Nouveau, Prince, New Order. Next thing they'd masterminded their next career move - an album starring Stefani and backed by a who's who of producers, concentrating on fun, '80s dance-pop, electro-funk and "all these things that we couldn't really do in No Doubt because we're a rock band".
"We've never planned anything, like after this record I want to do this, or after that I want to work on an album like this. That's the thing about No Doubt. We just sat down for breakfast one day and we were like, 'What are you doing on Tuesday?' And then next thing we're working with Sly & Robbie and travelling from San Francisco to Jamaica. And that was Rock Steady." Stefani soon found herself in the studio working closely with Kanal, Dr Dre, Outkast's Andre 3000, Nelle Hooper, Jimmy Jam and the Neptunes.
She also enlisted the help of former 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry (who helped to bring Pink out of her shell on Missundaztood). The collaboration proved not only musically advantageous - together they wrote the bumping first single What You Waiting For? - but on a personal level, too.
"Linda had to really force me to get on with it," says Stefani. "I actually cried on my way to the studio because I so didn't want to go. I just wanted to sleep. But she was like, 'Come on, you know you're going to do this. What are you waiting for?' And I said, 'I'm scared.' It was really hard. "It was the first time I'd ever worked with a girl before, and she just kinda came in and took over and I was drowned by her creativity. It made me look at myself and go, whoa, I thought I was good, but she is good, you know? I learned a lot about myself, it was a bit of an ego-check.
"It's cool when you write a song and next thing it's on the radio and it's doing well and you think, 'Hey, did I really do that?' And there are certain songs I feel really proud of writing. But it should never be about that. That's why I worked with all these amazing producers and that's why I can brag and say this album is [expletive] good. "Sometimes I just want to go, well, she did that bit, and I did that and he did that. But you know, I would be happy if I just wrote the chorus to Imagine."
Stefani refuses to call the album a solo venture - she says there is actually less of her on this project than in No Doubt and Kanal had as much of a hand in it as she did. Even so, you have to wonder how long she can maintain such a crazy workload. "I'm getting good at just enjoying the moment, because there are always times in your life when you think, I can't wait until I'm finished, and you're always looking to the future. But you know, even though this record was really hard, there was a time when I was like, I'm in the studio with Dr Dre. Why would I want to be finished?"
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