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Members include Tom Dumont, guitar; Tony Kanal, bass; Gwen Stefani (married Gavin Rossdale, 2002), vocals; Adrian Young, drums. Addresses: Record company--Interscope Records, 10900 Wilshire Boulevard #1400, Los Angeles, CA, 90024. Website--No Doubt Official Website: http://www.nodoubt.com.

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

No Doubt was founded in Anaheim, California in 1987 by Stefani, her brother Eric, and high school classmate John Spence. "The first time I ever performed was at a talent show when I was 17," Stefani told Spin magazine. "It was me and my brother and some other people doing a cover of the Selector song 'On My Radio.' No Doubt kind of grew out of that. Originally it was just a bunch of people that didn't know how to play their instruments trying to imitate the music they liked, which was ska. I never wanted to be a rock girl. Basically, I have no idea what I'm doing or how I got here."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Dave Wilkins

No Doubt's Career

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

No Doubt's Awards

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

Famous Works

Recent Updates

February 8, 2004: No Doubt won the Grammy Award for best pop performance by a group with vocal, for "Underneath It All." Source: 46th Grammy Awards, grammys.com/awards/grammy/46winners.aspx, February 8, 2004.

Further Reading



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