30 Years of No Doubt: How a rowdy suburban ska band took power... (2023)

mark sutherland

Ant & Dec, alarmingly young, look down the barrel of the camera.

“They have sold seven million albums in the United States,” he says on December 1. “They are their seventh number one in seven weeks and they are in… Cloud 9”.

Definitely”, grita Ant, “¡Son Top Of The Pops!”

It took No Doubt a long time to do this, but finally, in February 1997, there they were: topping the UK and indeed the world charts with their power ballad to the end of all power. ballads, Don't Speak, taken from the classic Tragic Kingdom album.

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But even at this point, as they picked up the baton for 'the biggest band in the world right now', No Doubt's underground roots were showing.

Certainly that long-lost UK weekly chart performance, delivered during a visit that also saw them play one of the loudest, sweat-drenched gigs this writer has ever seen at London's Astoria, and headlining! a great Kerrang! feature film – revealed a band that, stylistically, was all over the place.

Punk drummer Adrian Young used duct tape over his eyes and mouth. Dancing robot bassist Tony Kanal wore oversized headphones and even bigger sunglasses, perhaps in a vain attempt to hide the fact that the song's lyrics are clearly about his still-raw breakup with singer Gwen Stefani. Guitarist Tom Dumont gleefully simulated playing the classical Spanish guitar solo on his very metal Flying V. Oh, and Gwen, with hair from the golden age of Hollywood and London pants from the punk era, exhibited all the one-star quality. That made her an exception in the scuzzy Southern California ska scene.

It was this eclectic mix of styles and influences that made No Doubt an inimitable proposition since it formed in Anaheim, California (home to Disneyland and not much else) in 1986. But this unusual mix also meant that many thought No Doubt would never arise. from your own backyard. For a suburban ska band to become popular, it was always going to be against the odds, but No Doubt also had to conquer cynicism, heartbreak, and outright tragedy.

That journey to the top took its first significant steps 30 years ago this week, when No Doubt's self-titled debut album was released. Few people took notice outside of SoCal, where the band dominated the two-tone-inspired parties that dominated Orange County youth in the late '80s and early '90s.

Recorded for just $15,000 and released by Interscope, No Doubt, full of upbeat, no-nonsense anthems like Trapped In A Box and Let's Get Back, sold well in California, but it'sHappiness of livingit clashed with the prevailing mood of grunge slums elsewhere. So much so, in fact, that the immensely influential Los Angeles radio station KROQ declared that "it would take an act of God to get this band on the radio."

Gwen and her brother Eric, then the creative force behind the band, had religious upbringings (the band couldn't tour for years due to Gwen's strict curfew), but they didn't pull miracles. But then it was a miracle that No Doubt was still together.

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Because Gwen wasn't always the band's lead singer. Initially, she shared the role with livewire John Spence, whose backflips and charisma would set the mosh-pit ablaze as ND built a following in Golden State. But in December 1987, John committed suicide, just days before a major-label concert at the Roxy Theatre. The shocked and devastated band considered breaking up, but ultimately decided to continue. Gwen went it alone, eventually overcoming her innate shyness to embrace her inner superstar, making No Doubt an unusual proposition in the male-dominated scene.

Many shows and various lineup changes later, the band's legendary live shows helped land this deal with Interscope. But the label wasn't quite sure what to make of some ska kids from the "happiest place on earth" in the post WWII era.No matterworld and, after the premiere did not catch fire, they were left in limbo.

The band members went back to college or got jobs, but they weren't ready to give up the dream just yet. Instead, they supported everyone from the Dave Matthews Band toHot red chilliesand Public Enemy, an eclectic mix later mirrored in 2001's classic Rock Steady, and they grew their fan base through their innovative use of the internet.

The label greenlit a new album, but was not impressed with the new songs. Frustrated with intermittent sessions, lack of funds, and curious choices by producers, No Doubt went rogue, setting up a garage studio and recording songs old and new. The delays exasperated the band, but also allowed Tom and Tony to hone their songwriting skills and Gwen, whose crumbling relationship with Tony gave her much to write about, became a lyricist.

However, Eric, who had a successful side career as an illustrator forThe Simpsons(he would later draw his former bandmates in the Homerpalooza episode), he realized that the band was moving away from his original Specials-inspired vision and announced that he was leaving. Around the same time, Gwen and Tony broke up.

Once again, the end seemed near. But instead the band released The Beacon Street Collection on their own label. It captured a band in transition from the ska scenes to something more accessible and sold considerably better than their debut.

It was enough to change his luck. No Doubt recorded Tragic Kingdom, the album that featured Eric's final contributions and would break them around the world, at the Beacon Street sessions. Interscope moved them to a sister label, Trauma Records, also home to the future Mr. Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale's band.Bush– but their new home saw ND's potential.

When Tragic Kingdom was finally released in October 1995, the script had changed. LaterKurt CobainAfter Gwen's death the year before, Gwen's natural positivity despite adversity, bolstered by irrepressible anthems like Spiderwebs, Just A Girl, and Sunday Morning, was suddenly exactly what alt-rock fans were looking for.

“As people, we are angry,” he said when the album was released. "We went through very bad times and our way of dealing with them is with humor."

Tragic Kingdom might not have qualified as an act of God, but it was godlike enough to convince KROQ, and a previously unsupported MTV, to back the record, and while the band toured relentlessly, concert shows No doubt they were slow, but they certainly got crowded. Gwenabees similar.

“Before, we were the nerdy gang from Orange County and people put us down because we were boring and suburban and didn't do drugs,” Gwen told Kerrang. how Don't Speak took the world by storm. "People laughed at that kind of music when Nirvana was huge."

Three decades after their debut, no one laughs at No Doubt's legacy, yet their music continues to put a smile on the faces of more than 6.5 million listeners every month on Spotify. Tragic Kingdom became an ultra-rare Diamond album (10 million copies sold in the US), and while 2000's Return Of Saturn struggled to live up to its predecessor, Rock Steady cemented their legend, before Gwen embarked on a solo career that made her one of the most famous pop stars in the world.

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Many assumed that was the end of No Doubt, but they reunited for one of 2009's most popular tours and 2012 album Push And Shove, their eclectic genius largely intact. They last played live in 2015 and, with The Voice star Gwen now as famous for her TV work as her former Top Of The Pops partners Ant & Dec, no one seems to know if the band will ever day could return.

But if and when they do, you can be sure of one thing: they'll do it their way. No doubt about that.

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Was Gwen Stefani in a ska band? ›

1986–2004: Career beginnings and No Doubt

Her brother Eric introduced Gwen to 2 Tone music by Madness and the Selecter, and, in 1986, he invited her to provide vocals for No Doubt, a ska band he was forming. In 1991, the band was signed to Interscope Records.

What is ska music No Doubt? ›

No Doubt's musical style has been characterized as ska punk, reggae fusion, punk rock, pop punk, new wave, alternative rock and pop rock. The band's debut album blended the ska punk, alternative rock and new wave genres.

What song made No Doubt famous? ›

Don't Speak,” No Doubt (1995)

"Don't Speak" is not only one of No Doubt's best, it is also one of the most incredible rock ballads of the Nineties.

What bands influenced No Doubt? ›

No Doubt got it going in 1987, influenced by English ska bands such as the Specials, the English Beat and Madness. Originally, there were two lead singers, but John Spence, who named the band, committed suicide. He was 18.

Who is the king of ska music? ›

It's unlikely reggae music would have emerged from the island nation of Jamaica without its precursor, a musical style called ska. And ska would not have been such an international success if it hadn't been for Desmond Dekker.

Who is the Queen of ska music? ›

The influential British band called The Selecter formed in the late 1970s, around a style of music called 2 Tone ska -- a hi octane blend of rock, jazz and roots reggae, often with a socially conscious message. The group's frontwoman, Pauline Black, was hailed as “The Queen of Ska” -- and she still is.

Why is it called ska? ›

Jackie Mittoo insisted that the musicians called the rhythm Staya Staya, and that it was Byron Lee who introduced the term "ska". Derrick Morgan said: "Guitar and piano making a ska sound, like 'ska, ska".

What does ska mean in music? ›

: popular music of Jamaican origin that combines elements of traditional Caribbean rhythms and jazz.

What are the main characteristics of ska music? ›

What Is Ska? Ska is a genre of music that combines Jamaican and Caribbean rhythms, punk rock energy, and horn sections. Together, these elements create an energetic, highly danceable style of music that has achieved off-and-on mainstream popularity.

What was Britney Spears first big hit? ›

"...Baby One More Time" was released by Jive as Spears's debut single on October 23, 1998, when she was only sixteen years old.

What are the 5 No Doubt songs? ›

No Doubt
  • Bathwater (2000)
  • Different People (1995)
  • Don't Speak (1995)
  • Dreaming the Same Dream (2012)
  • Ex-Girlfriend (2000)
  • Gravity (2012)
  • Happy Now? ( 1995)
  • Hella Good (2001)

Who was the most influential band of all time? ›

The Beatles are unquestionably the best and most important band in rock history, as well as the most compelling story.

What band had the biggest impact on music? ›

1 The Beatles The Beatles were an English pop rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The members consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They were soon known as the foremost and most influential act of rock era.

What band was confused with the Beatles? ›

Klaatu (/ˈklɑːtuː/) was a Canadian rock group formed in 1973 by the duo of John Woloschuk and Dee Long.

Who is the best ska? ›

14 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Ska Bands Of All Time
  • Reel Big Fish.
  • Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
  • Madness.
  • The Specials.
  • The Uptones.
  • No Doubt.
  • Streetlight Manifesto.
  • Relient K.

What does ska mean in reggae? ›

Ska (/skɑː/; Jamaican: [skjæ]) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. It combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. Ska is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the off beat.

Who is the father of ska? ›

Lorenzo "Laurel" Aitken (22 April 1927 – 17 July 2005) was an influential Caribbean singer and one of the pioneers of Jamaican ska music. He is often referred to as the "Godfather of Ska".

What are ska fans called? ›

Rude boy, rudeboy, rudie, rudi, and rudy are slang terms and a subculture that originated in 1960s Jamaican street culture and are still used today. In the late 1970s, there was a revival in England of the terms rude boy and rude girl, among other variations, being used to describe fans of two-tone ska.

Is ska a Mexican? ›

Like all popular Mexican music forms, ska is danceable, upbeat even in its darkest moments, customizable and a DJ's dream.

Why is ska called two-tone? ›

The term “two-tone” refers to second wave ska's interracial scene where young Black and white music fans went to shows and jammed together.

What does Rude Boy mean in Jamaica? ›

rude bwoy (plural: rude bwoy dem or rude bwoys dem, quantified: rude bwoy) criminal, delinquent, gangster.

Who was the first American ska band? ›

The Shakers' story alone would make a good film, but there are many interesting stories here: The Blue Riddim Band from Kansas City making it all the way to Reggae Sunsplash and then being a hit there with Jamaican listeners; The Boxboys – “the first American ska band” – who in the late '70s/early '80s packed ...

Who was the first ska punk band? ›

During the 1980s, ska punk was underground. However, Fishbone, one of the earliest ska punk bands, achieved moderate success.

What is the main difference between reggae and ska? ›

The difference between ska and reggae is subtle and nuanced, mostly involving tempo and rhythm: Reggae is slower and more laid-back, while ska is a bit punchier. Indeed, reggae evolved from ska, and the story of how both of these musical styles originated in Jamaica is quite interesting.

What are two characteristics of ska music? ›

Ska is a form of Jamaican music combining elements of traditional mento and calypso with an American jazz and rhythm and blues sound. It is notable for its shuffling, scratchlike tempo and jazz-like horn riffs on the offbeat.

What is ska influenced by? ›

Pioneered by the operators of powerful mobile discos called sound systems, ska evolved in the late 1950s from an early Jamaican form of rhythm and blues that emulated American rhythm and blues, especially that produced in New Orleans, Louisiana.

What horns are used in ska? ›

A typical horn section for ska music consists of trumpets, trombones, and alto saxophones. This brass section can either follow the guitar and vocals directly, hit and accent the offbeats, or provide a nice countermelody.

Does Blake Shelton like Gwen? ›

Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani are the ultimate power couple—and totally in love. They're each other's best friends, simply put. But it took them a while to get there. In fact, when they first met on The Voice Season 7, Shelton says he and Stefani barely talked.

Did Gwen ever won the Voice? ›

How many times has Gwen Stefani won The Voice? Stefani's team has won The Voice once: Season 19 (Carter Rubin).

Has Blake Shelton ever had a number one hit? ›

As of December 2020, Shelton has charted 40 singles, including 28 number ones, 17 of which were consecutive. The 11th No. 1 ("Doin' What She Likes") broke "the record for the most consecutive No. 1 singles in the Country Airplay chart's 24-year history".

What is Britney Spears biggest hit song? ›

Baby One More Time" The song that started it all! Whenever people think of Britney Spears, this song usually comes to mind first.

What does hit me baby mean? ›

Instead, the songwriters—Swedish Max Martin and Swedish-Moroccan Rami Yacoub of Stockholm's Cheiron Studios—thought "hit" was American teen slang for "call." The song was meant to be about a girl who just split up with her boyfriend. So "hit me, baby, one more time" = "call me, baby, one more time." Aha!

How old was Britney when she got big? ›

Spears released her debut album, … Baby One More Time, on January 12, 1999. She was less than a month into being 17, and she already had a hit single with the title track.

What happened to the lead singer of No Doubt? ›

Gwen Stefani Remembers Late No Doubt Member John Spence: 'Today and Always' Spence, the original lead vocalist of No Doubt, died by suicide in 1987 at the age of 18.

Who is Gwen Stefani's husband? ›

Gwen Stefani

How many songs does Fifth Harmony have in total? ›

After finishing third on the second season of The X Factor US the group was signed to Epic Records though Syco Music. Less than a year later, Fifth Harmony released their debut single from their debut extended play, "Miss Movin' On".
Fifth Harmony discography
Studio albums3
Music videos17
2 more rows

What is the #1 rock song of all time? ›

The Greatest EVER Rock Song
  • LED ZEPPELIN - STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page in concert. ...
Nov 11, 2019

What is the 1 most listened to band of all time? ›

1. The Beatles — 183 million units.

What band had the most talented members? ›

The Most Talented Rock Bands of All Time, Ranked
  • #3 Led Zeppelin. ...
  • #2 The Rolling Stones. ...
  • #1 The Beatles. ...
  • Honorable Mention: Cream. ...
  • Honorable Mention: Def Leppard. ...
  • Honorable Mention: U2. ...
  • Honorable Mention: Deep Purple. ...
  • Honorable Mention: Blondie.
Apr 2, 2020

Who is the best-selling solo artist of all time? ›

Elvis Presley, recognised as the best-selling solo music artist of all time by Guinness World Records, sold over 400.

What band changed music forever? ›

In all likelihood, The Beatles are the most famous band the world will ever know. They were pioneers of sound and irreverence and became in just seven short years the best-selling band of all time. Constantly pushing the envelope, John, Paul, George, and Ringo threw overboard just about every convention in the book.

Who is the greatest composer of all time? ›

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

The German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven is widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived.

Who is the forgotten member of The Beatles? ›

Pete Best - the forgotten Beatle

He played drums with The Beatles for two years before he was thrown out of the band, never to have contact with them again. After the initial shock, Pete Best built a quiet, normal life for himself. He initially took a break from music, but came back in 1988 with a band of his own.

Who refused The Beatles? ›

Exactly 50 years ago, Decca's Dick Rowe turned down the Fab Four, so heading an unenviable club of talent-spotters who passed up their biggest chance.

What band is most similar to The Beatles? ›

Here then are some of our choices (in alphabetical order) for bands that could be considered The Next Beatles:
  • Badfinger. ...
  • The Bangles. ...
  • Big Star. ...
  • The Byrds. ...
  • Cheap Trick. ...
  • Crowded House. ...
  • Electric Light Orchestra/The Move. ...
  • The Flaming Lips.
Nov 12, 2016

Who was involved in ska music? ›

Ska is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the off beat. It was developed in Jamaica in the 1960s when Stranger Cole, Prince Buster, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, and Duke Reid formed sound systems to play American rhythm and blues and then began recording their own songs.

Who was the original ska band? ›

Jamaican musicians who had been raised on calypso, mento, and American jazz and R&B began experimenting with new rhythmic approaches to musical performances. These players became the first ska bands, including Toots & the Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, and the Skatalites.

What makes a ska band? ›

It is often confused with mento music; however, the two are very different. Ska takes elements of both of these distinct music styles, combining instruments like the trumpet, trombone, saxophone, guitar, bass, piano, and snare drums to create its signature sound.

Who is the best ska band? ›

14 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Ska Bands Of All Time
  • Reel Big Fish.
  • Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
  • Madness.
  • The Specials.
  • The Uptones.
  • No Doubt.
  • Streetlight Manifesto.
  • Relient K.

Why do they call it ska music? ›

The first introduction of ska in Jamaica happened in the early 1960s. The name came from Cluett Johnson, a member of the Blues Blasters, who greeted patrons at shows with the call of "Love Skavoovie" (Kauppila, 2006).

What was the first ska hit? ›

My Boy Lollipop – Millie Small (1964)

Generally regarded as the first international ska hit, My Boy Lollipop is also unusual for being recorded by a female artist. Millie Small was a teenage Jamaican singer who recorded this track in 1964 for Chris Blackwell of Island Records.

What does ska mean slang? ›

What Does Ska Mean? This slang term is used most frequently in online chatting and text messaging as a title to a particular genre of music. It is a unique style that combines various styles of music from other genres to create its unique flair.

When was ska most popular? ›

In the early 1960s, Ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with the other communities as well, including the British Community. Ska music was made for dancing. It stand out because the music is upbeat, quick and exciting.

What is the best big band? ›

The Very Best of 40's Big Band & Swing Jazz
  • Jack the BearDuke Ellington Orchestra.
  • Loch LomondBenny Goodman.
  • Frankie & JohnnieBenny Goodman.
  • Let's DanceBenny Goodman.
  • Don't Be That WayBenny Goodman.
  • I'll Never Smile AgainThe Dorsey Brothers' Orchestra.
  • Moonlight SeranadeMembers Of The Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Is ska still a thing? ›

Whether you call it New Tone or fourth wave or whatever, ska is alive and well and moving forward. It's not a nostalgia thing, it's not back from the dead. It's timeless, still-relevant music, and it had a fantastic year.


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