At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (2023)

On October 10, 1995, No Doubt's third album, Tragic Kingdom, was released.

The Anaheim Band – consisting ofSinger Gwen Stefani,Guitarist Tom Dumont, drummer Adrian Young, bassist Tony Kanal, trombonist Gabrial McNair and trumpeter Stephen Bradley - feared the record would never see the light of day. The label was going through a few changes, and they'd been in and out of nearly a dozen Los Angeles-area recording studios during the album's production process. They also received unenthusiastic sales of their eponymous debut in 1992 and a self-released follow-up, The Beacon Street Collection, in early 1995.

“We really felt compelled to make this record; it was really important to us," Dumont said during an interview at his Long Beach home last week. "It's the honest truth that we didn't expect this to happen and be a hit. We wrote the album in such a naive but good way. We wrote for ourselves and to prove something to ourselves and to make music we love.”

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (1)

    Cover, back cover and CD of No Doubt's "Tragic Kingdom". The 25th anniversary of the album's release is October 10, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (2)

    Anaheim's No Doubt (from left: Gwen Stefani, Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal and Adrian Young) released their third album, Tragic Kingdom, on October 10, 1995. The success of this album made the band famous. (Photo by Eric Keyes)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (3)

    No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom CD. The 25th anniversary of the album's release is October 10, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (4)

    No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani performs at KROQ 106.7 FM's annual Weenie Roast on June 15, 1996 at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater. (File Photo by Kelly A. Swift, Contributing Photographer)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (5)

    No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom CD insert. The 25th anniversary of the album's release is October 10, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (6)

    Anaheim's No Doubt (from left: Stephen Bradley, Tony Kanal, Gabriel McNair, Gwen Stefani, Tom Dumont and Adrian Young) accepts the Best Group Video award at the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday September 4, 1997 at New York Radio City Music Hall towards . (Photo by Adam Nadel, Associated Press)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (7)

    Anaheim's No Doubt (from left: Adrian Young, Tom Dumont, Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal) released their third album, Tragic Kingdom, on October 10, 1995. (Photo by Joseph Cultice)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (8)

    The cover and CD of No Doubt's "Tragic Kingdom". The 25th anniversary of the album's release is October 10, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (9)

    Anaheim's No Doubt (from left: Tom Dumont, Tony Kanal, Gwen Stefani and Adrian Young) released their third album, Tragic Kingdom, on October 10, 1995. (Photo by Joseph Cultice)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (10)

    The cover of the CD "Tragic Kingdom" by No Doubt. The 25th anniversary of the album's release is October 10, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (11)

    Anaheim-based No Doubt (left to right: Adrian Young, Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal and Tom Dumont) released their third album, Tragic Kingdom, on October 10, 1995. (Photo by Jeffrey Bender)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (12)

    No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom CD insert. The 25th anniversary of the album's release is October 10, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (13)

    The cover of the CD "Live in the Tragic Kingdom" by No Doubt. The 25th anniversary of the album's release is October 10, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (14)

    No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani is not only reacting to being given the key to the city of Anaheim at Disneyland on November 7, 2002, but also the key (in her left hand) to Mayor Tom Daly's office (at least for the next few three weeks). (File photo by Michael Goulding, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (15)

    The back cover of the CD "Tragic Kingdom" by No Doubt. The 25th anniversary of the album's release is October 10, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (16)

    No Doubt's Live in the Tragic Kingdom DVD. The 25th anniversary of the album's release is October 10, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (17)

    The cover art and DVD of No Doubt's Live in the Tragic Kingdom. The 25th anniversary of the album's release is October 10, 2020. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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THE SLOW, STABLE RISE TO NO.1

Although released in 1995, "Tragic Kingdom" didn't finally reach #1 on the Billboard 200 until December 1996, where it spent nine non-consecutive weeks at the top. The album also spawned several singles, including "Just A Girl", "Spiderwebs", "Don't Speak", "Excuse Me Mr." and "Sunday Morning". The record put Orange County and No Doubt on the mapas one of the region's most commercially successful musical acts.

“We were on tour at the time and that was pre-email and all that, but I remember going into the lobby of the hotels we've stayed in and getting faxes from management with the graphics got,” said Kanal. "We were somewhere far away, somewhere jetlagged in the middle of the night, and I only remember the fax machine with this thermal paper. When we did, it was crazy to see this thing slowly climb the charts.”

In 1997, "Tragic Kingdom" was nominated for Best Rock Album and the band was nominated for Best New Artist at the 39th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The following year, the single "Don't Speak" was nominated for Best Pop Performance and Song of the Year by a Duo or Group. Each single featured a music video that received massive airplay on MTV, and the band became winners and performers at the MTV Video Music Awards.

After that successful run, No Doubt released Return of Saturn in 2000 and won two Grammy Awards in 2001 with Rock Steady.Stefani launched a successful solo career that included a residency in Las Vegas.and Dumont, Kanal and Young each had their own projects,including forming a supergroup with AFI frontman Davey Havok called Dreamcar🇧🇷 The band reunited in 2012 for "Push and Shove". However, No Doubt has been inactive since 2015after a short string of festival shows including Kaaboo Del Mar.

GO ON THE RADIO

As the band hails from Southern California, one of the biggest and most rewarding moments came when the songs were put on regular rotation on The World Famous KROQ 106.7 FM, a station all band members grew up listening to.

"I just remember [someone at the station] saying, and that's a literal quote, 'It's going to require force majeure to play No Doubt on KROQ,'" Stefani said during a phone interview before heading out, a new season to turn. by The Voice in Los Angeles. "So I think God is real because they played him. I remember calling her a hundred times and asking her to play Just A Girl.

OtherKevin Ryder, Co-Moderator der KROQ Kevin & Bean Showrecalled the first time former program director Kevin Weatherly played "Just A Girl" for the crew and told them he wanted them to play it on the morning show. At the time, he said, heavier punk rock and grunge bands like Bad Religion, Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden dominated the airwaves, and the channel really got complaints from fans that didn't have female artists. Is being played.

"I remember hearing the song 'Just A Girl' and just saying 'YES!'" Ryder said. "I was really happy with it, and 'Just A Girl' is a smack in the face song, which was exactly what we needed from a band with someone like Gwen who was just a fireball. No Doubt was ska-ish and it wasn't mainstream at the time. But I was so lucky to have this song because it was good, it was so different from what we were playing and it came from a female-fronted band.”

No Doubt was on the road for the Tragic Kingdom world tour when the album was released and the band stayed on the road for two and a half years. From the moment they left Anaheim in the summer of 1995 until their return in November 1997, their entire lives and the band's trajectory changed completely.

"To put it in perspective, we've toured the world three times," Young said during a phone call about the tour. "We went from small clubs to theaters, then to some arenas."

The band played two sold out shows at The Pond [now Honda Center] in Anaheim on May 31 and June 1, 1997 which were filmed for the Live in The Tragic Kingdom live concert DVD.

Young also recalled the first time they heard each other on the radio while traveling and staying at a hotel in Provo, Utah.

"It was exciting," he said. "I clearly remember that there were a lot of hugs."

The success didn't surprise No Doubt manager Mitch Okmin, who first saw the band live at Prince's Grand Slam Club in Los Angeles in the early '90s.

"They were a great live band," he said in a phone interview. "I always knew that if they were somehow lucky enough to get a radio play, or airplay on MTV at the time, they would take off. Because they've been playing for years and perfecting a great live show and that's what really makes careers - being great live.

THE HOUSE ON BEACON AVENUE

All band members agree that much of the magic of "Tragic Kingdom" comes from all the hard work, late nights and demo sessions held at the band's home. The four-bedroom, one-story home on Beacon Avenue in Anaheim, just blocks from Disneyland, served as the band's home base. It originally belonged to Stefani's grandmother and was inherited by her parents after her death.

Somehow, she and her brother Eric Stefani, who was the band's main songwriter at the time, convinced their parents to let them make it their musical haven. Halfway through the writing process for Tragic Kingdom, Eric decided to pursue other interests, including animation, and ended up working on The Simpsons.

"When Eric left, it was a defining moment for the rest of us because he's an incredibly creative musical genius," Kanal said. "When it came out, there was this kind of 'okay, what do we do now?' but that forced Tom, Gwen, Adrian and I to intensify it, and that's when songs like 'Spiderwebs' and ' Sunday Morning' started coming out."

Dumont said that at this point, everything in life was secondary to the band, although all members worked odd jobs to support themselves while also pursuing higher education at Fullerton College and Cal State University at Fullerton.

One night Kanal gave Dumont a cassette. It had two songs and he told him to write down his guitar parts so they could show them off the next day in the garage, which had been converted into a makeshift recording studio.

"Tony hands me this tape and he's like, 'Gwen and I wrote some songs,' and I remember in my room learning 'Spiderwebs' and I was like, 'Okay, wow, that's really good,'" he said Dumont. "The other song was 'Sunday Morning' and I was like, 'Wow, those two songs are great.' At that point it was really exciting.”

"These songs were written on a four-track recorder in my bedroom at my parents' house," Kanal added. "Gwen and I made demos of these songs and that's our process. Everyone had ideas and then brought them home. I remember I was writing "Sunday Morning" and Gwen wasn't feeling well that day and I had a guitar and I started singing "Somebody's feel really bad..." and that became "Sunday Morning".

Dumont said he remembered sitting in the garage studio with Stefani trying to evoke "aspects of Devo and The Cars" on that guitar as they finished "Just A Girl."

"She had an idea booklet and that was her idea of ​​embracing growth and seeing the challenges of being a woman and growing up," he said. "There was a kind of sarcastic approach, and she wasn't just singing like 'Girl Power.' She sang so smart and sarcastic. Eric's departure from the band left Gwen space to write words about her life instead of just singing words about Eric's life.

MAKING MASKS A SUCCESS

Stefani said that serving as a judge on The Voice has given her a chance to really look back, reflect, and appreciate her experiences. She noted that she is currently inspired to write new music.

"Songwriting is what I'm most proud of, it makes me feel like I deserve something and I've contributed to something," she said. "It's such a personal healing and it's a spiritual thing for me because I don't really feel like I've ever been in control of it. I don't know how we did it back then. We were kids and it was all instinct.”

In the midst of trying to get the record out and with the band still suffering from the loss of Eric, Stefani and Kanal's relationship fell apart.

"This time was painful for me," said Stefani. "I was very naive. I was so protected and so dependent on Tony and when we broke up I was like, 'I don't know what to do with my life.' , I followed [Eric] like a puppy and looked up to him and did what he told me to do.”

“These two things suddenly disappeared. I suddenly felt very alone, but these dreams were coming true around me. It was a great and great time, but also a sad one for me. Most likely it was to become an artist. Every show you're out there living your truth and living those songs with the pain in the lyrics and learning how to connect with the audience.”

What would normally have destroyed a band actually brought everyone together, Kanal said.

"I'm thinking about it now, and while Gwen and I had a hard time breaking up, as creative partners, she took precedence in our lives," he said. "Even though we went through these really exciting things that obviously ended up in music, we managed to stay really close and be creative partners all the time.

“It was a catharsis and it was like therapy as we dealt with those emotions and brought them into the music. I think that's why so many people could relate to the songs, because of the sincerity and the pain and the heartbreak, the joy and the happiness that came out of it all. It came from such a real place for us and we were so passionate about our band and what we were doing that it translated and people really felt it.

IN THE SHADOWS OF DISNEYLAND

The album title "Tragic Kingdom" comes from a song on the album of the same name and is also a sarcastic nickname for "The Happiest Place on Earth". It's an ode to the band's hometown and a nod to how Disneyland subtly wormed its way into the band's writing and recording process, as they could literally see the Magic Kingdom from the Beacon house.

"Every night we could hear and see the Disneyland fireworks," Dumont said. "At night you could hear the Yeti growling inside the Matterhorn every 60 seconds."

"We did a graduation night series there in early 1995 and that was great for us because they paid us a lot of money and we ran around the park all night and walked between sets. We also received the key to the city from the Mayor of Anaheim at Disneyland. The whole album title thing is interesting because yes, we're from Anaheim, so it worked on that level, but it also reflected the band's turmoil at the time...there was also a kind of darkness in our world. 🇧🇷

At the end of the day, the channel said yes to moments like appearing on the Super Bowl Halftime Show with Sting in 2003, appearing at Radio City Music Hall in 1996 for the MTV Video Music Awards, and meeting President Barack Obama during the Recording "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" in 2012 (and discovering that "Different People" from "Tragic Kingdom" was on the President's playlist) was monumental, but he mostly remembers the more subtle moments between them.

"We would go on stage and have a blast and go out and wreck it and make it great, whether it was five or 50,000 every night," he said. "It's the little things that stick with you. Like the annoying stops at the airport and the bus breakdown in Prague. Those were the really connecting moments.”

“There's always been a real camaraderie at No Doubt. It was always more than the music. The music played a big part, of course, but there was a real family bond with No Doubt.”

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At 25, No Doubt talks about "Tragic Kingdom": the tears, touring and triumphs behind the classic album (18)

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