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 Recording a solo album ended up being a largely maddening and ego-shredding experience for Gwen ...



Page 2


 "I went in all glossy-eyed, and she's like, 'You're a freak. Go.' " ...



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 Dr. Dre rolls his eyes at Gwen, but then 50 Cent talks her down ...





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— by Jennifer Vineyard, interview by Billy Rainey

When Gwen Stefani got the call that Linda Perry was ready to write with her, the first thing she did was bury her face in a pillow and cry. All she wanted to do was sleep. And now she was going to have to get up and get creative.

When she arrived at Perry's house, nothing she did seemed fast enough. Stefani would go into another room to try to write some lyrics, and when she came back, Perry would already have the whole song nailed. "Dude, slow down. This is my record. Let me be a part of it," Gwen thought.

This was no isolated incident — recording her solo album ended up being a largely terrifying, maddening and ego-shredding experience, no matter who she worked with. Not exactly what the No Doubt singer had initially envisioned.

  Gwen Stefani: Through The Years Photo Gallery
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.

Sort of.



 "Cool"
Love, Angel, Music, Baby
(Interscope)


 "Crash"
Love, Angel, Music, Baby
(Interscope)


 "Rich Girl"
Love, Angel, Music, Baby
(Interscope)


 "Bubble Pop Electric"
Love, Angel, Music, Baby
(Interscope)


 "Hollaback Girl"
Love, Angel, Music, Baby
(Interscope)

"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.


NEXT: 'I went in all glossy-eyed, and she's like, 'You're a freak. Go.' ' ...
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Photo: Interscope

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  "What You Waiting For?"
Love, Angel, Music, Baby
(Interscope)


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