“Ska” music, the jumpy Jamaican dance pop of the 1960s has been flirting with the rock mainstream in this country for two decades, and now, the California ska band “No Doubt” has pulled the ultimate crossover coup, nailing down the number-one spot on the “Billboard” album chart for the 5th week in a row with its latest album, “Tragic Kingdom.” When the band played a benefit in Los Angeles last week, we checked in to see how they’re handling all that success.
GWEN STEFANI: It’s reached way, way higher than we ever thought it would go, we didn’t even think the record would come out, let alone go to number one. Which is just ridiculous, you know, and then for 5 weeks stay at number one, hello? It’s crazy.
TONY KANAL: But don’t take it away.
STEFANI: Yeah, no, yeah.
MTV: As psyched as the band seems now, the last year has brought plenty of tension within the group. While Stefani arose as a pop culture icon,
the other band members felt a little left out, an issue they address in the video for “Don’t Speak.”
TONY KANAL: The video speaks volumes about what bands can go through.
KANAL: That whole situation was something that we dealt with for a year but we’re kind of passed it at this point. We’ve kind of like moved away from it, and we’re concentrating on the future, and things that are important to us right now.
MTV: And what’s important to No Doubt now is keeping some level of normalcy in their lives, despite their recent spate of success. In the video for their next single “Excuse Me, Mister,” the band expresses this challenge.
STEFANI: We wanted to do another video where, you know, the song is just your basic love song and we wanted to give it a little more depth with the video, and basically the whole thing is about me trying to get attention, and like hogging the camera. The whole concept is pretty much once I get the attention, I don’t want it
MTV: While much of the attention No Doubt has received has been positive, including 2 Grammy nominations and a legion of so-called “Gwenabees”, Rolling Stone’s year-end critic’s poll rated the band one of the year’s worst, and a recent Newsweek article labeled the band “compulsively horrendous” and “skanky.”
STEFANI: If you let people bring you down and, and, bring your confidence level down, then you’re just gonna disappoint people that are into you.
ADRIAN YOUNG: I’m really happy to hear you say that…That’s awesome. I wonder if, you know, Gwen, ’cause she has the most potential of being criticized or praised, and so I wonder if it’s gonna affect her too much, especially the negative stuff. And it sounds like she’s got a good grasp on it.
GWEN: Yeah, I would just rather not read it. Because, I’m human…
TOM DUMONT: Like Carlos Santana once said, music is like a menu. And when you go and listen to music,
you can’t, most people don’t like to order a hamburger every single day for every meal. I don’t. Um, we’re just another, kind of thing on the menu, you know? Maybe the Smashing Pumpkins are the hamburger, and maybe Rage is like a really good vegetarian dish, I don’t know.
KANAL: What are the Foo Fighters?
DUMONT: They’re like a good turkey sandwich with avocado.
DUMONT: We’re just one of the many options out there.
GWEN: What are we Tom?
DUMONT: We, we’re dessert.
MTV NEWS: By the way, last Saturday’s Los Angeles benefit show, headlined by No Doubt and featuring former members of Sublime in a new lineup called the Long Beach Dub All-Stars, joined by H.R. of Bad Brains raised 40-thousand dollars for the infant son of the late Sublime singer Brad Nowell and for musician’s drug treatment programs. No Doubt will launch another U.S. tour, in April.