Though making last year's Return of Saturn was a long, often straining process for No Doubt, the band has learned to loosen up for its successor.
As the Southern California pop-rockers work to get it out by year's end, they continue to take a free-form attitude, collaborating with producers from all over the musical spectrum, including reggae, hip-hop, electronica and new wave.
"I think this [album] is going to be our happy road," said guitarist Tom Dumont.
No Doubt, who spent two years on Return, have already laid down tracks for the still-untitled disc with red-hot production duo the Neptunes (Ol' Dirty Bastard, Mystikal) and noted Jamaican producers Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare (Peter Tosh, Bob Dylan). They're currently holed up with Nellee Hooper, who has produced music for Icelandic songstress Björk and trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack.
They hope to collaborate next with Dr. Dre, who produced singer Gwen Stefani when she guested on Eve's current hit "Let Me Blow Ya Mind." Cars leader Ric Ocasek is scheduled to join the band in the studio late next month to produce a couple of tracks, Dumont said. Ocasek's production credits include Weezer and Guided by Voices.
"It's going to be a good record for us, probably the best record of next year," Dumont said. "Don't you think?"
"It's either going to be the best or the worst," replied drummer Adrian Young.
Though their memories are a bit foggy, the highlight of No Doubt's recording schedule so far was the two weeks they spent with Sly & Robbie in Jamaica during March and April (see "No Doubt Head To Jamaica To Stir Up Reggae Sound").
"We spent most of the time swimming and getting sunburned and drinking and smoking and recording a little music," Dumont said. "We want to go back and make our first video in Jamaica, 'cause the vibe there was so cool for us. It was very foreign to us but at the same time really exhilarating. There was also this weird haze that covers the memories of that trip, so I don't remember a lot of it."