There's something different about the way ska-rockers No Doubt are
going about recording the follow-up to their smash-selling Tragic
Kingdom, and it's no mystery to guitarist Tom Dumont.
Operating with a greater budget than ever before, he said, has allowed
the band to toy with new sounds and instruments as it works on its
fourth record, tentatively scheduled for release next summer.
"It's like painting a picture instead of taking a portrait, or taking
a photograph," the 30-year-old Dumont said Wednesday. "You
know what I mean, you can layer on different colors and different
textures, one at a time. It's a completely different process. That's
fun to do as a musician. It's really fun actually."
Formed in 1987, the foursome, currently comprised of Dumont,
charismatic singer Gwen Stefani, bassist Tony Kanal and drummer
Adrian Young, toured and released two albums, including its 1992
self-titled debut, before breaking through with the 1995 release of
Tragic Kingdom, which featured such hits as "Just A Girl" and
With red-hot producer Michael Beinhorn (Marilyn Manson, Hole) set
to join the foursome in December, the group has written 26 songs,
well on the way to meeting its goal of having 30 to choose from for
the as-yet-untitled album.
Moving away from the distorted guitar sounds that marked such tracks as "Just A Girl" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Spiderwebs" (RealAudio excerpt) on the most recent LP has allowed new elements to creep into the mix, Dumont said, with keyboardist/trombonist Gabe McNair leading the way.
"We've experimented a lot more with different kinds of keyboard sounds
and backing off the guitars a lot on the album. There's a lot more
space for keyboards. The guy who's been playing keyboards with us for the last three years, Gabe McNair, he's a keyboard freak," Dumont said. "He's got these clavinets and these Moogs all kinds of crazy stuff and we hook up guitar-effects pedals, stomp-box pedals and chain them all together and come up with crazy, unique sounds."
The foursome will take a break from all that recording and
writing Sunday at 6 p.m. PST to participate in a SonicNet video chat,
hosted by former Nirvana collaborator Pat Smear, in celebration of the recent launch of No Doubt's official website (www.nodoubt.com).
Dumont, a faithful contributor to the site in the past -- offering
fans insight into the group's progress on the next album with short postings -- said the website provides the band with a unique way of reaching its following that was unavailable until a few years ago.
"When I was growing up, I was a fan of so many bands in my younger days. They never had anything like that. All you had was an album cover pretty much and maybe an interview here and there and you'd go to the show," Dumont said.
"Now you have everything, as much as a band wants to put up there, you get direct communication," he continued. "I don't even know if it's good or bad to give all that information to fans. I'm sure there are guys who are research test marketers out there who will say it's bad to give all that information to fans, you need some mystique or whatever. For us, it's kind-of a neat thing."
Webmaster Ray Ibe predicted that Sunday's chat will be the beginning of an increased No Doubt presence on the Web, buoyed by the new site that includes an updated set of biographies, a comprehensive band history, a complete tour archive that dates to the band's first shows in Orange County, Calif., a discography and lyrics to all of No Doubt's songs.
"It totally signifies a new beginning for them as a band," Ibe said. "They've expressed a lot of interest in doing more chats, maybe as often as once a month. They want to get in touch with their fans a lot more and have a greater presence on the Net."