Interview with Tony Kanal of No Doubt

No DoubtIt was always a matter of time, but it became a matter of when. The long-awaited reunion of Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal, Adrian Young and Tom Dumont, who last toured in 2004 before an extended hiatus, has finally arrived, almost 15 years after No Doubt’s landmark release Tragic Kingdom and a bewildering 22 years into the band’s eternally youthful career.

Even now, with all of No Doubt sans Kanal married with children, the vivacious foursome embody a wide-eyed and innocent spirit that has perhaps more than anything endeared them to an incredibly wide range of followers. Well, that and one of the most beloved and enduring albums of the ‘90s. There’s always that.

And the approach is just as honest and heartfelt as it was when No Doubt was struggling in the late ‘80s with endless lineup changes. The reason for being in a band and creating art has always remained the same, and it’s taken them across genres and continents to please the fans that have grown up with them.

Bassist Kanal took some time to talk about the band’s reunion, their forthcoming album and their current frame of mind as they embark on this latest chapter in their history.

The question I have to start with is: Why now and what took so long?

When we went on a break, I don’t think we ever thought it was going to end up being five years—it’s actually a little more than that, but we did the Greatest Hits tour in 2004—I really don’t have an answer, it just kind of ended up being that long. Gwen did some projects and we all went off and did our own thing. We started writing last year and it felt like the right time, but it felt like we were just jumping into writing a little prematurely, and that’s when the whole idea of doing the tour came up, the whole idea of reconnecting with ourselves and reconnecting with everybody who supported us for all these years, so it was just like, ‘Let’s go play shows.’

Every time we’ve made a record in the past, we’ve always been playing shows at the same time. We started off as a live band, and we always had that live component going on and we haven’t had that for so many years now, it was time to do some shows and get on stage together because that’s how we started 22 years ago, and it’s just such a big part of our band. And it was missing.

The last album came out so quickly after Return Of Saturn; it was all done basically while you were touring that record (Saturn).

Making Rock Steady it was incredibly—I don’t want to say easy. It just kind of came naturally. Every day was like a new adventure. We take a long time to make records and Rock Steady we started in January 2001, and it came out in December 2001. That was kind of groundbreaking for us to be able to write a record and release it in that same year.

I’m curious as to why you chose the Bamboozle festival as the first show to announce your return, considering you’re a West Coast band.

You know, it just worked out that way. We looked at all the options, and that was one of the good ones, and we decided to do it. Playing in front of that many people is always an incredible thrill. I guess when we do stuff, we jump in big, and when we start talking about the tour, we’re talking about, ‘Yeah, let’s do a few dates,’ and here we are now with I think 55 shows announced and on sale. It’s kind of the nature of our band; when we do something, we go big with it. Might as well start off big, go big with this festival and make it the first big show.