Gwen Stefani: The Queen of Confessional Pop

At 30, No Doubt's lead singer wrestles with the Big Questions: kids, career, marriage

December 14, 2000
Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani
J. Vespa/WireImage

Gwen Stefani, No Doubt's lead singer and one of the few women on the planet who's proven herself able to carry off fuchsia hair, has been on the road for most of 2000 in support of her band's fourth album, Return of Saturn. On this record, we find a more thoughtful, introspective Stefani. She turned thirty last year and has been wrestling with a lot of Big Questions: kids, career, marriage, you know the drill. The pride of Anaheim, California, phones from a tour stop in Thailand.

Sum up your past year in three words.
Way too fast.

Where are you calling from, exactly?
I'm in Bangkok, all right? It is spectacular here. Last night we all went out to dinner at this restaurant that has, like, Thai dancing, and women with the really beautiful headdresses, and they tell a whole story. By the time we left, it had been raining for an hour and a half and it was completely flooded everywhere, at least to the middle of your calf. We were like, "Yeah!" It has been wild. I had a monkey on my back the other day. We were in Malaysia in this temple. I was feeding one and it just jumped right on my back.

What's the best thing that happened to you this year?
The completion of this record, for sure, because the previous two years were kind of crap years for me. A bit of a struggle to try and bounce back from the Tragic Kingdom thing and come off touring. We were touring for two and a half years straight. I came home and I thought I was normal, but then, slowly but surely, I was like, "What Gwen am I? I don't even know what 'Gwen' means anymore." I felt like I was insane. I never had depression before – I don't even know if I had real depression, but I wasn't the happy-go-lucky, anything-goes person that I had always been my whole life. I was like, "I don't want to get up, and I'm going to eat all the ice cream in the house, and I'm going to lay in bed." It was horrible, because I thought, "Oh, no, this is me grown up." But it wasn't true. It was just a phase, I think. So then we went back in to be creative again, and it was quite a challenge; and in a lot of ways, I feel like I've accomplished a huge, huge personal goal by being able to make this record and be proud of it.

What has been the strangest development in music this year?
I'm pretty much shocked by everything about music right now. I just never thought the whole pop scene would get taken so seriously and get so huge. It just blows my mind. Also, when our record came out, I was, like, the first female artist to be on [L.A. radio station] KROQ in a year. To me, the development of the fact that KROQ could go from being a station that played all kinds of music – male, female – to be like this really hard, testosterone-driven station. And that's what people want to hear – including females. So it was weird for me to be able to be that kind of ... statistic.

Plus, those radio-station festivals are all guys.
We played the KROQ one, and I was the only girl in the entire show, except Moby's bass player, the entire day. But Scott Weiland dressed like a girl and came onstage, because he said he was supporting me [laughs]. So I think just the way that, in a year, things can really change. Everything has changed; you don't really have much choice.

I think rap has become amazing. I think most of the hip-hop stuff is the best thing that's coming out right now – the most entertaining and the most fresh.

In the same vein, what was the most disappointing part of the past year?
That I haven't mated [laughs]. That's the most difficult part – the years going by, and not ever knowing when I might breed. That was definitely on my mind a lot when I was writing this record. It's been on my mind probably since I came out of the womb. When am I going to have a baby? Will I be a good mother? I think those things are what kind of torture me right now. I want all those things, but I can't seem to find the time to make it right. This takes up everything. It's a selfish life right now, you know?

This story is from the December 14th, 2000 issue of Rolling Stone.

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