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No Doubt: Inside the Tragic Kingdom

Page 5 of 5

Some Investigative Journalism
Onstage, Gwen Stefani sweats, and she sweats until she is drenched, but it is a clean, odorless wash of perspiration. I learn this in the back of a Glasgow, Scotland, taxicab. The recently encored Gwen is carrying her stage clothes. "Smell my top," she instructs, holding forward the wet, flimsy white top she was wearing minutes ago. "It doesn't smell," she says. Out of obedience and a keen desire for the truth, I lean forward and sniff. No smell.

But she is not satisfied. There are harsher tests. She holds up a black undergarment that has been subjected to an even more stringent dousing in Eau de Stefani. "The bra probably doesn't smell, either," she announces, and checks it herself. "It doesn't!" she exclaims with pride. "Smell it!"

That is why, driving along through Scottish suburbia, Gwen Stefani pushes her self-soaked bra toward my nostrils, and I inhale as I must.

And everything she says is true.

A Longer Trip Around Britain
As they travel the country, these are some of the things I see and hear No Doubt do. They worry about their laundry, Gwen's voice, my article. They reminisce about the concert in Japan where a man screamed – Adrian does a fine Japanese man hollering in English – "I want to fuck you, Gwen!" They meet Kato Kaelin in a London hotel. (Kato tells me about his 12-year-old daughter, Tiffany, and her favorite pop group. Sometimes Tiffany phones Kato up and plays pretend. "Hello," she says. "I'm Gwen Stefani.")

They read out loud a review of "Don't Speak" (which will enter the British charts at No. 1 the following week) from Kerrang!, a British rock magazine: "Mere words cannot describe how abysmally gutless and sugar smothered it is. . . . Much like an anteater with a punctured snout, No Doubt suck badly." (Tony wants to make it into a T-shirt.)

Slowly, they must think about the future. There is an American tour to plan, and I sit in on production meetings where they try to realize their moody, lavish, theatrical vision, earnestly debating whether to go with the $9,000 fly or the $6,000 rain, and the exact nature of the onscreen trees. ("If we go to wood, I don't think we'll be able to achieve the trees that we all want," the production designers advise. There is something enjoyably surreal in hearing people discuss making trees out of wood and then deciding against it.)

They have a few new songs, but one issue remains undecided. Eric. Gwen is particularly adamant that he should be involved in the next record. "Because Eric is No Doubt," she says. "I think that what we are is that" – she points to some steamed vegetables on a dinner tray in front of her. "And they're really good, but if I can put a little butter and salt and pepper on that, it would be fucking great. And that's what Eric is."

So you become famous, and some of you get too much attention, and some of you are too ignored, and it feels marvelous, and sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes people make you cry, and sometimes you forget why you do all this, and sometimes you think you never really knew. And sometimes you realize that you don't really need a reason.

When Gwen and Tony were splitting up, Tony offered to leave the band. "Because he loved me so much," she explains. "I would never let him."

Did you offer to leave, too?

She laughs. "Fuck, no."

This story is from the the May 1st, 1997 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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