Selected by Dan Grunebaum
After a quickie promotional tour which saw
them playing for industry folk at an invitation-only show in May, California' No Doubt
returns to Japan for a full-fledged tour this autumn. Currently enjoying a new surge in
popularity thanks to the success of their latest album, Return of Saturn, No
Doubt's unchallenging but likable SoCal alterna-rock has hit a chord on this side of the
Pacific. The secret is singer Gwen Stefani's personality that somehow manages to be hard
yet feminine. In other words, Stefani may be one tough punk cookie, but she's still
vulnerable and oh-so kawaii, that ingredient so essential for success in Japan.
Both these qualities come through on the two singles currently in rotation,
"Ex-Girlfriend" and "Simple Kind of Life."
No Doubt's story began in 1986 when Stefani's keyboard-playing brother Eric formed the
band, adding sister Gwen as lead singer following the suicide of original singer John
Spence in 1987. The band signed with Interscope in 1991, but their self-titled debut sank
with nary a trace.
It took the death of Kurt Cobain and the collapse of grunge to create an opening for the
more upbeat sounds that bands like Green Day and No Doubt were busy performing in front of
local California audiences. No Doubt's turn finally came in 1995 with the release of their
third album Tragic Kingdom. On the coattails of "Don't Speak" and
"Just A Girl," the album spent nine weeks at the top of the charts. Stefani
revealed her surprise at the band's success to the press, saying: "I can't believe
it's happened to our loser band."
Losers or not, No Doubt have proven, with Return of Saturn, that they have
transcended the one-hit-wonder syndrome. At this writing, tickets were still available for
their sole Tokyo engagement.
No Doubt play
Tokyo Bay NK Hall on 9/30. See listings for details.