Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal: How Romantic Breakup Led to No Doubt Hit "Don't Speak"

By Danica Bellini | Sep 24, 2012 04:27 PM EDT
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Popular punk rock band No Doubt is back on the music scene with the upcoming release of their new album "Push and Shove" (out Tuesday, Sept. 25).This sixth studio album is the epitome of the band's more than 20 year journey of creating music, memories, and fame together. In a recent interview with The Guardian, bassist Tony Kanal and front woman Gwen Stefani open up about their romantic relationship in the early days of No Doubt, and how such a brutal break up led to growth, acceptance, and the band's most successful international hit single, "Don't Speak."

No Doubt originated in California in 1986, and Stefani joined the band as lead vocalist in 1989. Kanal and Stefani began dating soon afterwards. The young Stefani (now 42) even had dreams of one day marrying her punk rock sidekick, but Kanal ended the relationship in 1994. No Doubt released their first big successful album the following year - 1995's "Tragic Kingdom." This record included the track "Don't Speak," a song Stefani wrote about dealing with her breakup from Kanal. According to the two musicians, it was a very tough time:

"We were on tour for 'Tragic Kingdom' for 28 months," Kanal told The Guardian. "We were going through the breakup, and in every interview we were talking about it so we were opening this wound on an hourly basis. It was so brutal but I don't know how we made it through."

While Stefani agrees, she goes on to insist that dealing with the heartache made her more openly expressive creatively, allowing her to write more soulful and heartfelt lyrics:

"Before, I was really passive, all I cared about was being in love with my boyfriend. I didn't have any creative power, nothing. I don't know that person any more. But I'd been really bad at school and didn't know what I would do, I just sang in my brother's band [Eric Stefani, who founded the group, left No Doubt after 'Tragic Kingdom' to work on 'The Simpsons.'] But after the breakup I just started writing all these songs and suddenly I was: 'Oh I think I'm really good at this!'"

Such a surge of creativity may have led to the success of No Doubt's hit "Don't Speak." The song hit the no 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay for sixteen weeks and is considered No Doubt's most successful international single. At the 1998 Grammy Awards, "Don't Speak" was nominated for "Song of the Year" and "Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" and ranked at no 495 on Blender magazine's "The 500 Greatest Songs since You Were Born."

Just check out the emotional lyrics to the chorus of "Don't Speak": "Don't speak/I know just what you're saying/So please stop explaining /Don't tell me cause it hurts/Don't speak I know what you're thinking/I don't need your reasons /Don't tell me cause it hurts."

"Push and Shove" is the first album No Doubt has released in over 10 years (since 2001's "Rock Steady"). While Stefani went off to pursue a solo career in-between this time, she admits that her heart truly belongs with her boys in No Doubt.

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