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Love, music and soon an angel baby

Gwen Stefani wraps up her solo tour a bit tired from her pregnancy and looking to the future.

December 24, 2005|Geoff Boucher | Times Staff Writer

This is all fine and good, but fans of No Doubt might be ready for Stefani to quit playing princess. And no matter what Stefani says now, there's cause to wonder whether motherhood and hip-hop beats will change the rhythm of Stefani's career for good. She points out, though, that the absence of No Doubt songs from her solo tour's set list is a reminder that the band's hits belong to the group, not to her.

"This tour is cheesy and girly and I love it," she said. "This is its own thing."

If there was a defining moment in the public life of No Doubt it may have been the music video for "Don't Speak," the plaintive 1996 hit that put the band's internal pressures on display. The video showed the young band reenacting moments of tension that were pretty close to reality. One of the scenes shows the other members of the band -- bassist Tony Kanal, drummer Adrian Young and guitarist Tom Dumont -- fuming as Stefani becomes the focal point of press attention.

"It haunted us," Stefani said. "It was a really honest video, but we had to sit on a couch together for a year and half and answer the same questions every night and every interview."

Kanal was a producer on Stefani's solo project, and the two (who were romantically involved years ago -- another subplot to the No Doubt saga) keep in touch. Stefani said she did fret that Young and Dumont would watch her current solo success and worry about what it meant for the band.

"Going on tour without them, I felt like I was cheating," said Stefani, who made it clear that No Doubt is not over. "We've been a band for 18 years. None of this was expected. Just like the pregnancy too. I'm sure everybody's wondering how this is all going to turn out."

With that in mind, Stefani carefully weighed her options in announcing her big news.

"I'm really horrible with secrets," Stefani said. "It's amazing we kept it quiet as long as we did, I suppose. People were really supportive .... The tabloid stuff is so ridiculous."

In the end, the news that Stefani, 36, was with child was reported by Us Weekly. "They called my father-in-law in England. He's a retired doctor and just the sweetest man. And they said something like, 'Congratulations, it's confirmed, everybody knows.... And he was like, 'Uh, well, we're delighted.' Oops. Then it was like a wildfire."

Stefani has enjoyed a relatively low-key life in London -- No Doubt made her a star here, but it was not until this pop album that she really reached an intense celebrity level in London. She used to get asked for autographs by people who thought she was Madonna -- now she's anxious that her new strata of recognition will draw the paparazzi to her doorstep.

"We'll see how it goes," she said. "There's so many things that are going to change, you know? And I don't know what my passion will be when the baby comes. I don't know anything."

She does know one thing: After the show, leaning against a wall and rolling her eyes, she put her hand on her stomach and smiled. "I don't ever have to wear those clothes again."

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