by: Bobby Crowley and Patrick Gill
Note: No Doubt will be releasing their first album of new material since 2001 on September 25th, with the first single slated for July. Because they were too eager to wait, In Our Words got two writers to collaborate on an article on how No Doubt made their lives better.
No Doubtcame out the year I was born. Needless to say, their entrance into the world did not affect my own. However, by the time I was in the second grade, only six years old, No Doubt’s three year old album Tragic Kingdom had its hold of me. Of course “Don’t Speak” was a huge hit and I loved it, but it was really the album’s second track “Excuse Me Mr.” that grabbed my attention and opened the doors to a whole new world of expression.
I was in the eye of the socially constructed gender storm and I had no idea how to handle my frustration and confusion. In other words, I wanted to wrestle, punch and get dirty with the other boys on the playground but I was told that wasn’t what girls were supposed to do. I had been scolded multiple times about my behavior during recess and with my six year old ignorance, I trusted the teachers dishing out the scolding with blind faith. I was learning what it meant to be a proper “girl” and while I obeyed, I found it difficult to not feel conflicted and frustrated about the whole process.
I look back now and wonder what I had been thinking, how had I processed my anger at such a young age about something I didn’t understand? No Doubt played a huge part in that process. While “Excuse Me Mr.” had the perfect tone of anger to it that held me in a very cathartic place, “Just a Girl” from Tragic Kingdom and “Trapped in a Box” from their Self-titled album forged a strong connection between my frustration and the restraints placed on me as a young girl.
After I discovered No Doubt and the lead singer’s ability to expose and even celebrate her aggression and non-conformity via song, I began to write. I wrote songs. I wrote songs in the second grade. They were crap, of course, but they were just the beginning of the life-long obsession I have with writing. Stefani’s tomboyish but sexy style and raw, sharp voice that told stories of unreciprocated love, oppressing patriarchy, and kicking ass opened my eyes to my own potential as a writer and as a woman. It also opened the door to other musical ass-kickers like Tsunami Bomb, THE Start, and, eventually, one of my favorite bands ever, The Dresden Dolls.
If it weren’t for No Doubt, I don’t know where I would be. Maybe I would’ve just discovered a similarly ass-kicking female vocalist that inspired all of the above. Maybe I would’ve discovered country instead and lived my life accordingly. I shudder at the thought. Either way, I can’t deny the impact No Doubt had on my life and, despite some of their more recent endeavors, I’m proud to wait in anticipation for what’s to come.
Tragic Kingdom was one of the first albums I owned, given to me the same Christmas I got TLCs Crazy, Sexy, Cool. It immersed me. It was it’s own strange universe, taking on the trope of just past adolescent disillusionment with a hometown and dousing it with orange soda flavored energy. What else could you do when your hometown was ripe orange groves flattened into glittering motels and palm tree “oases” and lived in the shadow of Disney’s Magic Kingdom (hence the title)?
And though I wouldn’t get the deeper themes for years, I was 7 people, the steady sound of Tom Dumont’s upstroke guitar and Gwen Stefani’s breathy, pouty, ferocious and raging voice– it could be several places at once– the heavy linger of the bass and crisp drums, it all got to me. It was jump around wild music, and the ballads had sufficient enough drums to appease my young ear (again, years later, every song takes on a new meaning, once I had the patience to listen to ballads).
Strange appropriations of Asian culture by Stefani aside (you too thought it was cool when she wore a bindi when you were a kid, come on), No Doubt became my go to music into middle school. With their self titled album and the Beacon Street Collection I became a ska kid before I was really a punk– I still doubt my punk side but that’s another article. Ska has had an important effect on my life, its one of the progenitors of my energy and optimism. Ska is the birth of reggae and punk, with roots in political discourse and personal freedom.
Though Third Wave/Southern California Ska, which No Doubt was a part of, is not very close to the rebel music it began as, it lead little me to the both glorious 2 Tone past of The Selecter, The Specials and The Beat; as well as the more contemporary Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the Dance Hall Crashers, and Operation Ivy– each rough, fun, smart, and personal. Because of ska I would stay up late until our town’s college radio station would have their punk show, Timebomb, which I would record on cassettes to play in my mom’s mini-van while we drove around the next day, it gave me something to be passionate about. Because of ska I met people, not only people with similar music tastes, but because ska helped me be happy enough to just talk to people. No Doubt started this all for me.
Bobby Crowley is a Queer woman with a love for all that is fabulous. She is currently working on her Creative Writing degree at Loyola University where she is also on the board of Advocate and a writer for the alt. magazine LUChameleon. She is in love with Andrea Gibson, her labradaniel puppies, and singing loudly in the shower.
Patrick Gill is the Co-Creator of In Our Words, as well as the Co-Founder and Host of the queer reading series All The Writers I Know. He is a poet, essayist, short story writer and occasional performer. Patrick writes the column “B*tch, I’m Miley Cyrus” for HEAVEMedia, is an alumnus of DePaul, has developed LGBTQ-centered anti-bullying curricula for CPS schools and is currently working on LGBTQ friendly children’s books. Patrick is doing so in order to be cute and endearing once again. He is a semi-professional word-hustler and a burrito hunter. His mother thinks everything he is doing is a fun thing to do.