"I am not like Prince, where it just flows out and God comes through me."
Gwen Stefani doesn't want to disappoint anyone. In a five-page profile appearing in the January 2013 issue of Vogue, No Doubt's lead singer admits she felt like a lackluster rock star and lackluster mom while working on Push and Shove, the band's first album in 11 years. “Getting to the studio and not being able to make it happen, but missing out on being at home, missing out on putting the kids down," she says. "What’s more important? I felt so guilty. I am letting everyone down in the studio right now; I’m letting down my kids; I’m letting down myself. Because time was so precious."
And time is something she rarely affords her writing process. "I am not like Prince, where it just flows out and God comes through me," she says. "I never write unless I have to." This isn't the first time Stefani has talked about creative difficulties — remember her "writing is hard" HP commercial from 2007?
The rest of the profile keeps its focus on how the "Settle Down" star struggles to balance her home life as wife to Bush lead singer (and occasional duet partner) Gavin Rossdale; mom to the couple's two children; full-time frontwoman for a 26-year-old rock band in the midst of its second life; and businesswoman overseeing three separate clothing lines. Read the highlights below, followed by a behind-the-scenes video of No Doubt on the set of their photo shoot.
On the surprise one-off gig that inspired No Doubt's current reunion: “I was on tour for my second solo record in 2007, and I was playing Irvine Meadows in Orange County, which is basically where we grew up. I said, ‘Why don’t you guys come onstage as a surprise during the encore?’ The audience was already so on fire because it’s our hometown, and then these guys came out and it was just, like, electric. I’d never felt anything like it before. That was, I think, the moment when we were all like, Arrrgh, let’s do this already.”
On the ridiculous balancing act that fueled her creative process: "Ten years ago, I had started [fashion line] L.A.M.B. because I was preparing myself, knowing that the music thing was going to end... Who knew that ten years later, I’d be doing a No Doubt record, be married, have two kids, have three clothing lines? All at one time! It would be ridiculous to do that. And it is ridiculous. It’s impossible. So I think a lot of what I was going through on the record was wanting to be who I’ve always been, but now I’m somebody different. I am a mother. And if you don’t do it right, there are serious consequences. That’s what this whole record was: trying to balance it, trying to be my creative self but also be the new me.”
On her 16-year relationship with Gavin Rossdale: “You feel proud. There are just so many rewards that come with it. You have to work at it. But, actually, it’s fun to get to this point. Because you learn so much about somebody. It’s like these wars that go on and then you kind of get through it to the other side, and it’s like, Wow. And obviously, you get stronger. And then having kids takes the whole relationship to another place. It is the ultimate collaboration. Both of us have such strong opinions about how it should be, and it’s really fun to do it together.”
On how being a mom has made up for No Doubt stunting her growth: “It’s superfun being a mom, but it’s not what you think it’s going to be. And it’s really gradual. At first, your life is totally the same. You have this cute little thing that you get to drive around everywhere and you’re so proud and it’s amazing. And as they grow older, it really does start to change your life... I’ve never had to grow up in a way. When you think about it, [the members of No Doubt] were in college together, and then we made our first record, and then we just took off and stayed in this bubble. Time kind of stops when you’re in a band. It’s this suspended childhood, and it’s really awesome, that part of it. But then when you have a family of your own, it forces you to go into the adult world a little bit more.”
On why being on tour and pregnant may not have been the best choice: “I did my first solo record and went on tour while I was pregnant. I would want to throw up during certain songs. Certain outfits would make me sick. It was torture. I toured until I was four and a half months pregnant, showing. I came home and had Kingston, and when he was eight months old, I went back on the road. I nursed him for fourteen months, so I would literally do my hair and makeup, go back to the bus, nurse him, put him down, and walk out onstage. And I did that for 100 shows.”
On why her work with the band is more sincere than her solo stuff: “I feel like we’ve always been in our own little lane... Never fitting in. Never a nineties grunge band, never a pop girl band. And it’s the same now. I did the solo thing, but I felt like I was trying to play a character in a way, this Alice in Wonderland pretend version of myself. But this, being in No Doubt, is really who I am.”