Cover bands. Say what you will about them, but unlike their more successful and famous counterparts, they’ll always play the hits and won’t be snobby assholes about it. In Covering Their Bases, The A.V. Club asks a cover band to weigh in on a contentious issue regarding the reason for their existence. In this edition, Don’t Speak’s Gwens Tufani (assumed names used) schools us on ska, romance, and just what it means to be walking in the spiderwebs before the band’s shows this summer at Windy City Ribfest, Wicker Park Fest, and Market Days.
The A.V. Club: Why No Doubt?
Gwens Tufani: I grew up on No Doubt and Gwen Stefani. There are videos in my parents’ drawers of me in fifth grade jumping up and down to “I’m Just A Girl.” I was influenced by her style and the music as a kid. When we had the idea to get into a tribute or cover band, we looked at the market in Chicago and the Midwest to try and figure out what was missing. We wanted to be a really strong, female-fronted band, and No Doubt was the first thing that came to mind.
AVC: It was a good choice considering they have a new record coming out later this year.
GT: We’re really excited about that. Their name is everywhere.
It also means that fans are expecting a lot from us, though. It’s fun to have that bar we need to reach every time we play.
AVC: Did you know they were getting back together before you chose to be a No Doubt tribute band?
GT: We had seen some activity on their Twitter and website, and we knew they were in the studio, but when they did Rock Steady in 2001 they took their time. We knew that it could have been a year or five years before we heard a new record. They’re perfectionists.
AVC: Is it daunting being a tribute to an existing band?
GT: It wasn’t daunting in the sense that a lot of people are doing the ’90s right now. We’ve partnered up with other bands that do ’90s music, like a Green Day band, and Our Name Is Jonas who do Weezer songs. We have fun putting together ’90s shows. Those acts all toured together at one time, like they all played shows together in ’97. We have fun with it like that.
AVC: Do you do the Gwen Stefani solo material too?
GT: We do some. We started out being really true to No Doubt, but we always get people hollering for “Bananas” or “Sweet Escape,” like, “It’s my favorite song, and it’s my birthday.” We don’t want to be stuck up, because we’re a cover band, so we’re not stuck up about anything. So now we do “Sweet Escape,” “Hollaback,” “Luxurious,” and some others.
AVC: Do you wear costumes to look like the band?
GT: We’ve looked at their past tour costumes for inspiration. In 2009 they did a Clockwork Orange theme for their costumes, so we do put our guys in all white, and I usually wear all black. It makes us stand out. Out bass player has old punk-rock bondage pants, and I’ll wear suspenders that hang down. I’m getting a bum flap that says No Doubt on the back. I had to special order that. I’m getting it to have more of her signature pieces. I’ve also been eating a lot of spinach to get her abs. That’s the hardest part for me, getting her body. People don’t necessarily expect you to be a certain way, but I’d like to have those rock-hard abs. That’s the science of eating, though.
AVC: Do you emulate the way Stefani is onstage?
GT: I try and do some of her “dance moves.” She’s not really the world’s best dancer, but what I love about her is that her movement is very in the moment and full of joy. She’ll do old, punk-rock skanking kicks and stuff. That kind of stuff carries us through the show, along with her banter. Like I’ve listened to shows from the Tragic Kingdom tour, and I’ll say some of the stuff she said on there in her speaking voice. I play with our guitar player every so often, which is always funny. He’s stoic, so it’s fun to play around with him onstage like that.
AVC: What’s your favorite song to play?
GT: I love to play “Hella Good.” I also like to play “Ex-Girlfriend” from the Return Of Saturn record, which is an old favorite for people who are real No Doubt fans beyond just knowing “Spiderwebs.” “Sunday Morning” is really fun to play.
AVC: What songs are the hardest to play?
GT: The hardest one to sing is “The Climb” from Tragic Kingdom. It’s this epic song that her brother Eric Stefani wrote. He wasn’t kind on the melody for that. “You Can Do It” is another of theirs that doesn’t seem like they wanted to write it, but more like one of their earlier producers took a look at their record and said they needed a happy, snappy funk tune. It sounds good, but it’s not my favorite.
AVC: Do you have a Gavin Rossdale in your life?
GT: I was never a Bush fan, and I’m currently and very publicly engaged to our bass player. There’s a joke he always makes about how as long as we don’t hook up with a Bush tribute band it’ll be okay. He proposed onstage at a show, so a lot of our fans are trying to get in the know about our future plans. It’s a Gwen and Tony thing that will hopefully end happily ever after in our case.
AVC: Do you have any of Gwen’s lifestyle brand items like Harujuku Girls perfume or L.A.M.B. clothes?
GT: I’m not sure if it’s real, but I did get L.A.M.B. perfume in New York City when I was a lot younger. I wish that I were small enough to fit the Harujuku Mini clothes at Target. Our drummer has a daughter, and I can’t wait for her to fit in that stuff. As far as the real Gwennabees out there, I’m not as crazy about her as a lot of them are. I’m more inspired by her business savvy and how much of a good heart she has. She’s a great woman. A lot of us as women aspire to have the career we’ve always dreamed of, a hot husband who’s a good dad, and have always wanted kids. It appears she has everything she’s always wanted, and I feel like a lot of us can aspire to that.