L a! Gur-la! Ah!” Gwen Stefani’s ninth-month-old son Kingston is making so much noise that his immaculately-dressed mother stops mid-sentence to look across the exclusive London members’ club to where he’s sitting with his nanny. “He’s OK,” says the singer brightly, “he’s just in a talking mood.”
For years, Stefani, now 37, spoke of her desire for children, to the point where the frantic “tick tock” motif of her debut solo single, 2004’s What You Waiting For?, was widely believed to represent her biological clock going into overdrive. Now she and husband Gavin Rossdale, the singer of British grunge-era band Bush, have Kingston.
Stefani was back in the studio just 13 weeks after her baby was born, making the follow-up to her 2004 solo debut Love. Angel.
Music. Baby, which sold 7m copies worldwide (and shared its name with Stefani’s clothing line, L.A.M.B). Keep on runnin’ Her second solo effort, The Sweet Escape, was released in December last year, a few days after Kingston turned six months old.
Given her relish for parenthood, it’s surprising she didn’t take a longer break. “Well, the good news about my life is that he can come with me everywhere,” she says. “But I didn’t really want more time off. What I’m doing is too fun to stop. If you were me, you wouldn’t take time off either. Y’know, this isn’t gonna last forever.” Stefani’s ascent to pop princess has been a long and unlikely one, which perhaps explains her desire to make hits while the sun shines.
It’s 21 years since she formed No Doubt with friends in Orange County. The band were the main stays of the California ska-punk scene for nearly a decade before their breakthrough third album, 1995’s Tragic Kingdom.
Eventually, with the emergence of her solo career, she went on to reinvent herself as a credible, urban-flavoured pop star. Out went the sweaty tracksuit and vest from the ska-punk days, and in came the haute couture threads. The style press found a new hero.
Bounce back After Kingston was born, Stefani stayed at home for three months before she decid ed to get back.
Joining Stefani on the first foray into the studio, post-Kingston, was Keane’s key board player/song writer Tim Rice-Oxley. “She’s undeniably the queen of pop right now, in the genuine sense of pop music that’s in the moment and defines an era. I don't think she gets the credit she deserves.”
The Sweet Escape
was released in time for Christmas. Stefani couldn’t have enjoyed the lessthan-sparkling critical and commercial reception it was afforded.
“It didn’t feel good,” she admits. “But do you think that I didn’t know that me yodelling on a song wasn’t gonna appeal to everyone? I was hoping it would win over people’s hearts, but I understand that it was weird. But I think the most exciting thing I could do was to mash the Sound of Music with a Pharrell track.
Nobody’d done that before.” Hit me baby one more time Stefani has recently announced another enormous US tour, in which she’ll play 42 dates in 70 days. “It is a lot, but I feel like it’s going to be easier having a baby outside my stomach, rather than inside.” Kingston will have a crib on the tourbus, which will drive all night between venues.
By the time they arrive, a room will have been set up with his toys, a changing station and a rocking chair. “So I’ll be rocking him to sleep in the dressing room every night before I go onstage and rock out,” she guffaws.
She has also just finalised the latest collection for her L.A.M.B. fashion label. “It’s something I’m passionate about that I can hopefully do for the rest of my life.” There’s also, she says, going to be a new No Doubt album.
“We actually all had lunch yesterday,” she says. “We had a heart to heart about things. I think it could be one of our greatest records because we’ve been starved of each other for a few years.”
Last but clearly not least, she’d like another child. “I’m gonna try and enjoy this year of touring and then hopefully get pregnant again. I’m on repeat. I just want to make music and babies.”