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No Doubt that this band has grown older, wiser

SHARE No Doubt that this band has grown older, wiser

It took band members Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont and Adrian Young a couple of years to release their new CD, "Return of Saturn," and it appears No Doubt has grown up a bit since its last release, "Tragic Kingdom."

This isn't just because the musicians have gotten older; it's also because they've gotten wiser, and they've stayed together when many band relationships have dissolved or become extremely fragile.

No Doubt will be appearing in the E Center Monday, July 17, with opening act Lit.

According to lead guitarist Dumont, they have all grown closer, and this bond can be heard in No Doubt's music. "In the last albums, we would play over each other a bit," Dumont said by phone from New York City's Tribeca Grand Hotel. "Now the music is supporting the lyrics, and we're pulling in the same direction."

A direction that has apparently taken a turn away from ska.

It appears the genre has taken a back seat to the music that now influences the band member's lives. This was actually a natural progression that began before the "Tragic Kingdom" release. Dumont said moving away from ska wasn't about whether the music was popular. It was about not getting stuck in a rut.

And No Doubt is definitely not in a rut. The music on "Return of Saturn" defies any pigeonholing by critics.

No Doubt has a funny history with ska. When Dumont joined back in 1988, the band was performing music akin to bands like the Specials and Selector. Even drummer Young was doing the ska thing. It was what all the kids were listening to in Orange County, Calif.

But No Doubt isn't a bunch of kids anymore. "Gwen, Tony, Adrian listened to those when they were 15," said Dumont. "Now Gwen listens to Bjork and Radio Head."

They've put away their childish things and have incorporated all their newfound adulthood influences into "Return of Saturn." "It's a scary thing to mature," said Dumont, "but it's organic." He added that you can't be an adult and still pretend to have things in common with people who are 15 years behind you, and anyone who loves music grows away from the music they listened to as a teenager.

According to Dumont, "Return" is a darker, mellower album than any of the previous releases by No Doubt, and the process of making "Return" was much different than "Tragic Kingdom."

On this album, producer Glenn Ballard — who had produced for Alanis Morissette and Aerosmith — worked on 12 of the album's 13 songs. "He had this zen-like personality," said Dumont of the soft-spoken Ballard, who was very respectful of No Doubt's vision and understood the musicians wanted to do all the songwriting themselves. "We're idealistic," Dumont added.

But before the band began actually working with Ballard, No Doubt put him on a one-week trial period. "We really made him earn his money. We have a tendency to overwrite songs," said Dumont, "and we wanted someone to edit us in a way that we trust."

Dumont remembered how impressed he was that Ballard paid close attention to detail and was as interested in Young's drumming as he was to the bass and lead-guitar lines. Dumont also said that Ballard was able to push each of them musically, especially Stefani.

Of the 35 songs No Doubt handed Ballard, 24 were recorded and 14 made it onto the record. "Some B-sides will probably find their way out sometime," said Dumont of the 10 songs not included in the final cut..

"Whittling it down is subjective in a lot of ways," said Dumont of the process of elimination. "I've read the reviews and some will say that a couple of the songs are duds, like 'Marry Me' and 'Six Feet Under,' and another review will say ('Six Feet Under') is great."