Coachella dropped its 2024 poster Tuesday night and there weren’t many big surprises when it came to the nightly headliners, which include Lana Del Rey; Tyler, the Creator; and Doja Cat. Things grew slightly more interesting a line down with the announcement that Blur were playing their first North American show since 2015, and news that Sublime would be appearing with Bradley Nowell’s son Jakob Nowell on lead vocals.
The big shock came at the bottom of the poster with the words “and…No Doubt.” The ska-punk quartet has been in hibernation for nearly a decade, and there wasn’t even a hint they were contemplating a reunion until shortly before the Coachella announcement when they posted a teaser video to their Instagram account.
It begins with Gwen Stefani standing near the original artwork to No Doubt’s 1995 LP The Beacon Street Collection. “I actually did this actual collage myself,” she says. “I remember cutting out each one of these photos. This is actually bringing back so many memories. I’m going to text [No Doubt bassist] Tony [Kanal] right now.”
The text (“Hi what are U doing?”) leads to the entire band hopping on a video chat together. “What are we doing here, guys?” asks drummer Adrian Young, pretending this is an actual spontaneous call and not a planned bit. “What’s going on here?” Stefani responds, “What are we doing? Why don’t we all hang out?”
No Doubt hangouts have been relatively rare over the past 15 years. The group went from the center of Stefani’s life to a part-time endeavor after she became a solo start in 2004 thanks to hits like “Rich Girl” and “Hollaback Girl.” Their only attempt at a new album after those songs was 2012’s underwhelming Push and Shove.
“When Tony [Kanal] and I are connected creatively, it’s magic,” Stefani told Rolling Stone in 2016. “But I think we’ve grown apart as far as what kind of music we want to make. I was really drained and burned out when we recorded that album. And I had a lot of guilt: ‘I have to do it.’ That’s not the right setting to make music. There’s some really great writing on that record. But the production felt really conflicted. It was sad how we all waited that long to put something out and it didn’t get heard.”
That same year, the three other members of No Doubt joined forces with AFI’s Davey Havok to form the supergroup Dreamcar. “I actually first heard about it on the Internet,” Stefani said on Jimmy Kimmel. “They’re doing a side project … they wanna be in a punk band…It’s not No Doubt… it’s all the guys from No Doubt doing a new band, just to do new music.”
Dreamcar didn’t play any No Doubt songs when they toured in 2017, though the fact that they didn’t tell Stefani about the group in advance suggests things were less than copacetic between the two camps. And when Stefani launched her Las Vegas show Gwen Stefani – Just a Girl in 2018, she packed the set with band classics like “Spiderwebs,” “Hey Baby,” “Don’t Speak,” and “Bathwater.” Her early solo shows, by comparison, didn’t feature any No Doubt songs.
No Doubt last played in 2015 when they came back together for a short run of festival dates. The mini-tour wrapped up Sept. 18, 2015, at the KAABOO Festival in Del Mar, California. Here’s fan-shot video of “Just a Girl” from that night where Stefani climbs the scaffolding like it’s the good old days on the Anaheim club circuit.
The band’s future looked quite rocky following this night, but they’ve clearly patched things up. There are still many unanswered questions: What night are they playing Coachella? Are they performing before or after the top headliners? Is this just an isolated event or are they going to tour? Is there any chance of a new album?
As we await the answers to these questions, let’s be happy there’s at least one No Doubt show on the calendar. Maybe they can even bring out Jakob Nowell to play “Total Hate 95.” And with Green Day playing Dookie straight through this summer, it’s just more proof that the Nineties will never die.