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Interview:
Gwen Stefani comes out of a tough year with the "Truth" on her side
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Gwen Stefani's latest tour isn't about just entertaining her fans or promoting her latest album, "This Is What The Truth Feels Like."

It's about winning friends and influencing people, according to the pop singer.

"The whole show for me is not about what I'm wearing or even how I sing," the California-born Stefani, 46, said during a pre-tour conference call with reporters from her home in California. "It's really about the connection and connecting. I want people to feel like they know me by the end of it, and if I have to slap 'em around and tell 'em what to do, by the end of the show I want to walk away and feel like we know each other and that we have a connection.

"So all of the other stuff -- the lights, the video screens, the costumes, the makeup -- to me what's punk is saying, 'You WILL have fun and I WILL control you, and by the end of this we're gonna be best friends. That's my attitude.

"But I do love all the rest of it, too."

The tour, which kicked off July 12 near Boston, is something of a triumph for Stefani after an eventful and emotionally trying few years since she was last on the road as a solo act in 2007. Since then she's reunited on a couple of occasions with her band, No Doubt, and gave birth to two of her three songs with Bush's Gavin Rossdale -- Zuma in 2008, Apollo in 2014 (Oldest son Kingston was born in 2006). But she and Rossdale split up in 2015 after 13 yeas of marriage, citing "irreconcilable differences" and weathering a storm of tabloid-fueled controversy.

The good news is that Stefani came out the other side, smiling. he began dating country star Blake Shelton during the spring of 2015, after she served with him as a judge on NBC's "The Voice." And "This Is What The Truth Feels LIke" became her first No. 1 solo album in March, spawning the singles "Used To Love You," "Make Me Like You" and "Misery."

But the turmoil sidetracked Stefani's plans to do more with No Doubt as well as new music she was working on for herself.

"I was burnt out physically and, I think, mentally," Stefani recalled. "I felt so much pressure. I spent a lot of time trying to make a No Doubt record and also being a mom with a lot of guilt. I was starting my journey of insecurity at that point. I felt like I was wasting everybody's time, and I wasn't helping my creative center at all. I went through that for a long time."

Stefani pulled out of it by finding her way "back to a spiritual path, this connection of finding my purpose." Apollo's birth, which she described as "a miracle," also helped. "It was a time to stop everything for me," she said. And then she got the call from "The Voice," which proved to be life-changing as well.

"I never thought about doing anything like that before," said Stefani, who co-wrote and duets with Shelton on the single "Go Ahead and Break My Heart," for Shelton's latest album. "I was like, 'Wow, let's go.' I didn't know what I was getting in to, but that was the beginning of the end of the insecurity. I was on the show, I had this new baby, I'm around all this music and I'm looking at my life, looking back at myself and what I've done.

"It made me think about how many great songs I'd written and how much I'd accomplished, and how did I do it? My confidence was coming back slowly, so I went in the studio and that's just what this (latest) record is...Everybody has their own purpose and their own life can be as simple as whatever that is, whatever makes you tick. For me, it's music."

Stefani then decided to start over in making "This Is What The Truth Feels Like," and while she wears her hard times on her sleeve in its 12 songs, she noted that's nothing new for her.

"I think I was born the kind of person...I share everything," explained Stefani, who wrote songs on No Doubt's 10-times platinum 1995 album "Tragic Kingdom" about her breakup with the band's bassist Tony Kanal. "Every single song I've written has been about my personal life. I'm fine with that for the most part, and if I don't want to share it, I don't share it.

"It doesn't matter what I say because people are going to believe what they're going to believe, and they're either going to feel me or not feel me. Everyone has that opinion and choice. I'm just here to share the way I see and the way I experienced it."

The This Is What The Truth Feels Like Tour -- featuring eight songs from the new album and five No Doubt favorites -- will keep Stefani on the road into October at this point, and probably beyond. She and Shelton are still going strong, and Stefani is happy to be in a position that even less than two years ago she thought was unattainable.

"I never thought this year was going to happen," she said. You couldn't have written it -- you know what I'm saying? I was in a really desperate place. I was back in a place of naivete and purity. I felt like all I have left right now is my music, and if I do this maybe I'll survive.

"So I wasn't making this record to talk to you about it or go on tour. I was making it 'cause that's all I could do to save my own life. And I feel like it did."

Gwen Stefani and Eve

7 p.m. Tuesday, August 2.

DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashbaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

Tickets are $39.95-$149.95 pavilion, $29.95 lawn with a $60 lawn four-pack.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.


Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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