Pop stars, No Doubt

JANE STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 12:02 AM ET

By JANE STEVENSON --

Less than a year ago -- nine months to be exact -- No Doubt was playing to a sold-out crowd at the Phoenix.

Tonight, the California ska-pop band will perform at Maple Leaf Gardens, which is 12 times the size of their previous Toronto venue.

The mind boggles, but it's just another example of the astounding ascension of the Orange County group, fronted by made-to-order music mistress Gwen Stefani, who most recently graced the cover of Rolling Stone.

"We've been on the road while this whole thing happened, so for us we haven't actually been able to go home for a long enough period of time to let things sink in," says bassist Tony Kanal on the phone from Long Island, N.Y.

"For the most part, we're doing pretty well. We've been able to maintain our sanity."

No Doubt will also perform and answer questions during an Intimate And Interactive on MuchMusic tomorrow night, beginning at 8 p.m., during which organizers hope to set a world record for the biggest virtual appearance by a band. The show will be broadcast to three continents and carried live on the Internet.

Needless to say, the long and winding road to pop stardom -- two Grammy nominations and millions in album sales -- has required adjustments.

No Doubt's year-and-a-half tour in support of the multi-platinum Tragic Kingdom -- it's sold seven million in the U.S. and 800,000 in Canada -- finally wraps up on July 11 in Hartford, Conn. Following that, the group may do a few shows in Europe before decamping to California and making grown-up decisions -- like buying new homes. (Both Kanal and Stefani still technically live with their parents.)

"I think you go through growing pains," admits Kanal. "When we started touring this record we had just graduated to touring in a bus. The previous eight years of doing shows we were in one van and a trailer. At this point, we're up to three buses, five semi-trucks, 37 people on the road. It's something you just have to adjust to very quickly."

Like the media frenzy over Stefani.

Initially, many magazines wanted to feature her alone -- all platinum blonde hair and pale midriff exposed -- on their covers.

"I think it's definitely a victory that all four of us made it on the cover of Rolling Stone," says Kanal. "It's easier for the media to focus on just one person. And when the lead singer happens to be Gwen, it's totally easy. I guess, yeah, you could say we had to put our foot down."

Then there was the interest in Stefani's involvement with Bush singer Gavin Rossdale. Most recently, rumors of an engagement or impending marriage abound.

"I have no idea what's going on with them," says Kanal. "I'm not privy to that. It's her personal business.

It's not as if Kanal is a disinterested party. He dated Stefani for seven years -- she got the idea for wearing the jewelled bindi on her forehead from his family gatherings -- and found that their relationship woes became fodder for many of the songs on Tragic Kingdom.

Despite only Stefani's side of the story being told on the album, the two have miraculously remained close.

"We had to remain friends, we wanted to, regardless of any external pressures," says Kanal.

And no, he adds, he won't be telling his side of the breakup on the followup to Tragic Kingdom.

"I don't think so. That, to me, is quite personal. I have no desire to let anybody know what happened."


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