Gwen Stefani is a few days away from unleashing her emotionally honest third solo LP, This is What the Truth Feels Like, out March 18. The album follows Stefani's public divorce with Gavin Rossdale and, as she told NPR on Monday (March 14), it helped her heal.
The No Doubt singer admits that TISWTTFL has her dealing with personal issues in public. But, as she knows it, she's never been one to censor herself. In her NPR interview, she dishes about the making of the album, how she had to ditch an earlier version and how songwriting became "traumatic" after Tragic Kingdom.
Click through to learn more about Stefani's process.
"I was trying to cheat a little bit. I was like, 'OK, maybe I can just do it the way everyone else does it: just get other people to write my music for me, and I can kind of tell them what to write, and curate it.' I just gave birth, I'm nursing, I'm on a new TV show and I have two other kids. It's impossible! So let's do it the way we can. And I tried that for a while, and actually had almost a whole record. I put out a song called 'Baby Don't Lie'—I don't know if you remember that one. But overall, it just didn't feel right."
"When you write a great song, it just blows you away. When you write a song that connects with people around the world — I mean like it actually transcends language barriers — you see how it can affect people, and it's quite a tall order to follow up on. I think when I first started discovering I could write songs, I was so naive. And it was after I got broken up with and had my heart sliced up into a bunch of little pieces that I was like, 'I'm going to say this.' I didn't even know how to play guitar."
"We'd been a band for nine years, never trying to make it. We were making music that was the opposite of grunge and what was popular on the radio, and we were fine with that. And for a garage band, we were massive! We were already successful in our own minds. So when that record came out and made such an impact, and people were relating to it, it was like my life on a plate; it was intense."
Even after trying to "cheat" her way through an album, she knew she had to turn back to writing to get through the tough times.
"You just crumble, you know? I was down — I was all the way down. And I just felt like, 'God, I gotta turn this around. I can't go down like this. I have to know that this is happening for a reason.' And I knew that I had to turn to music."
"The biggest thing, and I don't even like to bring it up, is my children — you know, you've gotta protect them. I have people that are affected by what I do, what I say, and that would be the one place where it gets complicated. But being honest and truthful — I just believe that's the best way to be."