Don’t speak? Gwen Stefani can’t help it as she opens up about her latest release – the “record that saved my life.”
Featuring a multitude of diary-like outpourings related to Gavin Rossdale, whom the No Doubt frontwoman divorced in 2015 after 13 years of marriage, “This Is What the Truth Feels Like” is Stefani’s third solo album and first since 2006’s “The Sweet Escape.”
“It’s so therapeutic to talk about it,” she says the day before the album’s release. “And I hope it saves some other lives. I really, really truly do hope that. That’s the message I wanna give.”
During our candid tell-all, Stefani also talked about her gay besties who “made me look pretty when I didn’t feel pretty,” being a (mostly) respected woman in a man’s world and how she and boyfriend Blake Shelton hang with the same “big posse” of gays.
In the last year, when the going got tough, which gay friends of yours could you count on to have the wine cupboard fully stocked?
Most of my gay friends are talented, close people who work with me: my hairdresser, my makeup artist. Those are probably my two closest gay friends, and what I love about them is how unique they are and how spirited they are and how talented they are. I think “passionate” would be a really good way to describe them. They’re not representing all gay men, but they represent the ones in my life who’ve had a huge impact on me. I turned to them this whole time period, during my whole tragedy, and they have been really, really super supportive and loyal and made me look pretty when I didn’t feel pretty.
How did collaborating with Justin Tranter of Semi-Precious Weapons, who’s gay, affect your recording sessions for This Is What the Truth Feels Like?
I didn’t know who he was or anything, but the thing that was so great about working with Justin was that he had followed my career for the longest time. He knew everything about every song I’d ever done, whatever I’d worn, every piece of jewelry. It was like, whoa. And he’d wanted to work with me for a long time and I didn’t know that, but it was like God put us in the same room at the perfect time because I needed his understanding and compassion. He was so supportive of me and so confident in me, and I had lost a lot of my confidence, so he really brought that out of me. I felt so comfortable around him from the moment that I met him. So, he was a huge support in making this record and a good friend – an instant friend, weirdly, because I didn’t know him at all. But now I feel like he’s one of my closest friends.
I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to say that any gay man would instantly connect with you.
Awww! That makes me happy.
Did Blake have to get your gay friends’ approval?
Well, I mean, Blake’s definitely like – how would I describe it? All the same people all the time are always in the room together and we do everything together, so it’s like we’re all a big posse. It’s funny, too, because Blake’s mom was a hairdresser growing up, so he was definitely introduced to that world a looong time ago.
As the frontwoman of No Doubt, there have been many times you’ve been the only female rocker on a festival bill. For you, what’s that experience been like? Did the boys take you seriously from the beginning?
There was a moment back in the day when I was doing festivals and we were just getting known and I do remember being disrespected here and there – they’d want me to take my top off or whatever – but it really didn’t take long for me to be able to prove that I wasn’t gonna stand for that. I don’t know where the confidence came from, but I would get up there and I just knew I was gonna win them over and do whatever it took to win them over. I was not gonna leave the stage until I had a pit going. That’s it. No question. It was a fire that was inside of me. I wasn’t rebellious; I had this really normal, easy, beautiful, loving family. But I feel like I’ve always been respected and never had to really worry about, “Oh, I don’t get respect because I’m a woman.” And that’s a really good thing, because that means if I can have that, other women and other people can have that and we are making some progress.
You’re known for your sonic soul-barings, but lately, you also seem especially candid in interviews. Why did you decide to be so open about your life in the last year?
Because I’m the kind of girl that’s just not good with secrets. I tell everybody everything. If ate too many Oreos, I’mma tell you about it! I grew up Catholic, so I just need to confess everything.
I feel like I’ve always been really open, but there was a point in my marriage and in my relationship (with Gavin Rossdale) – because maybe we’re born out of the ’90s – it felt cooler and more protected to not talk about the relationship, or it felt awkward because maybe we were both doing the same thing and I didn’t wanna say something and he’d be like, “Why’d you say that?!” There were probably some limits during that relationship. And then with my children, obviously I can’t talk about them because they’re gonna be 15 and like, “Mom, why did you say that? You’re embarrassing me!” I have to think a little bit about that now. But I just think… I don’t know how else to be. Everybody knows what happened to me. I got a divorce. It’s the worst thing that can happen to me besides death.
My whole life all I wanted to do was be a mother and a wife, and I had the dream of having this family because that’s what I had. I have parents who’ve been married since high school, who are in love, and they’re still in love and having their big wedding anniversary. I had a perfect example, so it’s super tragic for me.
They say everything happens for a reason.
And you kind of can’t see it until you go through it and look back at it and see all the signs. I had the baby. Then I got The Voice, which was so needed. I needed to do something like that. I needed to play that role, and I also got in the room with Pharrell again who’s been like a guardian angel to me.
What would you say to one of your boys if they came out to you one day?
I would be blessed with a gay son. You know that I would feel blessed about that. I just want my boys to be happy and healthy, and I just ask God to guide me every day to be a good mother because it is not an easy job.
I’ve been lucky enough to have such a blessed life. I’ve been able to travel the world and meet so many different kinds of people. And it doesn’t really matter if you’re gay, straight, whatever. There are good and bad people, and I would be happy. I just want my kids to be happy, and whatever journey God gives them is their journey. I just need to be there to be the most supportive mom that I can be and that’s what I’m gonna be. I always ask my gay friends, “OK, so what was it like when you were a little boy?” Because I do know that it’s gotta be difficult to be the alternative, to not be the mainstream, or to be different, if you want to call it that. I feel like it’s less and less (like that) these days, and it’s hard for me to understand because it doesn’t seem different or weird or anything anymore because it just seems so normal to me.