Gwen Stefani says she was onstage a couple of months ago, struggling to get her bearings with a new band and new music in front of a stadium of people, when she had an epiphany.
“It was crazy because the first two songs . . . they didn’t feel awesome,” Stefani says, during a recent teleconference. “Then, all of a sudden, I just started talking to the audience. And I was like ‘Wow. I don’t care what you guys think. Right now, you are going to get to know me. Whatever you think about me — everything you read, whatever you think or whatever — this is me right here. And I’m going to make sure that when you walk away that you know who I am and I’m going to make sure I know you.’ ”
It’s a new outlook to go with Stefani’s new life, which includes her new boyfriend, Blake Shelton — and the album “This Is What the Truth Feels Like” (Interscope) and tour that it has inspired. And Stefani is very open that she is still getting used to all of it.
She says her singles “Make Me Like You” and “Misery” — both about her new relationship with Shelton — came to her in “a magical way,” both within two days.
“I was writing two songs a day where I couldn’t even write a song for years,” Stefani says. “The songs were coming so fast and a lot of the ideas were so simple. . . . The best stuff is usually simple, if you think about it, but it’s the hardest thing to do.”
Even more surprising was that all of it was unplanned. “I wasn’t even going to make a record, you know what I’m saying?” she says. “I was just going day by day . . . I just wanted the truth. I just wanted it to be my words, my feelings, what I was going through right then. It was all about the emotion.”
Those emotions include the painful ones associated to her very public divorce last year from Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, her husband of 13 years. However, Stefani says she is ready to perform the songs inspired by that breakup, including her wrenching hit “Used to Love You,” and feel relieved that she is finally able to discuss it with her fans after keeping it secret for so long.
“I feel like God just handed them down to me as this kind of Band-Aid to kind of help me through this crazy time in my life,” she says. “And it’s all kind of about . . . finding your gift and then sharing it. It is very draining and touring is very draining, because there’s so much output.”
Exclusive subscription offer
Newsday covers the stories that matter most to Long Islanders. We dig deep to uncover the facts, hold the powerful in check and keep a watchful eye on Long Island.
Your digital subscription, starting at $1, supports local journalism vital to the community.SUBSCRIBE NOW
However, Stefani feels she has no other choice. “Every time I go out on stage, I have to do my very best,” she says. “You can’t just walk through it. You have to be in it, and it’s exhausting. And I think that’s one of the reasons I haven’t toured in seven years, because the last tour I did almost killed me, after having those two babies and then going on tour and nursing.
“So I think that it will be super emotional,” she adds, “but I think there’s going to be something quite — I don’t know — satisfying and healing. And it’s going to be something that’s going to make me feel super empowered. It’s part of the journey . . . I climbed all the way — not on top of the mountain, but, I was underground buried. So to be able to get up there on stage, and feel that love and give that love to them, receive it, it’s going to feel super accomplished. I know it’s part of what I need to do and what I want to do, and I’m so honored to be able to have this opportunity.”
Stefani says the tour, which stops at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on July 21, will reflect the emotional roller coaster of her life.
“Yes, there’s going to be cool lights and there’s going to be lots of really cool visuals because I’m working with Sophie Muller and we’re doing all of the contents of the screen together,” she says. “I have eight dancers and there’s going to be really cool costumes and the band is ridiculously talented. But I really just think that . . . if I had to, we didn’t need any of that. It’s just going to be about: How can I get to know these people that have supported me? How can I get to know them through these songs that night? I just want to feel a connection.”
Stefani says that she is now surprisingly content with having gone through the entire experience. “I just feel grateful to have to go through the pain to get to this place,” she says, “because that’s sometimes what you have to do . . . I’m just going to celebrate that I was put on this earth to write these songs. Everybody has their own purpose and their own gift and it can be as simple as whatever it is, whatever makes you tick, and, for me, it’s music.”