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No doubting life is push and shove
No Doubt. Picture: AP

The last time Californian pop superstars No Doubt unveiled an album, Apple was also launching its new gizmo - the iPod. The fact that the 11 years between the release of 2001's Rock Steady and this year's comeback album, Push and Shove, is a long time in showbiz is not lost on No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont.

"It's so crazy to think of how everything has changed since then," he says from London, where the quartet were on the promotional trail.

"Even though the technology and the way people listen to music is different . . . the thing that remains the same is that the songs have to be good. The songs have to be compelling, so they'll touch people and move people emotionally.

"We're still trying to achieve a goal of something that people want to listen to and something that pleases us. How they listen to it, and the immediacy of being able to pull up the song on YouTube or iTunes or Spotify or whatever, matters a lot less than the song itself."

An even bigger impact on the creation of Push and Shove is the eight children the four members have had between them since Rock Steady. In particular, Gwen Stefani's two children with rock star hubby Gavin Rossdale have meant the band is no longer top priority.

"In the old days, we used to do 12-hour days in the studio," says Dumont, who has kids aged 6, 4 and 20 months.

"We used to tour for months and now it's all scaled back, especially for Gwen because she's a mum and she's got to be there for her kids first.

"I really admire her for doing that. It would be easy for her to escape her responsibilities but she really doesn't, she's really there . . . she's a mum first and then a singer second.

"That really did impact the amount

of time it took us to make this record."

The juggling act that Stefani performs to balance the needs of sons Kingston, 6, and Zuma, 4, with her career is reflected in the new album's lead single, Settle Down. Like most of Push and Shove, the track was written with bassist, keyboardist and her former beau Tony Kanal - she wrote 1996 mega-smash Don't Speak about the demise of their seven-year relationship.

"(Settle Down) is about being overwhelmed," Stefani says in the press release accompanying the new album, "having so much going on and trying to glide through life saying 'I can do all this' but actually it's more like 'I'm going crazy, I don't know if I can do all this' . . . There are so many days when I fail."

No Doubt started work on Push and Shove four years ago. After struggling to write songs they were happy with, the band hit the road in 2009, playing 58 shows before returning to the studio with a fresh approach.

"In the old days we definitely would write 20 or 30 songs and pick the best ones," Dumont says. "Once we got rolling on a song, instead of scrapping it if it wasn't good enough we would rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.

"There were songs that we rewrote the chorus three times, trying to get it right. There were songs that we re-recorded two or three times in totally different approaches to try to get it right.

"It was a different process but it ended up, I think, in the same result as far as we end up with 11 songs we're really proud of."

There are exactly 11 new songs, without any spare for tour edition CDs or iTunes bonus tracks. And only one song on Push and Shove comes in under four minutes.

"Is that true? Wow," Dumont exclaims. "That's definitely a little bit of self- indulgence on our part." (Of course, edited versions will be issued to keep the record company and radio stations appeased.)

Push and Shove should also please fans - the infusion new wave, reggae and rock into radio-friendly and hook-laden pop picks up where Rock Steady left off. The band injects enough fresh ideas, particularly via the title track which features DJ/producer Diplo in his Major Lazer dancehall guise.

"We always will want to move forward. We hate repeating ourselves," Dumont says. "But at the same time we have all these fans that love us for the sound that they've grown up on with No Doubt.

"We try to have a foot in each world. We want to push things forward and do new things and have our album sound modern but, at the same time, we don't want to completely lose sight of our past."

'The thing that remains the same is that the songs have to be . . . compelling, so they'll touch people and move people emotionally.'