When No Doubt — the Gwen Stefani-featuring ska-pop band from Anaheim, California — headlines Friday at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell, the band’s mohawk-topped drummer, Adrian Young, will be in one of his favorite cities. New Orleans is also the home of his favorite football team, the Saints.
Young and Saints quarterback Drew Brees have been friends since they met at a golf tournament in 2007. When Young and his wife visit New Orleans, as they do a few times a year, they plan the trip around Saints games.
“And New Orleans is one the most special cities in the world,” Young said. “It’s so full of culture, like no city I’ve ever seen. Combine that with the football team that you’re a diehard fan for, it’s like a magnet, for sure.”
Young used to be a Los Angeles Rams fan. The team played at Anaheim Stadium from 1980 to 1994.
“I was a Rams fan when I was a kid, but they left 20 years ago,” he said. “So I hadn’t followed a football team until my wife and I became friends with Drew and Brittany Brees. Then we went to a Saints game. We were hooked. The Who Dat nation took us by storm. We’ve been hardcore fans ever since. We’re passionate about the team.”
When Young attends a Saints game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, he loves the walk from the hotel to the stadium.
“People on the streets just going nuts,” he said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”
Young finds the music of New Orleans to be infectious, too.
“It’s got a whole different soul than music from other parts of the world, especially California,” he said.
Young made special mention of the To Be Continued Brass Band.
“I saw them playing on the street,” he recalled. “They’re fantastic. And I sat in with a couple of local bands when I was trolling around the Quarter. I’ve done that a couple of times.”
No Doubt, a band inspired by ska and reggae music, with hits such as “Just A Girl,” “Don’t Speak” and “Underneath It All,” incorporates Jamaican dancehall rhythm in some songs as well a rhythmic cousin to dancehall, New Orleans’ second-line beat.
“The second-line beat has the same accents as the dancehall beat, but there’s a shuffling going on,” Young said.
In 1992, during No Doubt’s first stops in New Orleans and Baton Rouge (as opening act for rap group Public Enemy), Young noticed that Louisiana audiences were different.
“People just love music in that part of the world,” he said. “You can feel it.”
In 2015, Young, Stefani, No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal and guitarist Tom Dumont are playing just a handful of festival dates. Friday’s Jazz Fest performance follows the band’s April 18 Global Citizen Earth Day show at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
“We soundchecked earlier today and it was like ‘wow,’ ” Young said the day before the event. “I was looking down the National Mall and on the other side there’s the Lincoln Memorial. Pretty epic.”
For Young, playing the Super Bowl halftime show in 2003 in San Diego was another special event.
“And the previous time we played in Washington was the Kennedy Center Honors for the induction of Paul McCartney.”
After No Doubt performed a Beatles medley, McCartney complimented the group on a job well done.
“He said we brought life back to the songs, like they used to be,” Young said. “And he sent a nice letter to each of us. It was a major honor.”