To say Gwen Stefani has endured an emotional roller coaster of a year is akin to saying Donald Trump likes to brag.
The sometime-No Doubt frontwoman, sometime-coach on “The Voice” found herself thrust into an unwelcome spotlight last summer when she filed for divorce from her allegedly philandering husband, Bush’ Gavin Rossdale, with whom she has three sons.
A few months and a country hunk later – she and “Voice” co-star Blake Shelton began dating in November – Stefani delivered her first solo album in a decade, “This is What the Truth Feels Like.”
The spunky fashionista, 46, behind solo smashes such as “Rich Girl,” “The Sweet Escape” and “Hollaback Girl” returned to the road earlier this month for her first major tour since 2007 and, along with longtime musical pal Eve, will visit Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta on Friday.
Talking to reporters from her Los Angeles home a few weeks before the tour kickoff, Stefani was candid and chatty as she discussed her gratefulness at being able to share these new songs with fans and how she balances her personal and professional lives.
Here is what she had to say:
What fans can expect from her live shows: “This is the crazy part – I was flirting with the idea of touring, never thinking it would happen but I never knew this year was going to happen; you couldn’t have written it. I feel so excited having a record coming out in real time and I have this exchange of love with people and it’s been so healing. To go live with it takes it to a whole other place… my goal is to get out there and connect with people and have this exchange of love and I feel like when I was at my darkest hour, it was, trying to figure out, ‘What is the purpose? Why am I here?’ ‘What is my gift?’ And discovering that knowing that my gift is music and being confident in that and receiving these songs, I feel like it’s to share that now. And so to be face-to-face and share that love and give the love back really, in real life, because everything is abstract. And until you’re actually out there on stage, and you’re seeing the people that have given you that support, it’s just going to be magical. So first and foremost, it’s just about getting to know those people and connecting with them, but as far as the stage goes, I have a brand new band…As far as picking songs, I feel so grateful I have so many to pick from. Now I have three albums of work, so it makes it so much more fun…I want people to walk about going, ‘Oh my God, that was that time in my life’…The whole show for me isn’t about what I’m wearing or even how I sing, it’s about the connection. I want people to feel like they know me by the end of the show.”
How she’ll handle the emotions of the songs from the new album every night on stage: “These songs…I feel like they were really channeled. I feel like God just handed them down to me as, like, this kind of Band-Aid to kind of help me through this crazy time in my life. And it’s all kind of about finding your gift and then sharing it, and it is very draining, and touring is very draining, because there’s so much output. You know what I mean? Every time I go out on stage, I have to do my very best. 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, and I had an infant on tour. And doing those No Doubt shows were really super-physical. So I think that it will be super-emotional, but I think there’s going to be something quite… I don’t know – like satisfying and healing, and it’s going to be something that’s going to make me feel super-empowered, and it’s part of the journey of, like, wow, I climbed all the way – not on top of the mountain- but like, I was underground buried. And 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 be super accomplished. And 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.”
How she balances her personal and professional lives: “I don’t really have that much control over it, if you think about it. People say whatever they’re going to say, believe whatever they’re going to believe. I know what the truth is. I know – my family knows what the truth is. Everybody has their own opinion about me, which I have no control over. You know what I’m saying? So I just feel again, so grateful to be able to be part of music in any way, and the fact that anyone even listened to it. I mean, my idea of heaven is to be able to write a song and have that be, like, the backdrop of somebody’s life growing up. These songs, they make memories for people. ..And as far as my personal life, I think that’s something that always has been part of my journey and with ‘Tragic Kingdom,’ that was all about my personal life, and every single song I’ve pretty much ever written has been about my personal life, and I feel OK sharing that. I think the only place I start to become more protective of it is really when you have children, because at the end of the day, you don’t want them to be a teenager and go, ‘Oh, my God. Mom, why did you say that?’ Or ‘Why did they say that about you?’ That’s where it starts to get tricky for me, but I’m really okay with everything else.”
With Eve. 7 p.m. July 29. $29.95-$149.95. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, 2200 Encore Parkway, Alpharetta. 1-800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.