No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, Man of Mystery

The Indian American bassist had an outsized role in the band’s breakout success. Why don’t we know more about him?

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No Doubt band members bassist Tony Kanal, singer Gwen Stefani, Tom Dumont, and Adrian Young backstage Live 105's BFD 1996 at Shoreline Amphitheatre on June 14, 1996 in Mountain View, California (Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Ayesha Le Breton


January 31, 2024


13 min

Remember No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani wearing a bindi? Or donning a sari around her waist? I asked myself what inspired these choices, but I should’ve been asking who. Reader, the answer is Tony Ashwin Kanal. 

From No Doubt’s hits “Spiderwebs” and “Sunday Morning” to the Grammy Award-winning “Hey Girl,” Kanal, the Indian American bassist usually flanking Stefani, was behind them all. Earlier this month, the band teased a reunion, only to share the Coachella 2024 lineup moments later with “And…No Doubt” in bold, all caps, at the bottom of the flier. The band is one of the most popular California exports, with over 1 million streams on Spotify a day, and over 1.7 billion streams in January alone.

Yet, the band’s success wasn’t a foregone conclusion. From an early death to a failed first album, there were many instances when No Doubt thought it was about to perform for the last time. Kanal, through it all, wore many hats: from manager to lyricist to boyfriend to bassist.

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