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No Doubt’s Tony Kanal Has New TV Composing Career, But Still Finds Time For His Old Friends


Bassist Tony Kanal has embarked on a new career as a TV composer. But he had to put that aside for a special date tonight at Coachella with his friends in No Doubt.

Debuting in 1992, the Anaheim, California group has sold more than 33 million albums. As a member of No Doubt, he helped launch multi-platinum, iconic hits like “Don’t Speak,” “Just A Girl,” “Spiderwebs,” “Hella Good,” “Ex-Girlfriend,” and “It’s My Life” up the charts, netting a pair of Grammy wins, appearances on the covers of Rolling Stone, Alternative Press and Spin, and even a Kennedy Center Honors performance paying tribute to Sir Paul McCartney.

Tonight marks No Doubt’s first major headlining show since 2015.

Kanal has been collaborating with composer Blake Neely, an Emmy winner known for his work on The Arrowverse, Greyhound, and Riverdale, with Kanal guesting on Neely’s soundtrack for the DC Comics TV series Crisis on Infinite Earths. 

He eventually moved into his own space at the studio, where he and Neely continued collaborating on projects like the title theme to season two of HBO Max’s gen:LOCK, starring Michael B. Jordan, Dakota Fanning and David Tennant. Kanal is the sole composer for Hulu’s Single Drunk Female

He answered a few questions for Deadline in advance of tonight’s big show.

DEADLINE: Do you watch a lot of TV and films? What are some of your favorites?

TONY KANAL: For the past few months, I have been consumed with getting No Doubt ready to play Coachella. So right now, I am not watching anything new. But the TV is pretty much always on in the background at home, with familiar and comforting things playing that don’t require too much focus so I can get other stuff done. Seinfeld, The Godfather Parts I and II and the MTV Classic music video channel are just a few from this week.

DEADLINE: Was it hard to work for a client as opposed to working with a band?

TK: This is a relatively new world for me, and it has definitely been an adjustment. Writing in a band comes from an amorphous origin. You kind of pull stuff from the ether based on what you might be feeling and what currently inspires you and your bandmates. And usually, you’re writing in a pop song format, the ‘intro/verse/b-section/chorus’ type of arrangement. Working for a client and putting music to a scene is still an inspired process, but the client usually has an idea of what they want and may provide temp music to guide you. And you’re obviously composing to scene, so the typical pop song format doesn’t apply. It took a bit of practice and some letting go to write in an open way, where you let the scene dictate where the musical idea goes.

DEADLINE: What has your career success taught you that can be applied to current projects?

TK: That if the music you create moves you first, there is probably a good chance it will move other people too. I think because I don’t have a background in film and tv composing, maybe the unorthodox approach I bring could lead to some cool and unexpected ideas.

DEADLINE: Is composing for TV something you always wanted to do? If not, what brought you in?

TK: My good friend, the talented and accomplished composer Blake Neely, brought me into this world. A few years ago, Blake invited me to play bass on his Crisis on InIinite Earths soundtrack. When the pandemic hit, we both wanted to continue playing so we would convene at his studio, sit 20 feet apart, and drink tequila. Blake would play piano and I would play bass and we recorded everything. Eventually I moved into my own room at the studio and under Blake’s guidance, started writing with tv and Iilm in mind. We went on to do the Purple Hearts soundtrack together which was a great learning experience for me.

DEADLINE: Any TV shows you’d like to write for?

TK: I would love to write for something in the Star Wars universe. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since Episode IV came out when I was 7 and it’s been a massive part of my life ever since.



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