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Believe it - nearly 30 years of star power

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No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal plays during the first night of the Rock in Rio USA music festival in Las Vegas. (K.C. Alfred)

With No Doubt’s 30th anniversary looming next year, the Orange County-bred quartet is surpassed only by X, Los Lobos and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band as the longest-lived group performing at this weekend’s KAABOO Del Mar festival.

We spoke recently with No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal. Now 45, he was a teenager when he joined the fledgling ska-rock group in 1986. Here are excerpts from our conversation.

Q: What was the first festival you attended and who performed?

A: Oh boy! I think it was Lollapalooza, when it was a traveling festival, at Irvine Meadows in 1992. I think Pearl Jam was on the bill, and I remember sitting way at the top, in the lawn section.

Q: What do you remember about playing the San Diego Street Scene festival in 1991?

A: That was a great show. It was a really hot day and we were starting a two-months van tour. Street Scene was the first gig. The second was in Detroit, two nights later. We played Street Scene, got into the van - drenched in sweat - and did a 42-hour, nonstop drive to Detroit. It’s one of those really strong memories we all have, because it was such a formative time; it was “us against the world.”

Q: What are the key components that make for a really good festival?

A: What it boils down to is the vibe of the audience. If they’re having a good time, we’re having a good time. We feed off them.

Q: How is it different to connect with a big festival audience than a club crowd?

A: There’s a different beauty to big and small audiences, and I don’t think one is better. You can do a small club show and the energy is so contained. Then you play these big festivals, and have 50,000 people waving their hands in the air with you.

Q: KAABOO is being held at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds. Ever been there?

A: No, I never have. But we’re so excited to play it. It’s our first Southern California show since 2012, and our first San Diego show since 2009.

Q: If anyone had told you, in 1986, that No Doubt would still be around in five years, let alone 29 years, how would you have reacted?

A: (Laughs) Starting out, you’re just doing it because you love it so much; that’s what I remember about us. Looking back now, some of the things that seemed like big obstacles seem so small now - “Wow, how will we get through this?” But we always did.

Source: DiscoverSD