Tom Dumont performs a headlining set with No Doubt at KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas last December. Photo courtesy of Tom Dumont. Photo below, left by Christopher Victorio Photography.
Editor’s note: The following is the second part in an ongoing series on notable Long Beach residents.
For Tom Dumont, life in Long Beach is “Rock Steady,” to quote lyrics from his world-famous rock/pop group No Doubt.
Back in the 90s, Dumont and his three bandmates, Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal and Adrian Young, skyrocketed to fame when the band put out chart-topping hits like “Just A Girl,” “Don’t Speak” and “Spiderwebs.” To date, the band has sold more than 33 million albums worldwide, and has released six studio albums since the early 1990s.
When the group first started, they would travel all over the world, and when Dumont, the guitarist, would return to his then-home in Naples, which he shared with Young, the two would frequent Second Street to relax and have fun.
Things changed, however, when the band members entered adulthood and became parents in the 2000s, said Dumont, a father of three children, in an interview with the Long Beach Post at Aroma Di Roma in Belmont Shore.
“Now that I’m a parent, my life has changed because when I started out living in Long Beach in the ’90s, I was really happy I could walk to and home from the bars on Second Street,” said the Belmont Shore resident, who has lived in Long Beach since 1997. “That was almost a novelty because you can’t do that in a lot of cities in Southern California. As I started having kids, I don’t go to bars anymore, so my life here revolves around my kids and being a dad. We enjoy the beach and the bay. I love the fact that downtown has a totally different character than Belmont Shore. There are so many cool neighborhoods and things to do here that involve being outdoors. In Belmont Shore, the houses are pretty close together and have yards, so I feel like what that forces the neighborhood to do is have more people out on the street, riding bikes, walking and I love that aspect. We’re not all in our fences. There’s a great community for kids here, and I feel like we know everybody. It feels like almost a small town. It’s like a big small town.”
Though touring with No Doubt has allowed him to see the world, Dumont said he couldn’t see himself calling any other place but Long Beach home—even Orange County, where he grew up.
“I think Long Beach suits my personality a lot,” he said. “Some of my bandmates moved up to LA and Beverly Hills, and I have a more laid-back personality. I just never really aspired to live in Hollywood or LA, but I felt like this is more like a real city. Orange County is a collection of suburbs, and I was definitely over that. I love Orange County, but Long Beach is like a real city because there’s history, great architecture and I just really love it. I’m also a water person and a beach person, so just being near that was something that was always really important to me.”
No Doubt still plays shows, he said, but they’re not as frequent as they used to be. He noted upcoming appearances at festivals in Las Vegas, Napa and New Orleans.
“There may be more coming, but those are the only ones announced so far,” he said. “Right now, we’re pretty much on a hiatus for the moment because Gwen is doing her solo stuff and ‘The Voice’. I don’t know if she’s going to do ‘The Voice’ next year, but she’s expressed a desire to do that because she really enjoys that, and I’m happy for her.”
Having a family has also made touring more difficult in general, Dumont said, adding that there are 12 children among the band members. But he’s taken his experience with the band and put it toward his parenting.
“When we did the band for so many years, we put everything we had into it and we worked on it so hard,” he said. “I feel like now as parents, in a way, we’re the same way. I want to do a great job and be there and not be gone all the time. I know I have friends in other bands and it’s a hard life when you have to be gone all the time. You miss your kids growing up. That’s why we’ve been playing some local shows as of late. It’s easier in that sense. Doing these festivals is easy because we can fly out, play the show and come home. I do miss touring, though. I hope we can do it again, but it’s so hard to predict the future. I just don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
Dumont said his time off from touring has given him a chance to get to know his city and develop a passion for it. He said he has also recently become particularly interested in local politics.
He first got interested in local politics in Long Beach when now-Mayor Robert Garcia first launched his campaign. Dumont was so inspired that he decided to lend his musical talents to Garcia’s mayoral run in the form of a campaign video for YouTube, for which Dumont wrote the music.
“I met Robert Garcia when he started campaigning for mayor, and I was really impressed with him,” he said. “I thought he was such a young, vibrant and smart guy, and I thought it would be so amazing if this guy became the mayor. I got so excited and inspired by it that I ended up putting together a crew of people from the No Doubt world to film a campaign commercial for Robert. I did the music for it. Basically, the idea was to help him because I feel like, especially with local politics where you’re not doing national TV ads, it’s all about social media, and I think that’s part of his success. He’s young and thinks the way young people think. I was so happy when he won, and I was so proud to have been involved.”
Elected officials like Garcia and Third District Councilmember Suzie Price are bringing a fresh perspective to Long Beach politics that opens the door for creativity and modernism, Dumont said.
“I knew our last district councilman, and he was cool, but Suzie Price is super smart and has a fresh, young approach to the city,” he said. “It’s just like new excitement. In a way, I feel like my peers are coming into power and helping to modernize the city. I feel really engaged in what Garcia and Price are doing for the city, and I feel like I could go to Suzie’s office and tell her what ideas I have for the city. In this neighborhood, the Second Street and PCH development, the SEADIP, is a big topic. I feel like the citizens really have a way to communicate with our representatives in a way that we didn’t have before. It’s exciting to know we have an opinion and they’ll listen.”
Dumont, a surfer, said the breakwater is a concern in his book, but he thinks the city is taking the right approach to studying it.
“I did a campaign with Surfrider in the 1990s to help them raise awareness, and I would love to see the breakwater fall,” he said. “I think Robert Garcia has a really smart approach for it, and he’s definitely pushing to research it to find out if it’s possible to drop part of the breakwater, to increase circulation but not to do it in a way that it endangers homes. But there’s no breakwater off Newport Beach, and those homes don’t get washed away. Just because the breakwater is down doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to lose the Peninsula, but it’s all about doing the right study to make it an informed decision. It would be amazing for the surf to come back, though. That would be such a boost for the city.”
While No Doubt has been on hiatus from touring since 2009, besides a few scattered shows throughout the years, Dumont said he’s been staying busy with a new endeavor: technology.
He said he has been working with a local Long Beach group to develop an app called Volleypay, which he hopes will be out by late spring.
While information about the app is minimal, it’s described on the Volleypay website as allowing users to “accept ApplePay, credit cards and digital payments with only your iPhone. No bank required.”
“We’ve been building a prototype for the last couple of months, and we’re hoping to have this app out for the iPhone hopefully by summer,” Dumont said. “It’s been really fun. Being a musician is obviously very creative, and I feel like there’s so much going on in tech and software that it’s certainly an exciting world. I love all of that and putting my ideas into that world. Long Beach is very inspiring. I think downtown in particular has a little tech community that has sprouted up, and I would love to see us as a city do more and more of that, and I feel like the mayor knows that’s a really important thing. I would love to see bigger tech companies come downtown. If we could get our company to get a really good footing in the tech world and to hub it here in Long Beach, that would be really exciting. I think the city has a hype for that. Cities that aren’t as rich as say LA or OC, like Long Beach, are a magnet for creative people. They don’t have a lot of money, but they have a lot of ideas. When creative scenes take hold, it’s always in communities like Long Beach.”
Dumont also said he’s been working on a side music project, which he couldn’t discuss in detail, saying it’s still in a “secret stage.”
“I’ve been working on this project, so hopefully it will come out sometime by the end of the year,” he said. “It’s kind of like a side band thing that I’ve been working on and recording a lot, and it involves other musicians who are kind of well-known.”
Looking back, Dumont said he misses the old lifestyle No Doubt provided for him, but he’s also excited about his current endeavors.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “We were so fortunate that we went everywhere we could and almost everywhere we were offered to play concerts. We’ve been all over Europe, Israel, Asia, South America… It’s been an amazing thing to get to see the world that way. If it wasn’t for the band, I don’t know if I ever would have made it to New York, much less Europe or Hawaii. As a band, we just got to see everything together which is kind of amazing. In a way, I miss it a bit, but this is a new chapter in my life of being a parent. It’s just harder when you’re parents. Traveling becomes that much more expensive and challenging as a parent to have to work and be on the road at the same time. It’s just not the same as it used to be.”
No Doubt poses before headlining KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas last December. Photo courtesy of Tom Dumont.
Previously in this series: Retired Reel Big Fish Trombonist Dan Regan No Longer Feeling Like a Fish Out of Water in Hometown Long Beach
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