Q&A: Third Eye Blind ready to rock Merriweather

July 10, 2019

Amy Harris/Invision/AP/Amy Harris

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Third Eye Blind at Merriweather (Jason Fraley)

Third Eye Blind provided the soundtrack of countless lives in the late 1990s and 2000s.

Next week, the band joins Jimmy Eat World to rock Merriweather Post Pavilion.

“I like playing Merriweather; it’s got good vibes,” Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins told WTOP. “Opening night was at the Greek [Theatre] in Hollywood, so by the time we get to Merriweather Post on July 19, we’ll be just firing at that point. When we put the tour together, Third Eye Blind was really careful about who we were going to take out. I hope everybody will get there early to see Ra Ra Riot, because they’re going to be great too.”

Does he have a favorite song on the set list?

“I love playing ‘Wounded,’ that’s one of my older songs,” Jenkins said. “We always have new music and I love playing new music, but so many of our fans are so young that this music is fresh for them. You can see that reflected in their faces and that keeps it alive for us. So it’s actually just really all a pleasure to do. I love doing it. I love playing.”

Born in San Bernardino, California, in 1964, Jenkins attended the University of California at Berkeley. He formed the band in San Francisco in 1993 with guitarist Kevin Cadogan, Fungo Mungo bassist Arion Salazar and Counting Crows drummer Brad Hargreaves.

What were some of the musical influences that inspired his unique sound?

“I loved Jane’s Addiction, I loved hip-hop,” Jenkins said. “I was always too wordy and could never edit myself down enough to fit into an eight-bar pop verse. I always wanted to stretch everything out, so hip-hop really helped me with that. I’m a drummer by trade so I like the rhythmic, bonded way of singing. Grunge, to me, was this nihilistic look at the world. I wanted a punk sense of rebellion, but it was more about living on my own terms.”

They signed with Elektra Records in 1996 to release their self-titled debut album in 1997, which went six times platinum as one of the best-selling albums of the decade. It featured numerous hits, namely “Semi-Charmed Life,” which topped the pop and alternative charts.

“I was sitting on a bed with a guitar thinking about Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground going, ‘doot, doot, doot, doo doo doo doot,’ and I was thinking, ‘That’s the East Coast, what’s the West Coast?'” Jenkins said. “I’m just a West Coast ‘Walk on the Wild Side.'”

It also charted “Jumper,” “Losing a Whole Year,” “Graduate” and “How’s it Going to Be.”

“[The lattermost] is just the usual kind of thing, ruminating over an ex-girlfriend, just kind of moping,” Jenkins said. “Writing is the bigger challenge [than performing]. The first 90 percent of the song is really easy, then the last 10 percent is always a challenge for me.”

The band’s next album “Blue” (1999) also went platinum with the hit “Never Let You Go.”

“I don’t think that one’s my best record,” Jenkins admitted. “I just make music and I have no expectations on any of the records I put out, including the first one.”

Five albums later, including “Out of the Vein” (2003), “Ursa Major” (2009) and “Dopamine” (2015), Jenkins maintains a true artist’s view of sharing his creativity with the world.

“They all behave differently,” Jenkins said. “I don’t think I have that much to do with where they go. We just make things that are authentic to us and then they’re at least eligible to travel to somebody else. I think if you start thinking about pressure or anything like that, it’s a very un-rock-n-roll mindset. You really just have to be like I’m making this because it demands to be heard, I’m gonna huck it out there, gift it to the universe and whatever happens beyond that is out of my control.”

Hear our full chat with Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind by clicking the audio below:

WTOP's Jason Fraley & Chris Cichon chat with Third Eye Blind (Full Interview) (Jason Fraley)

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