V. I WANT SOMETHING ELSE
So, we’ve come this far. I’ve written several thousand words now on Third Eye Blind and their four amazing-to-amazingly-mediocre albums. And there’s this one Thursday left in July, so I should probably make some sort of gesture at wrapping things up. But what is there to say?
There’s a new 3eb record on the way, with Stephan Jenkins promising a single by the end of the summer. This one will be made by the band’s current five-piece lineup, consisting of Jenkins, Brad Hargreaves, guitarist Kryz Reid, keyboardist Alex Kopp, and bassist Alex LeCavalier. Jenkins and Hargreaves are the only members remaining, not even since Third Eye Blind, but since Ursa Major. How can we expect this album to sound? Well, if it follows the steady downward trend of the first four, then probably pretty fucking terrible. Maybe we can find solace in the thought that, seventeen years after their debut, Jenkins is finally going to stop putting out Third Eye Blind albums after this one (though he does promise that there will be more 3eb material, it just won’t come in LP format.)
One point I want to reiterate is the utterly unique place 3eb occupied in the musical landscape at the beginning or their career. On the two Cadogan albums, this band displayed influences that were ten years out of date, and still they sold more records than every other goddamn band on the planet. In an era when Vedderized vocals, thickly distorted guitars, and depressive lyrics were the one thing anyone wanted to release in the rock world, some crazy motherfuckers at Elektra looked at this band of coked up San Fransiscan goons and thought that their Aerosmith-referencing, Gn’R-aping, blatant hair metal rip (not to mention the rapping) was worth the biggest publishing deal in history. And it paid off, if you ignore all the lawsuits and Elektra’s untimely folding. Point is, no one sounded like Third Eye Blind in the mid-nineties, partly because no one else could pull it off. The “post-grunge” fad seemed explicitly designed for wimpy little shits to cash in on a formula perfected five years earlier by self-seriously pretending to be woefully sad. Third Eye Blind was having none of it, which is why we’re still talking about then instead of, say, Silverchair. In fact, it was their disinterest in the trappings of “serious” “meaningful” music that helped their serious, meaningful songs hit so hard. Sure, the formula got significantly watered down on album’s three and four, but you have to give the band some credit for sticking with it.
Regarding Stephan Jenkins’ communitarian philosophy— I’ll confess that wringing it out of his lyrics has been a bit like pulling teeth. I don’t know, in the end, to what degree I’m right to say that Jenkins spent his career placing a premium on community and sociality, because he spent so much of his time being a narcissistic dick. I can say now that the communal sentiments definitely peaked on Out Of The Vein, but were completely absent on Ursa Major, which was ultimately a lyrical cesspool. Even so, songs like “Burning Man,” “Wounded,” “Deep Inside Of You,” “Camouflage,” “Danger,” “Misfits,” and “Company” serve as reminders that, at least some of the time, all Stephan wanted was to be in communion with others. And even though it ends up going nowhere, the last three songs on Third Eye Blind are still unimpeachable.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve got. I hope that, if this hasn’t been very productive, it’s at least been sort of fun. Here are some live videos to carry you on out.
“Graduate” at the 1997 AMAs, with introduction by Brandy. Note Stephan’s inability to sing, and the amusing lyric change-up with delayed censor reaction.
“Semi-Charmed Life” at the 1997 Billboard Awards, with intro by David Spade. lol matching suits.
“Losing A Whole Year” and “Semi-Charmed Life” in 1998. Censorship is almost as hilarious as Salazar’s outfit.
“Wounded” in 2004 (?) Unfortunately, there are no live videos of Blue songs with Cadogan. But the getups here make it worth it.
“Faster/Danger” medley, 2013. Pretty dumb.
“Motorcycle Drive-By” in 2007 in San Francisco. The crowd in this one kind of supports my communal theory better than anything else.