Third Eye Blind
Third Eye Blind
Third Eye Blind
Rock and roll band
The rock band Third Eye Blind released their debut album Third Eye Blind in the spring of 1997. One of its singles, “Semi-Charmed Life,” reached number one on the modern rock chart by the summer. Since then four more singles from the album were released successfully, postponing talk of one-hit-wonders at least until a new album is recorded. At 34, Stephan Jenkins, the band’s handsome and charismatic leader, lived the life of a starving musician long enough to relish his new found fame, but not to put much stock in it. “I’m bemused by my stardom,” he told People. “But it’s fun.”
Jenkins produced and recorded Third Eye Blind and impressed several record company executives before signing with Elektra/Asylum. He told Elysa Gardner of Details, “We always approached record companies by telling them ‘don’t tell us what to do. We’re gonna make the record we wanna make.’” Third Eye Blind’s live performances and original fourteen song demo tape are what captured the attention of several record companies. Jenkins had already done some high profile production work while Third Eye Blind was still only a local touring band. Jenkins’ lyrics, guitarist Kevin Cadogan’s arrangements andr the catchy songs were responsible for hooking their mainly college age listeners, alledged critics. “Balancing a cheery ear for harmonies with a finely honed sense of despair, this clamorous pop band displays deft songwriting....” noted Entertainment Weekly writer David Grad.
Jenkins spent some time touring the San Francisco Bay Area as a solo musician before he formed Third Eye Blind. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988 with an English degree. His father, a retired professor at Stanford, wanted his son to be a professororan environmentalist, but Stephan had other ideas. Music was in his blood from the day he started playing pots and pans at age five. After college, Jenkins started performing at the local San Francisco clubs with little success but bottomless drive. He told to People that having enough money to eat for a day was his main concern. “In the morning you scrounge up enough dimes and quarters to get coffee’” he said. “You put in thick cream and a lot of sugar, which gives you the calories you need to get to lunch.” Jenkins refused to throw in the towel and eventually decided to form a band so he wouldn’t have to go it alone.
Jenkins had performed with an array of musicians by the time he formed Third Eye Blind in the early nineties. Guitarist Kevin Cadogan joined the band In 1995. Early in his career, Cadogan took guitar lessons from Joe Satriani. Cadogan was impressed with Jenkins’ ambition. He introduced Jenkins to drummer Brad Hargraves, and when bassist Arion Salazar joined the band, Third Eye Blind was complete. The group made a successful tour of the Bay Area. When they opened for Counting Crows and Oasis, they realized that the fans were responding. “I don’t wanna make this sound too grandiose,” Jenkins told Gardner, “but we had the sense that we were special.” The Oasis gig is their most renowned. Opening bands usually serve as target practice for fans at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, but when Third Eye Blind performed, they were called backforan encore and ended up receiving double their original fee.
By then the record companies had taken notice. A bidding war broke out but Third Eye Blind eventually signed with Elektra. The band liked Elektra Records CEO Sylvia Rhone, who was willing to give them everything they needed to record their first album—including artistic freedom. She allowed Jenkins to produce the album himself. “As a band, we had really worked for a long time to get to this point.” Jenkins told Interview. “And this is important: We got all the things we didn’t have before—the tools, the studio, the microphones, the time, the budget to buy food—to go in and make the record we wanted to make. And we didn’t have the record company on our backs; we were like kids playing.” They played with some pretty impressive toys. To record the guitar arrangements for the haunting song “God of Wine,” the band used the scoring theater of film producer George Lucas’ Marin County production facility. “I looked out into this enormous space and thought, ‘My God, this is amazing,’” Kevin Cadogan told James Rotondi of
Members include Kevin Cadogan , guitar and vocals; Brad Hargreaves , drums; Stephan Jenkins , vocals and percussion; Arion Salazar , bass and vocals.
Group formed in San Francisco in the early nineties after Jenkins spent time touring solo; Kevin Cadogan joined band bringing along drummer Brad Hargreaves, 1995; band toured San Francisco Bay Area, 1995; Jenkins produced the Braids’ cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” 1995; Third Eye Blind opened for Oasis with great acclaim, 1996; group signed with Elektra and released Third Eye Blind, produced by Jenkins, 1997.
Addresses: Record company —Elektra Entertainment Group, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019; 345 North Maple Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Website — www.thirdeyeblind.net.
Guitar Player. He added, “The recording I’d done in the past was always on a tight budget, where you didn’t have time to do the things you wanted, and you knew that you weren’t quite getting the right tones. Making this record, I was able to sit down and listen to 20 or 30 amps and guitars to find the right combinations, and get tones that we were completely satisfied with.”
The results paid off. Third Eye Blind was released in 1997. The first single, “Semi-Charmed Life,” a song about a junkie’s love of oral sex and the drug crystalmeth was an unlikely pop charmer. “I wrote the song about drugs and f—and I’m pretty much clean living on the road,” Jenkins told Rolling Stone. “We can’t even believe it got onto the radio.” Jenkins credits part of the band’s success to certain radio stations like KROQ Los Angeles, KITS San Francisco, and KNDD Seattle with. “Those are the stations that very early on believed in this band,” he told Billboard. “Semi-Charmed Life” hit number one on the modern rock chart and number four on the pop chart. As Hal Horowitz wrote in the Music Monitor, “Seldom has a band with words this smart, music this melodic and cranky hooks this sweet and bumpy taken hold of the masses so quickly.”
Another single, “Graduate,” was released shortly thereafter and reached number 14 on the modern rock chart. “How’s It Going to Be” was the third single released to rave reviews. Its lyrics describe the feeling of a dying relationship. “I think we all feel violated when we find that a relationship actually has time limits, that it’s not unconditional,” explained Jenkins to Billboard. Every song on Third Eye Blind tells a story. When asked by his girlfriend, actress Charlize Theron in the Interview article; why he doesn’t write books or poetry instead of music lyrics, Jenkins responded, “Music was always the thing that compelled me the most. There’s something about a four-minute song that creates this complete world you can step into.”
After the release of their debut album, Third Eye Blind left on a world tour for a number of months. Jenkins is happy that Elektra set up tour dates all over the world—one even at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan., “That’s one of the really cool things Elektra has done,” Jenkins told Billboard. “They looked at us as a global rock band. It’s a dream to go over to Japan and be well received.” Third Eye Blind has toured the world twice in two years, the first year opening for the Rolling Stones and U2 for several shows. As an opening act for such superstars, Third Eye Blind played huge arenas where they were well received. Hanging out with Bono was a new experience as well. As Jenkins told Billboard, “He shows up in our dressing room with a case of champagne and Guiness to show us how to make Black Velvets. Then he invites us to join him on his jet.” Though he misses his girlfriend when he tours, Jenkins knows the importance of hitting the road. “Recording is a fun, intuitive process,” he said, “but performing is more communal and is about making the connection.”
Third Eye Blind’s goal is to release six or seven singles from the debut album and to continue writing new material while touring. “Jumper” is the latest successful single hitting the charts and dominating MTV air time. The song is about a gay friend who kills himself rather than face an intolerant world. MTV has given “Jumper” so much attention that Jenkins wants Third Eye Blind to expand its horizons by becoming more involved in the creation of their videos. The success of their first album, there is plenty of work to keep the band busy.
Third Eye Blind, Elektra, 1997.
Singles; on Elektra
“How’s It Going to Be.”
“Losing A Whole Year.”
Billboard, December 6, 1997; January 31, 1998.
Details, September, 1997.
Entertainment Weekly, April 25, 1997.
Guitar Player, February, 1998.
Interview, September, 1998.
Palo Alto Weekly, June 6, 1997.
People, October 12, 1998.
Rolling Stone, April 10, 1998.
The All-Media Guide Copyright 1991-1998 by Matrix Software, Inc.
The Music Monitor, 1998.
Third Eye Blind
THIRD EYE BLIND
Formed: 1995, San Francisco
Members: Brad Hargreaves, drums (born San Francisco, California, 30 July 1971); Stephan Jenkins, vocals, guitar (born Oakland, California, 27 September 1963); Tony Fredianelli, guitar (born Las Vegas, Nevada, 2 April 1970); Arion Salazar, bass (born Oakland, California, 9 August 1970). Former members: Adrian Burley, drums; Jason Slater, bass; Kevin Cadogan, guitar (born Oakland, California, 14 August 1970).
Best-selling album since 1990: Third Eye Blind (1997)
Hit songs since 1990: "Semi-Charmed Life," "Graduate," "How's It Going to Be"
With hit songs about drugs, abortion, and suicide, Third Eye Blind was one of the most unlikely success stories of the late 1990s. Led by the unique vision of singer Stephan Jenkins, albums such as the band's self-titled debut (1997) tackled serious subjects within disarmingly catchy pop arrangements.
Even though he was an unknown quantity in the music business, Stephan Jenkins began his career in the driver's seat. Upon graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988 with an English degree, Jenkins began playing solo acoustic shows at San Francisco venues. After several years of going it alone, Jenkins attempted to put together a band, initially with little success. Not until Jenkins hooked up with former Fungo Mungo bassist Arion Salazar did Third Eye Blind begin to take shape. In 1995 Kevin Cadogan, a former student of renowned rock guitarist Joe Satriani, introduced himself to Jenkins at a show and was asked to join the group, along with one-time Counting Crows drummer Brad Hargreaves.
The group struggled to make a name for itself, even though Jenkins had already received praise for his production work on the Braids' 1996 hit rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody," a rock operetta by the English band Queen. Thanks in part to a strong Bay Area following, Third Eye Blind's fourteen-song demo recording began to draw the attention of record labels. Jenkins managed to get the group an opening slot on Oasis's April 1996 show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. The group was called back for an encore, an unusual honor for an opening act.
Shortly thereafter, the group signed with Elektra Records, which offered Jenkins the opportunity to produce the band's debut himself. The resulting album, Third Eye Blind (1997), spawned one of the most unlikely hit singles of the 1990s, a delightfully frothy pop song, "Semi-Charmed Life," which camouflages a series of dark images of illicit drug use and oral sex with a poppy, upbeat rhythm and Jenkins's carefree, sung/spoken vocals. "I want something else / To get me through this semi-charmed kind of life / I'm not listening when you say goodbye," Jenkins sings, his voice shooting into a falsetto at the end of the chorus, before breaking into a series of "doot, doot, doot" nonsense syllables. The song reached number one on Billboard 's Modern Rock charts and number four on the pop charts, and the album sold more than 4 million copies. Elektra's decision to allow Jenkins to produce the album proved prescient.
Several other hits followed in early 1998, including the rousing pop anthem "Graduate," the cello-assisted acoustic ballad "How's It Going to Be," and the pop folk ballad "Jumper," a bracing, wistful track about a gay friend committing suicide.
A two-year world tour ensued, including opening dates for U2 and the Rolling Stones. Prior to the release of their second album, Blue (1999), the band became embroiled in a censorship battle with their label, which requested that Jenkins remove the song "Slow Motion" from the album, citing the "current social climate" in the wake of that year's deadly shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The song, written before the shootings, was intended to be a comment on the destructive gun culture of the United States. The lyrics in question included the lines "Miss Jones taught me English, but I think I just shot her son / 'Cause he owed me money, with a bullet in the chest / With a bullet in the chest he cannot run / Now he's bleeding in a vacant lot." The group included an instrumental version of the track on the album.
Again produced by Jenkins, the album adds more aggressive, 1970s rock-inspired electric guitars, a children's choir, and string sections to songs such as "Anything" and "10 Days Later." Despite its more elaborate take on the band's signature blend of risqué topics (abortion, violence against women, sex) and catchy, pop rock arrangements, Blue did not sell as well as its predecessor. Cadogan was fired from the group in January 2000 and later sued over songwriting royalties; the suit was amicably settled in 2002. The original guitarist, Tony Fredianelli, returned to replace Cadogan.
Proving that cleverly crafted, smart pop songs about serious subjects can be made into radio hits, Third Eye Blind made a smashing debut in 1997 thanks to Stephan Jenkins's vision and determination to do things his way.
Third Eye Blind (Elektra, 1997); Blue (Elektra, 1999); Out of the Vein (Elektra, 2003).