Semi-Charmed, not Cursed: An Interview with Third Eye Blind
Since apparently it's We Love the '90s Day at Arts Desk, it's fortunate that correspondent Jason Cox just filed this unapologetic dispatch from the alt-pop trenches.
My friends, enemies, and frenemies often try to discredit my taste in music when I tell them I am a diehard fan of Third Eye Blind—that is, if they can remember the group for anything other than "that doot doot doot" song. I know better. Third Eye Blind emerged during the apex of poppy alternative, but unlike other bands of its era that lost their edge with each passing album (Bush, Matchbox Twenty, Eve 6), Third Eye Blind never stopped singing about sex, drugs, and, well, you know.
The group's popularity took a hit with the 2000 album Blue, but it's still maintained a surprisingly dedicated fanbase. Last year's Ursa Major even spent a few days atop the iTunes chart. Drummer Brad Hargreaves answered our questions via e-mail about that famous love-it-or-hate-it tune, balancing two bands at once, and his relationship with frontman Stephan Jenkins. Third Eye Blind plays McDonough Arena on Georgetown University’s campus tomorrow at 9 p.m. Tickets are $25.
Washington City Paper: Some hipsters and arts critics refuse to look past one overplayed pop-rock song. During your career, you must've looked at the overwhelming success of "Semi-Charmed Life" as both a blessing and a curse. What do you think of it today?
Brad Hargreaves: No question, having that kind of success at radio right out of the gates is something that taints perception of our band to this day. Given the lyrical content of that song, its reception still surprises me. It would be hard to call anything that has happened to us a curse because it has lead to this point where we are now, an indie band on our own label doing whatever the fuck we want.
WCP: What is the worst song on the radio right now and why?
BH: I don't listen to the radio much.
WCP: What band should everyone be listening to right this second?
BH: Messy Sparkles, brilliant kid from Arkansas doing some indie electro stuff.
WCP: Be honest, if you could take one 3EB song and chuck it down a deep hole, never to be heard from again, what would it be and why?
BH: “Wake for Young Souls.” While I think the lyrics are brilliant, somehow the song just doesn't feel connected to Third Eye Blind in any way.
WCP: You’re in another band, Year Long Disaster, with the Kinks’ Ray Davies’ son, Daniel Davies. How are you juggling both bands?
BH: Not very well. They are in Europe right now promoting our second record which came out a month ago. YLD just got a couple weeks opening for Them Crooked Vultures in June which I won't be able to do either. That hurts. Missing an opportunity to hang with John Paul Jones for two weeks pains me.
WCP: Getting a little serious for a second—in the last couple years we have sadly watched bassist Arion Salazar and now guitarist Tony Fredianelli fall off the 3EB bandwagon, leaving you and Stephan as the only remaining two original members. Obviously, your bond is a very strong one.
BH: It’s hard to quantify the relationship of bandmates. It goes beyond friends in that you rely on one another for creativity, empathy, understanding, protection, business, etc. When too many of those aspects start to break down, it just doesn't work anymore. SJ and I have always put Third Eye Blind first and that is the basis of why our relationship works.
WCP: Back on a happier note, fill us in on the new touring lineup. Who's doing what?
BH: We have Kryz Reid, a friend from Dublin, on guitar. Abe Millet on bass and Lee Moretti on keys, guitar and anything else we can find.
WCP: OK, obligatory question—what's the latest on Ursa Minor, your followup to Ursa Major?
BH: We started writing a new song at soundcheck yesterday and are working on fleshing out the material for Ursa Minor. Stephan brought in a pretty well-rounded idea that is classic 3EB in the vein of “Motorcycle Drive By” and “Waterlanding.” I am really excited about that song as well.