By Tricia Witkower
My interview with Stephan Jenkins, Third Eye Blind lead singer, begins with a lesson: believe very little of what you read online. I tell him I read that he was born in Indio, where he’s performing this Saturday at Fantasy Springs, and welcome him back. He corrects me that he was born in Redlands, not Indio. You can’t believe anything you read on the Internet, I say. He agrees, you really can’t. Nevertheless, he loves the desert and is excited to play here. “I can sing in the desert,” he tells me. He’s on the last hour of a 14-hour drive from Seattle down to San Francisco, so I promise him I’ll make it short and sweet.
CVW: I’m always curious what musicians listen to. When you aren’t making your own music, whose are you listening to?
SJ: “I listen to all kinds of stuff. I’ve been liking some post-punk stuff. Kind of post-punk industrial derivative of Joy Division and New Order. There are some artists I really love, like Bon Iver, but a lot of times these days I’m more interested in songs than bands. I saw this movie called The Bad Batch and at the end of the movie there’s a song called “Fifty on Their Foreheads” by this group White Lies and I just thought it was great. I love desert rock, too, like Queens of the Stone Age. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music.”
CVW: What was the first concert you ever went to?
SJ: “I was a little kid and my older brother took me to Thin Lizzy. During the show, he did this gesture with his hand and I didn’t know what he meant at all. But the girls did and they rushed forward. I didn’t understand but I knew I wanted to be involved.”
CVW: You are in a somewhat of a unique position of having released your debut album at a time when everyone bought CDs. Since your album was so good, people listened to the whole thing and not just the radio hits. Lots of people I know, myself included, have particular memories of what we were doing in our lives when we first binge-listened to your self-titled debut. So, in that way, your music right out the gate became woven into millions of people’s lives. How do you honor what people loved about your music from the start while continually evolving as an artist over a successful 20-year period?
SJ: “Well, you know it’s not hard for me. The joy people take in hearing songs from our catalogue keep those songs alive, so it’s easy. Dopamine and We Are Drugs are better records than my first record. The biggest problem I have is we get about two hours and that’s when you really get going. You’ve got the full energy of everyone involved. It’s hard to fit everything into a set. There are some staples that people really want to hear. I want to please them. But I also want to play lots of different songs and create different colors. So, how has my music evolved? I don’t know. Music is not very much about self awareness, it’s an emotional process. I make music from the standpoint of things that make an indent on me emotionally, whatever it may be. I respond to something that makes an impact and account for it musically. So it’s only after the fact that it tells me who I am and what I’m about. It’s more about self-discovery after the fact, than coming from self-knowledge. That’s so intellectually dense.” (chuckles)
CVW: The last time you were at Fantasy Springs, you did an acoustic set in their 12th Floor Lounge. What can fans expect out of your show this Saturday?
SJ: “It’s much more of a rock set. After this Saturday, we’re gonna take basically everything off until next summer when we play some of the festivals. You’ll see a band that’s really connected with each other. Really loose and flexible. No sequences and backing tracks. We’re a real rock band who can move and flow. That’s something I always want to be in. It’s an exciting thing. They can expect a really good rock show.”
To see this really good rock show yourself, head to Fantasy Springs this Saturday, November 18. Third Eye Blind takes the stage at 8 p.m. For tickets: http://www.fantasyspringsresort.com/prod/entertain/entertain.php#3rd_eye