Ahead of their newly announced forthcoming UK Tour and release of fifth record Dopamine, AMBY gave Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins a call. Enjoy our exclusive interview below as we discuss road-testing songs, listening to whole records, and covering Beyoncé and Drake. Dopamine is now available for download via iTunes here.
AMBY: Hi Stephan! I’ve been listening to your tracks for more than a decade now, starting with the release of your self-titled record, so I’m stoked we could make this interview happen today.
Third Eye Blind: Oh my god, Alicia! That’s a long time!
AMBY and Third Eye Blind: [laughs]
AMBY: Yea, it’s been quite a while so thanks for your time! Let’s kick things off with the new record, Dopamine. This is the band’s fifth studio record. Do you have any plans to celebrate its release?
Third Eye Blind: We’re doing this big tour right now. We’re doing the trucks and lights, and we’re bringing this huge PA. The actual day for the rally of the tour was done before we set up the record release so we’re in between shows. So because of routing we’re going to have a day off in DC and we’re going to be at this gnarly little indie record store signing records. Then we’re going to this super divey dive bar and that’s where we’re going to celebrate.
Third Eye Blind: [laughs] It’s actually really funny. So the whole band and crew will be there.
AMBY: I read that the new record was a road-tested collection of songs chronicling your time on tour. Were songs on the record influenced by specific moments that happened while on the road?
Third Eye Blind: Sure. Get Me Out of Here is basically questioning your authenticity. I think that song is about wondering if you can rock. A song like Say It, that is just a jam that came together on the road.
AMBY: You recently mentioned how this record might be Third Eye Blind’s last. Well, in a sense, as this will be the last album that goes in the standard practice of writing an LP. Why did you decide this?
Third Eye Blind: The whole concept of an LP is created because of commercial concerns, so that was just made by record companies so they can make more money. But it happens that it has turned into an art form that I really love, which is the LP. You open up a vinyl, you drop it on the platter, and you drop a needle on it, then you look at the lyrics. That whole experience is something that I love. So I’ve wanted to make something that is really about vinyl and that had some cohesiveness. But just because I love it doesn’t mean the process of doing it makes me happy, it’s actually very difficult for me. The tools that are available now actually make me happier, and I want to make music now based on a happiness quotient. So the result of it is that here on out when I write a song I am just going to record it and post it and put out a gift to the universe and the people who embrace us will find it, share it with each other, and that will be great. We’ll have more immediacy with our audience and a higher happiness quotient. That’s the idea.
AMBY: That’s great.
Third Eye Blind: We’ll maybe turn it into an EP or LP later and that will be post facto instead of something that we store up before.
AMBY: A lot of people have actually been saying how, unfortunately, it feels like the days of an album are slowly disappearing as people now release more singles and EPs rather than full-lengths. What’s your view on that?
Third Eye Blind: Album sales are bigger now than any other time since the 1980s, so it’s not true. LPs often were seven to nine songs, and EPs are five songs. So it’s not much of a difference. It’s just like if you’re upset about that, just buy LPs. I have a record player in my kitchen and when everybody comes over they bring albums and we play whole albums. Just go ahead and do that. But most people have playlists that are jumbled all over the place, and that’s fine too. They’re both ways of doing things that add value.
AMBY: The b-side to your album is a cover of Beyoncé and Drake’s Mine. When I found out that you guys were covering this I was actually shocked, but when you listen it is such a great take on the actual track.
Third Eye Blind: Oh, thanks!
AMBY: My pleasure. What inspired you to put a cover out there with the record release? Why did you specifically cover this hip-hop hit?
Third Eye Blind: It’s amazing how little of a decision making process that was by a fabulously disorganized bunch. That song came together because I like to listen to music; I listen to music more intently when I’m making records. I’m looking to get some kind of light to go on. So when she dropped her record, the way she dropped it, it was really was impressive to me. I listened to Drunk in Love and there she is being vulnerable. I loved that. Then I listened to the whole album and I liked Mine because underneath all of that production was this actually track that had this really simple heartfelt song. So I started playing it on acoustic guitar and I played it at soundcheck and band mates thought it was kind of funny that I was doing it. Then we were in the studio and I just tracked it because we had some studio time.
AMBY: Since every artist was a start-up at one point, what advice would you give to fans of yours who are aspiring musicians and want to get into the industry?
Third Eye Blind: I would say to look at yourself as a startup and I think that’s a really good way of doing it. Look at yourself as a startup and look at all of the new media’s of releasing music and understand that you are not at their whim. That you are in control of your music, you really are. Don’t relinquish that control; don’t give up on whatever your sense and image of things are. It will never work. The whole way that you have a presence with somebody is if you are being authentic in yourself. That’s what makes it eligible to travel to somebody else. Whatever that may be.
Thank you Third Eye Blind, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout