Q&A: Stephan Jenkins on Third Eye Blind’s Summer Tour with Jimmy Eat World, ‘Game of Thrones’ Drama and Warriors/Rockets

Adrian GarroCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

One of the most intriguing summer tours coming up soon is the Summer Gods tour, which will feature Third Eye Blind co-headlining dates with Jimmy Eat World, with Ra Ra Riot on as special guests.

Between them, the two co-headlining acts have a number of big hits, making this a can’t-miss night for alternative/rock fans of the late 1990s and early to mid 2000s, all the way up through today.

The tour will be featured in Live Nation’s National Concert Week event, which will run May 1 through May 7 and offer fans a selection of $20 all-in tickets for participating artists’ gigs around the country, where applicable.

In preparation for the tour and in conjunction with National Concert Week, enjoy Rock Cellar’s new chat with Third Eye Blind songwriter/vocalist Stephan Jenkins below.

Rock Cellar: Third Eye Blind recently played a special show at the Roxy in Hollywood of mostly new songs and deep cut/fan favorites. How was that?

Stephan Jenkins: It was great. I loved doing it, so much fun. Sometimes, comedians do this, they’ll take people’s phones so you can’t have them out during the show. So that allowed us to try a bunch of new things out, since it was such a small show. We knew everybody there was an expert in Third Eye Blind so the more out there we went, the better it was for them.

You have that freedom any time you want, but it’s really nice when you’re encouraged to explore it.

Rock Cellar: And then having them stash their phones in a pouch or whatever, it makes the concert experience more of an experience, really. 

Stephan Jenkins: Yeah, it took everybody a minute. Billy Corgan came to that show, he’d been listening to the new songs. He’s so beyond talented. I was just thinking about that show, like, are you really going to take Billy Corgan’s phone? (laughs)

So that show actually turned into some songs that we’re working on to see how they work for the new record, since it really helps to play it live first. Then we went out to Sonic Ranch in Texas to record. Still have some stuff to finish up, I took two weeks off, went surfing in Indonesia, then i’ll be back in L.A. probably this week, probably, to finish up vocals and stuff.

And then we should have new music out for the tour.

Rock Cellar: Sounds like perfect timing, with the big tour starting up on June 14. 

Stephan Jenkins: It won’t give people too much time to listen to it, but we’ll definitely be playing some new music on the Summer Gods tour.

Rock Cellar: It’s a pretty solid tour package, Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World together, with Ra Ra Riot. Should be a great show. 

Stephan Jenkins: What I’m trying to do, since this is the second big Summer Gods tour we’ve done, I like the idea of making this a sort of mini-festival on our terms. We fully intend for people to be there from the beginning to check out Ra Ra Riot — they really belong all the way up there.

I’ve never seen Jimmy Eat World play, I just like them, they have a great energy and I’m glad they wanted to play with us. I think all three audiences are going to enjoy each other. We’re going to do some interesting stuff with video walls on this tour. I’m really reaching out to fans to see where they want to go with the set lists, so that’s going to be a bit more interactive too.

I want to get more remix-y with our songs with fans. I want to take our songs and let fans reinterpret them, see where they go.

Rock Cellar: Third Eye Blind’s social media pages and posts have had a bit of a more interactive feel to them in recent years, initiatives that involve fans more and things like that. 

Comparing where the band is today, on the verge of a big summer tour, another new album and all that, compared to where the band was in like 2005 or 2006 when things weren’t nearly as active, it seems like Third Eye Blind is in the middle of a bit of a revival these past few years. 

Stephan Jenkins: Yeah, I never was projecting myself into the future in one way or the other. What’s interesting about that question, is I still don’t have a sense of what the future is supposed to be, where do I think I’ll be in ten years, any of that.

Rock Cellar: As somebody who’s followed the band since the late 1990s like everybody else, I was very much into Out of the Vein (2003), but after that things went dark for a while, in terms of new material, shows and everything.

Stephan Jenkins: Yeah.

Rock Cellar: And then here you are now, with another summer tour. It’s wild. 

Stephan Jenkins: I don’t know, I think I just had to stop for a minute. I produced other records, I think at that time I went through self-doubt, which is a very un-rock and roll mindset. To me, what makes something “rock” is you have it out there, and you say that thing that’s probably not supposed to be said, and you don’t really take the consequences or the response into account. If you’re not doing that with a sense of urgency, then it’s probably not going to work.

Rock Cellar: And it seems like some of Third Eye Blind’s music over the past couple of years has been a reflection of that urgency, whether explicitly political or with social issues at work thematically. 

Stephan Jenkins: I mean I think it is, yeah.

I’m kind of in the minority, because so much of music has just quit. They’ve acquiesced, they want to be comfortable in the dystopia and I want to fuck shit up. That’s my desire.

I believe in the gathering power of music. I believe that music can bring people up out of themselves. There’s a reason we come together and listen to music. It makes us feel things.

And then it makes you feel things together, having that collective emotional experience and that lets you know palpably, energetically, that you are not alone. And that’s music as a divine act, as a transformative act.

Rock Cellar: So to any music fans out there that think, “OK, yeah, I know ‘Jumper,’ I know ‘Semi-Charmed Life,’ I know ‘The MIddle,'” what you were just describing about the communal aspect of the concert experience makes sense. It’s a good motivation behind them taking advantage of whatever ticketing deals they can to get out to one of the shows on the tour.

Stephan Jenkins: Well, I just recognize that it’s really expensive to go to a concert. And the people who come to see us play, you have to pay for parking, it’s more fun if you can get a t-shirt or something, or a drink. That means, for a lot of the folks who come to see us or any other concert, that’s their big summer budget. I intend to make that absolutely take off. I want to make that really fly.

I don’t take it for granted.

Rock Cellar: This type of show brings together nostalgia with new, current music, since all three acts on the bill are active with new songs, albums and so on. 

Stephan Jenkins: For me, I look at it as people keep our music alive in some way. So many of our fans are so young. I meet 17-year-olds listening to our music, and for them it’s not nostalgic. They’re not there to remember something, they’re there because that music is connecting to their experience right now. And I’m amazed at that.

Rock Cellar: When I was 13, “Semi-Charmed Life” was everywhere, and I was hooked. As a kid, I didn’t fully appreciate the darkness of the lyrics, since the song aesthetically sounded so upbeat and cheery. I’ve always felt that was a big factor in its success. 

Stephan Jenkins: It’s hard for me to explain. That’s your job. (laughs) The value of the song is what it does in your mind when you experience it.

I don’t know why some songs matter and travel so far with people and some songs don’t.

Rock Cellar: Were you pleased with the most recent Game of Thrones episode with the Battle of Winterfell, or were you on the fence? There’s been a lot of chatter this week about it. 

Stephan Jenkins: First of all, Lyanna Mormont is the sickest, most icy character ever, oh my god. And she went out like an absolute boss. So good.

And then I loved that Jon had a really bad night. He had a bad night! But Arya picked it up. Everybody’s complaining about the lighting being so dark … yeah, but where fuck is Greyworm? Where is Ghost? We’ve got some questions.

The band’s divided in half on Game of Thrones, some of us are nerdy and some of us aren’t. But I go deep on it with Kryz, for sure.

Rock Cellar: Well there are three more episodes left to wrap everything up, so I’m sure there’ll be more drama and death there. 

Stephan Jenkins: I hope so. I’m definitely going to watch the next one at a bar. That’s going to be more fun.

Rock Cellar: And then the Golden State Warriors, you’re a big fan given your Bay Area roots.

Stephan Jenkins: Yeah. I’m going tonight!

Rock Cellar: What do you think of this year’s team versus the last few, and this series with the Rockets?

Stephan Jenkins: Well, Boogie Cousins is out now, which is too bad for him. But that means he might stay next year, which would be interesting. And Kevin Durant has just stepped up in a way that … he’s the best player in basketball, let’s just be real about it. And you’re seeing him against the second-best player in basketball, and he’s just dominating.

This match-up is interesting, because James Harden is just pulling all this bullshit with all the fouls and stuff. That’s what he does! It’s an impetuous mentality that KD just has no time for.

He’s like a rock star complaining about the deli tray.

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