Today’s Feature – November 19-20: Our 300th consecutive feature, Third Eye Blind

November 20, 2008 at 10:30 pm (Today's Feature)


It’s hard to describe what it’s like writing day in and day out about new artists – work that needs to be completed at least once every 48 hours (300 times over as of today). I have friends who wonder why I get so much out of writing – they wonder what exactly it’s doing for me. I’ve said it before: I’ve learned more about the world’s talent in the past year and a half than I have about anything else; seen and heard genres of artistic expressions I’ve never thought possible. Now, that’s not to say at times it can be difficult – I’m not going to climb onto some high and mighty mount and tell you I have loads of experience with every artist we feature prior to writing about them. Truth be told, I sometimes know nothing about the band/writer/painter/etc. until we actually select them to be interviewed. So it’s not always easy to write… but today is a different story.

I sat across from my father out at dinner a few nights ago, talking to him about, where it’s at and who we’ve had on recently. My father is no music head, and when I rattled off a good eight names, he had no idea what I was referencing. But when I got to today’s feature – he knew exactly what I was talking about. So while this is our 300th feature… that’s not the story here.

Love em’ or loathe em’ – you know about 3eb. You know the music, you know the stories, you know about Stephan Jenkins partying and screaming his ass off. It sounds insane to me now, but I first heard “Semi-Charmed Life” when I was in friggin’ middle school. Middle school. Now that I’m an old man, I have the experience to tell you that these guys haven’t lost any of that edge they earned playing the clubs of San Francisco. But we’ll get to the latest that Third Eye Blind has to offer in a moment; right now, I wanna reminisce.

When I first heard “Semi-Charmed Life,” I called it that happy go-lucky “do, do, do, do, do, do, do” song. All I knew was that it put me in a great mood. I was barely a teenager – I had no idea what the hell Jenkins was telling us. But the song ended up being something I revisited again and again – from high school to college to the so-called “real world.” The song simply kept transforming for me, taking on new meanings, new significance, new ways to define that time in my life. Yea, yea; this all sounds a bit overdramatic. Maybe “Semi-Charmed Life” didn’t keep coming back to you, but I know something did. That’s’ what kicks so much ridiculous ass about music.

I could go on about the obvious places songs like “Jumper” and “Graduate” had in my life, but I’ll spare you… for now. The facts are that Third Eye Blind has sold a trillion records, played a billion sold out shows, and now they’re finally releasing a fresh batch of new music via the digital EP, “Red Star.” Drummer Brad Hargreaves says of it, “Third Eye Blind music has often dealt with common emotional themes; SJ just has a masterful way of building narratives around those themes that tend to hit you in the gut. Those themes will continue to be explored in our music but there are also some ironic comments being made about American culture, which is new to 3eb music.” I don’t need to tell you to check this thing out. And you know all about the live show. If not – see what you’re missing out on. Finally, after “Red Star,” keep an eye out for their next full-length album, “Ursa Major.” Dive into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Third Eye Blind – Brad Hargreaves (PEV): Having been together as Third Eye Blind for quite some time, was it an instant connection for the band when you first came together? Do you remember the first time you met to practice?

Brad Hargreaves (BH): I met the band when I came in for an audition underneath the bass players house on East 14th street in Oakland, CA.  I had their demo and really liked some of the songs.  It felt very natural playing with them even though auditions are generally strange.

PEV: Hailing from San Francisco, what kind of music where each of the members listening to growing up?  Do you guys argue on different kinds of music? What was the first concert you attended?

BH: San Francisco had an eclectic music scene and even  a couple radio stations I liked would play a diverse catalog of music. We were all into rock but hip hop and beat based music had a big impact on us.

I think my first concert was Van Halen.  It sounded horrible and DLR was wasted.

PEV: Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to make music?

BH: We generally work on music as a band at sound checks now. An interesting thing about Third Eye Blind is how little we actually discuss any music including our own.  We will mention some music we like or production we think is good but creatively, very little is said.

Music in Third Eye Blind is written in a lot of different ways with different members collaborating in different combinations. There is not really one specific way our music is created. Sometimes SJ brings in pretty well completed songs, sometimes the band jams and comes up with music, and sometimes Tony brings in demos that he has made and songs are built up from there.

PEV: Known for fantastic live performances, what can fans expect from a live Third Eye Blind show?

BH: We always strive to make a real, genuine connection with our fans during the course of our live show.  Community is not something that is easily manufactured so we attempt to create an environment where people can relax and live in the moment for a couple hours.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance as a band. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

BH: I am not sure I remember our first live show.  There were some memorable shows early on like opening for Oasis at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium and some shows at the Fillmore. I like to believe our band’s performances have evolved a great deal over time, and they have.  But I recently watched some YouTube footage of us playing the 1997 Fuji Rock Fest in Japan during a monsoon, literally, and I was impressed with our genuine, unabashed delivery of the songs.

PEV: Getting ready to release your first batch of new songs in five years via a digital EP, entitled “Red Star”, on November 18th, 2008. What can fans expect from this?

BH: Living up to fan expectations is not always easy.  We have set a bar with our previous albums and I have realized that people expect to feel a certain way when they listen to our music.  Third Eye Blind music has often dealt with common emotional themes, SJ just has a masterful way of building  narratives around those themes that tend to hit you in the gut.  Those themes will continue to be explored in our music but there are also some ironic comments being made about American culture, which is new to 3eb music.

PEV: How is “Red Star” different from other albums out right now? As well, now is it different from your past albums?

BH: I can’t really compare it to others band’s records because everybody is so different.  Lyrically, Ursa Major is somewhat of a departure from past Third Eye Blind records and the performances are a bit more spontaneous. Because we were able to play this new material live over the last couple years, it was easier to just go into the recording session and nail the songs on the first or second take.

PEV: How would you describe the sound of Third Eye Blind? And what do you think it is about the band that has made you so successful for so long?

BH: Lyrically people have really related to the thoughts and emotions being conveyed. I mentioned that SF had a diverse music scene.  I think 3eb was inspired and really benefited from all that different music.  We have all been into rock music but beat based music, hip-hop, electronic music, has always been a part of our influences as well.  Consequently we are a combination singer song writer/rock band with diverse rhythmic influences.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

BH: I never even considered doing anything else and I don’t think the rest of the band did either.  We are often asked if we can give any advice to aspiring musicians and bands.  Our advice is to do something else.  It is incredibly hard to accomplish anything in music.  But, if you absolutely can’t consider doing anything else, then you will figure out a way to make music work.  It takes an amazing level of commitment.

PEV: What one word best describes Third Eye Blind?

BH: Brilliant…hahaha.

PEV: As musicians, you live a lot of your life on the road. How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?

BH: Life on the road has its ups and downs.  It is a pleasure to play music every night and I feel lucky to have seen much of the world in a very intimate way. The cost of those experiences is not having a very normal home life and not always being where you want to be on any given day.  I will say it is most definitely worth the sacrifice and I would not change anything about how my career has unfolded.

PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?

BH: I love playing all over the world.  I really like playing in Chicago but then a place like Poughkeepsie, NY or a small Spanish city will just go crazy when we show.  We like to play wherever an audience is really willing to engage the moment.  Playing in Japan is really fun because the fans are so attentive.  Playing in Holland and Belgium is great because people are so into music.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

BH: They are pretty used to it.  My family thought it was cool until my brother and sister each had children of their own and now I am pretty low on the totem pole.

My career is just a part of who I am so my friends are slightly intrigued by it but really don’t give a f@#% at the end of the day.

PEV: What can we find the members of the band doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

BH: Tony lives in San Diego, SJ is in San Francisco and I live in Los Angeles so I don’t really know what they do in their down time. I have another band called Year Long Disaster signed to Volcom Entertainment so I am often touring with them when not working with 3EB.  I am kind of a homebody when I get off the road.  People don’t realize that I am basically at a club or concert every night of my life when I am on the road so that does not hold much appeal for me when I come home.

PEV: Having played with and worked with some of the greatest acts in music is there still one artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?

BH: Creatively I am pretty satisfied by Third Eye Blind and Year Long Disaster. Stevie Wonder sat in with Third Eye Blind and that was a major highlight of my career. I would love to collaborate with a really creative DJ just to doing something very different from what I do now and maybe produce a band that I really like.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

BH: Year Long Disaster.  Ha! Seriously, I have played with a few bands recently that I really like.  Let me just say, if a band is not great live, I don’t care how good your demo sounds. The first band I really like is Wallace Vanborn from Belgium.  They are a new band but have strong songs, interesting production, and good musicianship. I don’t like where heavy metal has gone over the last 20 years but I really like The Sword who are a great live band a really cool people from Austin.  I also like the Suede Brothers from Cleveland.  They play some old school rock and are 17 and 18 years old.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music, what would the members of the band most likely be doing for a career?

BH: I think SJ wants to go into politics, I would be in the covert intelligence business, and Tony should be a comedian although he never would.

PEV: Tell us what an average day is like for the life of Brad Hargreaves?

BH: I am generally on the road. I either wake up in a hotel room or on a tour bus and immediately seek out a large cup of tea.  From there, my life is a blank canvas that gets painted differently depending on the city.  The goal on the road is to make the two hours you perform at night to be the best two hours you have to offer.  I find that seeing something interesting during the day, maybe some art, or something that is unique to the city, helps to inspire me at night.

PEV: So, what is next for Third Eye Blind?

BH: We are going to release some music.  The Red Star EP is coming our Nov 18 and that will be followed by the full-length album Ursa Major early next year. We will continue to play shows and do more extensive touring as the music is released.  I am looking forward to it.

For more information on Third Eye Blind, and their new EP, The Red Star, check out


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