Semi-Charmed Music — Third Eye Blind’s depth still resonates

Semi-Charmed Music — Third Eye Blind’s depth still resonates

Photo courtesy Danny Nolan Third Eye Blind brings the “Summer Gods Tour” to the Walmart AMP on Wednesday. The band will play the entirety of their 20-year-old debut album.

Photo courtesy Danny Nolan
Third Eye Blind brings the “Summer Gods Tour” to the Walmart AMP on Wednesday. The band will play the entirety of their 20-year-old debut album.

What keeps an album — not just one or two singles, but the full album — relevant for decades? Plenty of albums are turning 20 this year, but how many are still spinning on current playlists? It’s got to be more than some catchy hooks, says Stephan Jenkins, lead singer of the alternative rock band Third Eye Blind.

“The thing about this record is when you go to the show on July 12, it’s not nostalgic for these kids,” Jenkins says of the band’s eponymous debut album, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. “This album is in the present tense for them. This is their now. And that to me is a phenomenon. I’ve never seen anything like that where [an album] continues to illuminate, ignite their sense of what ‘now’ is and their emotional sense of now.”

Of course, nostalgia is part of it for some people. As trends of each decade change and fade, that sentimentality for the past can affect a work’s longevity. But Jenkins feels its the album’s themes of longing, redemption and the desire to change your state that have endeared it to so many kids over the group’s career. And Jenkins does refer to them as kids — he says much of his audience falls between the ages of 17 and 27, making them too young to remember the album’s release, if they were even alive at all.

“All of those things are themes I’m compelled by, that I’ve been I think trying to work out in myself in some subliminal way,” Jenkins shares. “And I think that’s because it’s not some open, rational thing. It’s like my songs are in part, methods of self-discovery that other people can gravitate toward, even if they don’t know why. That’s why it lasts. That’s my guess.”

Most people, even those unfamiliar with the band’s catalog or with the debut album, know “Third Eye Blind’s” biggest single, “Semi-Charmed Life.” The bright and shiny sound and bouncy guitar of the pop-rock jam is still corrupting youths as the day comes when they realize they’ve been singing along to a sex- and drug-filled story of an addict’s descent into crystal meth use. And yet, the song endures as one of the most popular tunes of the ’90s because, with age, a second realization occurs that all those graphic references are really speaking to something much deeper.

“I think it’s about being addicted to longing,” Jenkins offers. “I think it’s about literally always wanting something else. And if you always want something else, that means that you’re never actually in a state of being OK with what you have. And that is two things at once: it’s romantic because you are looking to re-create the world to your own desires, but at the same time, that means you’re never actually in it and never actually OK. As seductive as that is, ultimately that is a very destructive — almost about disintegration.”

As a thank you to the fans and a celebration of the album’s resilience, Third Eye Blind is playing the debut album — from beginning to end — on their summer tour. They haven’t done it before, and Jenkins says they’ll likely never do it again, but for this summer, Third Eye Blind is giving fans every track from that iconic album. Arkansans may have seen the group just a few years ago at the Walmart AMP on a co-headlining tour with Dashboard Confessional as they prepared for the release of 2015’s “Dopamine.” But Jenkins promises this show will be an even bigger production and will include a few cuts from their 2016 EP “We Are Drugs.”

“I think 20 years ago what was really important to me was a sense of validation and control. Now I feel validated because I feel comprehended, and that’s really by my audience,” Jenkins considers how his perspective has changed over the group’s two decades. That comprehension, he says, comes from the connection with the songs, but also from what the songs have become as the audience has interacted with and shaped them.

“‘Jumper’ is the best example of that — it started out as kind of a noir talking to a dead kid who killed himself because he was being bullied for being gay. And over time, that sort of after-death message of ‘I would understand,’ in the audience turned into this real proclamation that we have a lot more understanding for each other, a lot more inclusion available for each other, than we give [ourselves] credit for.

“It’s really exalted,” Jenkins goes on. “It’s this point [in the show] where you really see people’s faces just open up and they just sing with their whole body. So it’s this very joyous moment singing to a kid who killed himself because he was being bullied by bigots. That’s like alchemy right there.”

Categories: Music