Stephan Jenkins resurfaces with candor
Third Eye Blind singer takes a break from recording to discuss the state of the country
Published: Monday, April 10, 2006
Updated: Sunday, July 19, 2009 05:07
Stephan Jenkins "loves drugs," distrusts the Republican Party, thinks Democratics are "pathetic" and feels his band was initially misrepresented.
Tracking down a man with such radical opinions is no easy task. Getting the Third Eye Blind frontman to commit to an interview is even harder. And speaking to him is an even greater challenge. This isn't his fault, however. You have to be on your toes; the man is witty.
When asked one song Jenkins wishes he had written, he answers "Bohemian Rhapsody." When asked which one CD he would bring to a deserted island, he pauses.
Realizing where this string of questions is leading, Jenkins cleverly puts an end to it.
"I wouldn't bring one," he says, "because it would just get scratched and then there would just be this huge point of frustration."
Jenkins is an '88 graduate of University of California, Berkeley. Impressed? He was also valedictorian of his class.
Third Eye Blind, who has been working on a new album for a little more than a year, is currently without a label. The new album isn't being recorded digitally, rather to tape.
"People seem to enjoy music that's not always so sterile all the time," he says.
However, he refuses to accept assertions that the band's albums are tightly produced. Jenkins cites the rawness of the one-take jam "Self Righteous" (off its third album "Out of the Vein") and timing errors on "How's It Going To Be" (from its self-titled debut) as examples.
Jenkins frequently references drugs in songs, pulling metaphors from them when writing. He doesn't think the drug wars work, though.
"I don't believe in any of that kind of shit," the California native says.
He likes Holland's model better than the United States,' and says that he believes decriminalizing drugs devalues them.
"There won't be any boatloads of cocaine if it's not criminalized, because it isn't worth anything and doesn't have any value," he says. "So cocaine is cheaper. I'm still not going to use it. It's not the price that's keeping me from snorting blow."
"Slow Motion," a song whose lyrics reference drugs and violence, was left off the band's second album "Blue," due solely to political correctness.
"We couldn't say it. White can't speak on black. You just can't do it."
The song, Jenkins explains, is a spoof on "drive-by rap."
"I think we live in an utterly racist society," he says. "I think that we draw distinctions between black and white and that we tolerate a kind of bizarre self-hatred.
"In Hip-hop culture, somebody says, 'Well, I'm just keeping it real, you know. I'm just reflecting what I know,' and all this kind of stuff. I just think it's total crap and I think what we enjoy is bullying people and other people suffering."
Jenkins is anything but timid discussing politics.
"I think that we, as a country, have gone insane," the 41-year-old singer says. "The Republican Party has done more damage to the United States and the world, more than anyone I can remember.
"I find it very hard to actually deal with people who still support the Republican Party, because I think that its been one criminal act after another. I think that they are deeply, deeply anti-American. I think that they hate the Constitution of the United States. I'm not kidding, I'll say it again. I think they hate the Constitution of the United States."
The religious right, Jenkins says he believes, is more dangerous than radical Muslims.
"They believe in the Bible and they believe in apocalyptic prophecy," he says. "They are trying to undo the Constitution."
The evangelical political Christian movement is anti-American and dangerous and needs to be fixed through "organized pro-Democratic just vote-it-the-fuck-out-of-here ways."
Jenkins is no easier on Democrats, however.
"The big problem is that the Democratic Party is the most pathetic group. It's just so sad. Here we have this opportunity to take the House back and they quite possibly are going to blow it because they can't get organized.
"You got people like [US Sen. Russ] Feingold stepping up and saying, 'Yea, we are going to censure the President.' Shut the fuck up, that just mobilizes the Right."
Jenkins is most animate about the environment, feeling its importance is more crucial than global terrorism.
"It would be terrible if somebody dropped a nuclear bomb, he says. That would be awful. But it's not a drop in the bucket, compared to the bucket that's melting. We're going to be under fucking water, dude!"
Jenkins' fallback wasn't politics, as one might think when talking to him. If the music career hadn't panned out, he planned on being a filmmaker. Ocean sea rescue also tickled his fancy, as well as teaching; specifically eighth grade.
He says he feels Third Eye Blind was misread and its reputation damaged. He hates all the band's videos, feeling they were stereotyped.
"It's sort of sad because they are really catchy songs, you know, catchy tunes, and so that always throws people for a loop. They go, 'Well, it's a pop act.' I'm not saying that it's not a pop act, but it certainly doesn't give a sense of what the band is. [Third Eye Blind] doesn't really fit into those characteristics."
Jenkins is lucky, however. The singer will get another chance to make an impression with the band's fourth disc.
"We've been fallow and hibernating for so long, I think that it's really almost like a new generation of people are interested in us," he says.
Though there is no slated release date at this time, Jenkins already has a favorite song - "Don't Like Me Now."
For now, Jenkins is following in the footsteps of Led Zeppelin, The Police and Fleetwood Mac - his musical heroes.
"I'm trying to make classic albums," he says. "I'm trying to make great albums. Not that I've achieved it, but I try. I do try, because those are the albums I really love."
Hopefully, somewhere in the process, he will achieve his goal: affecting listeners with a "small movement of the heart."
"I want them to feel a little shift in their state, to be enthralled," Jenkins says. "And hopefully they can return to that."