Third Eye Blind's Stephan Jenkins Would Change 'One Thing' If He Had a Do-Over: 'I Would Name My Band Doja Cat' (Exclusive)

The frontman details his group's upcoming Summer Gods Tour, his take on hip-hop feuds and how streaming has made Third Eye Blind "bigger than we've ever been"

<p>Travis Shinn</p> Third Eye Blind

Travis Shinn

Third Eye Blind
  • Third Eye Blind will hit the road on the Summer Gods Tour starting next month

  • Frontman Stephan Jenkins talks to PEOPLE about "being in an exchange" with his audience

  • The musician says he and the band are "dedicated to the magic" of live music

Third Eye Blind has spent the last three decades touring the world, welcoming new listeners with each of the band's seven studio albums and retaining the attention of fans who've stuck around since its inception.

But if you ask frontman Stephan Jenkins, the group has never quite experienced the level of fanfare it's experiencing now — largely thanks to the accessibility of streaming, and truthfully, the kids who are finally giving Third Eye Blind a spin for the very first time,

"There's some stuff that the gods of the record industry are telling us is what is supposed to matter. But for the most part, everybody's just wandering around picking their own berries, and I think it's great. And for us, it's great because we're bigger than we've ever been," Jenkins, 59, tells PEOPLE.

"I have a bigger audience than I've ever had. I'm selling more tickets than I've ever sold. The thing that excites me is that without having to be participating, without having to go through the conduit of the industry asking permission, I am in an exchange with my audience through my own work," Jenkins adds. "I think that's every artists' dream."

To give new listeners — and of course, those who've been rocking with the band since its 1997 self-titled debut LP — something to look forward to this summer, Third Eye Blind will be embarking on its Summer Gods Tour with Yellowcard and ARIZONA from June through August.

Ahead of his latest string of shows, Jenkins detailed his ever-changing (and ever-growing) fanbase, his hope for better beats in certain hip-hop feuds, wishing he could've instead named his band "Doja Cat," and how exactly he manages to break Third Eye Blind's discography down into one 95-minute set each night (spoiler, it's not easy).

<p>John Medina/Getty</p> Stephan Jenkins performs in Tempe, Arizona on Feb. 24, 2024

John Medina/Getty

Stephan Jenkins performs in Tempe, Arizona on Feb. 24, 2024

You wrote on Instagram that you needed a summer tour more than ever this year. Why is that?

I wasn't just saying that. That wasn't just a marketing catchphrase, although I'm down for a catchphrase. It comes from, I've never seen such a sense of polarity in our world. There is no basis for collectivity. One of the ingredients for collectivity has to be joy, I believe. Every time I do a tour, I ask myself, "Why? Why is this required? Why do you need this? What makes this essential to see this tour?" The reason for this tour is joy.

When you think back to moments of joy, do you have a favorite summer show that you've attended in your life?

I got to go to the first Lollapalooza and I was thinking, "Wow, this is a festival that's really for me." I remember going to one of the early Coachellas before it was more about pop, and fashion, and sleeping out on a grass, out on a tent. I really loved that.

I remember years later playing Lollapalooza and there was this guy who was in a wheelchair and he was way, way in the back. There must have been 70,000 people in our audience. I think that was actually the estimate. He was crowd-surfing in his wheelchair. He was being crowd-surfed forward and they got him all the way up to the barricade, and the guys at the barricade were going to put him down and send him forward. I said, "No, let him up. Let him up." He got put up on the stage, so he went all the way from all the way to the back, crowd-surfed in a wheelchair, so they passed a wheelchair all the way across the audience. In all the divisiveness in our society, this was our audience's collective retort. It moved me and it stayed with me.

You'll be returning to a few different venues on tour this summer. When you go back to a spot that you've played multiple times, do you feel a sense of connection to it?

Yes, but a lot of times you don't remember. You show up at the back, you wake up in the back of a venue and it's concrete. And you're just in your tour bus and you walk out in the morning light, scratching your butt in your boxer shorts, jonesing for some coffee. They all look the same. Then you see the front of it, you see the venue and sometimes they have this just incredible sense to them. Some of those places really do stick with you for sure.

One of my initial introductions to the band was 'Yes Man' with Jim Carrey. I believe your music has been featured in at least two Jim Carrey films. Do you have a personal favorite Third Eye Blind placement on a show or film?

I've never seen Third Eye Blind in a Jim Carrey film. I don't tend to... I've been told Justin Timberlake sang a thing. I missed that.

The thing I really was into was A Knight's Tale. We were asked to do a song, and I wrote this song called "Eye Conqueror" for the credits for A Knight's Tale. I thought it was such a good song. I was so stoked because I really am a fan of jousting. I really think things should be an Olympic sport. I want you to picture Uruguay against Latvia for the gold medal route and all the pageantry that goes along with this, as these guys joust each other in the Olympics. It would be your favorite equestrian event, Brenton. I think I've sold you on this already.

Have you given it a try yourself?

On bicycles? Yes. Also, they used to have a thing at Burning Man, it was Thunderdome, so it was a Mad Max tent where they used to do this. But Burning Man has turned into a tame business party. It's basically Mykonos for Google employees. So they don't have that anymore.

[For A Knight's Tale], they didn't choose the song and I was super bummed because I wish they did. They ended up using AC/DC's "Shook Me All Night Long." It's like, that's like cheating.

<p>Harmony Gerber/Getty</p> Stephan Jenkins performs with Third Eye Blind in August 2022 at the FivePoint Amphitheatre

Harmony Gerber/Getty

Stephan Jenkins performs with Third Eye Blind in August 2022 at the FivePoint Amphitheatre

I was digging through the Third Eye Blind Reddit and I spotted a post from a fan who was asking for song recommendations. Every response was different. How do you come up with a set these days?

It's a toughie. It's a toughie because this is a festival-like show, where I really want all three bands to have full sets and feel like it's their show. I want the Summer Gods Tour to be a traveling festival. That's my desire with it. And so, we have a little over 90... We have about 95 minutes to play. That's not that much time to put in our body of work.

What we do in the tour is treat ourselves like DJs and try to get cues with each other where we can work in different songs and challenging each other to weave in different quotes, different things. That's the way that we do it. And then I look holistically at the set and say, "How do we look at this from a different angle? How do we change things up? How do we take whatever it is we did before and not do that, and create different feelings, and different energies on this from other tours?" I'll find things that are in similar keys, similar tempos, and go, "Is there a way we could puzzle piece these together?"

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You previously spoke about young fans discovering your music because of streaming services. Do you think your musical palette would've been any different if you had that available to you as a kid?

I don't know how it would be different, but it would definitely be different. For example, there's so much music that I like. I can't tell you who made it. Whereas for me, growing up, there were bands that were so core-identity to me and there's so many bands that I listen to where their names aren't as deep because it's just a song that comes up on my playlist. In some ways, that's a disservice because you don't go as deep on an artist, but in other ways it's great because it allows you to be exposed to so much more music than before. Both things are true.

And there's a lot to be said for the way things are now because... OK, so we're being told to like Drake, and Kendrick Lamar, their crappy beats with their silly feud. We're being told to like that, we have to like that. There's some stuff that the gods of the record industry are telling us that this is what is supposed to matter. But for the most part, everybody's just wandering around picking their own berries, and I think it's great.

I know you're a fan of Lauryn Hill, De La Soul. Are there any modern hip-hop artists that you find yourself gravitating toward?

Actually, there's a lot of Drake that I actually really like. There's a lot of Kendrick Lamar I really like. I just think that doing this is just, it's f---ing lame and the beats are lame. I like them both individually. I actually like them both individually. Anderson .Paak, his new stuff. I think it's really good. I love the way he plays drums. I like Kid Cudi.

I love that drill that comes out of South London. To me, that's the purest, most exciting stuff. Do you know Dave? It's so crisp. I love how sober it is. The rhythmic cadence of it is totally... That's inspiring to me. I've been so inspired by hip-hop that I wouldn't be... I just don't think that I would be an artist without it. There wouldn't be a song like "Slow Motion" without growing up with hip-hop.

I wish I could change... If I had life to do over again, I would name my band Doja Cat. It's the best name ever. I think she's really funny.

Eight years ago, you told a fan you hope artists have more control of their music. Do you think that's become more-so the case in the industry?

I'm not the person to ask because even back then, I think I said, "I'm not into music industry and I don't care about the music industry. I care about musicians." I never cared about the music industry. I don't care about the Grammys. The Grammys don't care about me. I've never gotten a Grammy. I'm never going to get a Grammy. Maybe I'll get a lifetime achievement award. I'll get some embarrassing thing like that, but I'm not part of that. I'm not part of that culture and I never was. I'm never part of any of those clubs.

What inspires you the most as a songwriter now?

Well, the last album, Our Bande Apart, came out of the pandemic. I told people at the time, it was really Taylor Swift. We were all sitting there in our houses locked up, and refreshing our phones,and out drinking too much wine and eating too much spaghetti and going, "I wonder what's going to happen." And then it's like, "Oh, yeah. Taylor Swift put out an album." And I'm like, "S---. That's some discipline right there. I think I'm going to go out to my little zendo and get out my notepad and my guitar and take stock of myself."

I don't listen to my own music, and that's actually maybe my favorite album. I love playing it because I'm very lucky that our bandmates, we all love each other. We're like puppies. We love playing together. Part of what makes our band jam the way that it does, we're not coining for space. We're all trying to make space for each other. We have this sense of we want to do this together. It's rare. The Clash had that. I can say I'm trying to compare myself to The Clash. Yeah, we're like The Clash.

Do you have a message for those who want to catch your show?

I'm dedicated to the magic of it. And by that I mean that our band is empathetic. We are a band because we are empathetic with each other. We have a sense of each other and aliveness. We're not a MacBook Pro band. We are making this up and we're doing it. We are doing it in an exchange with the audience and that's what aliveness is. It's like we're the perfume, and you are the body, and that is the scent. You get what I'm saying?

Summer Gods tour information and tickets are available here.

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