Few bands represent the joy of 90s alt-rock quite like Third Eye Blind. The group dominated the radio dial in the later years of the decade.
The band’s string of hit singles proved they had the potential to become the next big thing. But why did they fail to capture mainstream success after making such a big splash?
A closer look at the legacy of this great band will show the importance of checking your ego.
Let’s dive in!
The Story of Third Eye Blind
Stephan Jenkins, the group’s co-founder, knew the importance of building relationships in the industry. He found minor success as part of Puck and Natty, a hip-hop duo. They even got one of their tracks on the TV show Beverly Hills 90210.
While the group was short-lived, Jenkins made plenty of in-roads with producers and labels. He just needed to find the right group to join him.
Jenkins met Kevin Cadogen at a concert in San Francisco in 1993. The duo tooled around with tunes that would ultimately make up Third Eye Blind’s debut album. After that, they toured regularly, earned recognition in the Bay Area, and cycled through several different drummers and bassists.
Finally, their big break came while opening for Oasis. They were invited back on stage for an encore, a rare move for an opening act. After the set, record labels started a bidding war to sign the band.
Third Eye Blind’s Best-Known Songs
Most of the band’s greatest hits came from their first album. Their debut stayed on the charts for 106 weeks. While they’ve maintained a loyal following, they’ve struggled to find the same mainstream success since.
Few songs capture the feel of 90s rock as well as their most popular hit. You can really feel Jenkin’s hip-hop roots in the fast-paced rap-like delivery of the verse.
The song is essentially a party anthem, with the opening chant acting like an invitation to join. But while the lyrics cover the standard sex and drugs associated with rock and roll, it goes a little deeper.
The dark lyrics are comical in contrast to the upbeat melody. Jenkins explores the feeling of loss associated with transitioning to adulthood. The narrator knows he needs to change but wants to hold on to his youth for a little longer. It’s an instantly catchy track that endures to this day.
Third Eye Blind never shied away from heavy topics, even in their radio-friendly hits. This acoustic power pop song explores the issues of bullying and suicide. Jenkins got the idea from a friend of the band’s manager, who committed suicide after facing torment for his sexuality.
While it has dark inspirations, it’s ultimately a song about the need for human compassion. If you can help someone “put the past away,” everyone will come out the other side a little stronger.
How’s It Going to Be
It’s hard to know what the future will look like at the end of a romance or a close friendship. You go from being the most important part of each other’s lives to feeling like strangers. How’s It Going to Be explores the uncertainty of this transition that so many of us experience throughout life.
Jenkins and Cadogen found inspiration from the nostalgic sounds of the autoharp. The lyrics cover a relationship breakdown, where fun turns into fighting. You can feel the regret that comes from ending things, even when it’s obvious that it can’t last anymore.
During an interview later, he said that learning how relationships are conditional can leave you feeling violated.
No Love for Stephan Jenkins
Ask just about anyone that’s worked with the Third Eye Blind frontman, and you’re sure to get an interesting response. Plenty of colorful quotes describe his challenging personality from former bandmates and the groups he’s toured with.
Eve 6, Matchbox Twenty, and Jimmy Eat World have each expressed disdain for Jenkins. They’ve called him soulless and a jerk and commented on his huge ego. As a result, none of them will tour with him ever again.
The same goes for those who have played in the band. Other than Jenkins, none of the founding members are still with the band. Most of them left the group with no love left for the singer.
The musician apparently grew up with a chip on his shoulder. Once, his sixth-grade teacher said Jenkins would never graduate. So when he left UC Berkeley as the valedictorian, he returned to the elementary school to remind his teacher about the incident.
What Happened to Third Eye Blind?
The band’s original songwriting team, Jenkins and Cadogan, struggled over the band’s creative direction. Originally, Cadogen and Jenkins developed most of the music together, with Jenkins penning the lyrics. But after their initial success, Cadogen felt he had no say in the music anymore.
Jenkins secretly incorporated Third Eye Blind, giving himself sole creative and financial control. When Cadogen learned this, he was furious, but the other band members didn’t seem to care. Ultimately, Jenkins fired him, and the two tried to resolve their differences in court. The case was eventually settled in 2002, two years after Cadogan’s exit.
Tony Fredianelli took over for Cadogan shortly after. The band continued to release albums, albeit at a much slower pace.
Third Eye Blind still has a group of dedicated fans that fill up their live shows. But album sales have never hit the same peaks as their debut.
Burning Bridges Rarely Turns Out Well
From the outside, Third Eye Blind produced some great music before sunsetting into obscurity. However, there was a lot of strife behind the scenes.
While Jenkins has made a lot of enemies in the industry, he still seems to have a few friends in high places. Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins even helped the band create their sixth album, Screamer, in 2019. If Third Eye Blind wants more respect, though, Jenkins has quite a few amends to make. It could help them get back on the good side of the industry.
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