Third Eye Blind's longtime drummer Brad Hargreaves remembers an odd time between the band's third and fourth albums, when he was on the road with another band, Year Long Disaster, touring in a tiny van and struggling. Then somewhere around Pittsburgh, he came up with an idea for his own act. He was being pulled in two directions with Third Eye gigs taking precedence over Year Long Disaster.
"I wanted a creative outlet of my own that I could control and not have other people rely on me to be there." His DJ-drumming side project JustBrad has since faded in its purest form, but it is being revived during improvised solos at Third Eye Blind concerts. With his right hand drumming, his left messes with a sampler, and Hargreaves' jazz improv roots take over.
Hargreaves isn’t involved in any other bands these days, but he still works on music at home and spends time surfing. "I'm a simple man," the L.A.-based drummer reveals. Lead singer-songwriter Stephan Jenkins lives in San Francisco, where the band is known to be from, but the group is spread out across the country, from California to Vegas and D.C. On May 29, the group hits U.S. pavement with Florida's own Dashboard Confessional for a spring-summer tour.
"I guess to the rest of the world, it feels like we're starting up again, but we're just continuing to do what we've been doing," Hargreaves says of Third Eye Blind. The band's new album, Dopamine, will be released on June 16.
As Jenkins told HuffPost Live this past week: “It’s going to be the last LP, in the sense of the standard practice of writing a bunch of songs, recording, setting up the album, all of those things... When I write a song, I want to post it, [send it] out to the universe, and it’s done. I think my process now works better with the digital tools for uploading. I'm not going to worry about ways to monetize this; I'm going to go by the happiness quotient.”
Hargreaves notes that Jenkins does the "heavy lifting in terms of generating the basic idea of the song." He sometimes meets the rest of the group with just a thought. Other times, he arrives with an almost complete song. He likes to get together and “workshop and reimagine it and really kind of explore it. He invites everyone to be as creative as they can with it,” Hargreaves says.
“Most Third Eye Blind albums are fairly eclectic sounding — there's acoustic songs, there's rock sounds, there's electronic stuff. I think we've kept that formula going. Our new album, no one is going to mistake it for being a completely different band, but there's quite a bit of evolution on it. I think you can hear it on the first single, ‘Everything is Easy,’ and ‘Mine.’”
By "Mine," he's referring to the band's cover of the Beyonce tune. Jenkins started playing it acoustically but wanted to finesse it, so Hargreaves enriched it by programming a drum machine on the track. "Stephan heard that record, when Beyonce released that album, just dropped it on everyone. And that was something that was impressive thing to do, to have that confidence."
But this song in particular stood out and spoke to Jenkins. "He just kind of made it his own. When he played it for me, I didn't realize it was a Beyonce song, and I thought it was something he wrote. I was really excited. I was like, that is an amazing song. I was actually kind of bummed out when I found out," Hargreaves laughs. "I think the vocals he sang on it are some of the best I've ever heard him sing in his entire career."
For the upcoming tour, the band spent ten days in preproduction and plans to offer different takes on many Third Eye Blind hits. “We've always kind of tried to reimagine some of the songs that we felt like weren't fully realized on the albums,” the drummer admits. “We try to create an oceanic feeling of togetherness and get people having a good time.”
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Certainly, with Boca Raton emo natives Dashboard Confessional warming up a summertime Bayfront Park Amphitheatre crowd near their hometown, there's no doubt that's how's it going to be, “an oceanic feeling of togetherness.”
Third Eye Blind. With Dashboard Confessional. 7 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $30.75 to $45.25 via livenation.com. All ages.