Third Eye Blind finally emerged from exile to play a few songs for their label last week. Hamstrung by a deadline imposed by Elektra, the band has been putting in eighteen-hour days to finish the follow-up to their self-titled 1997 debut. "We haven't seen the light of day in weeks," complains singer Stephan Jenkins. "The pace of recording and working on this thing has really been brutal. Arion [Salazar, bassist] and I have been deep in the studio day and night.
The band began writing songs last spring and have curtailed their touring schedule to get this record out before the end of the year. "That's pretty amazingly fast," says Jenkins. "When bands like the Smashing Pumpkins started their record before we even finished touring, and they're not going to put it out this year."
So far, six of the twenty or so songs have been mastered, with seven more to go. The band didn't employ Eric Valentine, who co-produced (with Jenkins) their debut, to twirl the knobs this time around. Instead, production is credited to the Mudd Sisters, a sobriquet that Jenkins sheepishly admits is his: "Yeah, I'm the Mudd sisters, both of them." Aiding and abetting in the process is Jason Carmer, an engineer friend of the singer's whom Jenkins elevated to head studio rat.
The disc was originally going to be called Red Summer Sun
, after one of the songs, but Jenkins decided to change it to Sunburn
, because as he puts it, it's "a very Third Eye Blind concept."
"It's kind of delicious pain," he explained. "Things that hurt us that we do to ourselves. Sunburn is also very nostalgic because my days of sunburn are long gone. People don't get sunburns anymore because it's bad for you." But just as they were mocking up cover art, they found that another band is calling their upcoming record Sunburn
and that the Juliana Hatfield-led Blake Babies also had an album of that name. "Right now we're thinking either Chopper
or Ultra Violent
," he revealed.
A recent contest sponsored by The San Francisco Weekly
also landed a few names in the hopper, and Jenkins admits that some of them had possibilities. "The best names were Get Your Goat
, Have an Axe to Grind
, and Bad, Naughty Evil
. Who knows, maybe they'll end up on the next Third Eye Blind album," he laughed.
The band plan to mount a tour in February, but will do a few sporadic local dates, including next month's VooDoo Fest in New Orleans, along with Wyclef Jean, George Clinton and the newly resurrected Parliament/Funkadelic, Ben Folds Five and Moby.
"What's really key about this is that we got together in the spring after two years of constant touring," Jenkins said. "All four members of this band really have juice in their own way. Kevin [Cadogan, guitarist] and I got together and wrote a bunch of songs together. And this time Arion went into the studio and produced them. So the dynamic changed a little. Brad [Hargreaves, drums] really developed the most. He's just become this sticks-smashing crusher; he's not interested in doing Dave Matthews drums. But he's one of the only drummers I know who can play jungle beats in real time. There are no loops on this record. Nothing came out of a drum machine."
In sum, Jenkins says, "it's a bigger, wilder record in a lot of ways."
Written by JAAN UHELSZKI for RollingStone.com News