"Keep it weird, keep it rough..." Third Eye Blind talk their new album Screamer
San Francisco pop-rockers announced themselves to the world in 1997 with the joyful clatter of drums on smash-hit single 'Semi-Charmed Life', which propelled their self-titled debut album to sell more than six million copies in the US alone.
In the years that followed, they've gone on to release four further LPs and tour the globe. But, not long after the release of 2015's Dopamine, they told the world they were done.
Not done as a band, but done with albums. From then on it was singles and EPs all the way. Short, sharp shocks to back up tours. That was it. Until it wasn't.
Somewhere in 2018, frontman Stephan Jenkins changed his mind and the band recorded new LP Screamer.
We asked him why and how he came to regard eccentric Smashing Pumpkins' mainman Billy Corgan as the record's musical consigliere...
When did you start working on the songs for Screamer?
"I guess songs started as early as autumn in 2017. We would start messing with things at soundcheck and went on from there."
You’ve talked about abandoning making albums all together, when did you change your mind?
"When all of these jams showed up and I could not bring myself to just Soundcloud a single."
Did you want to do anything differently from the way you’ve recorded in the past?
"Yes, this time I wanted to be careful not to smooth out any of the edges. Keep it weird, keep it rough. Next time I want to get rid of playing drums to click track. my drummer is a metronome anyway..."
Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells guests on the title track, how did that collaboration come about?
"I have always been a huge fan of hers. When I wrote the ‘gets your carts ready part”, I was kind of channelling her anyway. Someone suggested why don’t you get her to sing it. Voila..."
Polica’s Ryan Olson is on two tracks, how did you get to work with him?
"Everything with us is through friends, so somebody in our camp who worked with Polica reached out. It turns our Ryan appreciated my propensity for dirty words..."
You've called Billy Corgan the "musical consigliere" for the album, can you talk us through what that means?
"It was one of those voices saying fewer chords here and probably fewer chords there! Plus he reminds me a little bit of an Irish Gangster. It is probably a Chicago thing..."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"There are intersecting themes. Hope and passionate humanism in times of dystopia, post-patriarchal sexual dynamic and the absurdity of consumer culture as presented in pop music."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"It was 'Who Am I'. That is why we put both versions on there."
And which came together most quickly?
"This was 'Take A Side'. That was written after we thought the songwriting session was gone. Colin (CreeV, guitarist) started playing that guitar riff and I sang all of the lyrics in about 15 minutes. You never know..."
When did you decide on Screamer for the album title? Were any other titles in contention?
"It was Ryan Olson’s idea. He said “Screamer. Good Title. You should name the album that. “ and I said “Yeah.” And he said “ “And make the album cover a pennant that says Screamer. “ and I said yeah, with blood and dirt all over it.” I wish everything was that simple."
What are your plans to take the album out live?
"We've got Europe, Canada, the US, Mexico, Asia, it's all in the works."
You’ve got six records now, how will you decide what makes your live set?
"Jesus, it makes me nervous just thinking about it. I have no idea. If you have setlist suggestions please tweet me @stephanjenkins..."
When will we see you back in the UK?
"We are starting a UK run on October 21st in Kryz’s (Reid, guitarist) hometown. I am excited for every date on the tour. Can’t wait."
Third Eye Blind's new album Screamer is out now in hmv stores.