Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye BlindThird Eye Blind discusses success and surfing
By Naughty Mickie

Rocker Third Eye Blind, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Stephan Jenkins, lead guitarist Kryz Reid, keyboardist Alex Kopp, bassist Alex Le Cavalier and drummer Brad Hargreaves, have been trekking the world on the "Summer Gods" tour, named after a yet to be released album. Although in June they released “Third Eye Blind: 20th Anniversary Edition,” an expanded version of their multi-platinum debut effort that includes previously unreleased songs and demos. When the album was originally released in 1997 it spent more than 100 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart with hits like, “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Gradiate” and “How’s It Going To Be.”

 But when I caught up with Jenkins, the first thing he wanted to talk about was not music, but surfing.

 “I’m a really avid surfer and I was looking for a way to combine surfing with giving back and I read an article about how surfing is this incredibly affective method for combatting PTSD with service members," Jenkins told me. "It just made so much sense to me that I started to seek groups that did this and found Jimmy Miller. I went to them and said I’d like to volunteer to be a surf instructor.”

 Jimmy Miller is the Jimmy Miller Foundation. Based in Manhattan Beach, it serves the Marines of the Wounded Warrior Battalions at Camp Pendleton and 29 Palms with free year-round ocean therapy sessions led by a team of occupational and psychological therapists, surf instructors, water professionals and volunteers.

 Jenkins originally started working with service members four years ago in Hawaii.

 “I love it. There’s so many reasons why I love it, one of them is it’s about being in the presence of strength. You have this disgusting president who assumes that people with PTSD aren’t strong and when you see these people what you are in the presence of is strength because it takes a kind of resilence. In some ways they haven’t come home yet and so it’s this fight to get home." Jenkins explained, "One thing surfing does, when a wave comes at you it’s this building mountain that’s turning into an avalanche, when you spin and turn and start paddling into that wave you cannot help, you have no chance of, being anywhere else than the present. When you learn how to flow with that wave it gives you not only that sense of presence, but of presence and joy and it puts you right here and now and it brings you home and there’s the centering grounding force of the ocean and all those things come together. You can see it on people’s faces who have been in a struggle, you can see their faces come home. It’s beautiful.”

 Third Eye BlindI gave Jenkins kudos for taking time to help others, as we need more of that in this world.

 “It’s totally selfish," Jenkins replied. "It’s because I get so much out of it, so much joy out of seeing them come home that it’s the whole thing. Last year for my birthday some friends said ‘What do you want to do?’ I said, ‘I want to go down and surf with my dudes.’ And that’s what I did on the morning of my birthday.”

 Finally it was time to discuss “Third Eye Blind: 20th Anniversary Edition.”

 “There were some songs that I wrote for the first album that we never recorded so they sat there as the roughest of demos. We decided to put them on tape and record it the same way that we did for the first album. So we were in a studio in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and we went in and just busted them out, It was a lot of fun to record,” Jenkins said.

 The songs include “Alright Caroline,” which they play live, “Scattered,” written for Kurt Cobain after his death, and “Tattoo of the Sun,” the first song Jenkins wrote for Third Eye Blind.

 But I wanted to know what makes this particular album timeless.

 “There’s a generation of kids, about 15-25, they find our music through playlists and they keep it alive," Jenkins answered. "I’m a person who has no interest in looking back, I’m not nostalgic at all, these are the good old days right now. I wouldn’t do this tour if it was a nostalgicky thing, but there’s something else that’s happening and it’s an amazing thing and that is that it’s not nostalgic for these fans, it’s now, this is their playlist now and it enlivens their life and gives them a sense of presence and aliveness now, that’s the point. To me that’s miraculous and that’s why we’re doing this tour and also we had these other songs that never made it so that’s why we put out the ‘20th Anniversary.’”

 So what is the secret to Third Eye Blind's success?

 “I have a lifelong urge to answer the dents that life makes on me in music,” said Jenkins. “I still feel like a young man that’s gunning for the gig, I never got past that. It’s just energy, the drive, it’s that rage to live and to find connection, like a fucking salmon swimming upstream. When I come off stage at night I’m just spent, it’s almost two hours, and if you don’t pour everything into it then there’s no point. It’s easy too because I have this amazing audience. At the show you’ll see these people who have this real energy and aliveness that they bring to it.”

 And finally, what's up with "Summer Gods"?

 “We’re supposed to have this EP out called ‘Summer Gods’ of course this is Third Eye Blind so we messed it up. I’ll come off the tour this summer, head off to Bali for a couple of weeks, then come home and record it,” Jenkins shares.

 The band is aiming for a fall release, but Jenkins thinks it will be more like 2018. They are also going to tour Europe, Asia and the U.S.

 “It’s going to be a world tour. That’s definitely touring this new record,” Jenkins said and laughed. “Luckily we have an audience that likes to hear a variety of music so we’re not so dependent on the record. It’s the thing that we have, John Legend gets Grammys and some bands get Rolling Stone covers, we have this audience, we have this culture of fans and they’re really amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’m in awe of it.”

  Find out when Third Eye Blind is coming to your town and if they eventually release "Summer Gods" by going to 

www.thirdeyeblind.com

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