Last summer, alt-rock radio mainstay Third Eye Blind made major headlines all across the country following its concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, just outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
The reason: Frontman Stephan Jenkins and company live-trolled the event, scraping their usual set list of massive mainstream hits like Semi-Charmed Life and Never Let You Go in favor of more politically charged but far lesser-known tracks like 2008’s Non Dairy Creamer — much to the dismay of the many Republican fans in attendance.
“We woke up trending number one on Twitter in the morning,” Third Eye Blind lead guitarist Kryz Reid told Revue.
Facing down boos from the crowd, Reid said the band had no idea what it was in for when it booked the charity gig months in advance for Musicians on Call — a nonprofit that brings live and recorded music to patients and families in health care facilities.
“As soon as we get onstage, very quickly Jenkins and I realized that we were playing to a majority of staunchly Republican people who were there for (the RNC), but who were also fans of the band. And I don’t think the first song was even finished when he turned around and said to me, ‘We’ve got to change the set!’ I think (Jumper, off the band’s 1997 self-titled LP) was the only hit we played, because it fit the same kind of message that we wanted to put out that day, and that’s a story about a gay man who jumped off a bridge.”
The widespread attention reignited interest in the band from many outside of its longtime devoted fan base, people who hadn’t followed Third Eye Blind — often shortened to 3EB — since the days of its radio hits and platinum-selling albums in the late ’90s and early 2000s. It also attracted new fans who hadn’t discovered the band’s distinctive mix of arena-rock guitars, pop hooks and candid lyrics.
Surprisingly, the band is more active than it has been in years, touring before the infamous RNC show in support of its 2015 LP Dopamine, while simultaneously leading into the release of We Are Drugs, a six-song EP that came only a year later, marking the fastest turnaround between records for 3EB during its 24-year history.
“I’d like to take credit for the band putting stuff together faster, but the thing is, it feels like we’re really a band now,” Reid said, alluding to the current lineup, which includes himself, Jenkins, longtime drummer Brad Hargreaves, keyboardist Alex Kopp and bassist Alex LeCavalier.
“Before putting out Dopamine, we went through three different bass players,” said Reid, who joined 3EB in 2010. “So We Are Drugs feels far more like this band, because it’s the songs that we wrote all together in a room … and it feels like a really good snapshot of this band, of our band — not just Stephan’s or Brad’s band.”
Reid joined 3EB through Hargreaves, who he had played with in another band years earlier.
Ironically, Reid had never heard of 3EB before being asked to fill in at a show for the band.
“I grew up in Ireland, so I never heard of the band,” he said. “One of my friends reminded me recently that at some point I did say, ‘Yeah, Brad plays in another band called Three Blind Mice or something.’ So I had no real clue.”
Hitting it off with Jenkins right away, Reid joined 3EB just days after that first gig and has remained with the band for the past eight years.
This fall, 3EB will host an “evening with” tour — which stops at The Intersection on Oct. 13 — in which the band plans to play even more deep cuts from all five of its albums, and to open up acoustically during a longer set each night.
Don’t be surprised if the band brings out a little bit of politics as well, as its most recent single, Cop vs. Phone Girl, directly addresses the issue of police brutality, and follows in a long line of socially outspoken songs from Jenkins and the group.
“There were certainly political songs before I joined the band,” Reid said. “I don’t know how active Stephan was politically back then, but there’s this old saying, ‘When the common man is interested in politics, then politics is failing.’ And literally every single person you speak to in America right now has a pretty well-informed opinion about what they think about policy and politics right now. So there’s something broken. And I guess when that happens, we just step forward and try to mirror what we see going on in society.”
An Evening with Third Eye Blind: Fall of the Summer Gods Tour
The Intersection, 133 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Oct. 13, 8 p.m., $35-$40, all ages
sectionlive.com, (616) 451-8232