STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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They landed one of the biggest music publishing deals ever by an unsigned act, then followed it with a debut that featured one of the 1990s’ essential rock songs, plus two other memorable top 10 hits.
San Francisco’s Third Eye Blind has gone on to sell more than 12 million albums, and they’re on the road in support of their latest release, “Dopamine.” In fact, they’re ringing in 2016 at the Valley Forge Music Fair at Valley Forge Casino Resort, 1160 First Ave., Upper Merion, playing a New Year’s Eve concert scheduled for 10 p.m. on the 31st.
The band that brought us songs like “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper” and “Never Let You Go,” got their name from the Buddhist and Hindu concept of an unseen, spiritual eye.
A few hours before a show in Sacramento, Calif., drummer Brad Hargreaves took some time to chat on the phone. “We’re looking forward to it,” he said of playing in Valley Forge. “We try to pace our set that we take people on a bit of a ride, and end on a climax.”
One of Hargreaves’ favorite songs to play live is the hit “How’s It Going to Be.” “It’s the place in the set where I take a deep breath and lay back into mellow rock,” he said.
When asked about the reports that “Dopamine” took a long time to complete, Hargreaves confirmed that the recording took place over the course of a year. “We take a while to come up with what we believe deserves to be on a Third Eye Blind record,” he said.
“Dopamine” is just the band’s fifth album since 1997. They found themselves having to form their own independent label to release their music after Elektra Records got absorbed into another label, and a subsequent artist roster purge occurred. “We really took that in stride,” said Hargreaves. “We’ve relied on ourselves to get anything done. We always had a D.I.Y. (do it yourself) attitude about getting things recorded.”
There’s also been notable personnel turnover over the years. Besides singer/songwriter/guitarist Stephan Jenkins, Hargreaves is the only other original member from the “Third Eye Blind” album era still in the band. He said that they hired one of their guitar technicians to play keyboards and trigger samples. Hargreaves added that he was responsible for bringing in Irish guitarist Kryz Reid in 2010.
“A lot of musicians, we’re all sort of damaged to a degree, and our skills at getting along are not always the best. We’re kind of a surly lot of people,” he said.
Hargreaves noted that there are very few famous rock bands that have never made a lineup change. One of them is U2, whom Third Eye Blind opened for on the “PopMart” tour of 1997-1998. “It was overwhelming at first. When you play a stadium … it’s almost like you’re playing in a globe and the people are on top of the musicians,” he said.
When asked about how he got into Third Eye Blind, Hargreaves said that at the time, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be in a rock band, but found an “immediate synergy” with the guys. “I was going to school at (University of California at) Berkeley, and a guy in a music class I was in told me that Stephan was looking at drummers. I was playing in a whole bunch of bands at the time,” he recalled.
Going even farther down memory lane, Hargreaves remembered being mesmerized by his father’s drum sticks at an early age, dressing up like Tommy Lee of Motley Crue — the circa 1982-1985 look — in sixth-grade, and getting psyched up to play CYO basketball games by listening to AC/DC and Led Zeppelin.
As for the music he’s listening to now, “I’m trying to get away from the Adele track,” he laughed, mentioning that he likes the blog Hype Machine and the new release feed on Spotify.
“I listen to a lot of electronic stuff,” he said. Hargreaves’ jam of the moment is “Water” by Ra Ra Riot.
Tickets for the show range from $66-$86 and are available from Ticketmaster.