Something wonderful is happening: I’ve got Third Eye Blind’s cute-ass frontman Stephan Jenkins on the phone, and he’s asking me if I want to hang out.
“I don’t know anyone in Eugene,” he coos.
I reply coolly: “You know me, man.”
“Well, now you have my number.”
The 13-year-old girl inside me squeals — not only is this guy hot enough to have dated Charlize Theron and Vanessa Carlton, but his music soundtracked the angstiest phase of my angst phase. How many teenage girls have sung along to “Semi-Charmed Life” with the juvenile notion it’s about young love rather than crystal meth?
I’m wiser than to think Jenkins and I will really hit it off when he’s here, but our exchange gets at the reason I like Third Eye Blind, the two- to three-hit ’90s wonder requested on college kids’ road trips everywhere.
It has painfully little to do with the music. Jenkins’ charm is in itself the root of the band’s success — even when singing (in his characteristic near-scream) lyrics like “can I get my punk ass off the street,” his face is gentle and disarming. Though he’s standing wailing into a mic held centimeters from his lips, it’s easy to imagine that he’s seated on a stool, serenading you while barefoot.
One of Jenkins’ favorite things about the band’s current tour is that “thematically, it’s about seeking authenticity and genuine connection.”
The crowds, he says, are mostly made up of young millennials who have forged a connection to Third Eye Blind from the internet alone; rather than their fandom being dictated by radio hits, “they trade songs with each other, and they care about those songs, and those songs don’t have a time stamp on them.”
For all the punkness they play at, Third Eye Blind is an innocent band with the innocent goal of bringing youngsters together to commiserate. They’re not interested in creating counterculture that exemplifies their dark, grungy atmosphere. And that atmosphere is changing now, too: forthcoming full-length Dopamine, the band’s first release in five years, promises “more of a pulse, a real driving forward” than any previous record.
Fellows in angst royalty, Dashboard Confessional, and Brooklyn indie-pop duo Ex Cops join Third Eye Blind 7 pm Thursday, July 23, at Cuthbert Amphitheater; $41-$45. All ages.