Back in the late '90s, Third Eye Blind and its first self-titled album was everywhere on the airwaves, between "Semi-Charmed Life," "Graduate" and "Jumper." Since then, the band's continued keeping busy, cranking out three additional albums, an EP, a greatest hits collection and headlining the BMO Harris Pavilion at Summerfest exactly one year ago.
And what better way to celebrate that show's one-year anniversary than by returning to the same very festival – albeit at the Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard this time around on Saturday, June 27.
Before the band returns to the Summerfest stage, OnMilwaukee.com recently spoke with Third Eye Blind drummer Brad Hargreaves to discuss the band’s new album "Dopamine" – released just this month on June 16 – and its current tour.
OnMilwaukee.com: So, how’s the tour going?
Brad Hargreaves: The tour’s going great. We’re a little over a third of the way through it, so it’s still fresh, a lot of kinks have been worked out, and we’re getting pretty dialed in. We’re just having fun. We’re at the point where we’re swapping out different songs each night. Some old stuff. Some new stuff. We get to play a lot of different music on this tour which always helps to keep it fresh.
OMC: Do you have any new stops this time around?
BH: We’ve been doing it for 18 years, so we’ve pretty much covered it two or three times over.
OMC: Is there any place you haven’t been that you know you’d like to get to?
BH: I’d personally like to go to Russia. It’s not on the docket right now.
OMC: What’s your favorite part of being on the road?
BH: A couple things. I love to play music every night within a band setting. You’re playing your best when you’re on the road. Also, the camaraderie of just hanging out with the guys. You know, you’re on a bus together, all the inside jokes. It’s just a really good bonding time with the band. Plus, because we just put out this record "Dopamine," which all of these guys are playing on, it’s just a fun time for everyone to be together and explore this tour together.
OMC: When you’re on tour, are there any things you like to do to occupy your time when you’re not playing or sleeping?
BH: Yeah, I do a fair amount of sleeping. Because we’ve got this record out, we end up doing a lot of press and a fair amount of planning that goes into what we’re doing. We’re basically a self-managed band, so there’s a lot of details that need to get taken care of, especially with this new record out. I’ve got a little practice kit on the bus. I like to get a little bit of practicing done during the day; relax and just get my mind right, and kind of prepare for the show at night. I kind of look at it like an athlete; your preparation, what you eat during the day, and everything you do to get your energy and your mind right so you can go out there and play a compelling set for people.
OMC: So what’s your favorite part of the job?
BH: The playing is the most fun part of it. Just being able to provide a kind of joy for people who are fond of our music and have followed us a for a long time. That’s why you practice. That’s why you put together a really good tour and a good light show and get the best PA you can get. You try to provide the best experience that you can, and watch that unfold. Just the awe that people sort of have at a rock show, for whatever reason, and I don’t understand why that is, but I try not to overthink it too much; it’s just an exciting thing to witness for whatever reason.
OMC: Do you enjoy partaking in social media?
BH: Yeah, I mean I definitely do because it’s a direct conduit to people who want to get to know you and understand what you’re about. You know, if you take a picture on your own phone and write your own caption to it, that’s as authentic a message as you can give. From that standpoint, I love it. In the end, it’s the best thing.
OMC: How did you get into drumming?
BH: My dad played a little bit of drums, and he tried to get my brother into drumming. He gave him a practice pad and some sticks and my brother didn’t really take to it. Those sticks were stowing in the closet, and I just kind of remember putting on Chipmunks records when I was 5 and beating on the carpet in front of the speakers, and then as my friends starting getting into rock music like AC/DC, Hendrix and stuff like that. They started getting into guitar and they needed a drummer, and I was like, hey, I’ve got those sticks in the closet. So there you go. It was sort of a natural evolution.
OMC: Do you subscribe to that 10,000 hours theory where you can get mastery of any one thing?
BH: Yeah, I definitely do. I mean, to be great at something, really truly great at something, you do have to put in the work, there is no question. But you can still be great at something without putting in 10,000 hours. With artistic endeavors, it’s one of those things. Yeah, it takes 10,000 hours to be a master cellist, but it doesn't take 10,000 hours to move someone just as emotionally.
OMC: Do you get nervous before you play?
BH: Sometimes I get butterflies. It's not nervous to where I can't play, just actually excited butterflies. I kind of get nervous when I don't have them. I kind of rely on that for my energy, so if I'm not feeling any butterflies, I'm like, "Uh, oh."
OMC: If you weren't a drummer in Third Eye Blind, what would you be doing instead?
BH: I think I'd be a spy. I wouldn't spy on America; I'd spy on foreigners. I'd spy on foreign countries, you know, like being in the CIA. When I was in college, I got into all that stuff that you’ve got under the surface. If you look for it, you can find it, but it’s not readily available.
OMC: Milwaukee is a pretty big beer town. Do you drink, and if you do, do you have any favorite beers?
BH: Yeah, a little bit. It’s funny how little I’ve drank on this tour. It’s been a very light-drinking tour for me. But I’ll have some beers in Milwaukee, for sure. Beers and brats. Delicious.
OMC: Are there any pranksters in your band? Have they pulled any crazy stunts on the tour yet?
BH: Not yet. I haven't really seen it. I've not been impressed on the prank level. I don’t want to fall prey to that either. I don’t need any pranks pulled on me.
OMC: You guys must be pretty proud of the new album. Do you have any favorite tracks from it?
BH: Yeah. I really like "All the Souls." I really like "Something in You." I really like "Blade." I like all of them, but those are probably right now the ones that stick out the most.
OMC: How are the fans receiving the new material?
BH: A great thing about Twitter is you put in #thirdeyeblind and just kind of take a temperature of what people are feeling about your band. I’m actually shocked at the amount of positivity. Usually in social media, the negative people are absolutely the loudest voice. That’s one thing that’s kind of skewed about social media; the people who really want to be negative or really go after you. But literally 99.9 percent of what I’ve read about our shows, about our record, is positive. I find that to be kind of remarkable, given that the people with the loud voices are generally negative.
OMC: How did you guys come up with the idea to cover Beyonce's "Mine"?
BH: That was all Stephan (Jenkins, leader singer for Third Eye Blind). A friend of his played Beyonce's record. It’s one of her darker records, and he kind of gravitates towards that type of music and what he's listening to. That song was just something that spoke to him, and that set of lyrics on that song in particular was something that he could relate to, and he just kind of grabbed a hold of it and made it his own. When he first played that song, I thought it was a song he had written. I was like, "That’s a brilliant song." It shows you the power of his personality and his scope of what he does that he can take a song that’s so different from Third Eye Blind and really turn it into a Third Eye Blind song, potentially.
OMC: How did you guys come up with the name for the band?
BH: When I met Stephan in 1995, he already had that name since like 1993 or something. It was something he came up with.
OMC: Do you have any particular favorites to play live, whether it's from the first album or the most recent album or anything in between?
BH: Yeah, I’m actually really excited. It’s just fun to have new music to play live, and the fact that people are buying the record and getting into it, I’m overjoyed with that. We’ve been playing "Something in You" almost every concert now, and people start waving their arms and it ends up being this massive celebration, so I really like playing that one. And the title track, "Dopamine," actually works really well live. We’ve been playing that every other night or something. Every time we play it, it just kind of flows. I love playing it.
OMC: Do you feel like you and the band have a special connection to Milwaukee?
BH: I think anyone who travels through Milwaukee in the summertime and plays Summerfest will feel like they have a special connection to Milwaukee. It’s just such a gorgeous place in the summer. It just has a great vibe to it. We’ve played the Eagles Ballroom a bunch of times and always had great shows. Yeah, they like their rock bands up there. I’ve always, always loved playing Milwaukee. It’s always been very good to us.