Third Eye Blind

Our Q&A with Third Eye Blind Singer Stephan Jenkins

Prior to Third Eye Blind’s Summerfest set on July 4th, we talked with lead singer Stephan Jenkins about the band’s return to Milwaukee in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their debut album.

Summerfest isn’t the only one celebrating an anniversary this year.  Rockers Third Eye Blind are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album, with a special reissue of the album and a tour. Catchy tracks like Semi-Charmed Life, Jumper, and How’s It Going to Be helped jettison the band to new heights. They’ve gone on to sell around 12 million records worldwide. Now the band is ready to celebrate the pair of milestones.

How do you feel about coming back to play during Summerfest’s 50th anniversary?

I didn’t actually know that it was the 50th anniversary. But I like that they’re having us play it. It’s our 20th anniversary. It just seems so anniversary-ial. [laughs] I really didn’t know that it was 50 years old. That’s funny how it must have morphed, since Milwaukee has morphed and changed so much.

What do you recall of the band’s first time playing Summerfest? How has it changed?

I don’t recall what the first time was now. I remember the first time I went back to Milwaukee and played the Eagles Ballroom and it was really a trip for me to go back there because I was a little baby in Milwaukee when I was maybe nine days old. I went to Milwaukee when my dad was a professor at UW-Milwaukee. That’s where he got his first professor gig after he got out of Northwestern. So the first three years of my life were there. My very first memories are of Milwaukee. Coming back to Milwaukee, you get a flood of memories that are lost in you that return. And it’s things like park benches and things from street corners and things like that, that are not even significant. But they have the weight of time and tradition of family and things like that. So I have this care for Milwaukee that’s definitely special.

Do you know where you lived?

I don’t. I’m sure it was right by the campus.

What are some of your favorite Summerfest and Milwaukee memories?

I like riding my bike over and getting brats from some little brat house. That was fun. I like hanging out with people backstage, friends in Milwaukee and things like that.

What have you noticed about the crowds at Summerfest as you’ve played more and more?

Well, they’ve gotten bigger. They’ve certain gotten larger. So I think this year will be a madhouse when we play. And we’ll be there and show up for the moment.

You mentioned earlier about the band is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The band reissued its debut recently. What does it mean to be celebrating that milestone?

It means there’s a whole new generation of kids who find connection and meaning in our music. That is one of the most gratifying I have known. It’s great.

What song from that album resonates the most to you these days?

It’s called God of Wine. I found a core truth about myself, that I discovered by writing it. I didn’t know it existed before…It’s allowed me a greater connection to other people. I would call it one of my life songs.

Are there any songs from the album the band hasn’t played for a long time?

Yes, the whole second side.



Joshua Miller covers music and culture for Milwaukee Magazine. He also writes for various other outlets in Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago. You can follow him at @JoshuaMMillerWI.