SAN FRANCISCO — Bay Area turn-of-the-century rockers Third Eye Blind last week announced a tour commemorating the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album. If turnout for Stephan Jenkins and company’s performance at last year’s Outside Lands music festival is any indication, the band’s show at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley will sell out.
Anniversary tours are commonplace these days. Even U2 has finally joined the wave with its The Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour this summer. Still, Jenkins has publicly spoken against such a tour for Third Eye Blind in the past.
But then, Jenkins’ former bandmates Arion Salazar and Kevin Cadogan began playing the album at small clubs. For months, the duo received cease-and-desist notices from lawyers representing Third Eye Blind and Jenkins, who owns a trademark to the band’s name and logo. RIFF chronicled their story in August.
After facing a litany of cease-and-desist notices that made it harder to schedule shows, Bay Area residents Salazar (Third Eye Blind’s original bassist) and Cadogan (original guitarist and key songwriter) joined forces with Anthony Fredianelli, the guitarist who replaced Cadogan in Third Eye Blind after Cadogan left in 2000. The trio renamed themselves Xeb, a play on words to 3eb, signed a booking manager and publicist and have begun playing shows centered around the anniversary of their former band’s debut album. And they’ve done it without protest from Jenkins.
Xeb’s show at Slim’s on Jan. 6 did not sell out, but it drew plenty of Third Eye Blind fans, who sang along to every word from the band’s debut, as well as a couple of songs from sophomore album, Blue.
Prior to the concert, RIFF sat down with Cadogan, Salazar and Fredianelli to catch up on the past and predict the future.
RIFF: Kevin and Arion, you were planning a show in L.A. in with Tyson Ritter of The All-American Rejects. That didn’t work out. Did it have anything to do with receiving another cease-and-desist?
Cadogan: The schedules kind of changed. It was just sort of a coming together for fun and then it just sort of [fizzled]. Then Tony actually came into the mix shortly after that. So we just completely switched gears.
Fredianelli: I called up Kevin, not as a joke but — kind of a joke.
Cadogan: He sang to me on the phone.
Fredianelli: But he thought it sounded pretty good, and he called me right back.
Cadogan: He did sound really good. … I didn’t know that Tony was such a great vocalist.
And what was the reason for your call at that particular time?
Fredianelli: Well, I knew these guys were doing something and … I didn’t see why I shouldn’t try to jump in on vocals. I mean, I knew the songs, and these guys can’t have all the fun.
When I spoke with the Arion and Kevin last summer, we talked about you, Tony, a little bit. At that point you hadn’t been in touch. Even though everybody understood each other’s situation, you still weren’t too happy with the circumstances under which everybody left. It’s not like you were close friends.
Salazar: It wasn’t a hatred, either.
Fredianelli: With the three of us, I don’t know if there was a super beef. I mean obviously there’s some weirdness, but not really like you might think.
Cadogan: [The beef] was really just in terms of my falling out with Stephan.
Alright, so Kevin talks to Tony on the phone. How did that lead to a duo turning into Xeb? Not only in terms of logistics, but with all legal issues you were facing.
Cadogan: Those legal things, were just Jenkins’ way of saying, “Don’t forget about me.” We’re not getting them now.
Xeb now has three early Third Eye Blind members. Jenkins’ band has only two: himself and drummer Brad Hargreaves. How are fans reacting?
Cadogan: That’s an interesting thing, isn’t it?
Fredianelli: That’s a complex, nuanced question to answer because there’s a lot of newer Third Eye Blind fans who know about the original lineup. They know about those records. And they might find their way into finding out … who wrote the music, who built the structure.
Cadogan: [Third Eye Blind] is a different band now. There are people that appreciate what [Jenkins] is doing now.
Fredianelli: The thing that kind of stuck out to me: I noticed that some of these classic songs are sort of being done as renditions now by Stephan. Are the fans wanting to hear a piano version of “God of Wine?” … It just sounded so unlike the song to me. I’m not putting him down at all; the idea that fans want to go see Stephan and have fun seeing new music. I actually talked to some fans who were super stoked to see us and they were saying, “Yeah, but it’s also cool to go see [Jenkins].”
Salazar: Of course it is. … It is usually a little weird when bands lose members, change members especially in a band like this. At the same time, it’s about a show. Those people don’t know about the internal [battles]. They shouldn’t have to if they don’t want to get into it and they just want to hear music. I can’t get mad about that.
Cadogan: We’re just trying to present the music as authentically as we possibly could. The three of us right now is about as close as the universe will probably ever get. If the universe cares. We’ll find out.
Have you had a chance to reconcile?[All three laugh.] Fredianelli: With Stephan? Well, I mean … I don’t … I’m not like …
Cadogan: I guess that answers that.
Fredianelli: I don’t have a voodoo doll at night, but …
What do you see as the future Xeb?
Cadogan: Well, we’re just assembling the team right now. We’ve just recently got a booking agent on board. We’re looking at tours along the East Coast in May and then nationwide tours … that will take us through the summer for the 20th anniversary of the release of the debut album. … We’ve also got tons of stuff individually, and we’re starting to collectively work on that as well. [We’re] letting things happen naturally.
Third Eye Blind performed at Outside Lands last year. The band had, probably, the biggest daytime crowd at the festival. Does that surprise you at all?
Cadogan: Not really. I think it’s all based on music that was insanely popular.
Salazar: It doesn’t surprise me, because I hear these songs from the first record on the radio all the time. [They] get played on multiple formats. So every generation of kids is going to get turned on to that band. They see the band playing in town and don’t know who’s in the band or not. It’s good music. I’m super proud of it. I think they were good records. We built this thing. We toured our asses off. Kevin and I toured for almost three years straight, and then continued to run with Tony. And then after I was gone, those guys continued working. When you … put that much time into it, people know about it.
Fredianelli: I noticed around 2007 … that there was great focus on the college markets.
Salazar: It’s a clever marketing.
Say Stephan Jenkins calls you up out of the blue and says, “You know what, I’m just not having so much fun anymore with the new guys. How about you come back and we do this together?” What’s your response to that?
Salazar: We’d have to work on some stuff, personally. That’s a tough one.
Cadogan: I don’t think it’s possible for me to be … with that sort of dictatorship style of being in bands. It’s not appealing to any of us right now. The way we do this is very fun and relaxing, and we all sort of work together. We’re having a good time. So the last thing on our mind is thinking about that.