Confessional lyrics intertwining heartache and hope in a knot of emotion.
Melodies that soar even when spirits sink.
An outsider’s need to share what’s inside.
On paper, Stephan Jenkins certainly qualifies as an emo forebear.
On the phone, the Third Eye Blind frontman sounds less than convinced.
“There was some article somewhere about me and Billy Corgan being the architects of emo, and I’m like, ‘I’m super not emo,’ ” he chuckles. “I think it’s funny. I have a very goth subcurrent in me, things passing and things fading as being a reminder to be alive in this moment. We make an emotional landscape internally that’s really looking into that friction between people when they’re trying to figure out what they’re about.”
Contrast this thematic friction with the smoothness of Third Eye Blind’s sound — earnest and earwormy, hooks buoyant enough to float on water — and it naturally follows that so many bands that were part of the emo and pop-punk boom of the 2000s have cited Third Eye Blind as an influence — including Vegas’ biggest contribution to that crowd, Panic! At the Disco.
That Third Eye Blind is on the road with another act of that ilk, Jimmy Eat World, makes for an astute pairing.
Since emerging in the late-’90s with its six-times-platinum self-titled debut, which spawned hit singles such as “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper” and “How’s It Going to Be,” Third Eye Blind has been a touchstone for bands seeking to wed a measure of radio friendliness with emotional candor.
A break from the bros
When Third Eye Blind broke out in 1997, nü metal was on the rise, Marilyn Manson was huge, and moody rockers such as Creed were starting to put the airwaves in a death grip.
Amid all this testosterone and clenched teeth, Third Eye Blind registered as a sonic — if not a lyrical — balm, its songs insistently hummable even when Jenkins was singing about meth addiction, alienation and suicide.
The group sold a lot of records but never really fit in with its angstier-than-thou contemporaries.
Jenkins says he was used to it.
“I never felt part of a scene, even in San Francisco coming up, there were musical scenes,” he says. “I was just like, I did not get into this to submit myself to anyone else’s aesthetics or principles. We were always misfits. We were always on the outside. And that appeals to other people who feel like they are misfits.
“I said really early on, ‘We make music for misfits.’ I don’t need to explain myself,” he continues. “I have an exchange with my audience that is very direct, and I feel very fortunate to be comprehended by that audience. That makes me feel confident to just try to be in that space of letting songs happen without judging them or trying to make them into something or, God forbid, trying to make a hit. That kind of stuff, I’m not interested.”
Playing with Pumpkins
One ’90s alt-rock prime mover that was down with Third Eye Blind, though, was Corgan, who publicly expressed his admiration for the band.
So when the band began writing its recently announced sixth record, “Screamer,” due out in October, with an emphasis on working with outside collaborators, Corgan was a prime recruit.
“Billy is just brilliant — and I don’t go around calling people brilliant — but that guy’s brilliant,” Jenkins says. “There’s kind of a structure of a song that Billy was like, ‘Let’s break that structure down. Let’s go into a new structure.’ I would take him a song, and he would just start pulling chord changes out of it, like that.”
Third Eye Blind has been opening its current show with the title track to its new one, an electro-pop rebel yell with another guest contributor.
“There’s a part on ‘Screamer’ where it was like, what are you looking for in this sound?” Jenkins recalls of putting the song together. “I was like, honestly, I kind of want it to sound like Sleigh Bells, like, Alexis Krauss doing that hype, cheerleader thing. And then somebody in my band was like, ‘Well, why don’t you just call Alexis Krauss? Which never occurred to me. And we did. She just came in and destroyed it, which is her way.”
“Screamer” is a record informed by current events, one that “explores the duality of our dystopian present as a catalyst for passionate humanism,” the band writes in the album’s press release.
Jenkins seems eager to instigate.
This is, after all, a man who’d bite a cactus before he’d bite his tongue.
“I want to cause trouble. … That’s how I feel,” he says. “I’m watching this dimness of complacency slip over people’s faces who think that they can’t be part of the remedy. The other side of that is that, in these times, it also wakes people up.
“I want to ignite that emotional spark in people that they transfer to everything else in their life,” he adds. “That’s my goal.”
Who: Third Eye Blind, Jimmy Eat World
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: The Pearl at the Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road
Tickets: $54.95-$179.95 (702-944-3200)