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An Interview with Arion Salazar
of Third Eye Blind

Backstage Pass Special by Debbie Seagle

Back to Part 1

D:  I understand you have a special pet named Ella.  Does she travel with you on the bus?

A:  No, she doesn’t but we do have an animal friendly bus now, we’re traveling with Stephan’s dog Coby.

D:  Oh really?

A:  Yeah, so we’ve got bus doggie, tour doggie! 

D:  Well that is kind of cool though, to have a dog with you on tour. I know when I covered Lilith Fair, they all take their dogs with them and it kind of gives you a homey atmosphere on the bus.

A:  It is, and fortunately she’s clean, she doesn’t smell like dogs often smell, so it doesn’t give us a veterinarian office atmosphere, and yeah, so its kind of homey and she’s a good dog any way.

D:  So it probably wouldn’t be a good place for your cat any way, huh?

A:  The cat would probably either - A: Get crushed by some drunk guy falling on her, or B:  get eaten by Coby.  Its definitely a good thing there’s no cat on this tour. 

D:  Well, if she is like my cat was, the beds wouldn’t be big enough for her anyway.

A:  Yeah, that’s true.  I’ve found that little cats can hold their own, no matter how big the dogs are.  You know, once they get that first swipe on the nose, hurts their nose, they know not to f*** with the little thing with the sharp claws, that is quick with the claws!

D:  Oh yeah, typical feline traits . . . I’m told.

A:  That’s right!

D:  Most touring musicians now are taking their lap tops on the road with them now so they can kind of keep up with their relationships and their connection to their home base.  I know all of you are from around the Bay Area, are most of you into the internet communication now?  Do you carry around your lap tops?

A:  Yeah, well, I don’t own a lap top yet, I don’t have a computer.  I’m the only guy in the band who doesn’t and I’m definitely probably one of the only people I know who doesn’t.  But most of the band are pretty computer and internet savvy, especially Brad.  He’s the kind of computer wiz of the band.   But I’m planning on getting one though . . . so give me a break!

D:  I hope so.  Does anyone tell you anything?  Do they tell you what’s going on in the world, everyone who has a computer, or do they just kind of leave you in the dark?

A:  Yeah, like you know, every day I get a little speech, a little lesson on what’s happening, cause I don’t know.  I barely watch TV or read the paper or anything.  I’m just kind of wrapped up in my own little musical world.

D:  Well sometimes that’s good.  If you’re writing on the road, that’s good.

A:  I just saw High Fidelity, have you seen that movie?

D:  I haven’t seen it yet.

A:  If you’re a music fan, its a pretty good thing to see. 

D:  I am definitely a music fan.

A:  The best thing about it, is its got this guy "Jack Black" from Tenacious D.  Have you ever heard of Tenacious D?  They are f***ing amazing.  They are my favorite band at the moment and I recommend anyone reading this or whatever to try to go find some Tenacious D and check it out. 

D:  Well, we’ll make sure that the readers at Rock N World and antiMUSIC get that tip from you.

A:  Tenacious D is the greatest band on Earth!

D:  I thought the Beatles were the greatest band on Earth.

A:  The Beatles, yeah, they run a close second, but sorry, its just, can’t really hold a candle.

D:  Okay.  You’re touring right now on the CD "Blue," which Stephan is quoted as saying is the "Dawn of Arion," which kind of sounds like the "Age of Aquarius" doesn’t it?

A:  It sounds ridiculous.  I don’t know why he said that.  I can’t stand that, its bizarre.  Its like I’m suddenly appearing, elevated a foot above water, like surrounded by bright lights.

D:  Well dude, its on your official press release.

A:  Yeah, I know, it just got on there and what can you do?  They’re all printed up and sent out.  Its a little bit late.  Sometimes that kind of stuff slips by, slips through the cracks.  What are you going to do?  But, I think what he meant was that I did a lot of stuff on this record.  I co-produced it, I played a lot of guitar on it, a lot of keyboards, I just had a huge, big involvement with it and it was great! 

D:  Aside from the fact that I hear some incredible bass lines and textures on the CD, you have partial song writing credit on two of the tracks, right?  Ten Days and Darwin?

A:  Yeah, I wrote those songs with Stephan. 

D:  Will Third Eye Blind fans be seeing more of this in the future?  More songs by you and maybe even some lead vocals on the songs you have written?

A:  Nah.  You know, definitely - hopefully you’ll see me writing more music with the band but I don’t have any desires on being a lead singer.  I love singing, but its not my gig and I’m not really big on writing lyrics.  I’m crazy about writing music.  I write music all the time and I love it but Stephan’s lyrics are f***ing incredible and I think that they are so good that its kind of daunting to even try and do something around him because I’m really a fan of what he writes.  I think that his lyrics are actually half of what makes us Third Eye Blind, so I wouldn’t want to tamper with that. 

D:  What makes you the bass player in the band?  Why not the guitar player or the keyboard player?  You play all those instruments, right?  Why is the bass special to you?

A:  I don’t know, you know, I was just drawn to bass when I was a kid.  When I was a teenager, and I just feel like, to me, I think the bass player is the kind of - he’s running the ship.  Because when you’re playing bass you are controlling the rhythm, its very rhythmic and you’re playing a melodic instrument.  So its kind of like drums and guitar combined.  I don’t know if people realize it, but maybe they feel it.  Consciously they don’t realize it, but the bass player is actually kind of a band leader.  It gives me this element of control that I love.  I love bass and playing, but primarily I love music, so that’s why I play guitar on the record and keyboards.  I’ve got a lot of musical ideas and you can’t do them all on bass.

D:  That’s true.

A:  And you know, my favorite cat ever, like you said the Beatles were the best band, you know, and I agree with that.  And the guy running the show, pretty much, is Paul McCartney.  Its a toss up between John and Paul, but Paul is the bass player.  That says a lot.  His bass lines really, they’re running s*** on those Beatles tunes.  They’re taking the songs, you know, they’re really at the forefront, driving the boat, so that’s why I do bass.  I’m all about music, and whatever’s around, whatever instrument is around, I’ll probably try to play it.

D:  Speaking of whatever instrument, what in the world is an optigan and a theramin?

A:  A theramin is the coolest thing, you’ve got to see a theramin.  A theramin is a, you know, have you seen the old science fiction movies - have you ever seen "The Day The Earth Stood Still?" 

D:  Maybe once, twenty years ago . . .

A:  Okay, well, you know that funny sound that you always hear in scary movies and science fiction - it goes ooo-ooo-ooo?  That one, ya know that?

D:  Oh yeah, the old Godzilla movies and stuff, yeah, yeah.

A:  Right, that’s a theramin and check it out, its this piece of wood with an antenna coming out of it and you wave your hand around it, and that’s how you get the tone.  You don’t actually touch anything, you’re playing air.

D:  That’s so cool!

A:  It is sooo cool.

D:  So what is the optigan?

A:  Optigan is just like, its funny because optigan is like a keyboard from the 70s that was very much like, I think it was made by Mattel and it was like (in funny announcer voice)  "You too can play the keyboard with the optigan!"  It was made for the family play room.  You know, "Here son, I got you the optigan!"  Its got these little records you put inside it and the records play a beat while you play the keyboard and its very cheesy but there’s a couple cool tones on there, so we decided to use it.

D:  That’s funny, you would make a good radio announcer.  Has anyone ever told you that you missed your calling? 

A:  No, no.  I was afraid of that though . . .

D:  You do that real good.  Its good that you are good at music, but you have a second career going if anything ever happens (laugh).

A:  That’s good to know.  That’s really good to know.

D:  I remember a long time ago, my guitar teacher, one of the first things he taught me.  He said, you know, when you are looking at bands, you can have a really great lead singer, you can have wonderful lyrics, great songs, but if you haven’t got a good bass player, you ain’t got s***.  That was one of the first things he taught me.  (laugh)

A:  That man is a genius!

D:  Yeah, that was his whole thing.  You’ve got to have a good bass player and a good drummer.  All the rest is inconsequential. 

A:  Exactly.

D:  Now don’t tell Stephan I said that, okay?

A:  I’m tellin him man!

D:  The combination of Third Eye Blind is a great one - but that’s why I always ask to talk to the bass player.  Because I remember what my music teacher told me a long time ago.

A:  You’re a smart woman.  I’d like to meet you.  Come hang out!

D:  Yeah, I will next time you guys are in town!  Can you tell me a little bit about the song writing dynamic and the collaboration in the band?  Like, do you get together with Brad (Hargreaves, drums) and the two of you kind of put together some stuff to go with something that Stephan’s brought in, or you know, how do you work that out?

A:  It never happens like that.  Yeah, we definitely don’t have one way of doing it, but from the beginning its always been, you know, Kevin brought in a little guitar part or two, just a little part.  And as a band, being Kevin, Brad and I, we fleshed it out into a three minute piece of music, or close.  Then Stephan would be, all the while we’re jamming, singing nonsense words, but the melodies are coming out of his head but the words aren’t coming.  He’s super cool with that, in that he’s not afraid to say something that’s complete bulls*** as long as he can get the feeling and a kind of starting point a seedling for a vocal melody out.  Like one time we were doing that.  We were writing a song called "Good For You," a song from our last record, and he was just singing and I wasn’t really paying attention, we were jamming, and the drummer stopped.  It was our old drummer, and he just stops playing and he’s like "Stephan, wait a minute.  Did you just say Mogadishu, wanna meet you?"  And Stephan is like, "Oh my God, I did!"  And that’s when I was like, man, Stephan, you’re alright, cause he’s not afraid to just let it blow and not everyone can do that.

D:  That free association thing.  You know, that really kind of spawns a lot of creativity, just singing the skats over what you’re hearing to get those creative juices flowing.  That makes a lot of sense to me.  Interesting.

A:  You know, that’s how the song writing thing usually is.  Its just always been, you know when you see "Jenkins/Catogan" or "Jenkins/Salazar," there’s one cat that comes  up with the main part but the body of the song gets fleshed out by the band and I think that’s why it always sounds like Third Eye Blind.

D:  So you are all pretty much in sync with each other?  Do you all pretty much go about things the same way?

A:  Yeah, yeah we work really well together.  Writing, recording.  We did, for the most part.

D:  So now Tony’s meshing in with all of that?  I mean, he’s all settled in?

A:  Tony is.  Well, the thing about Tony is that Tony was our first guitar player.  When I met Stephan in, I think it was 1994, for that first year and a half, Third Eye Blind was Tony, Stephan and I, and then like a couple of different drummers.  So there’s an old, deep rooted, established friendship between us three guys.  So getting him back into the band felt incredibly natural and just like putting on an old shoe that fit really well. 

D:  It certainly seemed like everyone was really comfortable when I saw you in LA.  Not like he’s just been put into that slot, so that really showed.

A:  Yeah, well that’s good, its reality, you know?

D:  Blue has a bit of a different sound than your first album, melodically, lyrically, bigger guitar rock sound with a little punk and you’ve got that really cool ballad in there.  But a lot of people identify the band with your pop hit "Semi-Charmed Life."  Do you find yourself attracting new rock fans who thought you were just the "doo-doo-doot" band?

A:  Yeah, you know the weird thing we found is that, we’re not totally there yet, but to a certain extent, we’ve become critic’s darlings.  I mean, at least more so than on the last record.  I was hard pressed to find a good review of our last album.  Which, I wanted to let you know that I really don’t care about what reviewers write, so it wasn’t a worry of mine, its just a fact, you know, just my observation.  And I found a bunch of good reviews from this record.  That’s one thing that’s changed, that I’ve noticed.


All photos taken by Debbie Seagle - Copyright © 2000 Grove Quest Productions. All rights reserved. 


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