Interview with Arion Salazar
Third Eye Blind
Backstage Pass Special
by Debbie Seagle
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
D: Oh really?
A: Yeah, so we’ve got bus
doggie, tour doggie!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.