Systemically Punk Rock: An Interview with Third Eye Blind’s Kryz Reid

by | Feb 23, 2023 | MUSIC, ROCK & INDIE

In the aftermath of the 90s grunge explosion, the latter part of the decade spawned a new breed of misfits in the rock community. None more cleverly dressed up or subliminally messaged than Third Eye Blind. Shooting out the gate with enough goth influence, punk rock attitude and rap lyrical delivery to have something for everyone, San Francisco’s newest kings made an unforeseen splash by hiding sex acts and crystal meth addiction under the guise of “doot doot doot.”

25 years in the Blind later, the band has moved on from their multi-platinum album and top-40 days, and settled into what seems a more comfortable niche for the band: cult heroes.

The band still commands a large stage, evident by their already sold out show on March 22 at The National. Ahead of the band visiting Richmond for the first time since before the Pandemic in November of 2019, guitarist Kryz Reid spoke about his imprint on the band, favorite rock star memory ever, and your next Third Eye Blind tattoo.

third eye blind
Photo courtesy of Third Eye Blind

Over the course of many tours, you have had a chance to spend some time in and around Richmond. Being from Ireland, not to stereotype, but any favorite pubs or spots around the area?

I’ve been to most of them! I remember one time, it was the 2019 tour, our guitar tech, Joseph, he loves speakeasies and tiki bars, things that are a bit left of center. He found something last time we were there, we were at a tiki bar, I’d be fucked if I can tell you the name of it. Our bass player (Alex LeCavalier) HATES tiki bars. He calls it “forced fun,” anyways, we walk in and he goes to take a piss, and as soon as he comes out of the bathroom he’s like, “Even the bathroom is fucking bamboo everywhere! ed. note: We are guessing Sabai. 

Your shows at The National always sell out quicker than any other artist we seem to get here. What’s the connection with the Richmond fanbase that has your shows packed the minute they’re seemingly announced?

I couldn’t even guess, I didn’t know that we were the fastest selling out there! We always go back there, we’re repeat offenders. So you can kind of always expect to see us there when we tour. The other thing is we change our set all the time. We don’t use backing tracks or anything like that. We’re very kind of footloose and fancy free when we’re on stage. We just change up the set, somebody will shout out a song, and we’re like, “Fuck it, let’s do that!”

We’ll be in the middle of the song, Stephan will be like, “Let’s break it down” and change it all up completely. The word I’m looking for here is exciting, it’s kind of dangerous.

Beyoncé, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Beyoncé or anything, she’s just absolutely, completely, totally and utterly perfect, in every single facet. There isn’t one bomb note, there is not a one mistake, nobody steps out. And … it’s just boring as fuck. I saw her and I was going like, “Yes! She’s incredible, annnnnd I’m bored out of my brain.” It’s just too fucking Hollywood or something like that.

Whereas if you’ve ever seen Prince live, Prince was absolutely fucking perfect and terrifying, because he changes everything. The fans are constantly on their toes with this look of trepidation on their faces like, “What is he going to do next?” That’s scary, and that’s really exciting and interesting to see, because it’s real people doing real stuff. Whereas the perfect Beyoncé kind of thing is just a bit too Broadway or something. It’s just too rehearsed and too perfect. I know that that’s what she’s going for, and she’s an amazing artist. It’s just like, I’ve seen her once, I never need to go see her again.

The point I’m getting at, if you see us once, we’re going be totally different the next time you come see us. We don’t ever do the same show twice, even when we’ve gotten three weeks into the tour, and we’ve got really dialed in. Everyone can just bang away, we’re still going to change it up and keep us on our toes, keep it interesting for everybody.

third eye blind
Photo courtesy of Third Eye Blind

Speaking of your tour and the set, what has been the band’s aversion to Dopamine? Aside from “Back to Zero” that album hasn’t seen much daylight live the past few tours.

I joined the band in 2010 and that was when Stephan started writing the record that would become Dopamine, but it didn’t come out for six years. It took forever to do it. It was a different band, back then we didn’t have a bass player and we went through a few different bass players. When we recorded a couple of tracks for the album over in London with Martin Tarefe, Martin played bass on it, we didn’t even bring a fucking bass player with us. We just went over there with three of us and one of our techs. 

That album was just this mismatch of songs, and the band was kind of finding its feet again. I had just joined, it took forever and Stephan was really precious about the lyrics and the next right move kind of thing like that. Bizarrely, because that album took so long, it sounds very disjointed to me.

It wasn’t until we put out We Are Drugs that I felt like we’re actually “our band” kind of thing, became somewhat of a cohesive unit. Even since then we changed, Alex Kopp left and we brought in Colin Creev. So, Screamer, that’s our band, you know what I mean? We’re very close to those songs.

For Stephan, I think the fact that it took so long and he was so precious about the lyrics, that’s the album that kind of broke camel’s back in terms of Stephan being so precious about getting it all perfect and then putting it out. After that he was like, “Fuck it, we’re never going to put out another album after that” and just release songs whenever we want. So we started kind of moving into more of an EP territory, but with Screamer, there was enough material there we were happy with to make it a record.

I had a chance to be backstage about 20 years ago for a Halloween show Third Eye Blind did at the 9:30 Club in DC. Stephan, always about presentation, was dressed up as a skeleton. You see a skeleton hand come out behind this curtain and it’s holding a mimosa. And then you hear, “Alright, favorite rock star memory ever. So, we’re on tour with U2, and we’re at the Kingdome in Seattle. And I’m skateboarding while U2 is doing soundcheck and I skateboard past Bono while they’re playing ‘Where the Streets Have No Name.’ I look up at him, and he looks down at me and he’s like, ‘Sup, Stephan?’ And I’m like, ‘Sup, Bono?’ There, favorite, rock star, memory, ever.”

My question for you is, what’s your favorite rock star memory ever?

[Laughs] We’ve done some mental stuff, but we have one rule, we don’t talk about Fight Club. I will tell you one of my favorite rock star moments is years ago at a festival in Ireland, I was driving one of those golf carts because I was working for a radio station, it was like the BBC of Ireland and they would record all the big music festivals. They asked me because I’m a musician, but they were like, “Can you oversee recording one of the stages for us?” I have these all-access passes, a golf buggy and all this shit. So it was kind of a laugh because I would just go make sure that you talk to the technician make sure you don’t fuck off and just go watch the band. 

Audioslave was playing, and I was like, “I’m going to go watch the band.” I jump into the buggy, and I’m driving along the road. It’s one of those festivals where it was a huge campsite, everybody was camping all weekend. It’s all over on the left side. Then there’s a way to walk through to the festival, and they had to close that every 15 minutes. It was to let people pass over back roadblocks. I drove up and that was blocked. I wait there for a minute, and then another buggy pulled up right beside me. I look over and it’s fucking Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters. He’s in the driver’s seat, his wife is beside him and Taylor Hawkins standing up on the golf cart, on the back to hold on to the top of the frame.

Dave goes, “You’re going to the main stage?” I was like, “Yeah.” And he goes, “RACE YA!” The barrier goes up, and the two of us go like we’re in Formula One racing cars. Looking at each other like fire, and those golf buggies go like eight kilometers an hour or so. But when you go flush on the pedal, they kind of go quick. So the two of us right beside each other the whole way along the road. Then as you come up to the main stage, there’s like a big L at the back of it on the road, so you go down and take a right turn to go to the main stage. It’s a big grassy area there, and Dave just goes right up to the grass and cuts across diagonally. So he gets there before me. I stayed on the road, like an adult, I arrive at the back and I was like, “You cheated!” He just turned to me and said, “Rock star!” So that was my pretty rock and roll moment.

Third Eye Blind has a very unique dichotomy of being one of the most popular “cult” bands. How do you go about managing these two things of still having a large, fervent fanbase, but being elevated to cult status that seems like you shouldn’t be as popular as you are, but are still playing venues like you’re still selling millions of records? 

Yeah, it’s probably better that we don’t become a not cult band in that respect, because it still stays precious for the fans, people who come and see us through the years see us become yours. They still feel that this is their band, and we never left them. Some bands, they get a solid bone, and suddenly they become a monster. Then people feel less precious about it. It’s kind of like one of those huge bands and I saw them back when they were cool.

It’s funny because Third Eye came out the gate a massive band. Then the second album and third album and all this and that, it’s just remained a massive touring band. I would put it down to that kind of idea that it’s still precious.

We’ve got those big hits, so you’ve got people who know the band because of that, but I think it’s the collection of that we don’t fit in anywhere.

Kryz Reid third eye blind
Photo of Kryz Reid

Self-titled and Blue hold a very special place for your diehards, how do you go about putting your mark on something that has already been established for so long?

Me as a guitar player? I was never starstruck or anything like that by the band. I’ve known Brad (Hargreaves) for years, and we played in a band together, and I knew he played in some other band that was big, but I didn’t really know who they were. They weren’t very big in Ireland. So I was like, “Yeah, I know the drummer, Brad plays and I think they’re called Three Blind Mice.” I remember one of my mates asked, “Is it 3 Doors Down?” And I said, “No, but it’s Three something …”

I never even asked. I remember one time he (Brad Hargreaves) picked me up and we were going to rehearsal and he was like, “Yeah, I just got back from tour.” And we were just chatting, but at no point did I ask, “What is the name of your fucking band?” Then he just called me out of the blue, I was in Dublin when he called and said, “Hey, do you think you can learn 60 minutes of music for Saturday?” And this is like on Tuesday, I said, “Yeah, just send me the tunes.” So he sent me a bunch of MP3s for a potential setlist, and even then, I saw the name of the band and it didn’t make any difference. I thought they were just Brad’s band.

So I went over to Hawaii for a show, and we did rehearsals there on the beach in a beautiful house. I see Stephan, and he turns around and shakes my hand, and Brad nudges me and said, “That’s the singer.” And I was like, “Ok, cool, you’re the singer in Brad’s band!”

After the gig, we went to see another band, and Stephan looked at me and said, “So look, you got the gig. Right? Ok, cool. So we’re going be in pre-production in LA in two weeks. Get everything in order that you need, grab your favorite guitars. I’ll see you in LA in two weeks.” I went home and when I landed in Dublin, two days later, I turned on my phone and it was a text from Stephan saying, “Looks like we have a gig on Saturday in LA.”

So I have three days to get all my shit together. When we did the gig in LA, it was a college, there were loads of people there, like it was packed. And I was going, “Oh, this is kind of a big deal.” We’d play a song and people would sing, so I was thinking, “Brad’s band … is kind of big.”

Getting back to your question there. The songs, Stephan said to me, “You should learn the back catalog, just like go learn all the tracks off all those albums. Then we just have them in our back pocket and can pull them out whenever we want.” Again, I didn’t really know the scale of the band, so I just sat down with the songs and started working them out by ear.

There’s loads of open tunings on the first record, which was a bit weird, trying to work one out and then you can hear harmonics here and stuff like that. I wasn’t worried and figured I could work them all out by ear. Two months later I was like, “Wait, these guys are fucking huge.” I went to the internet and there’s loads of guys going, “Here’s how you play ‘Blinded’ and here’s how you play ‘Losing a Whole Year,’” all these sorts of things. So I said, “Let me check myself”.

I went in to check that I was on the money. Stephan said to me, “Make them your own. Learn how to play them, and then make you make them your own. There are certain types of key moments, if there’s a particular hook that really resonates, people are going to want to hear that. Other than that, make it your own.” If you’re playing somebody else’s tune, you’re going to have to kind of put your fingerprint on it, and that’s what Stephan said at the beginning. He was like, “Well, there’s a new sheriff in town.”

Third Eye Blind has the image and credit of being a pseudo-punk band, but don’t necessarily have the traditional “punk rock sound,” if you will, to go along with it. Why is that?

I’ve heard that a lot, actually. I think it’s just attitude. You know, see the band’s social media content. I’m the guy who checks our social team and makes sure that they’re not posting something that’s not kind of on message for how we feel as a band. Stephan likes my aesthetic, and he likes my voice, when it comes to how we present the band on social media and videos and stuff like that. So I’m kind of like the applied checker.

I think that it’s in the attitude because it sounds like an oxymoron to say that Third Eye Blind are a “punk rock band.” But we have a very punk rock aesthetic. We don’t play punk music, but punk isn’t about the music, punk is about the attitude, and it was always about the attitude. It’s not necessarily that you adhere to some preconceived structure of art. It’s just actually in how you focus on the art from the very inception. It’s all about the mindset, it’s not really about the finished product. You could say we’re systemically punk. It’s so irrespective of what we do, we’re going to end up with a kind of punk rock result because of our mindset from the get-go. “Systemically Punk Rock,” there’s a tattoo!

Third Eye Blind are set to hit The National on Wednesday, March 22. This is normally the part where we’d post a link to The National for you to get tickets, but like we said, sold out!

Bryan Schools

Bryan Schools

Bryan Schools is a Richmond lifer sans a four year hiatus to Radford University where he received his B.S. in Journalism in 2005. Music, comics, video games and LEGO are his main passions, and if you really want to get into a good conversation with him, ask what his top-five anything are, and you've got a conversation.

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