Punk rock turned me into an asshole—a giant asshole who was supposed to hate bands like Third Eye Blind.
It happened fast. When Dookie came out, I was a zitty 14-year-old who liked Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails and Tori Amos. I liked music that sounded good. A year later, I was a zitty 15-year-old with pink hair and a stockpile of bold pronouncements about the insufficiencies of skate punk. I was in thrall to Maximumrocknroll and 924 Gilman Street, and those twin monoliths of the Bay Area punk scene dosed me with a deep loathing for anything that flirted with the mainstream.
I was not only an asshole, but a coward. In the early days of my punk conversion, before I'd fully committed myself to hating joy, I made my 10-year-old brother buy Pearl Jam's Vitalogy for me because I was afraid the punk clerk at Tower Records would judge me for wanting to listen to something that wasn't advertised on his leather jacket. Soon after, I let an older punk talk shit about my longhaired friend for having long hair and wearing a Counting Crows shirt. I should have stood up for my friend. More importantly, I should have stood up for Counting Crows. That first album is great.
By 1997, I was utterly insufferable. I wouldn't even listen to pop punk. It wasn't intense enough. It wasn't "real" enough. Songs about love? Forget it. Crass said love was a "shit condition." I couldn't disagree. I listened to powerviolence and crust punk exclusively. I was a high-school dropout with impeccable taste in short songs about the government (bad) and eating animals (also bad).
Which is all to say I did not plan on becoming a fan of Third Eye Blind when its self-titled debut came out in 1997. But my little brother hadn't been poisoned by punk dogma yet. I'd turned him on to the Ramones in an attempt to build myself a best friend, but he was 12—he liked anything that was good. And Third Eye Blind was good. So my brother liked Third Eye Blind. That weird little home-schooled knucklehead was treating his pubescent insanity with 24/7 exposure to Stephen Jenkins' insipid broetry, and to share a house with my brother in 1997 was to share a house with Third Eye Blind.
I don't have to describe what the first Third Eye Blind album sounds like. You remember it. You know why you remember it? Because nearly every song on it is a pop masterpiece. So access that sweet spot in your brain where memories of perfection live and imagine my dirty, shameful lust as I lingered in my brother's bedroom for a taste of "Graduate" and "How's It Going to Be" and "Thanks a Lot."
I wish I could have stayed there in my brother's bedroom forever. I still believed in guilty pleasure back then. I still believed in shame. I still believed in punk. And nothing is sweeter than a love lined with self-loathing. So here's to hating pleasure and adoring Third Eye Blind. Thank you, brother. I owe you one.
SEE IT: Third Eye Blind plays Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave., with Bad Bad Hats, on Tuesday, April 12. 8 pm. Sold out. 21+.