Tulare, CA 9/12/01 Wooby's Weview
Where do I start? Well first, America suffered the worst blow ever in history, and I'm scheduled to go to a Third Eye Blind show the next morning. Possibly to avoid thinking about the carnage and the tragedy, the strangest thing on my mind is the present-suffering economy becoming even worse because of this. And the advertising that's been pulled because of the recent events and all the businesses inside the World Trade Center that disintegrated to dust. I need to get out of the office.
I head home and detail-clean every possible nook and cranny of my house and vacuum and rearrange furniture and go around doing other household chores to the extreme, as I do any time I feel angry and helpless. It is my small part in helping begin to pick up the pieces, perhaps. At least I have complete control over something even if it is as innocuous as the furniture arrangement. The phone rings and a friend from the Bronx reassures she's ok, but as for the children in her 1st grade class, half their parents haven't been heard from yet.
Intent on staying home and suffering in my obsessive housekeeping reverie, I call off my plans to attend the show. And it's not as if the band is going to continue with the show anyway, I predict. Shouldn't they be busy rearranging their furniture and disinfecting their bathrooms too? What else can one do in times such as these? But no, the show is still on, and Jen is still going, she has a job to do, she has a site to maintain. Well I have a house to maintain. My mother wants me to go so I can give her some respite of sanity and so I stop careening around on autopilot, pardon the terminology. Third Eye Blind are the last thing on my mind at this point. The outside of the house needs a good pressure-wash.
But I wake up the next morning to a new day and a new state of mind less riddled with confusion and emotion. I call up Jen and give her the good news; I am still coming. I have this urge to feed the band. I can make a quiche or a bisque with the hour I have, no? It's in the new Martha Stewart. When I'm confused I turn maternal, I don't know why.
The 4 hour drive down didn't feel as long as it actually was. It was safe and straight, touring past amber waves of grain. Arguing over the pronunciation of the word "Tulare", we arrive into town learning we were both wrong. Too-Lair-ree. To Larry.
Stepping out of the car and into civilization, I felt one of 3eb's songs come to life, oddly enough. I don't know if it's the general attitude of the town, or the heavy air settling on the country after recent circumstances, but people were giving each other a break, as is the mantra for Jumper. People were extra helpful, people were not stressed or angry, people would understand and people cut each other breaks. We're all suffering the same, more or less, let's not add to it.
Fair security and 3eb's tour director couldn't have been anymore helpful in getting us where we needed to go for what we needed to do. We were told to wait backstage. We disobeyed and crouched in the outskirts of the front row and stole a view of the soundcheck. The band previewed a ton of very raw but still new material making me anxious again of what they're capable of. Afraid we may be crossing some boundaries or pushing our welcome, we go back to the area in which we were told to stay tethered and wait for Stephan to finish up.
We have a few words with Arion, he reassured us his family and friends were safe and he promoted a unique new punk rock fashion of duct-tape-on-necktie. Arion should flex his clout and outdo the old punk rock fashion of safety-pins-and-frayed-patches. If I wore neckties I'd follow in his footsteps.
Stephan has this funny way of zeroing in on people. On stage, he has a way of panning the crowd, where it feels like he's looking YOU in the eye. You, out of thousands; yet also with every single individual of those thousands. So it appears. And he seems to have mastered this art, and here he charges now, the nose knows.
Jen and I spent the weekend sorting through thousands of questions and picked serious important ones, as well as funny/interesting/weird ones that we know reporters from publications wouldn't ask anyway. It's not easy trying to organize a good informative, yet fun, interview. You do all you can to engineer the best flow and best organization and how best to word questions, but it all goes out the window once Stephan enters the picture. He takes the pilot's seat and steers it exactly where he wants to take it, and you're left clutching your seatbelt hoping to not be left too shaken up afterward. Pardon all the terminology. Tangents and sharp turns rule his world. So much for the straight and safe road we took on the way down.
Stephan lights a stick of TNT� urrr� a cigarette, I mean, and fires himself up to go. The interview you're about to read is not simply a pick at Stephan's brain and an official word about the status of things, but also a glimpse at life as a guy in Third Eye Blind. We've purposely included interruptions from the tour director and others to give fans a chance to see what's it like to be in that environment immediately before a show. What kind of plans do they make? How do they prepare? How much does the band do for themselves, and how much gets done for them? Who's involved?
Stephan was Mr. Generous that evening, eager to chat and willing to neglect dinner. We only asked for 30 minutes, we expected much less since the band arrived late, but he gave us over an hour. He chain-smokes a good majority of Jen's Ultra Lights (without asking), sips his tea and speaks his mind. Sadly enough, he was left to order some bad food from Denny's, maybe I should have made that quiche� no, forget it, he's suffocating me in his smoke cloud.
He spent about 95% of his pre-show time with us and ended the interview barely minutes before showtime. He offered to let us stand on the side of the stage during the show so we could have our own space away from the bustling crowd.
The band walked out on stage reticent, Stephan said a few words in memorium and asked for a moment of silence. They eased into the soothing chords of the beginning of Motorcycle Drive By and the show was on. A new/old song was introduced later in the night. It's called Invisible and it's written by Tony, originally recorded by his old band Majik Alex. We were also lucky enough to hear the old favorite Horror Show.
A roadie was kind enough to give me a drumstick tossed aside by Brad and I air-drummed along with him for the rest of the show. Probably my favorite thing to do at a 3eb show is to watch Brad do his thing but it's always so difficult since he's not at his most visible from the audience. But we were fortunate to have the vantage point from where we were standing and I even got to see Chris Fredianelli do his thing on the keyboards. That was very cool. Even though I got a confused squint from Stephan while I rocked out, Brad was still inspiring to me. The show was off the hook.
I always wonder what the band does during the intermission before the encore. What do they run off to do? I snuck around to look� other than taking a drink or wiping off sweat, they just kinda stood there and waited. Yeah I know that's what you thought, but it was still odd to look at-them standing about idly. Idle Daylight.
I'm glad 3eb got me out of the house and set an example for Americans to go on with their lives and not let adversity stand in your way of being who you are and going where you need to go. Moving on doesn't mean you don't care. Moving on means you embody courage and strength. The world may be holding it's breath, but it's not coming to a standstill. Hibernating and sulking and obsessive house-keeping only means they win. And they haven't even come close to that and never will.
On the way home after the show, we saw a falling star light up the sky then disappear in the distance. Like hope dropping from the sky to where it's needed the most. Jen was about to doze off in the driver's seat so we traded places and I jetted her bluemobile the rest of the way home. A bag of trail mix and Biggie Smalls kept me company on the journey while Jen slept. I tried not to think too hard about the unthinkable, and then an old disco song came on the radio:
Aint no stopping us now
We're on the move
Aint now stopping us now
We've got the groove
At about 1:00 AM, I cruise under an overpass with an American flag draped over and the words "God Bless America" slovenly spray-painted on torn pieces of cardboard, probably the most aesthetic vision I've seen in a while. A message of creating something beautiful, to inspire people is what art (visual, musical, whatever) is all about.
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