Third Eye Blind guitarist Tony Fredianelli got his start here in Las Vegas before going national with the popular alt rockers in the ‘90s. Now pushing 40, the rocker hasn’t slowed down a bit. With two albums coming out in the next year and a packed touring schedule, Fredianelli keeps pace with newer Las Vegas bands like Panic at the Disco, without succumbing to the groupies.
The family man helped create some of the band’s darker pop tunes wrapped up in catchy beats and hooks, like “Semi-Charmed Life.” VH1’s “34th best song of the ‘90s” was actually written about a band member’s crystal meth trip and subsequent sexual encounters. Who knew? Ok, maybe most people did but I definitely remember singing along to that one in the car with my grandmother.
Fredianelli recounted song’s nefarious origins and gave the Weekly an update on the band in a recent interview. Catch him and Third Eye Blind playing at the Hard Rock Pool on June 12 at 9 p.m.
How do you think growing up in Las Vegas shaped your musical career?
Well my dad was in a group called The Gaylords. They were million sellers in the ‘50s. They would play the Sands Lounge when Frank [Sinatra] would play the main room. He knew Frank and Don Rickles. When I was young, Don Rickles would come by our house. I was raised with the old school Las Vegas vibe. My dad is probably the most talented musician I have ever met.
You left the band at one point. What brought you back?
They got signed and they sold a gazillion records, and I watched it go up the Billboard charts in both a happy and sad way. I was asked to come back on in ’99 as the kind of utility musician, guitar player, keyboard player. I showed up and within two weeks [Stephen Jenkins] fired his guitar player and I was in the band. On this new album, I’m pretty much the co-writer with Stephen [Jenkins].
Several members of your band are pushing 40; how do you keep up with the younger bands today?
A lot of younger bands like Panic at the Disco play our songs live. Other bands have sort of given us a resurgence. The music was like a fine wine; it aged well.
I’ve heard that some of your songs have thinly veiled or outright drug references, specifically “Semi-Charmed Life.”
A lot of Third Eye Blind songs are really dark and are dirty little songs wrapped up in clean little packages. Which is kind of the cool thing about it. It’s definitely about an oral sex experience on crystal meth. The fact that it took on such a life as a pop song and little kids sing it - we’re living in an Orwell world here – [is] a little bizarre. It was about a band member’s experience during Lollapalooza. The idea is that a guy goes to Lollapalooza, the one where Dinosaur Jr. played, and he took some crystal meth and had an amazing time, and it led to an oral sex situation with his girlfriend. The song speaks for itself. It’s definitely a true experience. Even without the radio edit, all the little words that could be dirty words that are allowed to be said, “she goes down on me”- I mean, what does that mean to you?
It means I was pretty naive as a child singing these lyrics in the car with my parents.
It’s funny, right?
Will you be performing any of new material off Ursa Major (slated for release on August 18) at the Vegas show?
Our first single, “Don’t believe a Word” is going out to alternative radio this week. We also have the backup album, Ursa Minor done. It’s on the heels of this one – probably nine or 10 months after. … That’s the whole idea. We’re doing mostly Ursa Major testers on this tour. We’re trying to test the songs to let people feel them out, see what they are like, so we know what works and what doesn’t work.