Q&A: Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins on His New (Good!) Tequila
We’d rate it somewhere in the 90s
“It’s really intoxicating and satisfying and inspiring.”
That’s how Stephan Jenkins described his new tequila after a night of drinking it. The Third Eye Blind frontman seemed none the worse 12 hours after debuting SUMMERGODS, his new blanco tequila, and performing a few acoustic songs at New York’s Rose Bar. As Jenkins admits, he drank about “10 shots” of his own product during the evening, which explains why our pre-show interview was moved to the following afternoon.
No worries. SUMMERGODS, a small-batch premium tequila crafted via a third-generation distiller, is made using a traditional stone covered masonry oven and autoclave baking process; the agave is a blend from both the Highlands and Lowlands.
On first taste, it’s a winner. In some hastily made cocktails that night, it got a little lost, but on its own, I picked up notes of hibiscus, lychee and (particularly when paired with a cucumber-heavy cocktail) a nice hint of mint. It’s certainly distinct and complex for a blanco, while remaining a smooth sipper.
So, unlike the lyrics to a certain Third Eye Blind song, I would not want something else.
We spoke with Jenkins while he was between shows — Third Eye Blind is currently touring with Jimmy Eat World through early August on the appropriately named Summer Gods Tour, and, yes, a new 3EB album is in the works.
But first, a post-drink discussion with Jenkins, where we talk agave and I ask, loosely, how’s it gonna be. (Only one more 3EB pun, promise!)
InsideHook: How are you feeling today?
Stephan Jenkins: I usually don’t drink that much. But that was the first time I had tasted from the bottle, and I had friends showing up, and they were all like, “Let’s try it!” The whole point of SUMMERGODS was that I was searching for the purest tequila there is, something that burns really clean. And it did over 10 shots over the course of the evening. And I have no headache.
Is that how you enjoy drinking it, as a shot?
It’s a sipping tequila. It stands on its own, neat or with an ice cube. I wanted a blanco tequila with a huge flavor profile.
How did you come across this one?
I was getting into paleo years ago — the whole concept made sense to me, recognizing and aligning with nature. Agriculture’s made things we’re not evolved to eat. With paleo, you don’t drink … but if you do, it’s blanco tequila. I’m like, I’ll try that! And over time my friends began to like it. It became ritualized for us; we’d celebrate our times together with tequila, no matter where we were in the world. We were always bringing a bottle, looking for a better bottle. My manager was like, you’re so into this, make your own. And I love that DIY sensibility. Plus, my friends and I are a bunch of snobs when it comes to this, so I knew it had better be good.
Did you actually go down to Jalisco to source this?
Yeah, we went to Mexico, we looked at different distilleries, heard a lot of different stories. There were a lot of things I was looking for. I believe the mindset and practices people have in making things always show up in products, so that was really important to us. We wanted to find a combination of family owned, artisanal and uncompromised.
I know you don’t have a headache today, but … what was your worst tequila experience?
Well, you know gold tequila, right? It’s garbage. A headache waiting to happen. When I was in college, I went to Santa Barbara to visit a girlfriend and drank some gold tequila. On a dare, I head-butted a wall and put it through some sheet rock. I didn’t remember what I did the next day, but I was in considerable pain.
Where did the name SUMMERGODS come from?
It’s a line in one of our songs, “Weightless”— the line is “summer gods got me screaming.” The connection with tequila … the agave goes back to the Aztecs, it was mentioned way back they relied so heavily on the magic of volcanic soil in the Lowlands. And that’s what gives the agave its herbaceous quality. And they spoke about sun gods. To me there was a connection. And the name is evocative. As well, I’m an aficionado of tequila, but that’s not my language, so I thought I’d better give it an English name. It would have been kind of a put-on otherwise. And the whole point here is about purity. It’s about the sun, the soil and the agave.
As long as we’re talking Third Eye Blind connections, I’ve seen blanco tequilas called Crystal and there’s a “cristalino” style of tequila. I thought maybe you’d name it after song of yours like “Crystal Baller.”
Ha! Or maybe something like “God of Wine.” But seriously, as a writer you know this, you know when the right word comes up.
There’s a lot of celebrity spirits out there — the guys from Breaking Bad just launched a mezcal, for instance. Are you worried about being lumped into a trend?
No, not really. This doesn’t have anything to do with me. I’m not following anyone. We’ve always done everything on our terms and by our own standards, whether it’s music or anything else.
You can buy a bottle of SUMMERGODS here.