Even a fortune teller couldn't have predicted the diverse range of guest talent that will appear on Third Eye Blind's third album, Crystal Baller, which the band hopes will be ready for release by October.
Of the 12 or so songs on the record the group currently has 26 nearly completed tunes from which to choose at least three will feature cameos. Limp Bizkit main man Fred Durst co-wrote and will play guitar on "Misfits," party-meister Andrew W.K. will provide back-up vocals on "Messed Up Kid" and Kimya Dawson from the Moldy Peaches will sing on "Self Righteous."
Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins wrote "Misfits" with Durst in 2000 at a Limp Bizkit mastering session for Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (see "Third Eye Blind Head To Studio, May Get Help From Fred Durst"). "We did a couple of skits, and he was rapping on one part, while I was rapping over another," Jenkins explained from his home in San Francisco. "But then he had a guitar there and he started playing it and he's a really funky guitar player. So I started singing, and we wrote this song I really like. It's great because it doesn't sound like what either one of us normally does. It was a really organic collaboration. Fred wrote the chords and I did the lyrics and melody and then [guitarist] Arion [Salazar] wrote the bridge."
While "Misfits" may not sound like anything by Third Eye Blind or Limp Bizkit, both can relate to the lyrical content about using art to express emotional turmoil.
"It's about the sadomasochistic relationship or circle that exists between performers and their fans," Jenkins said. "The more you bleed, the more they love it. The more you open yourself, the better it is. I've always said I make music for misfits people who are flawed and beautiful in some way because of that flaw."
Third Eye Blind's collaboration with Andrew W.K. was equally spontaneous. Jenkins and Salazar checked out one of the party-rocker's shows before his record I Get Wet was out, and were so perplexed and amazed by the way the artist blends death metal and synth-pop that they decided to visit him backstage after the gig.
"At first we were like, 'What, is this a joke?' " Jenkins recalled. "But then we realized it's just pure party energy. He is really there to make you party hard. So I brought him a bottle of Jack Daniel's because I thought it was a fitting gift. Then we went to his bus, and I realized there was no booze on his bus. He was drinking bottled water. So I think partying hard is a state of mind for him."
On a whim, Jenkins asked Andrew W.K. to come to the band's studio the next day to record backing vocals for the song "Messed Up Kid," and was surprised at how excited Andrew was to accept the invitation.
"He said, 'I've spent hours and hours playing your songs on the piano,' " Jenkins recalled. "It turned out he was really knowledgeable about Third Eye Blind songs. So he came out and sang, and his voice is so hilarious because it sounds like it's doubled and compressed, but it's not."
The last major pairing on Crystal Baller is perhaps the most unlikely. Kimya Dawson from quirky, ramshackle indie rock band Moldy Peaches contributes vocals to yet another unconventional track, "Self Righteous."
"It's sort of the post-club chill-out song," Jenkins opined. "It's very different for us. Although I'm always really attracted to funky, intoxicating rhythms and melody, this one is definitely a little out there."
Although he thinks Crystal Baller will appeal to longtime Third Eye Blind Fans, Jenkins admitted that he's making a concerted effort to stray from the templates of the band's past rock songs in an effort to create something stimulating.
"I never want to blatantly repeat myself," he said. "It's much better to do something different. Otherwise it's just such a bore. I like to be really excited by music and feel like I'm flying that plane, and I don't know if I'm gonna land it. I hope that we're making something that radio is gonna want to redefine itself by [after it comes out] because it's certainly not fitting the definitions of what radio is now. If you take what is on alternative radio and what it sounds like, it's exactly not that."