6. XEB (Former Members of Third Eye Blind) || Five (or More) Questions With Tommy Black
Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
A conversation with Tony Fredianelli before XEB’s show at The Viper Room on Saturday, May 5th 2018.
Tommy: This Five (or More) Questions with Tommy Black and we have Tony from XEB. Hi Tony.
Tony: How’s it goin’ Tommy?
Tommy: Pretty good. …Question. What is this tour for?
Tony: Well, we would consider it a tour for the fans of the music that we helped create.
Tony: The music of a, you know Third Eye Blind music, stuff that we co-wrote. And we’re just going out and just giving the fans the other records that we hadn’t already went out and done. So we went out and did a tour of the first record, the first Third Eye Blind record; and now we’re kinda like mixing up all the songs from the first record, from Blue, Out of the Vein, and Ursa Major.
Tommy: Awesome. So you’re singing. But you play guitar.
Tony: Yes. I was the guitar, I was one of the guitar players, along with Kevin Cadogan. Kevin Cadogan was the guitar player on the first record and Blue, and I was on Out of the Vein, and Ursa Major. But I also sing, so, what I’m essentially doing is taking the vocal role.
Tony: In this project.
Tommy: Cool, yeah, I saw some – some stuff of you singing it sounded really good. Spot on.
Tony: Thank you.
Tommy: Yeah, yeah. …Why do you think your records still resonate with people?
Tony: It kinda captured a moment in time, sort of a – it created sort of a sound that was the sort of mid to late ‘90’s. And the production on it’s pretty stellar it stands up really well and…
Tony: I just think that, yeah… it kind of created – it sort of captured – this feeling that was going on in San Francisco at that time.
Tommy: Right. Are you from San Francisco too? Yes, yes-
Tony: No, but I spent a lot of time in San Francisco over the years. I mean, I made some records… with Mike Varney who was a guy that lives up in San Francisco doing guitar, shred records.
Tommy: Cool, cool.
Tommy: Yeah, I used to live up in San Jose and used to go up to San Francisco all the time. It was a cool music scene back then. How do you think San Francisco has changed since then?
Tony: You know it’s STILL got that sort of, you know, everything is artsy… and, there’s… it’s still exactly, almost pretty much the same in a weird way. In that there’s like a little metal scene that’s still kind of in place-
Tony: – and there’s sort of an indie rock scene that’s still in place-
Tony: I don’t really – it hasn’t really shifted to me in my – in the way I see things.
Tommy: Musically it hasn’t, yeah, that’s – that’s very true, yeah. There’s always – San Francisco lovers their metal (laughs)
Tony: Yeah, no doubt about it.
Tommy: That is for sure. …You know what, I noticed that some of the songs have kind of like an Oasis vibe, the jangly kind of… do you hear that all, ever, or no?
Tony: Yeah, yeah, well I think there was definitely an influence coming from that, from bassist Ryan mostly… and Kevin a little bit with that sort of… everyone one of us sort of really likes the Beatles anyway, so there was-
Tony: So there was some of that-
Tommy: Well that’s-
Tony: Then there’s also some of the Velvet Underground kind of mix I think in there too.
Tommy: Mm-hmm. It’s like – it’s like those songs, some of the songs, you know, they become larger than the band. You know what I mean? (laughs)
Tony: No I think, I agree. I think the music in general is bigger than all the band members, including the current ones. The songs SHOULD be that way, and if they’re done correctly and they hit people in a certain way then they’re always relevant, ya know?
Tommy: Mm-hmm. Do people – do people go crazy and sing it – sing it to you? Sing it back to you guys?
Tony: Oh yeah. I mean, these… the fans that will come to our shows are pretty much the top of the… sort of the cream of the hard core fans of the music. And they know every, every B side, they know every unreleased song that was put out there. They’ve got – they have the instrumentals – I mean they’re… they’re serious. They’re not…
Tommy: The superfans. You know?
Tommy: The superfans. Yeah, that’s rad. And you’re having a “Meet n’ Greet” before the show also, which their… I’m sure gonna be excited about.
Tony: Yeah, yeah.
Tony: Yeah, no doubt.
Tommy: When’s the last time you played a room the size of The Viper Room? Or the Viper Room?
Tony: We’ve done some clubs, I mean it’s a – all of the shows that we’re doing – are fairly small but, keep ‘em intimate. There’s a sound you can control the sound really well in a small room so…
Tommy: Right, right…
Tony: …and we like it that way. And because we’re not really financed right now by anybody, we’re just doing this all self-done, that we try to keep it sort of, you know,
intimate to control the cost of touring, right?
Tommy: Grass roots, that’s cool. …What do you think of when you hear the name Viper Room?
Tony: Viper Room? Aw, man, I think of, I almost – back in the time I was in the Third Eye Blind in the original days, like before they were signed.
Tony: Before there was a Third Eye Blind, right?
Tony: But then, in the break between when I was no longer in Third Eye Blind and then they got signed and became huge, I’d done a showcase at The Viper Room and almost got signed out of it. So I have a lot of history with The Viper Room and…
Tommy: I mean, people love the place.
Tony: It is, it’s amazing. I love that place.
Tommy: Yeah. What was the band called that you did the showcase with?
Tony: It was called Magic Alex, and it created a ton of like, ton of buzz for me. I mean like, multiple labels were all interested. I thought I was gonna get signed, I was like, “Wow, man, this is great.” And then my, it kind of, my lawyer decided to try to play a bidding war and that DIDN’T work and at the same time, Stephen Jenkins said, you know, “Hey come out on tour with us.” You know…
Tony: …or come back and be our backing guy, like you know, 2nd guitar player, and then it just kinda of (?) (laughs) so I didn’t really get to feel the full sting of the… of losing the records, you know, from my attorney. I kind of went forward from there. That was in ’99.
Tony: Many years back now.
Tommy: Yeah. But you got a taste of-
Tony: Yeah. We were the, I mean the band was at it’s high point when I returned.
Tommy: That’s awesome.
Tony: So yeah, we did a lot of big, big stuff (?). For me this is all about the fans and, and their connection to the music.
Tommy: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna ask. Are you doing what you want to be doing right now?
Tony: For us, this is kind of a thing where we just really wanted to give back to the fans. We’re not trying to, you know, we’re not trying to record. We’re not trying to do a bunch of other things. We’re just trying to focus in on sounding good at these songs because I think there’s a, you know – oh a sort of a respect to the songs to make them good, man.
Tony: I think in a way it’s important to do that right. That’s what we’re trying to do anyways.
Tommy: Again, the songs are bigger than the, than the band. And the fans deserve that. Yeah.
Tony: Yeah they do deserve them to sound well. And sometimes I think there might be a little of, eh ya know, there are some corners get cut sometimes and it’s important that, to be able to, you know, you want to perform the stuff well. You want it to sound good. You don’t want it to be, you know… we’re just kinda (makes a voice), “Oh maybe I didn’t sing that so great but you know, whatever. Ya know. Here. Take this and eat it.” You know? I’ve never been much into that. So we’re gonna definitely come out and stuff gonna sound right. Sound good.
Tommy: Are you traveling in a van, or a sprinter? How are you, how are doin’ this tour?
Tony: Well right now these are just two shows so we’re really flying, getting warmed up. But when we tour, yeah, we’ll get a sprinter. Keep it, you know, low budget. Try to break even. Get, you know, basically… it’s about getting the songs back out. Giving back to the fans in a way where the music sounds good. That’s our whole goal.
Tommy: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well looking forward to the show, and I’ll see you there. Thank you.
Tony: Sounds great, thanks, Tommy.
Five (or More) Questions with Tommy Black is produced by Joshua Chévere Cohen & Prickly Pear Marketing