Did Motley Crue + Third Eye Blind Really Beef Over Studio Space?
The mid-'90s were a big moment in time for then upstart rockers Third Eye Blind, but did the band "graduate" to top priority for their label ahead of Motley Crue as was portrayed in the Hulu series, Pam & Tommy? Well, not quite.
While the current series has portrayed a number of true to life events that surrounded the period in which the Pamela Anderson-Tommy Lee sex tape was stolen and became an internet sensation, the creators of the series have also taken a few liberties as well in order to invoke a certain mood or feeling of something the central characters were going through at the time.
Within the series' fifth episode, titled "Uncle Jim and Aunt Susie in Duluth," Lee and his Motley Crue bandmate show up a studio circa 1996 only to find out that the upstart rockers Third Eye Blind have commanded the larger studio. After learning that they were being given the smaller studio, Lee barges in and confronts Stephan Jenkins only to learn from the Third Eye Blind singer that the label they both shared had arranged for Third Eye Blind to have the bigger studio for the next six weeks, relegating the veteran band to the smaller digs and providing the sense that their label viewed them as a lesser priority.
But this proves to be one of the on-screen moments that actually didn't happen in real life and was more there to serve the purpose of pointing out Motley Crue's rough patches during the mid-'90s alt-rock explosion.
“I felt like that was the perfect band for the scene," says executive producer Rob Siegel to Variety about what transpired onscreen. “I did a little quick Google search, what label was Mötley Crüe on? Elektra. Who else was on Elektra? Third Eye Blind. The timing was perfect. In 1996 they’re working on their debut album. So the scene is fictional, but I like to think it absolutely could have happened!”
However, not only did Third Eye Blind not beef with Motley Crue over the studio space, singer Stephan Jenkins confirms that they had never even met.
“Mötley Crüe and I’ve never been in the same studio,” the vocalist explained to Variety. “I recorded my whole first album in Northern California. So we were across the state from each other at the very least.”
Indeed, Third Eye Blind's self-titled debut, while it was released by Elektra, was recorded at Toast Studios, Skywalker Ranch and H.O.S., all in the San Francisco area. Meanwhile, Motley Crue were downstate in the Los Angeles area working out of studios in Tarzana, Hollywood, Burbank and Los Angeles proper for their Generation Swine album.
Jenkins also revealed within the Variety interview that at the time of the supposed interaction, he was not really all that familiar with Motley Crue's music. “I had never, in fact, listened to Mötley Crüe. I never even heard them," said the singer. "I actually saw Tommy Lee’s penis before I ever heard their band. I was like, ‘Well, good on ya, Tommy. Well done, lad.’ I literally had never heard them. But I somehow saw the sex tape. I’d also never seen Baywatch. So I had never seen Pam or Tommy. That was my first introduction to them.”
The Third Eye Blind vocalist says it was years later that he first heard Motley Crue's music, recalling, “Years later I heard this song, maybe when somebody put it on the jukebox or something. But I’m like, oh my god, what is that groove? It’s so nasty like aggressive and heavy. And it was ‘Shout at the Devil.’ And so I got this blind introduction to Mötley Crüe and I was like, this shit is great."
But as far as a dustup between the bands, Jenkins says, "We never kicked them out of the studio, but my drummer Brad [Hargreaves] said that what inspired him to play drums when he was a little kid was Mötley Crüe. He loved that metal shit. So there is a part of Third Eye Blind taking some kind of inspiration from Tommy Lee’s drumming.”
When questioned about eventually seeing himself as a character in the TV series, Jenkins explained, “I feel strange watching myself being portrayed. Just the idea is making me kind of smile. … I hope whoever played me on TV was pretty.”
Third Eye Blind did break out in 1997 with their debut album that yielded the hit singles "Semi-Charmed Life," "Graduate," "How's It Going to Be," "Losing a Whole Year" and "Jumper." It peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. Meanwhile, Generation Swine, issued the same year by Elektra, featured the singles "Afraid" and "Beauty." After a split with Vince Neil earlier in the decade, all four original members were back in the band for this album, which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart.
The Pam & Tommy series is currently airing on Hulu.