Mark of the Mighty: Taylor’s "Dopamine" Ink with a Lesson in "Not Giving In"
Third Eye Blind tattoos shed light on a fan’s favorite era of the band, their favorite album, and - most importantly - the songs that speak to them the most. In this interview, Taylor Labrador gives us the details of her "Dopamine" tattoo and “Don’t Give In” ink.**
Dopamine was the long awaited 5th album from 3eb, released in the summer of 2015. Fans had waited SIX YEARS for a new album to drop. It was well received, debuting at #13 on the Billboard 200 and even reaching the #1 spot on the Billboard Independent Albums chart.
We Are Drugs is the band’s most recent EP, released in the Fall of 2016, and includes the song “Don’t Give In.” I love every second of Dopamine and the We Are Drugs EP so I was pumped to hear Taylor’s story and her connection to 3eb’s newer material.
Brittney Chamberlain: Taylor, you’ve got a Facebook post that states that the Dopamine tattoo was your “first decision as an official adult.” Is the tattoo representative of the entire album, or the song specifically? What about it resonated with you more than other albums/songs?
Taylor Labrador: My [Dopamine] tattoo is more representative of the album as a whole, although the song itself holds just as equal importance to me. Dopamine came to me at a time when I really needed it. The first single, Everything is Easy, was released on the day of my aunt’s funeral; she passed away from cancer. I was really close to her my entire life so, that time was, all around, dark for me. That song made the end of the day a bit more bearable. At the same time, my grandfather was also sick and he would pass away later that same month. I didn’t have the best support network when I needed it most. I wound up falling out with my closest friends (and manipulative partner, a bit after, as well). Through all of that, I had Dopamine. I had concerts to look forward to and music to listen to... and I listened to it all the time. I lived from tweet notification to tweet notification, just reading what the boys had to say. Seeing stuff about the tour was my happiness. I swear, I only listened to Dopamine for a year straight. So, my Dopamine tattoo isn’t exactly homage to a specific lyric or song, but more of a sort of ‘thank you’ to the band that helped make a really unbearable period more bearable.
BC: That is a heavy emotional load for anyone to bear and I appreciate your openness to share your experience. A lot of fans credit the band for helping them cope with the tragedies of life. The 3eb community is also known for having established some tight knit friendships based on a foundation of shared love of the band? Have you found meaningful friendships within the 3eb community?
TL: I haven't made any close friends yet! That being said, it's not that I don't plan on it, but my nerves get the best of me. I do see people at shows and recognize them, but I have the social skills of a tree, so I always get too nervous to start up conversation. It's like the time LeCav rode past me on a bike and I didn't do anything but stare at him, even though I had been wanting to meet him for ages. I'll never live that one down.
BC: And how about, “Don’t Give In” off We Are Drugs? This is also one of my favorites. The lyrics are inspiring and really lend themselves to an anthem-like battle cry. What does this song mean to you?
TL: To me, “Don’t Give In” serves as a sort of a reminder to keep pushing forward and to keep doing your best, no matter what gets thrown your way. I forget that, a lot. Often times, I find myself totally overwhelmed with the ‘here and now’ and fall into these periods of anxiety and depression. This song was one of those songs that just clicked with me instantly. It’s going to sound stupid, but now a lot of times when I spot myself getting overwhelmed, I say to myself, “Hey, you got Stephan to write “Don’t Give In” for you and paid way too much money to get it stabbed into your ribs (which I’m going to add is a really painful spot for a tattoo), so you can’t get overwhelmed now.” It’s kind of a stop and think thing for me, like if I’m still alive and kicking now, at this point, nothing should stop me. The song is just a good reminder to be true to yourself and what will be will be. That and it’s a really good song to belt in the car when no one’s around to listen.
BC: When Stephan wrote the lyrics “Don’t Give In” for you, did you know it was for a tattoo? And if so, did you tell him? What was his reaction? Did you show him your Dopamine tattoo?
TL: I had the idea for the tattoo since the album had come out. My friend would pester me every time I was going to a show to try and get it written so we could get tattoos together. I was a bit of a scatter brain both times I met Stephan and Brad, so I couldn’t exactly explain things the way I had wanted to. As lame as it sounds, I think my fight or flight response kicks in. My anxiety seems to kick me in the butt at the worst times. I did tell Stephan it was for a tattoo but I couldn’t exactly get the words out to explain why I wanted this tattoo or the importance it had to me. Brad is an absolute doll and he was actually the one to notice my dopamine tattoo and pointed it out to Stephan. I don’t think Stephan heard him, but Brad loved it. (I wonder if this is because he designed the logo? I think I remember seeing a post about that in one of the groups I’m in.)
BC: Life events and transitions often drive the motivation to get a tattoo. You were a fresh, 18 years old when you got the Dopamine ink, so it seems natural that the new music speaks to you. How has 3eb’s music aligned with you as you move from teenager to young adult?
TL: Like I said, my life slightly before a fresh 18 years old, was kind of a shit show. When everything gets chaotic this music is my only constant. I didn’t pop out of the womb a super fan, but I have been listening to them since I was a really young kid. As I’ve gotten older, and done a lot of growing up, I’ve noticed the songs kind of grow up with me. Sometimes their meaning changes or the song resonates with me a bit more than it previously did and I kind of “rediscover” it. I know that no matter how my life changes from here on out, this music will have the same importance to me as it did when I listened to it as a kid.**
BC: The self titled album is older than you, but I am willing to guess that it is just as relevant to you as it was to fans who were alive for its release. How do you perceive the evolution of the band from S/T to We Are Drugs?
TL: I love the way the band has changed throughout the years. I love that each of their albums has a distinctly different sound and feeling to it but is still instantly recognizable. I can never stand music that is stuck in the past or fans that like to cling to one specific time period for bands (this is true for all bands, but Third Eye Blind, especially). Just like people, bands grow and evolve, and their style changes. They change as people and, to me, that is something that is so cool to witness. I hate the people that are on their phones the whole show only to belt out Semi-Charmed and go home. I’m not saying the band has necessarily changed for the better or for the worse, but they have changed and it is so cool. I mean how boring would it be if we had five albums of stuff that sounded mostly the same? Self-titled is relevant to me in the way that it kind of reminds me of being a kid. I know this isn’t the most “kid friendly” music, so that may be kind of funny to hear, but I grew up stealing my dad’s CDs and listening to my aunt’s music on her chunky Walkman. I heard most of the lyrics wrong, so hearing me sing along must have been funny, but I have just always loved this type of music. In a way, the music has “grown up” with me. It’s went from being a meaningless jumble of words to song after song that just makes you feel alive.
BC: Before we go, can you give me your top 5 songs that help you cope with anxiety and depression, aside from Don’t Give In?
TL: In no order, I would say “Wounded,” “Dopamine,” “Something In You,” “All These Things,” and “Crystal Baller.” All of the songs get me through my bad days, in one way or another, but those are some notable ones.
BC: Taylor, I’ve got to be honest, your Dopamine is one of my favorite 3eb tattoos, and I can’t tell you how happy I am that you have a “Don’t Give In” tattoo. It is such an underrated song, in my opinion. Thanks for sharing your story with me!
TL: I love both of my tattoos so much and I am glad that I was able to make this band a permanent part of me. I think all of the new stuff is super underrated and I am glad that there are other people who appreciate it too.