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Eve 6’s Max Collins On His Rebirth As A Viral Tweeter And His Feud With The Third Eye Blind Guy

If you’ve been extremely online at all in the past few months, you may have noticed a strange phenomenon: that Eve 6, a briefly medium-famous post-punk group from the early 2000s, had seemed to have been reborn as a weird Twitter account. The account had been on a tear, @-ing celebrity accounts, asking everyone from Elon Musk to Kamala Harris, “do you like the heart in the blender song?” This in reference to Eve 6’s biggest hit, 1998’s “Inside Out.”

A few even responded, leading to surreal moments like the actor Vincent D’Onofrio (Men In Black, Full Metal Jacket) checking in to say that he was more a fan of “Here’s To The Night.”

In parallel to that, the account seemed to be practicing radical honesty, both about Eve 6’s own trajectory and catalogue, and about a lot the folks they crossed paths with along the way to 90s and early aughts pseudo-stardom. About “Inside Out,” the so-called “heart in the blender song” that brought them fame and infamy, the account wrote “I was literally a virgin when I wrote that song,” adding the beautifully timed tag a few beats later, “i’ve since had sex.”

@Eve6 also shared a meme about it:

Then there were the celebrity stories, most notably all the ones starring Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins. Jenkins, one of the last of the rockstar’s rockstars, had, according to Eve 6, done everything from boasting of having slept with Eve 6’s girlfriend to getting him “fake arrested” for stealing candy.

Between the near-perfect style-imitation of popular weird Twitter accounts like Dril and PixelatedBoat, to the self-referential kitsch and conscious attempts to start surreal beefs, it was easy to wonder whether the Eve 6 guy had undergone some kind of Office Space-style conversion. Did he get hypnotized and then wake up one day simply not giving a shit? Or maybe the band, gearing up for another run with two of their three original members, had just hired a brilliant social media person who had a particular affinity for goofy leftist Twitter.

About that second possibility… In an age when brands like Steak Umms and Whoopie Pies frequently ape online irony, it’s impossible not to wonder “Is this a trick?” every time a new phenomenon crops up on Twitter. And this new incarnation of online Eve 6 seemed an almost too perfect new twist on the old Us Weekly standard, “Celebrities Are Just Like Us!” Only now reformulated, and aimed specifically, almost to the point of genuine pain, at me. “Bands you listened to in 2001 tweet just like you!”

The rebirth of Eve 6 as a funny Twitter account having already spawned countless articles, in everything from Rolling Stone to Billboard to the A/V Club* I had to know what was behind it. So I reached out to the account online. As it turns out, by his own reckoning and as far as I can verify, @Eve6 is indeed being controlled by Eve 6 frontman Max Collins, the writer of the heart in the blender song. (*as well as an interview that went live before this one in Spin)

“I likened our Twitter account to Dudley Moore from Crazy People,” says Collins, now a 42-year-old father of two, a reference to the 1990 film in which Moore plays an advertising exec who one decides to tell the truth.

Collins also says he started playing around with the account right around the time he got back together with his other Eve 6 founding member Jon Siebels to start making new music. So, in a way, both theories (change of heart or promotional strategy) are kind of true.

Still, it’s all the work of Collins himself, aka Eve 6, and perhaps I should’ve known. Just beneath the adherence to the weird Twitter style guide (no caps, frequent use of imagery divorced from traditional sentence structure, practiced glibness), there’s an honest introspection to the tweets that would be hard to fake. Which is probably why so many people seem to love them. The virgin thing, for instance, wasn’t just a joke, it was also true. Regarding the same song, Collins tweeted, “imagine if the worst diary entry you ever wrote as a teenager went double platinum.”

In that way, @Eve6 combines Mortified (the stage show where performers read their own adolescent diaries), irony Twitter, and True Hollywood Stories, all of which Collins seems fully aware of. As evidenced by his declaration, mid-random anecdote about Staind, “im writing the memoir of alternative rock mediocrity rn.”

And honestly, who better? Wordplay was always Eve 6’s strong suit (I always thought Eve 6 had the Cake curse, of becoming famous for arguably one of their lesser songs). With everyone suddenly interested again, I managed to get in touch with Collins almost immediately (probably not surprising for a musician in the middle of a quarantine who is also extremely online) and scheduled a Zoom call. (For the record, I beat the Washington Post by two days.)

I imagine you’ve gotten a lot of interview requests lately.

Yeah, a lot of interview stuff, a lot of podcast stuff. It’s just, it’s very surreal, the whole thing is quite surreal.

Have you been surprised by that?

I’ve been surprised by the whole thing. I guess I’d be lying if I said when I pushed out the “I was a virgin when I wrote the heart in a blender song” tweet that I didn’t think that it was a good tweet, but I didn’t think it would go viral.

So, I need to ask about your Stephan Jenkins’ feud/whatever. Also, I have a tangential connection there because my podcast co-host used to be friends with someone Stephan Jenkins was dating, so he does a Stephan Jenkins’ impression and also has Stephan Jenkins’ stories.

That’s funny.

I think you said one about him f*cking your girlfriend, but I’ll take any and all Stephan Jenkins’ stories.

Yeah, we were at the Fillmore, on his turf in San Francisco in the dressing room. And I don’t know if my impression of him will match up to your friend’s, but he was like [doing a Jenkins impression, which is sort of a cross between breathy gay man and SoCal frat bro], “So, I heard you’re dating Sonya.”

And I said, “Yeah.”

And the context that makes this even funnier is that he was at least 34 at the time and I was 19 or 20, so he’s flexing on a teenager. And he goes, “You know I f*cked her, right?” And I honestly think I just laughed. But yeah, certainly never forgot it.

What year would that have been?

It would have been ’98, I think. ’98 or ’99. We did two tours with them. I can’t remember if they were consecutive but they were pretty close because we did their Bonfire Tour and then we did the MTV Campus Invasion Tour, and both tours were long, full U.S. runs. So, yeah.

You guys were still in high school when you had your first record deal?

Well, our first record deal was with a tiny label out of Orange County called Doctor Dream Records that signed all the guys from washed-up punk bands. We started doing a record with Steve Soto from The Adolescents. And then the label hooked us up with this woman named Jennifer Harold who had a syndicated radio program at the time called Radio Asylum. We recorded three live songs for her there in the studio, and she thought we were good and wanted to manage us and sent a copy of that live recording to Brian Malouf at RCA. A couple of months later Brian Malouf and another A&R guy flew out and saw us do a showcase out here. We did a showcase for them that I just remember being really awful. I remember our drummer dropping his sticks and stuff. And I was like, “Oh, they’re going to hate this.” But they didn’t and they signed us. But we stayed in high school and finished school. So it was a record deal, but in practice it was more like a glorified production deal. Because I feel like they thought, “Oh, maybe these kids will turn into something. We want to have a claim on it if they do.” I think that was their mentality.

Besides Third Eye Blind, who are some of the other people that you were touring with in your heyday? I don’t know if it’s offensive to say heyday or not but…

Oh dear, no. Not at all. Let’s see. We did a tour with Wheatus. A full headlining tour with Wheatus.

Oh yeah, I saw the tweet about you accidentally turning off their sound system at some point.

I accidentally stepped on their cable outside of the stage. And the thing about Wheatus is their show is completely self-sustained. They don’t even use a front of house guy. Their drums are electronic. They run their light show themselves. All the instruments are electric. There’s no acoustic sound emanating from the stage whatsoever. And when I stepped on this cable their entire light rig went out and a hundred percent of their sound went out in the middle of “Teenage Dirtbag.” Who else? American Hi-Fi, Goldfinger. We did a co-headline with them.

So I can’t remember if there was a Better Than Ezra story or if someone just asked you about that.

No. There’s not a Better Than Ezra story, there’s a Soul Asylum story. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of? We were on tour with them in 2013, them and Everclear and Spacehog. We were doing a show at a venue on Long Island. And after my set I went with Dave [Pirner, of Soul Asylum] to this little bar that was around the corner and we were sitting there for a minute just talking and stuff. Then I realized I was late to go introduce Everclear. So I got up quickly and left, and when I walked off the stage after introducing them Dave was there holding a wallet and he said, “You might want to take this with you.” And I said, “Oh man, that’s not my wallet.” So he went and returned it to the bar and the guy whose wallet it was thought he’d stolen it and punched him in the face.

Wow!

Yeah. I’m a huge fan of Soul Asylum, but Dave’s a pretty eccentric guy, and I think he felt like the universe was sending him messages around this. The next day he got off of his tour bus, I forget where we were, and a homeless person pointed at him and said something like, “You’re a bad person.” And that fed into this narrative and really put him into a depression for a couple of days. Understandably, Jesus. But yeah, no good deed.

Are there other personalities or surreal moments that stand out from that era of touring?

Let me think here… not really. I think that’s why Stephan Jenkins is such a polarizing figure, because I think most of the other guys in the “late ’90s alternative milieu” were really nice guys, and also pretty boring. I did a tweet about it, but I would venture to guess that there is a performative element to his seemingly abject shitty personality, which is okay with me. I think at the end of the day that stuff can be pretty entertaining.

Of the people that you asked whether they like the heart in the blender song what were some of the most memorable responses?

Well, Hillary Duff responded saying she preferred “Wrong Things” by Chevy Mustang, which is my alter ego, this project born of quarantine that’s absolutely stupid and that everybody hates called Chevy Mustang that I do with the guys from the band KONGOS. So that was cool. Marianne Williamson saying yes was quite surreal. Who else responded? Ninety percent of people-

I saw Vincent D’Onofrio gave you a nice compliment.

Yeah, that was nice. And then there was a little bit of miscommunication because I think he thought I was being mean, but I was just trying to be fun on the internet when I accused him of having false humility and it being an unattractive trait. But I tried to clean that up and then I didn’t feel like any of it was landing so I just deleted it.

Yeah, that happens. Oh, so there was another burning question that’s been on my mind: what was it like to have your song referenced in a Limp Bizkit song? (In 1999’s “Nookie,” Fred Durst raps, “she put my tender / heart in a blender / and still I surrendered.” The 90s were f*ckin’ weird, man.)

Very strange! I ended up at a urinal next to Fred Durst at some bar and he was like, “Hey, man, I used your lyric in a song,” and I was like, “I know.”

You got sober after your guys’ initial fame when you were younger, right?

I didn’t get sober till ’06. So we did all three records and touring cycles when I was very much still in it. And then disbanded in ’03 and then in ’06 I got sober.

Do you have Twitter influences?

Probably too many to name and a bunch that I would forget. I did tweet the other day about how I don’t use punctuation because I was moved by Luke O’Neil’s “Welcome To Hell World” newsletter, which is absolutely true. I don’t know if you read him at all.

I do. I’ve had him on my podcast.

I have a weird Luke O’Neil story. I was on tour with Fitness, this other band that I was doing for a while, and we were out supporting Big Data. We were in Boston, and I’m a swimmer so I try to find lap swim pools. And I found a YMCA fairly close to the venue and I was doing my swim. I had a lane to myself which is really nice, and then this big dude I saw from the other side of the pool sauntering over and got into my lane. And now he’s swimming in my lane and I’m thinking, “This guy looks really f*cking familiar.” And I thought, okay, the tell is going to be the nose ring, because I remembered the nose ring from his picture. And so we both stopped at the same side of the pool and I was like, “Are you Luke O’Neil?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” And I said, “Oh, I’m a big fan.” And he’s like, “Oh, that’s cool.” I didn’t tell him about Eve 6, I just told him I was in a band that was playing that night with Big Data. Did he want to come? No, he was busy. And then that was that. We finished our swim. We interacted, over the last couple of years and DM’d a few times and he’s since figured out I’m the heart in a blender guy. He told me that the heart in a blender song was the first song he learned on guitar and stuff like that. So, yeah. Shout out to Luke.

That’s got to be hard. It seems like something that would be weird to just bring up when you first meet someone, like “Hey I’m the heart in the blender guy,” but then after the fact, I feel like people would be like “why didn’t you tell me?”

Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t identify with it so it’s like… I don’t know.

So I read your tweet about “imagine if the worst diary entry you ever wrote as a teenager went double platinum.” Are there lyrics that stand out as things that make you cringe that you are forced to keep singing again and again?

Yeah, but you develop a compartmentalized relationship with the stuff, because even the stuff that makes me cringe about that song I have framed, and maybe it’s just a survival technique, but in a way I do also see beauty in it. Because with that song, and I said this to a journalist at Spin, it’s guileless. It’s so absurdly open-hearted and for that reason there’s just a big target on its back. Also for that reason, I think it worked because… do you know what I’m saying?

Yes. It’s not guarded. That’s why it’s good.

Yeah, it’s the opposite of guarded, for better or for worse. And so it’s hard to run any kind of counterfactuals with this stuff, because if we had waited and developed more and made our first record when we were 27, who knows? Maybe we would’ve made a better record and no one would have heard it. Maybe we would’ve made a great record and it would have been big. Who f*cking knows?

I always thought you were an English major just from the way that you wrote songs. So I was surprised to learn how young you guys were when your first hits were coming out.

Well, thanks. I definitely littered those songs with five-dollar words. I think it was some kind of compensatory thing because I didn’t have any comprehension of melody when I was writing that stuff. And you hear it, the chorus of “Inside Out” is basically one note. So I think I would play with words and jam words in to make up for the fact that there wasn’t a lot that was particularly melodically interesting going on.

I didn’t even think that they were necessarily five-dollar words. I think that about Panic! At The Disco, or even Bad Religion to some extent, but with you guys I just thought it was clever wordplay, and genuinely enjoyable.

Thank you. I appreciate that.

So you guys have new music coming out?

Yeah. We were going to wait to do this announcement about new music because we’re on a label called Velocity that is brand new and is just getting their website up and stuff. But we have a five-song EP called Black Nova that’s going to come out soon, in about a month. The first single’s called “Black Nova.” It’s a little punk record. And we started making music again, when was it, I guess at the end of 2019, just to do it. We were like, “If we’re going to do this we’re going to do just exactly what we want with no extra f*cking considerations.” And so that’s what we did. And I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t say we do have a record coming out in about a month.

Vince Mancini is on Twitter. You can access his archive of reviews here.

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