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Jimmy Eat World
In the mid 1990's, a collaberation of four childhood friends would forever impact rock and pop culture. Jimmy Eat World formed in 1994 with kindergarten pals Jim Adkins (vocals/guitar) and Zach Lind (drums), Tom Linton (guitar/vocals), and Mitch Porter (bass). The foursome derived the band's moniker from Linton's younger brothers, Ed and Jimmy. The two had a fight one day and Ed resorted to drawing a picture of his cherubic older brother eating the world with "Jimmy Eat World" printed beneath. The band thought it was a perfect fit. Soon, they tinkered around with heavy punk rock sounds, playing small shows around their native Mesa, AZ. Influences ranged from Rocket From the Crypt, early Def Leppard, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Fugazi, and the Velvet Underground, leaving Jimmy Eat World as a work in progress. Over the course of 1994 and early 1995, Jimmy Eat World issued several EPs and singles on the Tempe, AZ, imprint, Wooden Blue Records. Limited-edition pressings of "One, Two, Three, Four," "Back From the Dead Mother Fucker," and split EPs with Christie Front Drive, Emery, and Blueprint would later run out of print. During this time, the band gained a following. Capitol Records took notice and signed Jimmy Eat World in mid-1995. Porter soon exited the group; Linton's best mate since seventh grade, bassist Rick Burch, was added to Jimmy Eat World and a dynamic was officially in place. Static Prevails marked their major debut later that year. In 1998, the band found itself under the emo billing thanks to the intricately hard-edged yet sensitive second album Clarity. It was a basic rock record and not exactly emo; Adkins' songwriting was at its finest. First single "Lucky Denver Mint" was an instant hit among college radio. It scored a spot on the Drew Barrymore love comedy Never Been Kissed in 1999, allowing Jimmy Eat World to be exposed to a larger audience. Their fan base only continued to soar; however, their relationship with Capitol was beginning to sour. They recorded a third LP for the label by 1999, but it was shelved. The decided to leave the label, and Capitol was happy to oblige. Split releases with Sense Field and Jebediah soon followed.
Jimmy Eat World's powerful rock sound was attracting those overseas; Clarity was popular on the German charts in 2000. That same year, the band funded and self-promoted their first ever tour of Europe. Singles appeared on Big Wheel Recreation later that year. During this jaunt, Jimmy Eat World redesigned their focus in music. DreamWorks opted to take a chance on the band, and Jimmy Eat World went back to work. They hooked up with Clarity's famed producer, Mark Trombino (blink-182, Midtown, Drive Like Jehu), for a follow-up. Bleed American, which would later be retitled as Jimmy Eat World after the horrific events of September 11th, was released in July 2001. "Bleed American" did moderately well, but the second single, the catchy cool "The Middle," landed Jimmy Eat World on the pop/rock map. Spots on MTV's TRL and VH1, and tours with Weezer and Tenacious D proved golden. A year after its release, Jimmy Eat World was still burning up the charts and modern rock radio. A third single entitled "Sweetness" was released in summer 2002, allowing Jimmy Eat World to eventually sell 1.3 million copies in the U.S. By 2003, the band wrapped up two years of touring; however, the Dreamworks record label closed its doors in January 2004. Jimmy Eat World shifted things over to Interscope and joined producer Gil Norton for the recording of their fourth album. Futures was released in October 2004.
Jimmy Eat World and TBS Spring Tour
Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday hit the road in April.
The gods of emo-punk have answered the prayers of stateside fans with the tour match-up of Jimmy Eat World and Taking Back Sunday. On April 10, the two bands kick off a North American, co-headlining tour in Champaign, Illinois, and the road trip runs for five weeks. Shows are planned for Atlanta, Denver, Fresno, Ithaca, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tucson, Reno, Washington DC and more. A full tour itinerary is still in the works and will be released soon.
Meanwhile, confirmed dates for the Jimmy Eat World - Taking Back Sunday outing include April 10 in Champaign, IL; April 11 in Detroit, Michigan; April 14 in Rutherford, NJ; and April 16 in Providence, RI.
Jimmy Eat World returns with a new album and a Liz Phair cameo to boot
Having met more than 20 years ago, the guys in Jimmy Eat World have had plenty of time to get to know each other-and to get sick of each other. And after performing 2001's infectious hit, "The Middle," too many times to count, they just might want to kill each other.
But like the good friends they are, they've decided to hit the road for what could be a two-and-a-half-year tour-spending even more time together, singing that song over and over and over. So it's a good thing they're mixing in other songs from the band's latest release, "Futures." It should help keep them sane. On the new album, which came out last month, the band strays from the commercial formula that landed the group its first hit and produced a fairly diverse album that leans toward harder alt-rock, instead of the emo-rock that put them on the map.
Metromix caught up with lead singer Jim Adkins in the third month of this seemingly never-ending road trip.
What's been happening on tour? Do you spend those long nights on the bus playing video games and drinking?
Man, if you even knew how boring we are. We just got done with a pretty heavy computer-to-computer battlefield game. We're pretty much geeks.
Yeah, but you got Liz Phair to record with you on the song "Work."
That was cool.
Was there any sexual tension in the studio?
There were definitely some stragglers hanging outside the studio wanting to meet her. She's an extremely sexy woman-I'll give her that. But she's super cool and easy to work with. We had fun.
"Futures" is quite a departure from the last album. Did you toughen up your sound so people wouldn't think you guys were a bunch of pop wussies?
We've never set out to make a certain kind of record. I don't worry about whether people perceive us as a pop group or if we're still cool … if we ever were cool.
On the title track, you sing about hoping for a better November. How'd you feel about the election?
Disappointed, but I feel like I did everything I could've done. We'll see what happens. Honestly though, whoever [was going to be] president was instantly handed a [bad] situation. Half the country doesn't want you there. It's a strange time in American politics, and I'm not sure what's needed to overcome that. It's going to be pretty rough going.
Speaking of rough going, USA Today gave "Futures" the same rating as Hillary Duff's debut. You couldn't even get a half star more than Hillary Duff?
I don't read our press anymore. I haven't heard Hillary's record and can't say that's it not good; I'm skeptical that it is. If someone's looking to USA Today for cutting edge of hip, I don't know what you'd expect.
You guys have all known each other since kindergarten. Does anyone still poop in his pants?
Rarely. [Laughs.] No, no one does that.
Punk, Emo, Pop? Just Call Jimmy Eat World Rock
When Jimmy Eat World released their latest album, "Futures," in October, some critics felt it had more of a pop-sound than their previous albums, while others heard a less poppy sound.
The members of Jimmy Eat World just see it as rock.
"We never really consider what we do emo or pop," drummer Zach Lind tells andPOP. "We just feel like it's a rock 'n roll album, but we're comfortable with people coming up with their own conclusions for the band."
The band came together in 1994, but hit it big with their massive hit single "The Middle" in 2001. At the time, they were inundated with attachments to labels: from pop, to emo, to punk.
When they started recording their latest album, they incorporated all different types of genres but let the recording process ultimately decide what type of sound the album would have.
"We don’t predetermine what the sound's going to be like. When we do have songs put together and ready to go and have a chance to shape what the album as a whole is going to be like, that's when we can edit what the feel of the album can be. If it's a good song, it's a good song, whether it's a slow mellow song or a rockin' song or a poppy song."
Jimmy Eat World have been on Saturday Night Live, have played all the late night shows, and have played shows in almost every city in the U.S. and many countries worldwide. In fact, their last tour lasted two years without much of a break.
Yet, Lind thinks staying together for 10 years has been the band's greatest accomplishment.
"That’s something we have been very fortune to do. It's been a slow run rather than a big explosion and that's a big thing."
Despite their success, Lind says the band members are still the same people that they were in 1994.
"Personality wise, we all matured, but one thing that keeps the band together is that we approach what we do very similarly to how we did then. We're in this because we have fun doing it. I think it helps us make decisions on how we present our band to the world."
Becoming more mature was necessary, since their last album was released just a month and a half before the terrorist attacks of September 11. Originally called "Bleed American," future editions were released with the title, simply, as "Jimmy Eat World."
"It was a really crazy time. It was just a really bizarre on so many levels," Lind says. "It's just really insane to think of how different our world is now compared to when 'Bleed American' was released. How we operate as a band and how we interact with our fans and people around us, I think we've learned a lot and matured as people."
The band decided to lend one of their songs, the Guided By Voice's cover "Game of Pricks," to the "Future Soundtrack for America" album, a compilation that sought a change in office in the U.S., in which all proceeds benefited non-profit progressive organizations.
Jimmy Eat World felt that a change in office was important, and found no reason not to be involved with the project.
"We support the cause of socially progressive organizations that are trying to bring attention to the issues that we feel are being ignored in the current administration," he said. "To be a part of a compilation with such great bands that benefit social causes that we feel are being ignored is something we couldn't turn down. It would have been irresponsible not to be a part of that."
Lind is happy to turn on the radio and hear bands like Franz Ferdinand and Modest Mouse, bands – like Jimmy Eat World – that make "honest music."
"It's just great to see bands that make honest music and make music that is real getting notoriety. We're really happy to hear bands that we feel are very great bands that don’t have to attach their selves to certain genres."
Jimmy Eat World had not an easy road to success
In 2001 Jimmy Eat World was a widely adored but criminally underappreciated band capable of drawing capacity crowds all over the world, but unable to find a record deal to their liking. Having just been unceremoniously spit out of the major label machinery, the band opted to record a new album entirely on its own dime and let labels come a-calling—or not—after the fact. The gambit more than paid off, with the resultant Bleed American (later re-titled Jimmy Eat World), yielding the hits “The Middle” and “Sweetness,” an ultimately selling over 1.3 million copies in the U.S. By the time two full years of touring had wound down, they’d made triumphant breakthroughs everywhere from Saturday Night Live to a sold out Brixton Academy, been nominated for an MTV Video Music Award, seen their name on Blender and Alternative Press’ Best Albums of 2001, SPIN and USA Today’s Best Singles of 2002, and been awarded an Album of the Week by People and a spot on Rolling Stone’s annual Hot List.
Not bad for a little band from Mesa, Arizona. But then came the problem once all your rock dreams come true, what do you do for an encore?
The band's new CD, Futures, is the answer to that question. It's a sprawling, gorgeous, heavy-yet-quiet epic. And it took a long time to finish. "We've always felt you're putting your name on something, you have to make sure it's the absolute best work possible," says Jimmy Eat World’s Jim Adkins, "This time it took a while to achieve what we wanted. We had to get our heads into the zone where we were ready to kill ourselves to finish this. And did."
Adkins credits the band's home state for providing them with enough inspiration to finish the record. "It's a grounding force for us, living here," says the singer. "The music scene consists of people who care about satisfying themselves through their creative ambitions, and not trying to be anything more than that. We wanted to get back to that idea, where you just forget about everything except writing songs."
With the songs written, Jimmy Eat World decided to work with a new producer for the first time ever, Gil Norton (The Pixies, Foo Fighters). "Gil didn't know us well, which was good," says Adkins. "It made us step up and really make an effort. We had only made albums with one person in ten years. It helped to have an outside perspective. "
Futures is perhaps the best sounding record in Jimmy Eat World's career. It's also the most eclectic, with songs ranging from ambitious hard rock ("Futures," "Pain") to epic ballads ("Drugs Or Me," "23") to every kind of crystalline pop/rock formation in-between (“Work,” “The World You Love,” “Kill”). There are a few new wrinkles to the band's sound, including more intricate vocal harmonies, more prominent keyboards and strings, and a surprising number of guitar solos. "You just get to that point in a song and it sounds cool," says Adkins, laughing. "But we had a reason to do all of this. Our last record, we purposely cut all the fat. But this time, we wanted to let the songs breathe a bit, give them more space. I think this album is kind of like a sequel to (1999’s) Clarity in that way. It's just more ambitious."
An early Futures standout comes with the third track, the guitar-pop stunner "Work" featuring Liz Phair on back-up vocals. "The demo sounded like 'Divorce Song,' that old Liz Phair track from Exile in Guyville," says Adkins. "So I sort of jokingly thought, why not just co-opt the song completely and get her to sing on it?" Phair readily agreed, and the end result is an absolutely perfect summer radio song that stands up to “The Middle,” “Sweetness” and “Lucky Denver Mint,” as one of the most indelible melodies of the Jimmy canon.
From its first lines—the seemingly politically charged “I always believed in Futures/I hope for better/In November”—Futures is possibly the most lyrically cohesive Jimmy Eat World record to date, with nearly every lyric wrestling with pivotal life choices and their repercussions. "I usually don't talk about lyrics, because that's unfair to the listener,” Adkins says. “But I can say that, thematically, this album is about making life decisions, and sometimes not realizing the full picture of what's ahead. When you're younger, everything seems like such a big deal. Then you get older and you kind of laugh at how seriously you took everything, but you're kind of crushed by the fact that everything meant a lot to you back then."
Following the release of Futures, the band intends to spend the next "two and a half years" on the road. The group has also contributed a song to Future Soundtrack for America, a compilation put together by the political activist organization MoveOn.org in collaboration with the literary journal McSweeney’s and indie label Barsuk. "We've never felt qualified to stand on a stage and espouse our political beliefs," says Adkins. "But now, I don't think you can escape having a heightened awareness of current events and government policies. Maybe that comes from being older, where you see how decisions actually affect people."
With a new record, a new found sense of purpose and a two-plus year trek ahead of them, Adkins does take a little time to reflect on what it all means. "If there was a goal for this, it was to make a record for people who've always liked us," says Adkins. "We wanted this to be their favorite Jimmy Eat World record. We'll see how that goes."
Jimmy Eat World Swallowing America
From the outside, Jimmy Eat World's Tempe, Arizona, studio looks just like another sterile office space in a quiet, out-of-the-way business complex. But walk through the nondescript entrance and the place is a surprisingly cozy rock and roll den. There's enough cushy seating for a decent-sized party, and instruments are strewn everywhere -- a drum kit in the corner, a piano across the room, guitars propped up in different nooks. Egg-crate foam and silver foil insulation blanket the high ceilings, and heavy, wine-colored velvet curtains drape the walls. These guys could make a hell of a racket in here and no one would ever know.
So before guitarist Tom Linton and bassist Rick Burch join front man Jim Adkins and drummer Zach Lind to talk about Futures, Jimmy Eat World's fifth album, Lind sits down at a computer in the middle of the studio and plays the new U2 single through powerful speakers. Adkins sinks into a couch and gets a deeply focused look on his face. Lind turns the volume way up. Neither one speaks until the song is finished, and even then, they still seem to be processing it, mulling it over.
Maybe that's because while U2 is a supergroup to the rest of us, it's a peer to Jimmy Eat World, as well as a label mate. And these guys are serious about learning as much as they can from other successful bands. U2's "Vertigo" may have skyrocketed on the Billboard modern rock singles chart, but so has Jimmy Eat World's new single, "Pain," which peaked at the number one slot this fall. Following up a platinum-selling album with a new full-length and a new single has got to be a little daunting, but so far, so good. Really good.
"That's the best reaction we've gotten from a single, ever -- at least initially," says Lind. "öThe Middle' took longer." Back in 2002, that infectiously cheerful single from Jimmy Eat World (originally released as Bleed American before it was renamed after September 11, 2001) took twice as long to break into the top ten, and boosted the band from solid success to real stardom. Another hit followed, "Sweetness," which kept the ball rolling. In all, Jimmy Eat World sold more than 1.3 million copies and fueled the band through two years of steady touring.
"Our schedule became exponentially busier as time went on with the last record," says Adkins. "So when it was getting closer to the time when we needed to be thinking about making a new record, there was no time to be thinking about making a new record."
By the time Jimmy Eat World came back to Arizona after so much time on the road, there were three years' worth of song ideas to be fleshed out. Universal Music Group absorbed the band's record label, DreamWorks, in January 2004, but that apparently didn't become a stumbling block. By February, the guys were ready to start making Futures for Interscope. They began recording in LA, did the bulk of their work in Tucson, and returned to LA to finish the project in June. The result -- immediately audible on the opening title track -- is a bigger, more textured rock sound that retains Jimmy Eat World's irresistible harmonies and favors sophistication over simplicity.
Adkins says the band takes itself more seriously now, and holds itself to much higher standards. Burch pipes up and adds that they don't have to have day jobs now and can focus on music every day. And Lind explains that on Futures, they put more energy into experimenting with new ideas and trying out different ways to make each song the best it could be. "We hit all the dead ends that we could possibly hit with all the songs," he says.
The recording and mixing process offered even more ways to play with the sound. "Like that song on the new album, öDrugs or Me,'" says Lind. "To me, that song didn't even really take life until it was mixed. We had all these elements like recorded strings, but it never really sounded like the song until it was mixed, and that was the final stage of the [recording process], when it actually made sense. That sort of song is a testament to that kind of approach, where you don't totally have to have it figured out."
Adkins elaborates on the making of "Drugs or Me." "It could be this pretty thing, and maybe not a lot of depth to it, but you add in ..." He pauses, pointing across the room to a red Krank amp. "There's the amp," he says, laughing. "It doesn't work anymore because during that song, every knob was as high as it can go, and it was running through echo pedals and stuff. It was the most insane feedback you could get. And to put that on the prettiest song on the album, this quiet one -- little last touches can really drastically help a song's effectiveness, or take it to the wrong place." With Futures, it appears that Jimmy Eat World took its songs to the right place.
Jim Adkins talks about "Futures"
Jimmy Eat World frontman Jim Adkins has described the band's new album as "a bummer record." But he's also quick to point out that even the downer songs on "Futures" contain a glimmer of hope.
In the January 2005 issue of Spin magazine, Adkins explains, "It's a bummer record. I don't know why, but I think it had something to do with our intensity while working on it. Now that it's over, I actually see it as optimistic -- realistically optimistic. Even on the bummer songs, there's an underlying layer of hope. Just like our happy songs have a layer of tragedy."
Jimmy Eat World's Christmas Song
Jimmy Eat World recently covered the Wham! holiday classic, "Last Christmas," for the latest OC soundtrack album, "The OC Mix 3: Have A Very Merry Chrismukkah." Does this mean that we'll soon see Jimmy Eat World playing The Bait Shop?
Singer Jim Adkins tells Spin magazine, "I remember seeing the Flaming Lips on '90210,' and that was kind of cool. But I'd have to approve the storyline!"
Jimmy Eat World has a promising future
Jim Adkins may have the prettiest panty-whisper of all emo frontmen, but Jimmy Eat World has (sort of) outgrown the "emo" tag that few bands are eager to wear on their sleeves. The band's latest offering, Futures, proves that JEW's heart-wrenching power pop actually could improve beyond the brilliance of 2001's Bleed American and that the band probably has a future. Even if much of the record resembles chick rock to you, you'll hardly be able to resist the pull of the heavier tunes. From the stomp and rumble of the title cut to the shout-along-with-us-won't-you of "Pain" and the near-headbanging of "Nothingwrong," JEW has refined its particular brand of heaviness to sparkly-clean perfection.
Or is it the pretty songs you prefer? The generous serving of ballads on Futures won't disappoint, and it's in these that you'll hear the record's most creative production work. If they have any hope at all of moistening crowds in the future, tortured, guitar-wielding pretty boys everywhere would do well to study Adkins' ability to write exactly what the young ladies like to hear. With hushed, breathy lines such as "Kiss me with your cherry lipstick" sung over a snowy background of understated strumming, Adkins could probably get your mom naked. One wishes the band's excursions to Trippytown would last longer, though "Polaris" satisfies cravings for the guitar-in-a-faraway-land sound of U2, the original emo whiners.
If Jimmy Eat World is an emo outfit after all, it's risen to the top of that particular steaming heap. The band's consistent improvement in writing gushing, hooky power pop over the years should make rock fans of all stripes curious enough about JEW's high-energy live show to forget the annoying labels and enjoy an evening of quality, high-gloss rock product.
How to follow up a platinum-selling breakthrough album? It's a question that's stumped many a rock band during the last 15-odd years, and one that Jimmy Eat World answers confidently with Futures.
The band's third major-label album - and fifth overall - finds them splitting the difference between would-be modern-rock anthems and gorgeous-but-quirky ballads. The first half of Futures is the more-accessible. First single "Pain," already a radio smash, pairs dark, percussive passages with anthemic hooks bolstered by gang-vocal accompaniment - and the Guns & Roses-biting harmonized guitar solo is just icing on the cake.
"Just Tonight..." works in the now-established "JEW rocking-out" mold - mid-tempo verses comprised of stop-start guitars topped with Jim Adkins' trembly vocals that lead into a driving-but-catchy, New Wave-influenced chorus. Throw in a computerized beat and "woo woo" backing vox, and you've got something that's a little different, but not frighteningly-so.
Second single "Work" and hit-in-waiting "Kill" - a wistful pop confection comprised of soft keyboards, tambourine accents, and bass-guitar leads - follow in the same vein. But it's around track seven that Futures really starts to get interesting.
The heartbreaking "Drugs or Me" - on which Adkins sings "You're sorry, you swear that you're done/ But I can't tell you from the drugs" - is built on a minor symphony of guitar feedback doubling as strings and a repeated pattern of delicate piano notes.
JEW push their creative boundaries even further on "Night Drive." All down-strummed acoustics and thumping programmed backbeats, it's the eerie, other-wordly chorus, accented by high-pitched, operatic female vocals, that really sets it apart. And watch out for the bridge, on which impassioned frontman Adkins lets out the soul-singer no one knew he had in him.
With Futures, Jimmy Eat World may have accomplished the impossible - pleasing old fans turned off by the poppier Bleed American, while not alienating newbies who just love "The Middle."
And they've done it all on their own terms - refusing to play it safe, but never straying from what sets the band apart from their contemporaries: well-crafted and frequently downright-beautiful songs.