Jimmy Eat World | All Over the World

In a lot of ways, business decisions are really similar to creative decisions. We operate as democracy.

 
Arizona quartet Jimmy Eat World has been making music for the better part of two decades. And you know what? It’s always good. Somehow, album after album, the band manages to keep it fresh, yet familiar. Last fall’s Invented—the band’s sixth studio album—was yet another hit, with first single “My Best Theory” making best-of lists everywhere (including this very publication’s Comics Editor).
In 2009, the band went on tour playing their seminal 1999 release Clarity from front to back. This summer, after a brief U.S. theater tour, they’ll be hitting the international festival circuit hard and heavy, with stops in Portugal (Optimus Alive), United Kingdom (Glastonbury, Reading, and Leeds), Germany (Highfield, Hurricane, Southfield); Czech Republic (Rock for People), and more.
But first, a headlining tour of the United States, and a chat with drummer Zach Lind. (The band also includes lead vocalist and guitarist Jim Adkins, guitarist and backing vocalist Tom Linton, and bassist Rick Burch.)
 
How is the new album going over on tour?
It seems like the songs are being received really well. They have to kind of sink into the collective conscience of your fans. What’s really been interesting is, the fact that with Chase This Light being out for several years, we noticed a lot bigger reaction to it now than we got when it first came out. I mean, they responded then; they just have bigger responses to the songs now. But we feel like with this record, compared to previous records, it’s gone really well. Compared to the other songs that we’re playing that they’re so familiar with, that they’ve maybe been listening to for 10-plus years…it’s hard to compare.
That makes sense. I guess it does take awhile for things to sink in. In terms of 2009’s Clarity tour, of playing the whole album, front to back, did you notice a greater reception of that than when you’d initially toured for Clarity?
Oh yeah definitely. I mean when we first toured on Clarity, we were playing in front of like, 10 people. It was a lot different last time because we were playing in venues much larger. Even with Clarity, even with a record we released over 10 years ago, I think people have connections to songs that grow over time, and those connections make for a really cool experience.
Since we’re talking tours, how do the shows compare when you’re talking about the 200 people to the big festivals you’ve been playing?
There’s a big difference; even going from a theater setting to a festival is a big difference. A small club is intimidating, in a sense, because you see the whites of everyone’s eyes. You’re there with them and there’s no hiding; you’re interacting with an audience of individuals. When you’re playing a big festival, it’s almost like all of the people in the crowd become one entity. Neither one is necessarily better than the other; it’s just a different energy, a totally different experience. They both have their benefits and drawbacks.
You’ve got quite the summer of festivals on tap.
We have a lot of festivals coming up, yeah; should be a lot of fun. The festivals are great because we get to see the other bands we never really get a chance to see. We kind of like that different kind of vibe.
So are you guys out on the road pretty much nonstop this whole year?
We’ll probably be, yeah. Since Invented came out last September, we’ve been kind of on the road off and on. It goes in a cycle.
Does it get tiring?
Yeah, about the fourth week you’re pretty toasted. Fortunately, we haven’t had a lot of tours that go that long. pretty much maximum of three, three and a half weeks.
So tell me what brought you back to Mark Trombino to produce this last album.
I think that came about because we were looking for someone with Mark’s skill set, you know, someone who we knew could fix the record but that could work from home. It took us all these factors, we were looking for someone to fill a specific role, and Mark had all the skills. We didn’t really know anyone else who we felt could do it as well as Mark, and we’d worked with Mark before, so we didn’t have to get to know him; there wasn’t any kind of feeling out needed. We called Mark and we brought him into the process and just immediately started working on songs. Mark’s an incredibly talented person. he’s someone who we work with really well musically.
I know most of you guys have been friends since you were kids. How has the friendship evolved, with the introduction of the business-type of partnership, professional partnership? How does that all fit together?
I think we sort of learned going through that process together. In a lot of ways, business decisions are really similar to creative decisions. We operate as democracy. If we’re all excited about something, then we’re on the right path. We’ve really been self-reliant; we’ve relied on ourselves for everything. The business of being in a band starts the minute you start your band, so I think we learned those things together. Personality-wise, it’s a really good match; everyone really gets along together. From the beginning, there was very little drama, in terms of the typical things you hear about bands getting in fights and stuff.
Writing-wise, does Jim brings in lyrics and you guys all sit down and write, or do you work on the melodies and sounds first, or how does that all come together?
It really depends, I’d say the majority of the time, Jim would bring the song and it’ll change, like it can be we can end up with something that’s a lot different than what Jim brought us. It’s just a process; it depends on the song. Sometimes it starts with a guitar line, but then other songs are really close to the version Jim showed us.
I’m always amazed when I get a new Jimmy Eat World album. Somehow, you always manage to outdo yourselves. It’s the Jimmy Eat World sound, but you’re still trying something different. It’s not some band totally changing their sound, or trying to grow in some different direction. How do you keep the consistency but keep it sounding new?
It just sort of naturally comes out. Different records will sound different because of different circumstances. We try not to be overly controlling about those kinds of things. Where you work, who you work with—all of those things change a little bit. I think, for us, it’s not trying to be overly calculating about what kind of record we make. We start working on songs and the songs come naturally. We choose the best songs we feel like should go on the record. I think it lends itself to just a natural ebb and flow about different things we’re excited about.
On this tour, what city are you most looking forward to and why?
Other than St. Louis… [Laughs.] We’ve never played in Burlington, Vermont. We’re always excited about playing a place we’ve never played before. We circle the states we’ve never been.
You’re all going to bring your mothers back some maple syrup, right?
Exactly.
| Laura Hamlett
About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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