In May 1998, I sent Jim Adkins (guitar, vocals) of Jimmy Eat World some questions via e-mail, and he was kind enough to reply to each and every single one of them. I had just seen them in Orlando, FL and Gainesville, FL on tour with The Promise Ring and would see them again later that year at the Vero Beach Women’s Center in Vero Beach, FL with Jejune and Ed Matus’ Struggle. This interview was conducted while they were recording their next album, Clarity (Capitol Records, 1999). Two years later, they would release Bleed American (Capitol Records, 2001) and found themselves in heavy rotation on the airwaves.
|Jimmy Eat World @ Brody’s
Orlando, FL 25.03.98 (photo by me)
Phil > What was touring with The Promise Ring like?
Jim > Made a lot of new friends. Played for packed or near packed clubs every night. The best tour we have ever done. The Promise Ring are genuine, no shit guys. To some degree, I believe their success is due to who they are as people. Wish we would have gone to the west coast.
Phil > What is the Arizona scene like?
Jim > Not a lot of places to play in Arizona. There aren’t many people doing shows. Out of them, there are maybe four you can trust. But there are some really good bands bands who deserve attention. The few who are doing something truly care.
Phil > Why the move to Capitol Records?
Jim > We made the decision to work with Capitol because it would give us the chance to do everything we wanted to with the band. We could record anywhere we wanted, we could record with almost anyone we wanted, and we could tour the country. No one else was giving us those options.
|s/t (Wooden Blue Records, 1994)|
Phil > What ever happened to Wooden Blue Records, your first label?
Jim > The Wooden Blue label was run by my roommate and friend. They put out a few CDs and handful of 7″s. After the IRS threatened to put my roommate in jail unless he paid business registration fees, the label ended. They started a new label called Oak Family Shuttle Records but that project is dead now, as well.
Phil > While doing ‘Static Prevails’, what was the feedback from Capitol?
Jim > The feedback was misleading. I thought it was being accepted well and would have a chance to be worked. It didn’t. We were a very young band with no national fan base. We didn’t sell many records out the gate, so we got buried quickly. For our standards, we did great. For major label standards, we haven’t done anything.
Phil > You cite Christie Front Drive as an influence, and I read that they were actually a fan of yours. What was that like, seeing as how they are no longer?
Jim > We are friends with all the Christie Front Drive guys. It was great to play shows with them.
Phil > How does your new record differ from Static Prevails, and your your first full length on Wooden Blue?
Jim > This record is much more organized. This time it is just the band and Mark Trombino. He is producing/engineering. Usually when we record, we do everything separately: drum and bass with scratch guitars, then guitars, then vocals and then whatever makes noise left in the studio. This time we recorded the drums and then are finishing every song as we go. Static Prevails was recorded over six months in two big chunks. The first album was done very quickly. But then we played a lot faster.
Phil > You have definitely progressed since the first LP (though the song Patches is a favorite of mine). Do you cite anything as the cause of that?
Jim > Some people say with music, you find the formula that works and then stick to that. I don’t agree. You should never feel inhibited to play something different. At any time you can say ‘fuck this’, throw out everything and go in a different direction.
Phil > Do you still live in Arizona or have you made the move somewhere else?
Jim > Three of us live in Tempe, one in Mesa. I would like to move away soon. As soon as the band is done, I am gone.
Phil > On Static Prevails you really mixed up the tempos, from upbeat to quite mellow (e.g., Episode IV). What is the mood of the new album going to be like?
Jim > Different. There are a few straight up rock songs. Most of it will be mid-tempo with lots of texture.
Jim > From personal experience, from observations, plagerisims, from Spanish poetry books, etc.
Phil > What is one thing you want people to get out of listening to your music?
Jim > We aren’t about getting any one message across. I just hope people will find something in the songs they can apply to how they happen to be feeling. A reaction, any reaction.
Phil > Is the band with the same lineup now as when recording the material for the Wooden Blue album?
Jim > For the first year, Mitch Porter played bass. Rick Burch joined us after his band Carrier broke up. Me, Zach and Tom have always in the band.
Jim > Every night of The Promise Ring tour, there were people who came up to me and said our bass player looked just like Chris Simpson, Matt Damon, Mark Messier or Matt Cameron. After the fourth show, I started introducing Rick as whoever that person told me he looked like. Chris was not in Florida that day, to my knowledge.
Phil > Are any of you married or has Jimmy Eat World taken up your personal lives?
Jim > None of us are married. Rock takes up a large portion of our time, but it is not our lives.
Phil > What is your main music equipment when you record and when you play shows? Does it differ?
Jim > Recording, we use all kinds of amps and guitars. For live, me and Tom have one guitar tuned to open E (E,B,E,G#,B,E) and one for drop-D and standard tunings.
Phil > When is the new record due out and what will it be called?
Jim > Hopefully the records will be out late fall 1998. Realistically, early spring 1999. The only suggestion for a title has been This is Clarity.
Phi > Do you find it more enjoyable to be on a major label or an indie label?
Jim > Only about eight months of our 3 3/4 years have been on an indie. The pros and cons to being on a major is another conversation entirely. Good or bad, it is definitely entertaining.
Phil > Any last things you’d like to mention?
Jim > Thank you for driving so much to see us play. Take care, Jim.