Jimmy Eat World has taken the Earth by storm for 9 albums. These masters of relatable sing-a-long hits are a trademark to our youth and the anthem-makers of our adulthood. Shockwave spoke with the front-man Jim about tours, inspirations, and the circus of live music.
Shockwave Magazine: It’s amazing to talk to you. I’m a huge fan.
Jim Adkins: Awe, thanks.
I’m sure you hear that often, so that’s probably a status quo opening. I would love to talk to you about your acoustic “Integrity Blues.” It’s everything music should be, I love that track.
Awe, thank you.
Can you tell me how that developed?
It’s something I wrote while I was on the road doing my solo acoustic run last year. It’s been a song-writing goal of mine to see how concise I can make something. I consider Buddy Holly’s “Everyday” as the perfect song. I’m not exactly an academic, or a student of song-writing or construction of songs, but things are more longer and drawn out these days. A section of a song is redefined as a longer piece of music now; but, there was a time not so long ago, like in the 50s/60s, in that melting pot where rock and gospel, R&B, and blues were all close together. The theme and repetition were more songwriting elements that went into the choices people would make on melodies and phrasing, and how long you developed something. It’s a lot quicker, and I don’t know if that was in part just the physical restrictions; how long you could have the song. You were limited by the length of time you could put on the side of a record. For whatever reason, people had to work faster and quicker, and get their point across in the ‘hookiest’ way possible in the shortest amount of time. I feel like just trying to chase that has been a goal of mine. Working on “Integrity Blues,” the song, it just fits in with that. How can I get everything I want into the smallest package possible?
It worked, “dynamic” was the word that came to mind the whole time I listened to it. It’s beautiful and it’s the song I request and say, “Everybody, just shut up and listen to this.” On a totally opposing theme, there is “Sure and Certain.” That music video is like Alice and Wonderland meets 1994 television. It’s awesome.
Yeah, I could see that.
How did you decide on the theme for that music video?
I’m a big fan of Flynt Flossy and the Turquoise Jeep posy; the Turquoise Jeep Collective. For some crazy reason, man, for that song I had him in mind as somebody that should work on it [laughs]. I think the song itself is about the idea that pushing yourself outside of where you’re feeling comfortable and opening yourself up to a little bit of fear. It really has the potential for enriching not only the thing you’re trying to better yourself at, but all aspects of your life. Flynt Flossy definitely is taking chances out there. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen his stuff, but I just considered first, it would be really fun to see what he would do, and second, the thing that impressed me about him and what they do is it’s kind of whacky. You’re definitely scratching your head a little bit, like, “Is this a joke? Are they serious.” They are so serious. If you watch his tutorial on dancing, he is dedicated and so serious about what he is doing. That seemed like a great metaphor for the idea about disciplining yourself in the world of dance. It seemed like that is such a lonely place to find yourself. Having the perseverance to stick through and continue to work on something without knowing if it’s going to lead anywhere. It’s not really for the sake of the craft itself, you’ve got to really be willing to spend hours alone with no one clapping. I just really liked the idea of trying to incorporate that into the song. This idea of dedicating yourself without any idea of where it’s going to go or any guarantee, but just dedicating yourself to persevering.
It seems like every choice you have made has been carefully chosen, but with a concept of taking a risk. You’re on tour with Incubus, yes?
Not at the moment, but we will be.
Right, will be. What’s that like? I’ve never seen you live, what are your shows all about?
I could tell you anything I want right now and you’d just have to believe me. I could say we handle snakes and there’s no way you could fact-check that. I kind of like it.
You should just lie. Just lie right now.
There’s no snake-handling, but now that I say that, maybe there should be.
I think you should just make it all up. Say there’s trapeze artists and fire.
It’s like, “Have you ever been to Cirque de Soleil? It’s kind of like that.” No, to anybody who has no idea who we are or what we do, I would describe us as: we are a guitar-based melodic rock band. I think how we present that in a live setting is basically just the sum of what we like as music fans. So, you’re coming to see a guitar-based melodic rock band. I don’t know if that’s the coolest way to sell. I guess I should say, “It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be great. It’s going to be life-changing. You’ve got to come.”
And we play guitar, come check us out. I think that’s great, because sometimes the gimmicks aren’t the direction to go.
Yeah, it’s the tried and true gimmicks.
I’m super stoked. You’re coming to my area, Utah. That’s on my list of things to do, so I’ll look for the Cirque de Soleil act. I don’t want to miss out.
[Laughing] Yes, I do the whole performance suspended upside-down.
Right. I bet that took a lot of training, a lot of breathing training. I’m impressed.
When you’re upside-down over an alligator pit, you just have to get it done.
You do. There’s no room for error over an alligator pit.
I like incorporating the threat of imminent death in our performances.
In your melodic guitar performances.
You just naturally end up doing your best work if you feel like alligators might eat you alive.
This is it. This is possibly the last song I’m going to play live, because I’m about to be devoured onstage.
Yes. That you just got to check out.
I think we should just stop the interview here. I think this should be the last of it. That’s it. So, when readers are just key-wording, “What is Jimmy Eat World doing?” It’s alligators. They’re going against alligators.
There you have it fans, Jimmy Eat World is taking on the animal kingdom. Armed with guitars and trippy music videos, it won’t be long before a Discovery Channel episode of “Music Meets the Food Chain” airs. Until then, check them out on a tour with Incubus and Judah & the Lion.