By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
While things deteriorated on a business level at Capitol, there wasn't a whole lot Jimmy Eat World could complain about artistically. Though complaints of heavy-handed A&R men--especially when voiced from the ranks of traditionally underground artists--are a rock-and-roll cliché on par with breast-flashing groupies, Adkins' crew didn't run into such hassles during its tenure with the label. In fact, after the meager returns on 1996's Static Prevails, Capitol bean counters viewed Jimmy Eat World as a lame duck. With just one record left in its commitment, the band fell between the cracks as the company turned its attention toward other acts with more mainstream potential. Many bands would have withered under such a frigid reception from their record label, but Jimmy Eat World flourished.
"Capitol pretty much wrote us off before they put us in the studio to make Clarity. Our A&R guy came down to the studio once, and that was to get his picture taken for Billboard," Adkins says. "Capitol didn't give a shit about us. It was actually fun. We had all the benefits of making a record on a major label and none of the bullshit, like having to take two hours of your day to play what you're working on for them."
Though Jimmy Eat World will enjoy an even higher degree of freedom when it ventures into the studio than it did in the hands-off Clarity sessions, that doesn't mean it'll let things slide creatively. On its latest songs, Adkins says, the act backs off the intricate noodling that marked its early explorations through the world of post-hardcore. The stylistic change makes its newest batch of songs sit closer to cheery pop than anything that preceded them--but their simplicity shouldn't be mistaken for a lack of effort: The band's move toward stripped-down numbers was just as demanding as its jaunt through complex arrangements.
"Everything is disgustingly catchy and straight ahead," Adkins jokes. "I guess it's sort of like an elaboration of the stuff that was leaning toward simple on the last record. On our new stuff, rather than challenging ourselves [by] getting real experimental, we kind of went the other direction, challenging ourselves by getting very simple."
If nothing else, the band's plan to sandwich a short tour between its recording sessions proves its confidence. It's one thing to risk facing post-tour burnout in the studio when you're spending a faraway record company's money and have a boundless budget; it's quite another when you're footing the bill yourself and need to use each moment wisely. With the tour kept to only two and a half weeks, Adkins says his band will avoid many of the problems that arise with touring--namely, fatigue. In fact, he sees the return to the studio as the easiest leg of the journey.
"It's such a different thing," he says. "Hanging out in the studio all day will be a welcome, relaxing time after the tour. I'm thinking it's going to be therapeutic, if anything."
Occasional road weariness aside--Adkins' voice gave out during a couple of dates on the band's last tour with Sense Field ("That's never happened before. I felt so bad, too," he moans)--Jimmy Eat World seems as healthy as ever. It's not just the ballsy rock talk coming from the mouths of cocky rockers, though; Jimmy Eat World has proven its ability to survive outside of the system.
"It's kind of exciting. If you get too comfortable, you don't have any motivation," Adkins says. "We can function and do our thing without help. We just need someone to put out our record.
"It'd be nice," he adds, "if they could pay for us to go to Australia in the process. But, whatever."