Those of the more optimistic persuasion are always
likely to tell you everything, no matter how depressing,
happens for a reason. Tiresome aren't they. So don't
you just hate it when a little bit of retrospect proves
them damn right. Jimmy Eat World, to their credit
and our benefit - on the cusp of releasing their eponymous
fourth and undoubtedly finest album, are the kind that
just won't take a knock. If they had laid there and
taken them, delivered in veritable showers at points
over their short life, this album certainly wouldn't
have been made. But finally as they get the recognition
they so blatantly deserve, those trophies adorning the
cover end up representing more than the American way
of life perhaps hinted at with its previous title, 'Bleed
straight out of school in Arizona in the mid 90s they
threw themselves and their dusty emo-core sensibilities
into a slew of hometown shows, self financed recordings,
split singles with likeminded souls and their debut
independent album on Wooden Blue Records. The
interest this found saw Capitol Records hot on
their heels for whom they knocked out two albums, 'Static
Prevails' in '96 and 'Clarity' in '99. Judging
by the amount of critical intrigue, radio support and
hungry fan base they drummed up success was surely a
foregone upshot. But don't jump ahead of yourself here.
Record company politics saw this major deal evolve into
something little more significant than a logo on the
Expansion outside the US was actively discouraged, the
band remained to book their own tours, take care of
their own merchandise, sort out further split singles
and eventually buy their own albums off the supplier
and ship them to Europe finding a distribution deal,
shows and ultimately a dedicated audience all off their
own backs. They still maintain the only real worthwhile
thing Capitol did for them was buy them a van. When
Capitol finally got around to relieving themselves of
JEW you didn't see them for dust. Recording what would
become the current record without a deal and with radio
clawing at the door for advance copies a bidding war
ensued (bizarrely including a change of tune Capitol,
no guessing where they were told to go) with them settling
Which brings us forward to the current day, sat with
the four guys in a hotel room in West London, in-between
rehearsals and recording for Top Of The Pops, their
best album to date crouched under starters orders, MTV
and any radio station with an ounce of sense hammering
home 'Salt Sweat Sugar' and just about every
magazine queuing up to hear their story. In high spirits
and, in the case of singer Jim, occasionally delirious,
breaking into fits of the giggles for no apparent reason,
they're courteous and seemingly strong-willed and confident.
And with their sound reaching driving breakthrough status,
taking the hardcore force of At The Drive In or Quicksand,
throwing it in with a Guided By Voices glint and pushing
it off the edge with the streamlined heads-down rock
of the Blink 182s of this world they should be. They
are essentially everything the Foo Fighters dream of
being, but good. It's plain sailing from here on in
Crud: So, you must get a kick out of the position
you're in now, looking back what Capitol blatantly missed
Jim Adkins (frontman): "Yeah! They actually wanted to
sign us again after dropping us, which was kinda bizarre,
but it's just kinda funny. They just weren't a good
label and we're happy to be on a good label now."
Tom Linton (guitar): "Dysfunctional would be a good
way to describe them."
Zack Lind (drums): "We just felt we didn't have anything
to be ashamed of, but we were young and naïve and they
weren't a good label."
Crud: But in the long run the whole situation's probably
worked to your benefit?
Zack: "Definitely, yeah! I think without that we wouldn't
be what we are now. I think all things, good and bad,
have placed us where we are now. It was all experience."
Tom: "I think we knew it sucked back then. But none
of it was a really bad thing, we just didn't have the
experience to make the best decisions, regarding a lot
Zack: "Being in that situation, and a lot of bands have
been in that situation, it's really humiliating and
frustrating. Because you go into it thinking that if
a label signs you it's going to help you out, we found
that wasn't the case. Ultimately it's a quick fix breeding
one hit wonders. We pretty much went through every wrong
way in the maze till we worked out how to get through
it. And going through all those experiences has made
Crud: For a band that's been on major labels for
most of your existence you've always worked at ground
level really, always retained that indie mindset?
Rick Burch (bass): "We weren't given any other way to
exist really, we had to take on our own initiative and
ship our records to Europe, sell them to independent
distribution, with a record out on Capitol Zack was
still booking our tours & just things like that. And
we made alliances with other bands that were doing the
Zack: "We were catagorised as an indie band and that
was a weird situation to be put in, because we never
said we were DIY, we were but not through ethics. We
were DIY because we had to get from one town to the
next, we had to survive and stay afloat. And now that
this records doing better and being played on the radio,
especially in the States, kids are like what the fuck's
going on, what's happened to my band!?"
Crud: You did quite a lot with other bands then?
Zack: "Even though bands differentiate you tend to gravitate
to bands that do things in similar ways, whether it
be touring or recording. Bands like us, At The Drive
In, The Promise Ring, although we're all different bands
we all operate the same way, we're all friends, we all
know each other, we've run into each other a million
times, so coming together makes sense. And I suppose
people will hear all the bands and relate them together."
Crud: You surely deserve to match the success of
your At The Drive Ins now though, because after all
that stuff it really is survival of the fittest with
Jim: "Yeah! It feels weird because after we lost our
deal with Capitol it wasn't like the floor suddenly
fell out. We were already on an upward plain. We did
a compilation of our independent singles, toured off
that, more people came to the shows. We didn't notice
any big drop, we'd taken off."
Crud: You changed the title of the album and the
first single from 'Bleed American' after September 11th.
What was your thinking behind that?
Jim: "We really didn't know then what was going to become
of the world in that time. We weren't getting criticism
for it, but radio was choosing not to play it purely
because of its title."
Tom: "I was silly because I guess to us it doesn't matter
what our songs are called or how it appears, because
it is the same song."
Zack: "I guess we were just trying to be more sensitive.
I mean , if someone has lost family or whatever. It's
not a pro-hate song or anything so it is a little silly."
Jim: "It doesn't bug me, so I guess it's not an artistic
concession. It's a title, song's still the same."
Crud: When we heard the single we heard a lot of
things, chiefly At The Drive In and Rocket From The
Tom: "Well, I think we are influenced by what's around
us and those are two bands we've played with and like.
Crud: The album brings more though. Guided By Voices,
Quicksand, Fugazi, Blink 182? You fit in with that lot?
Jim: "Some of those, yeah."
Tom: "We do like Rocket From The Crypt, Sonic Youth…
But what we listen to is all over the place, Spiritualized
I like a lot at the moment. We're just suckers for melody,
Crud: But you seem to have a much darker or serious
atmosphere and content than two of your recent touring
partners, Weezer and Blink 182, for a start.
Zack: "A little more eeeeviiil?"
Crud: Yeah, a little more demon like I suppose.
Zack: "We're demon-like! Ha ha ha! Demon like!"
Crud: Well you might be able to tour comfortably
with Blink 182, but you certainly wouldn't expect to
find a knob gag in one of your songs.
Jim: "No, probably not! It's on the agenda. I tell ya,
I've been trying to work 'motherfucker' into one of
our songs some way, but it just doesn't ring, it doesn't
flow! I don't know, it wouldn't really be harder to
be darker than Blink 182. It's just easier to write
about adversity than it is to say 'oh boy! I sure am
Crud: So have you found that unmistakable Jimmy Eat
Rick: "I think even if you're playing a cover song you
can't escape sounding like you. I don't know if I could
really quantify that. It's just a magic that happens
when the four of us get together (much laughter)"
Tom: "Alone we are nothing, but as a group (laughter)!"
Jim: "We unite our magic rings and become this entity
known as Jimmy Eat World (lots more laughter)!!"
Zack: "…. (doubled over laughing…)"
A week later we catch them at what you guess will be
the last of the club shows they play in London at the
Scala in Kings Cross (they're already booked into
the comparatively massive Astoria for January).
Packed to the extreme the band themselves justify the
fanatic behavior of the pit with a stringent set that
throbs with the salt, sweat and sugar of years of experience
and fighting, leaving them in a space where they couldn't
imaginably be any tighter or harder hitting. And Jim
even busts a few moves that Elvis, or at the very least
Speedo from RFTC, would be proud of. Smiles creep across
their faces hinting at the satisfaction they must obviously
be feeling. And those magic rings must be around somewhere,
there's no mistaking that sound.
James Berry for Crud Magazine© 2001