Jimmy Eat World's new album, Futures, will be in stores this Tuesday, October 19 via Interscope Records. It is quite good.
So, you guys are doing some pre-release shows right now just scattered around the Midwest and such, the album doesn’t come out for another month and a half, what inspired you to do these shows as opposed to, say, your home town?
Well all right, see you later.
Thanks, great interview. [laughs]
Yeah thanks, that was all I needed.
No uh, it just seemed like we had… they asked us to do this show here today and so we figured why not do a few other shows in the area since we’re here, you know what I mean?
Well I know you played the Metro, I’m from Illinois, actually, and that’s a really great place.
The Metro is always fun.
I saw you there three years ago with Hey Mercedes and that was just an amazing show. So is that one of those places that you want to keep playing, like the smaller, a little more intimate venues?
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. It was good to be in the Metro, it’s like home, we’ve played there so many times over the years, it’s very comfortable and you’re right there with the audience and the balcony, so it’s a cool place.
Obviously, there’s going to be a more grand-scale tour once the album drops, but do you guys have plans for that yet? Do you know what you’re doing or where you’re going and who with?
No it’s not lined up yet and yeah, it’s still up in the air, what the details of it…
Do you plan on sticking with the more intimate venues like the 1,200 person capacity or do you want to go for the bigger ones? I know in Chicago, you did the Riv…
Yeah, we did the Riv.
…for two nights; what are you looking at?
We don’t want to turn too many people away, you know? So we just want to accommodate as many people as want to come see us but at the same time you don’t book yourself at…
The Fireside Bowl?
Like the Aragon?
Yeah, the Aragon, and like there’s five hundred people in the front… [laughs]
I saw you with Weezer before too, in a big arena. Do you feel like you translate well? Those are some of the bigger shows that you’ve played in America. Is that something that you’re trying to aspire to? Do you want to become that kind of arena band where you have 10,000 kids coming to see you?
We only want as many people to come as want to come. It wouldn’t hurt our feelings if we were in the Metro for the rest of our lives, but it wouldn’t hurt our feelings if we were at the bigger places.
So you think that it would translate well?
Yeah, I think it could go across.
The new album is Futures, it comes out on October 19 on Interscope. “Jen” was on the original release, but we got a new copy a few weeks ago and it was not on there, so what was the reason for that song being cut from the album?
It’s just kind of the one that doesn’t really fit in so we just decided to save, to take it off the main album release but it will be released on like some B-sides or certain things.
We were all thinking that it’s a good song but the album flows a lot better, there’s definitely a more cohesive sound.
Exactly, we felt the same way.
If you listen to the album, there’s more soul-baring lyrics, compared to, say, the last album. There are songs like “Drugs or Me” which is directly addressing the problem of somebody who is on drugs. And you have songs like “Just Tonight…” and “Night Drive” which, there’s a lot of things going on in that song, do you find that your style for lyricism has affected your music changing for the new album?
I don’t know, it is what it is. I have no hand in the lyrics, unless [Jim] comes out with something totally outlandish, but he wouldn’t, he would never so, yeah…
Does the music come from the lyrics or do the lyrics come from the music?
It usually comes music first, rarely, well, its not fair to say music first because I know that Jim has a journal/idea notebook thing that, with tons of stuff in it that he’s been writing in for ten years so some of these song ideas, the theory underneath what the song is about could be eight years old but just now the right song came to put it to. The idea can be a lot older than the music, but usually the music comes and then melody and lyrics tie into that.
With the whole recording process, you took pretty much a three year, although obviously it wasn’t a break, you were touring pretty heavily for Bleed American, but there was definitely a downtime where people were wondering what was going on. You were working with Mark Trombino and then all of a sudden that was all scrapped and you were working with Gil Norton for the album. What happened? What went on there? What caused the separation?
We toured so much on Bleed American and we finished and when we were touring it was kind of our mindset was constantly looking at the calendar, “Okay, we’ve got to do this this week and where are we going to be next week, what’s going to be going on next month” and you’re always just kind of churning and anticipating and filling what’s going to happen coming up and then when the touring was over our minds were still working that way so we kind of were, “Okay, in a couple months we’ll plan on going into the studio and start working on the new album” and we never stopped and just took a break and just let ourselves relax. We thought that we did, we took a few months and did whatever but we really needed about six months and we started recording before that six months and we realized in the middle of that recording that we weren’t ready and so we stepped away from it again and cleared our heads and came back at it.
What drew you to Gil Norton over anybody else?
Well first of all, his…
Right, the stuff he’d produced, and I can’t think of the word right now…
Yeah, right, his resume.
What’s your favorite record that Gil Norton’s done?
Oh I don’t know there are so many you know, The Pixies, any one of those
Did you feel kind of intimidated to work with him?
At first, yeah.
I know with Mark Trombino, you guys were the band that was associated with him whenever his name came up.
He’s the only guy we’ve ever worked with
And you are definitely the band that put his name on the map as a producer. Yeah, he did Drive Like Jehu, but for production aspect, you were the first big band that really moved along with him and since then whenever somebody says Mark Trombino, oh Jimmy Eat World and blah blah blah. Do you feel like going into the presence of Gil Norton that maybe, not humbled the band but just kind of put a different perspective on things?
It was definitely a different perspective. It was a whole new, just a different way of working and it was actually refreshing and he whooped us into shape I guess you could say and pulled a lot of things out of us that needed strong rope to get out so he was, he really dedicated, I couldn’t believe the level of dedication. At times I thought that he was more dedicated than we were.
Do you feel like this is a relationship that is going to continue on for future albums or…
You never know, it was also a good experience because it showed us there’s so many people out there and if this was such a good experience who’s to say that someone else couldn’t be, we couldn’t be just as beneficial from a relationship with someone else?
Is there anyone that you’re just dying to work with in the way of recording?
Oh I don’t know, not really, not especially.
Have people come to you and said, “I really want to work with you guys. I want to put you to tape?”
Nobody likes you at all, huh? Always a bridesmaid.
Yeah, exactly. [laughs]
But with the new album, its interesting to listen to the new album because its definitely, instead of being a song and then a song and then a song, it really is the epitome of an album, it really flows from track to track. There are definitely relationships between the songs and the people in the songs and the one thing that we all agreed on is that there really is no “The Middle” on the album. Was that something that you made a conscious effort, because I mean you could’ve easily knocked out another dozen “The Middles” so is that something that you guys felt like, let’s not try to take the easy way out?
We didn’t consciously say we’re not going to do that but at the same time we didn’t say “Okay, this month we’ve got to come up with five of those and pick the best one.” We never… and that’s how “The Middle” came about—it was just a song in a batch of songs and it ended up doing what it did and so we kind of took the approach of doing what we do and it is what it is.
You chose “Pain” as the first single from the new album, and that and “Just Tonight” are probably the two songs that are the most distant from “The Middle” and the poppy aspect that most people probably know your band for. Was that a conscious choice?
It’s just kind of to remind people that we are a rock band. Put that foot first.
Because that’s really the heaviest you guys have been since maybe even Static Prevails. That’s the first time really as a single that people have seen you and that kind of more aggressive side of the band, so that was a conscious choice on you guys’ part. Are you looking ahead for new singles? What are some songs that you think would make potential singles?
Oh, I don’t know, “23.” [laughs]
That’s seven minutes long, it’s all right.
It’s tough to say, I like “Nothingwrong” a lot, I think it really rocks and it’s a good song.
I know that you worked with Liz Phair on “Work”—is there any chance of that seeing the light of day?
Yeah, a lot of people are talking about that so that’s definitely a possibility.
How did that even come about? How did Liz Phair get involved?
When Jim was writing the song and we were writing the song he had a sound in his head which was stemming from one of her songs on Exile In Guyville [“Divorce Song”] that was kind of the melody in his mind, he could hear her voice on it, it was kind of stemming from listening to her, he just brought it up one time and it turns out that this guy that we know knows her.
So it was just total coincidence?
Yeah it was like, sure ask her, why not, if she says no then we’re in the same place we’re in now, it’s not going to kill us if it doesn’t happen. But it was really cool, she came down and she belted it out and I think it adds a great—a little sparkle to the song.
In past tours you’ve had Rachel from That Dog performing with you guys and covering a lot of the female vocals and auxiliary instruments, so on the new album you have a lot of songs that feature female vocals, whether it’s Liz Phair or anybody else.
It’s actually, that’s the only female is on “Work.” That’s all Jim.
Are you serious? Like in “Futures?” Really? No way, you’re totally messing with me.
She’s the only one on the entire album?
Jim’s on all those backups, he really worked on his range.
Are you planning on having someone come back on the road with you guys to cover that?
It always would be nice but its really hard to find someone, it sounds stupid to say because I’m sure there’s like, a thousand people that would be like “Oh yeah, I’ll do it man, sure!” but I’m not sure of that, but I would…
But tonight, it’s just the four of you onstage?
Right, its just the four of us and it probably will be for the whole tour but I don’t know, you never know.
Do you ever feel like because you add all of those extra things in the recording process that, on all of your albums, going back to Clarity and even to Static Prevails there are always going to be those extra little things that you always say “well can they pull that off live?” Do you feel like doing that kind of extra studio instrumentation and tweaking, do you think that makes you step it up a notch for the live performance? How do you combat something like “Lucky Denver Mint” which is all about drum loops and stuff like that, how do you take on that aspect?
Sometimes you have to just step away from the studio version and think about the core of the song and almost make a whole other version. We’re throwing that around with some of the songs.
Like “Night Drive” could you imagine trying to have four dudes play that song? There’s like ninety-eight tracks or something. [laughs]
It could happen
Get the lighters all up there.
The audience would be all into it man, get some slow dancing, a disco ball.
[laughs] No, we definitely want to get that song ready for the stage, you know everything, we really want to play every song, we have a good handful ready right now
You have just a huge back catalog that’s gone back over your singles and all sorts of compilations and stuff like that, stuff that hasn’t been heard by a lot of people. Do you feel like it’s necessary, I know when I saw you on the tour with The Promise Ring and Recover that you incorporated a lot of Clarity into the set list which I thought was really neat that you’re exposing all these new people to this album that came before it. Do you feel like now you’ve established yourself, where you can have two or three songs from Static Prevails, two or three songs from Clarity, two or three songs from Bleed American, two or three songs from the new album?
Yeah, we definitely are trying to include the whole thing.
I mean, do you plan on going back to Static Prevails and stuff like that? You know, “Seventeen,” for example.
Yeah, definitely, that’s what we were talking about today, we’ve never played that live.
That would be an awesome thing to hear.
Yeah I think so too, it would be like a new song, cause to most people, we haven’t performed that since you know, it was recorded, essentially, eight years ago.
What about “Opener,” would “Opener” ever see the light of day?
Oh, I love that song.
See, that’s my favorite song that you guys have ever written.
Oh man, there are so many good ones and just… oh yeah. I’m not saying that there are so many good…
Every song we’ve ever…
”Man our band is so great,” no I’m not, I’m just…
This is for you to toot your own horn.
No I definitely don’t, I’m not trying to… I don’t know, their bass player is a total dork. [laughs]
Do you ever feel that you’re kind of boxed in? Especially since the last album you’ve had a huge surge in the fan base, do you feel like you can’t perform those more obscure songs? Like “No Sensitivity” still seems to pop up a lot but something like “Opener” or “Seventeen” or anything off the singles collection. Do you find that’s something that you say “the crowd’s not really going to respond to that”
Yeah, sometimes some of the songs just don’t sound as, don’t come across live, and do it justice, but we’re going back and listening to things and thinking of new approaches and you know, taking another crack at them.
Do you plan on switching your set list up a lot on tour? Or do you pretty much stick to the same 18 songs a night?
There are so many songs now, like you said, that we have so many to choose from that yeah I think we’re going to have a few main A, B and C sets and we’ll even mix into those.
So it’ll be pretty much a different set every night, so if you do two nights in Chicago, you can come to both shows and see different songs?
Yeah, we’ll mix it up, we want to make that happen.
Clarity has been out for five years and its an album that while not strongly received at the time has been one of those benchmark albums for you know a genre that’s been labeled as “emo” now and all these things. When you left the studio in 1998, did you say to yourself, “Hell yeah?” Did you know that it was going to be the album of your career?
No, we didn’t know that, but we were walking away saying “Hell yeah” because we were definitely proud of it.
Did you ever think that it would be this kind of revered album that like Pinkerton?
Wow, you’re putting me in some serious company there, I know what you’re saying though, people will come up to us and say “Thank you so much for making Clarity,” it’s such a great thing.
That was the first album that I ever bought on its release date.
Capitol sent me a little postcard that had the squares on it that said “Jimmy Eat World, Clarity” and it said February 12, 1999 or something on it and I remember going to the store and I couldn’t find it and the only band I could find was Jimmie’s Chicken Shack records and I was so bummed.
Oh man, I’m sorry.
I had to go to every single store in town and then I found it. Everyone seems to have their own little story with discovering that album. Has it ever crossed your mind to do a performance of just the album start to finish? Is that something that’s ever been on the plate?
Wow, no, we’ve never talked about that but that’d be… I’ll bring it up with the boys. [laughs]
It’s one of those things where you’ve had kids come up to you and profess their love for that album to you and you guys are just four dudes from Arizona, and you made this life-changing album for people, how do you cope with that? How do you step back and say to yourself, “Wow, we really did something that is going to mean something fifty years down the line.” Or do you just…
I don’t know, we just are grateful that people you know have such an identity with it and enjoyed it so much and its more than we could’ve asked of them.
Right now you have four proper albums out right now, counting Futures. If you were only remembered for one thing fifty years from now, which album would it be?
Everything, you can’t just say one thing.
But I’m asking you to.
If you’re asking me right now, the thing I’m most proud of is the thing we just, did you know.
On Futures, there’s a lot of going back to the sound effects and the dynamics of Clarity. The swirling guitars the reverb stuff, did you find that when you were recording it you said to yourself, “okay” and you were touching base with your previous self?
Yeah, well, we did Clarity and then we did Bleed American and making Bleed American we were really conscious about making the songs as to the point and no B.S. and nothing extra, just as concise and to the point as possible and that’s how they were, they were just short, no fat, so to say, and with this album we didn’t think that at all, we just went in and let the songs become themselves and if they needed two and a half minutes before the first vocals came in then that’s it needed so that’s what we did. So we just kind of let it happen on its own, which is how Clarity happened, too.
In the past few years with the conglomeration in the music industry, DreamWorks was absorbed by Universal, did you ever feel, it’s weird to say a platinum artist would feel worried about being dropped or being shuffled around but did you ever feel that feeling where this just isn’t going to work out?
It was definitely really scary because our experience at DreamWorks was so good, it was a really good one, they worked really hard, a lot of major labels wouldn’t have put in the time that they put it because Bleed American took a lot of work and a lot of time to develop and get where it did and I don’t think many other labels would have took that time and investment in developing a band like that and then finding out that they were no longer and we were going somewhere else was definitely scary because just getting to know everyone at the label and the people that you work with and a lot of those people aren’t there anymore and we’re meeting new people and we’ve never done an album with the same label. Every label has come out, well, Static Prevails and Clarity were on the same label but Static nobody at the label knew us so it’s kind of like, that doesn’t count.
I remember reading some quote, I think it was from you talking about when that album came out you were driving around in the mountains saying to each other, “How many copies do you think this album is going to sell? Five hundred thousand? A million?” and you guys were kind of a little underwhelmed. Do you feel that kind of pressure with this album? I mean, obviously you’re an established band and people know your name but at the same time are you worried about the one hit wonder category. “The Middle” was used in every summer movie trailer from here to Kingdom Come. Do you feel like you’ve been painted into a corner?
It could be taken that way but I guess that we have to back it up.
How do you feel about Interscope working the new album? Is that something that you feel confident about?
Yeah, we’ve met a lot of people there and a lot of people are really… it’s a different machine, it’s like definitely no holds barred they are “let’s go go go” and it’s a huge force behind it working it so it’s definitely a whole different experience. Also, at DreamWorks, there was a small number of relatively, of acts that they worked. At Interscope, there’s thousands of bands and a lot of them are huge, you know, U2, No Doubt, and Fifty, and Eminem. They have so much time on their calendar and its like what are they going to work on the band that sells a hundred thousand records or the band that sells a hundred million records? Of course, it’s a business, they’re going to go with what makes the money, it’s kind of scary in that respect but I think they’re really into the project, that everyone is really excited about it, they really like the record so I think we’re going to get our fair shot.
So knowing all that now, do you ever think back and in that downtime between Clarity and Bleed American where you weren’t on Capitol and I’m sure every indie in the world was knocking on your door, do you ever look back and say, “Well maybe we should’ve signed with a Big Wheel Recreation or a Vagrant or a Doghouse?”
No, we definitely felt like we did the right thing and what we wanted it to do. We wanted to take it and see how far we could go with it and at the time, an indie could only take you so far. I think times are changing to where indies can definitely do a lot.
Victory Records, Taking Back Sunday, an album can go gold.
Exactly, its amazing and totally cool, and I think that’s so great that the power’s being taken away from the major labels, and thank God for the internet.
Well, that’s an interesting topic because I don’t know if you frequent your message board…
I don’t get there as often as I’d like to, but yeah, I check it out
In recent weeks, the record leaked.
Yeah, it got out there.
People on the message board, of all places, were posting links of where to download the band’s own record
It’s like, “Hey, I’m here!”
It just seems like a no-brainer, if you’re going to do something completely illegal, why would you tell the band that you’re doing it? But in the past you’ve been quoted as telling people “go download our records,” especially when they weren’t released in Europe.
Yeah, it’s definitely helped us immensely.
So how do you view it now when you have people downloading the record? Do you feel like the people who download it at this point in time are going to go buy the record?
See, I don’t know, you never know, everyone is a different person and I think the internet is a great tool because of what major record labels have been doing in the recent years of putting out crap with the one song albums where its eight songs of trash and then the one song that’s actually worth listening to. People are only going to pay the twenty bucks for one song for so long so now what’s happening is people are just going to iTunes and downloading those people’s one song and so it’s not, it’s really changing from albums to songs and I don’t know, it’s in a huge state of flux right now.
Have you ever downloaded illegally?
Um, no. [laughs]
Of course not.
It’s definitely a cool thing to explore. It’s like a music store that you get to listen to everything and then find something that you like and then you go and buy it. If I have something and I listen to it more than ten times, that means that I like it so I’m going to go buy it. Plus I like the artwork, I like seeing who worked on it.
Do you find that it puts you in a position as a band to put more effort into the artwork, into the extras, there’s going to be a deluxe edition of Futures…
Yeah, there’s going to be a bonus disc, it’s each track we put one of the early demo versions. So it’s a CD of the demos so you kind of get a vision of what the song came from.
And you guys are doing the vinyl, too, with Jim’s label Western Tread, so something like that, that’s something that from artwork kind of allows you to be more artistic, you can’t download a 12” cover art and print it out on your computer. Does that kind of put it more in perspective of this is art and not just a product?
Yeah, definitely it raises the awareness of this is something that makes the product that much more special and we’ve always been aware of that.
With the last CD you had the secret site where you could access it and the fans could go download exclusive tracks, is that something that will be repeated with this album too?
Yeah, we’re going to do some cool things like that, we’re working on specifics.
[Rick orders Pad Thai with Chicken for dinner]
All right let’s talk about chicken pad thai for a second.
MEGAN: No, with tofu!
Now we start talking about the real questions, the stuff that really matters, like thai food.
When we were recording Futures, it was in L.A., and down the street was this really good Thai food and Tom loves Tom Yum so everyday for breakfast, he’d have this huge takeout thing of Tom Yum and it was really spicy.
So, we have Tom Yum, we have Jimmy Eat World, do you feel the need to start your own little thing here? Your own little name?
No, I don’t because too many bad things rhyme with Rick, so let’s just leave it at that.
I don’t know what you’re talking about, stick? Wick? I don’t know what you’re talking about, I think you’re in the gutter there.
Going back to Tom for a second, there’s definitely been a lack of a Tom song since Clarity and a lot of die-hard fans want to have a return of him singing, is that something that’s ever going to happen? Does he write songs that are brought to the table that are just scrapped? Or do other members? Do you write songs that are brought?
Not really, I’m not a writer
You just stick to the bass?
Right, I’m just the bass player, I play bass. [laughs] No, Tom writes, he’s just not very active right now. I keep telling him he’s got to write because he’s definitely a talent and has a talent for it so, I don’t know. No, he hasn’t brought a lot of stuff recently.
Are there any sort of side projects? I know Jim did Go Big Casino, does anyone else have any side projects that they work on?
You pretty much just stick with the band?
Yeah, its definitely enough to keep me busy.
What do you do, then, in your spare time? Obviously you’ve been a touring machine for the longest time and you’ve been recording for a while. What do you find yourself doing to separate yourself from this life of being the touring rock musician?
Just normal stuff. Just do normal boring things, swim…
Hang out, go eat lunch with the family.
Ultimate Frisbee like in the “Lucky Denver Mint” video…
Well yeah, there’s always Ultimate Frisbee, you know video games…
That’s the funniest music video I’ve ever seen in my life, I love it.
Oh yeah, you like it?
Oh my god, that’s absolutely hilarious. I just watch that and I laugh my ass off.
It’s so great, I look at that and I’m like “that’s what happened,” you know? It seems like total mismanagement but its still hilarious. So what’s in your CD player right now? What can’t you stop listening to right now?
What am I listening to right now… a lot of ‘90s stuff like Jawbreaker and Jawbox, kind of listening to that old stuff lately, Built To Spill and you know…
Have you heard Channels yet? J. Robbins’ new band?
No, I haven’t.
It’s him and I can’t remember who else. It’s coming out on DeSoto as usual, but it’s pretty much just a continuation of Jawbox and Burning Airlines.
That’s great. Everything he does is great.
Is that someone you’d want to work with in the future?
Yeah, we actually had a chance to work with him on, when we did that DVD it was kind of a messed up situation though as far as the recording aspect because we were filming, we were doing the filming of it and we were doing some songs with him at Inner Ear and it was just a mess because the film crew, it wasn’t a mess but it definitely was not how a recording session happens. No one ever was really comfortable so, but I would really like to do a real deal.
What are some more new bands you’re listening to? What are the young guns, you know?
The young guns?
What are some bands that people need to know about, you know, soon. That people are going to be talking about?
I don’t know, you tell me, seriously.
You tell me man, I need some A&R tips right now.
Yeah, I honestly don’t know, I haven’t, yeah. I’ve been, we’ve been, caught up in working getting this stuff, I haven’t really had the chance.
You pretty much just listen to the same song for twelve hours a day.
You guys have always had diverse touring partners in the past from Weezer to Reubens Accomplice. That’s pretty much covered the spectrum. Who are you looking forward to bringing out the next time you tour, have you thought about that at all?
Yeah, I think someone that is actually going to do some of the shows is Recover. We actually got to do a bit of touring in Europe with them last time and it was a lot of fun and I don’t know, I know the Promise Ring isn’t a band anymore but we always love to play with them.
Well there’s Maritime, have you heard Maritime yet?
Yeah, that’s great.
Pretty much any band would kill to go on tour with you guys. So many people have went to see you guys and discovered Motion City Soundtrack or discovered… my sister went with me to see you guys and fell in love with the Promise Ring, and it’s funny because a few years prior, you guys were opening for them. Do you feel the need to “give back” and take more established bands that haven’t made the break out on the road?
Yeah, it’s just nice to bring friends along. We’ve gotten a lot of breaks from a lot of other bands so it’s always good to pass the buck and help other people out.
Did you ever think that you would’ve made it this far? Did you ever think, “this is where we’re going to be in eight years?”
No, never, well, we definitely hoped and that’s what we were working towards so I guess yeah, we imagined that we could be here but never thought it was really going to happen, you know what I mean?
You look around now, and in a few hours a couple thousand people will be out there, is that just a surreal experience?
Definitely. This many people want to come see us? All right. It feels great that so many people are interested in what we do, definitely.
There have been so many bands that you’ve worked with in the past that have broken up and it’s funny nowadays that the big thing is to do the reunion tour. The Pixies are doing this huge reunion tour all year long. It seems like every band is reuniting this year. You know, Braid did their summer reunion tour, you guys opened for them in Phoenix.
Yeah, that was lots of fun.
How did you guys get involved with that?
It was, we’ve just known them forever and you know, they were coming to town and we were thinking about Futures as all of the previous albums we had a chance to tour and play the songs live and get a reaction before recording them and this time we didn’t have the opportunity to do that so we felt like we needed to play it and we just needed to play it for an audience but we didn’t want to do our own, do a big, hullabaloo show, so we talked to those guys and they were down so you know, they let us hop on stage.
So you look at all that, all these bands doing the reunion thing because a lot of kids missed them the first time around, what is one band that you’d like to see reunite in this day and age and do a full-fledged tour, even if you guys could open for them or tour with them? Who would you really just die to see one more time on stage?
Yeah, you know, anyone.
Starland Vocal Band, that’s what we’ll go with.
Yeah, okay, cool. [laughs]
Come on, you’ve got to say somebody.
I can never, when someone asks me to think of a band that I’m listening to, for some reason, it’s like when you go in the record store and you have a list of five things that you need and then you walk in and you’re like, “What’s happening to me right now?”
Most people say grocery store, but you say record store
I know, I’m going to walk away and be like, “Dammit!” [laughs] Okay, I never got to see the Pixies, and now they’re playing, we actually did Fuji Rock in Japan and it was this big festival outside and they played the night before us so we got to go and see them.
The thing that’s different about that as opposed to other reunion tours they’re not doing a cash-in tour, they’re writing new material. That’s the incredible thing, they’re writing new songs ten years after the fact and they’re still as good as the old ones and that’s just crazy.
Right, exactly. They can do no wrong.
So going way back, what was your first show that you saw that got you into music?
Really? With who else?
I can’t remember who else but it was at a club The Silver Dollar, that wasn’t the first show I saw, but it was the first punk rock show that I saw.
What was the first show show? Because these are always embarrassing.
Oh my gosh, I think it was like Billy Idol at the State Fair.
Dude, that’s punk rock too. You don’t fuck with Billy Idol dude, that guy was Generation X.
Billy Idol, yeah.
My first was Weird Al Yancovic. So you’ve got a step up from me.
Although he’s badass too. So you see SNFU, when was that? How old were you when you started getting into this stuff?
That was 10th grade, so sixteen, fifteen, and an older kid took me.
It’s always an older kid.
Yeah, he was like, “You need to come here, you need to check this out.” And it was a really cool place, the Silver Dollar Club and like now where it was, the Silver Dollar Club, was the slums of Phoenix like the old warehouse district and stuff and right now its third base of Bank One Ball Park, where the Diamondbacks play.
There’s no going back there.
There’s no going back there and I remember after a few years of going to this place and then hearing, “Yeah, some baseball guy bought it and all this stuff out here and he’s going to put in bars and stuff” and we’re all like, “Oh, fuck.” Phoenix is a place there’s never been a static establishment, like The Metro has been there for years and it will always be there and it’s a great place, you can always get a good show there. Phoenix it’s really hard, there’s never been something like that that has lasted more than five years or eight years at the most and so its really weird, for some reason it just doesn’t work out. Phoenix is a weird town as far as live shows go, you never know, its not a presale town, you can say you’re going to have a show and everyone just walks up at the end, or sometimes they don’t. It’s really weird, but I love it there.
You guys base yourselves there, your whole career, you’ve never felt the need to move to L.A. to make it?
No definitely not, because I think that would kill us.
It kills a lot of people.
First of all, because it’s so expensive, I don’t know how those people pay to live there, it’s so expensive on all ends, you know, all angles. But the weather’s really nice, I love it, I love visiting and enjoying the weather.
Except for the whole smog thing.
[laughs] Yeah, we like Phoenix, it’s a good place to call our home base, all of our families are still there so it’s a good secure relaxing safe haven, I guess, for us.
[to Megan] You had one question you were dying to ask.
MEGAN: Which one?
MEGAN: Oh yeah, pirates or ninjas?
Pirates or ninjas? That is a tough question. I’m going to have to go with ninjas right now.
MEGAN: We need justification.
The only reason I’m saying ninjas right now is because we were recently in Japan and I was really impressed with being where the ninjas were. Because the place we played was up in the mountains at a ski resort and the total Japanese forests and the misty clouds through the tops of the mountains, you can totally see ninjas and samurai just bouncing through the trees and I was just like, “Oh my God.” But yeah, ninjas.
That’s important stuff man, people want to know.
MEGAN: That’s the only thing I ever care about.
Well then you have to ask the next one, which is robots or ninjas?
Over robots. But only because the robots will eventually win.
Like in I, Robot?
I haven’t seen that.
I heard it was horrible.
I heard it was one gigantic product placement the entire movie. I heard in the first five minutes they cut to his shoes and he’s wearing Nikes and it set the tone for the whole movie.
Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. So you’re going to go with ninjas over robots?
Well only because I root for the underdog.
And just to tie it all together Jimmy Eat World was the ultimate underdog, coming up from the mean streets of Phoenix.
Right, right, the hot streets of Phoenix. [laughs]
Your career has been all the way up to the top, from nothing to this amazing career now. What’s one decision you wish you’d never made?
Never would have made?
If you could go back, I know everyone always says no regrets but if there’s one thing that you wish you guys had never done as a band, what would it be?
As a band, it’s tough because even the bad ones you learn from, like you said, no regrets. There’s nothing that we wouldn’t do differently, but one thing that really sucked, well there’s one decision that I’m glad we did make and it was tough to make them realize that we’re not going to do that. Before Clarity came out, the label was trying to get things going and like getting us to do things to get people interested and know who we were, so they were like, “Okay you guys, we’ll buy a PA and you’ll drive in your van and you know the cool 7-11 where the kids hang out after school or whatever, you’ll just go set up in the parking lot and be playing at 3:15 as they walk up.”
That’s some guerilla marketing right there.
That’d be funny in like a video or something, like a funny thing, but in real life to actually do this for two months… it came to just, “I don’t know if that’s such a great idea.” And the guy was like, “Okay cool, I’ll call them up and set it up.” And we’re like, “I don’t know, I don’t know, we don’t think so,” and he’s like, “Okay, I’ve got them on the phone” and we were just like, “Hang up the phone, no, there’s no way we’re doing that, I don’t care what you do to us.” [laughs]
You could’ve broke five years ago man, that could’ve been your chance.
Our careers would’ve been over five years ago, too. [laughs]
It’s like those split cassettes with Less Than Jake, those go for hundreds of dollars on eBay these days.
Are you serious? I have like two cases in my closet.
Mainly because people who are LTJ fans are just crazy collectors. Those go for hundreds.
Are you serious?
Because they’re so rare, because they were just promotional.
I have two big logs of them.
I need to get one of those from you. I guess LTJ found a whole bunch of them, too, and called fans and sent them cases of them to get rid of them and now they go for hundreds on eBay. And so do some of your old records. Your split with Emery goes for hundreds.
Hundreds? I need to check this out.
Seriously, I’ve had people e-mail me because I’m a geek and have my record collection online in case my house burnt down or something.
Oh, for insurance.
And every once in a while, kids will find me on google and find my website and I just get these e-mails and they’ll say, “I’ll offer you $100 for this record!” and I’m like, “No, man.” I have Static Prevails on vinyl and I bought it for four bucks used with the different cover art and every two months some kid finds it and says, “I’ll give you $200 for that.” And I just say “fuck no!” That’s mine!
I only have one of those.
I don’t have the Emery split, that kills me. There’s a couple things I don’t have still.
I have one of those too. You’re blowing my mind. You’re freaking me out.
Kids missed the boat the first time. Vinyl is just one of those things that had a resurgence in the mid to late ‘90s and I used to work at a record store so I got first dibs on whatever came in and nowadays not many bands do vinyl anymore, especially limited edition 7”s, especially bands of your caliber.
They don’t take the time because you’re only going to sell a few thousand anyway.
And the overhead is so ridiculous. Even the Last Christmas one, that goes for $50 on eBay and you can still find that everywhere, but it’s sold out from the company.
I’ll never sell them, man.
Hold strong, but when times get tough.
Actually, I live in Cleveland now, and I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame about a month ago and they were having this gigantic record collector’s extravaganza and everyone was selling their stuff. I picked up My Aim Is True by Elvis Costello for $2 on vinyl, I picked up all this stuff. I was thinking I could never be one of those guys because I could never sell a record.
Once I buy it, it’s mine, I don’t care how bad it ends up being, I paid for that so it’s not leaving my possession.
And really when it comes down to it, what’re you going to get for a lot of them? $5? It’s worth way more than that to me.
Yeah, and even if its collectible, even if someone offers me like $100, I still have a connection to that record. It’s weird, because the music is priceless to an extent. Its scary how I can tell you where every single record and CD in my collection came from.
There’s a story that goes along with each one.
I can tell you, like my Clarity, I bought it the day it came out. Bleed American I skipped out on work to go buy it. It’s one of those things, we weren’t allowed to leave on our lunch break but I skipped out, drove out and picked up a copy and it’s one of those things where you make these connections with music and for people to put a price tag on it is just kind of weird.
What is the one record, whether its rare or not, that you would never part with, if you were marooned on a desert island, what would be your desert island disc?
I hate this question.
Okay well name a couple, your favorite records that all kids should have in their collection, that just transcend genres and scenes and everything.
[Jawbreaker’s] Dear You is a great record.
I don’t know, a lot of stuff, any Fugazi record is good.
Would you put Clarity on that list of records that people should own?
No, just because I’m not good at pimping my own stuff. [laughs]
Well man, you’re never going to make it in this world, you’ve got to go to the 7-11. You have to go outside right now and do an acoustic set with just the bass, just you, just go out there and sing the parts you know, kids will dig it man, just watch.
Oh no, it wouldn’t be fine.
Put your case out there get some quarters thrown in there; you’ll be fine.
All right, I feel good about that now, I’m not as worried anymore.
You don’t need them, whatever, it’s Rick Eat World from now on.
Rick Eat Universe. Fuck it, we’re going to go one step further.
All right, cool.
Okay, I think that’s all we need, anything else you’d like to say? Free space.
Yeah, keep it real. Looove.
And if anyone wants to check out your band, as if they didn’t know already, what’s the website they can go to?
Dubya-dubya-dubya dot jimmy eat world dot net dot com. It used to be dot net then we bought it from the kid who was camping on our site
You see, he’s not one of us, man.
No, he’s not, he wanted, oh my god, so much money. We sent a few thugs over and knocked the price down a little bit.
All right, jimmyeatworld.com, the new album is Futures.
The new album Futures comes out October 19.
You can pick it up at your finer record stores nationwide.
Even the bad ones. Or online at certain online retailers.
Only certain ones, we’re not going to service all of them.
I don’t know, yeah, all of them, why not?
[to Megan] Anything you want to say? You’ve been so vocal this entire interview.
MEGAN: Well, pirates and ninjas, that’s all there was.
Carrots or celery?
MEGAN: But carrots don’t go as well with peanut butter.
Yeah they do, what carrots have you eaten before, or what peanut butter?
MEGAN: Reese’s peanut butter is all I eat.
It’s all about Jif. Reese’s tastes just like the peanut butter you get in the candy.
MEGAN: And that’s a problem?
Yeah, that’s not real peanut butter.
MEGAN: No, it’s better!
[to Rick] And this is why you and I are a step above.
MEGAN: This is why I ask pirates or ninjas and you ask real questions.
interview transcribed by Megan Davey