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By Andy Argyrakis
Photo by Jason Odell
Jimmy Eat World:
Where indie and commercial collide
"One on One"
April 18, 2008
On the day of this particular conversation, Jimmy Eat World front man Jim Adkins is checking in from Disneyland just before a show at the neighboring House of Blues. Though he's yet to hit the rides, there are still a few hours before sound check and plenty of time for at least one round of "Space Mountain." While the famed attraction might not immediately come to mind when thinking of the one time indie darlings turned radio rulers, a roller coaster ride is a fitting parallel to the group's outpouring throughout the decade thus far. For starters, the alt-rockers kicked off the millennium with Bleed American, which instantly catapulted Adkins and company beyond the underground into the mainstream stratosphere thanks to a series of ultra-infectious singles. Fame came at a rapid pace and pressures for an equally profitable follow-up quickly set in, but resulted in 2004's more brooding (and less successful) Futures affair. But at the tip of 2008, the band's back on its upswing, merging the best of both worlds on Chase This Light, which the singer insists was created on members' own terms under a much clearer frame of mind then the previous project.
Livewire: What was your primary goal when hitting the studio for the latest CD?
Adkins: Our goal was seriously to keep these sessions as fun as possible. By going in with that ease, we were able to communicate ideas more openly and creatively, which was our main goal in the first place. Once we decided on that ultimate paradigm, everything fell into place. Record by record, we're doing more and more recording ourselves on our own equipment.
Livewire: Chase This Light has its fair share of artistic elements, but there's also a much more radio friendly appeal than Futures. What gave that record such a dark undercurrent?
Adkins: We were bummed out dude, basically because of the growing pains that it took to figure out how to be a band. When it came time for Futures, we started thinking about how big our last record got and began thinking about the [amount of] people that would listen to it when we put it out. There was a lot to deal with and figure out.
Livewire: The band really seems to have bounced back, especially on the strength of the single "Big Casino." What's the story behind that tune?
Adkins: It's basically a loser anthem. It's basically a washed up person sitting down and telling the next generation of kids how it is, sung from the perspective of unearned wisdom.
Livewire: After fifteen years together, how have you steered away from getting jaded?
Adkins: I think it just came down to really digging deep and learning how to say "I don't care" and really mean it. A lot of people can say they don't care about numbers or success commercially, but they can say that because they haven't had any. It took us awhile to get to that place, but now it's just about what we want to do.
Livewire: Do you ever fear the industry as we know it today could someday completely disappear, and a result, cause you guys to pack up shop?
Adkins: I think we're in a really good place as a band right now because we've set realistic expectations. We have no illusions of the industry we're working in and we have confidence no matter what happens that we can always make records in our home studio. Whether or not there are labels or budgets, we'll always be able to do what we do without compromise.
Livewire: Plus there's always touring and it looks like you'll be on the road most of this year. What type of set list can fans expect?
Adkins: We're trying to keep it pretty even and play something off [every CD]. We're playing deeper songs that we haven't played out before until recently, alternate versions of older songs and newer songs. Long time fans are stoked and people who've just listened to the last couple of records are stoked, so we must be doing something right.
Jimmy Eat World and Paramore appear at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center on Saturday, April 19. For additional information, log onto www.ticketmaster.com.