With record companies merging, cutting rosters and shutting down, Jimmy Eat World is counting every blessing it’s still signed to Capitol.
Zach Lind, drummer for the Tempe, Ariz.-based rock quartet, hopes their second album, “Clarity” (out Feb. 23), and the catchy single “Lucky Denver Mint,” will help brighten the future for himself, singer-guitarist Jim Adkins, bassist Rick Burch and guitarist Tom Linton.
“There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in the major-label music industry,” Lind said recently. “We have friends on major labels and they’re really worried. We were at the point where if Capitol was going to drop us – we weren’t getting any attention or publicity – they probably would’ve already done it by now.
“They’ve always been nice to us. They gave us a van. As far as promotion, we were at the bottom of the barrel, and we understood that, but if they did want to drop us, we wouldn’t have been heartbroken. It could’ve been a positive thing. They wouldn’t let us go and we signed to do ‘Clarity.’ We finished it and now it’s getting some airplay on KROQ (in Los Angeles), and now we are starting to become a priority. It’s nice to see.”
“Clarity” is tailor-made for modern rock radio, but it has a broad enough sound to suit pop and rock fans.
“It’s a power-pop record,” Lind said, “but it doesn’t fit into any certain genre. Maybe people’ll call it alternative or whatever, but there’s a lot of different kinds of songs.”
One of Lind’s favorites is the opening track, “Table For Glasses.” He was like a kid in a candy store, having a variety of instruments at his disposal. “There’s a lot of stuff on there,” he said. “There’s a concert bass drum, bells, vibes, chimes, cymbals, and I overdubbed some brushes going back and forth on a snare. And we actually put a cello on there. We rented all the percussion stuff for a day and basically crammed every idea we could and put it on tape. That was a real fun song to track, because I got to do so many different things.”
The most pointed song is “Your New Aesthetic,” on which Adkins lashes out at radio and record companies for not listening to what the public wants. “Imitate and water down,” he sings, “until we crash I’ll write it out: Selection breathes on its own, make them open the request line and let selection kill the old.” Then he suggests, “Turn off your radio.”
“That song comes out more out of Jim’s frustration with the music industry,” Lind said. “It’s the first time I’ve heard Jim write lyrics that are specifically saying something to somebody. Usually, Jim writes lyrics that are more images, almost like poetry. A couple of songs on the record, you can really tell what he’s trying to get at. He has a purpose.
“We don’t listen to the radio, and that comes from us being involved in music. We’re around it all the time, we’re on tour and constantly hearing new bands. We get a chance to see and hear bands that are like normal people with day-to-day jobs or go to school, artists people should know about. I mean, why Elliott Smith isn’t selling millions and millions of records, I have no idea. That record is brilliant. I don’t understand what makes Creed so big and Elliott Smith isn’t?”
Album sales and airplay may determine Jimmy Eat World’s big-label fate, but Lind said they are proud of “Clarity.”
“We felt like we succeeded when we walked out of the studio,” he said. “We felt we had tried our hardest and made the best record we could possibly make at this point in our careers. Whatever happens, happens, it’s out of our hands. The only thing we can control is making the best record possible.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “Stryper’s ‘To Hell With the Devil.’ I was brought up in a very conservative Baptist home, and basically if I was going to buy something, it had to do with God, so I purposely pissed off my parents and went out and got the worst possible Christian heavy-metal band.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “Night Ranger and The Outfield. I still, to this day, love The Outfield. I’m not into Night Ranger at all, but I went to that show because The Outfield was opening. We got a chance to work with a guy named John Agnello, he (mixed) The Outfield records and did the last Jawbox record. We were on a Duran Duran tribute album, and he produced our cover of ‘New Religion.’ ”
BWF (before we forget): For Jimmy Eat World’s next album, “Bleed American,” the group moved over to DreamWorks in 2001. The album, later retitled “Jimmy Eat World,” climbed to No. 31 on the Billboard 200 chart, sold more than 1 million copies and spawned several modern-rock track hits, including “The Middle” (which reached No. 5 on the pop Hot 100).
ON THE WEB: www.jimmyeatworld.net.