“We really wanted to push ourselves and to avoid our comfort zone” - hmv.com talks to Jimmy Eat World
They might be 23 years and nine albums into their career, but heartswelling Jimmy Eat World still feel as vital as the day they got started. We sat down with the band to chat about the making of their new album Integrity Blues (which you can preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page), working with new producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen and why they’ve never stopped being responsible...
What did you do differently when making Integrity Blues compared to your earlier records?
Jim (Adkins, singer): “We’ve worked on our own for the last couple of records and we didn’t enter the studio with a lot of wiggle room. This time we wanted to get something different, we knew what we’d get if we worked in the same way, we wanted to check ourselves at every stage of the process and make sure we were doing our best, we didn’t want to rest on what’d we’d done before.”
Did you start with a lot of songs this time?
Jim: “We sat down with this gigantic pile of ideas, some of them were full songs, some were just riffs, you never clock out of this job, you’re always generating stuff and you never know where it might be used.”
You worked with Justin Meldal-Johnsen on the album? What was he like and why did you choose him?
Jim: “We brought Justin in early, much earlier than we normally bring in a producer, we used his feedback and it really helped us flesh out the songs. We really wanted to push ourselves and to avoid our comfort zone and he was really on board with that, he really wanted to explore with us and not take the easy road.”
Did you ever consider producing it yourselves?
Tom (Linton, guitars): “We could, but it’d have to depend on the songs. I still feel that you really gain something from including an outside perspective. Justin was incredible to bounce ideas off.”
Rick (Burch, bass): “You can get a fifth band member for a few weeks. Jim could do it, he’s very good with all the studio gear, but we wouldn’t learn as much. You can get so much from an outside influence. It’s very hard to challenge yourself.”
You went to Los Angeles to do this album having worked in your own studio for the last couple of albums, why did you decide to do that?
Rick: “We really wanted to get out and do something different. We went down to Los Angeles and worked there, that made us disciplined and way more efficient.”
Did that give you more impetus to work quickly?
Jim: “Records are expensive man. We’ve always had to think about the practical side of this business, even back to Bleed American we were touring to save up to record. We do our best to separate the business aspect from the record itself, but it’s always in the back of your mind.”
What kind of album do you think this is lyrically?
Jim: “It’s a very direct record presented in a very wide, cinematic way. There are lots of nuances and themes across it, a lot of it focuses on the idea of trying to take responsibility for yourself and your personal condition, that and the inner conflict of taking decisions based on reality rather than some imaginary future that doesn’t exist or a past you can do nothing about.”
Do the other three of you get involved in lyrics at all?
Jim: “They’ll call me out if there’s something lame. But we’ve always focused on the fact that you should be writing what you’re singing."
When did you settle on the title of Integrity Blues? And was it always the title?
Jim: “It’s actually called about four different things along the way. You need to have the album done before you can title it really, I like leaving it open to discovery as you go. Titling it early really limits where it can go.”
Zach (Lind, drummer): “We wrestled with it a little bit more this time. Album titles have usually come a bit easier than this. Integrity Blues really emerged as the right choice.”
Finally, you’ve got nine albums now, how are you going to fit everything in when you play live?
Jim: “It’s what you don’t play now. We’ll be varying the set a lot more now, if you’re a long time fan you’ll probably come to see us play you might be disappointed to miss out on a few songs, but you’ll get some surprises too..”