Jimmy Eat World ready to do 'Damage'

Not stuck in 'The Middle,' band took new approach to latest CD

By

Published:

 

If you go

What: Jimmy Eat World, in concert.

When: 8 p.m. July 16.

Where: McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St., Portland.

Cost: $22 to $25 through Cascade Tickets, 800-514-3849 or http://cascadetickets.com

Information: 503-225-0047 or http://crystalballroompdx.com

To many fans, Jimmy Eat World will probably sound much like the same band they've know for years on the group's newly released eighth CD, "Damage."

The band is still guitar driven, still writes concise and catchy rocking pop tunes, like the new tunes "Appreciation," "Lean" and "How'd You Have Me," although the album incorporates a bit more acoustic guitar. And it still features the vocals of founding member Jim Adkins.

But if the major musical trademarks that Jimmy Eat World has established since forming in Mesa, Ariz., in 1993 are basically intact on "Damage," it doesn't mean the group is in any sort of holding pattern as a band.

In fact, Jimmy Eat World did some things very differently in making the new album, beginning with the way singer/guitarist Adkins went about writing lyrics for the songs.

In the past, he's worked like many songwriters, just writing lyrics about whatever subject inspired him at the time. It's worked well for the band (which also includes bassist Rick Burch, drummer Zach Lind and guitarist Tom Linton).

The combination of catchy guitar rock and Adkins' open-hearted singing and lyrics for a time got the band labeled an emo act (the band's third album, 1999's "Clarity," is considered a quintessential emo album). But the music also connected with fans. The group's 2001 album, "Bleed American," produced four modern rock hits (including the No. 1 single, "The Middle"), while the 2004 album, "Futures," had a No. 1 hit in "Pain."

For "Damage," though, Adkins went into the writing cycle wanting to write the entire album around a pre-determined theme: love. What he hoped would make his take on the subject different was coming from the perspective of someone like himself, who is approaching 40, and centering in on the tensions of relationships.

"The type of issues that come up in a relationship are different when you're older, versus when you're still trying to figure everything out," he said. "Like there's experience there that brings you different perspectives. So I was trying to include that into the concept."

Another major change was the way Jimmy Eat World approached recording "Damage."

On recent albums, the band has put its own studio/rehearsal space to considerable use, often cutting what became final tracks for the albums there rather than in a professional studio.

In fact, on its 2011 album "Invented," the band did much of the project without the presence of producer Mark Trombino. Essentially, the band would write, rehearse, refine and then record a song on its own at its studio and then email the track to Trombino.

The producer then emailed the track back to the band with his suggestions for ways to improve the song. The idea was to get the perspective and expertise of Trombino, without having the producer looking over the band's shoulder as songs were written and recorded. For "Damage," though, Adkins and his bandmates decided, first of all, to change producers, bringing on Alain Johannes for the project.

The band members also wanted Johannes to be a much bigger presence during the recording process.

"We just wanted somebody that kind of would be more like a partner, a slightly less emotionally invested partner," Adkins said. "I don't feel like we need policing the performances, because we have a good idea about that. And I don't think we need somebody around all the time to make sure that the reverb is weird enough, someone who left to their own devices will go insane with effects and stuff.

"But one of the main things we wanted a producer for was just to have somebody in the room that we trusted because the whole time that we're working, (we wanted an environment) where we'd be comfortable and just feel good about it and keep the sessions fun and also be able to call us out on something if it's not working," he said.

Adkins and his bandmates got comfortable enough with Johannes that instead of recording "Damage" at the band's own studio, they recorded the album at Johannes' home. "We wanted to cut the record from scratch somewhere else, which is different from how we've been working," Adkins said.

"I think a lot of it depends on the material, too," he added, explaining the approach to recording. "The songs we had kind of lent themselves to more of a informal, like four dudes in a room playing, instead of like a studio creation, it was kind of more a documentation of the work."

The live-in-the-studio approach should mean that the new songs will translate well in live performance. And Adkins said the band will play a long enough set to include plenty of material from the back catalog.

"The (new) record's just coming out, so we're going to be playing a good handful of tunes from that," Adkins said. "With the older songs, it's kind of going to be a grab bag. It could be anything really. We're mixing in some (older) songs I think we've never played before on tour."