Jimmy Eat World could be considered one of the iconic alternative rock bands of the 2000s. Gaining attention for 1999’s Clarity and furthering their fanbase with 2001’s Jimmy Eat World (or Bleed American depending on the particular edition of the album you possessed) and 2004’s Futures, the band created classic 21st century anthems such as “Sweetness,” “The Middle,” and “Pain.” Occasionally still saddled with the journalistic shorthand of “emo torchbearers,” Jimmy Eat World come to Iron City with a new record, last year’s atmospheric Integrity Blues.
Tom Linton recently spoke about the new record, anniversary tours, the longevity of the band and how the discipline of boxing affects songwriting.
Weld: Before Inverted in 2010, you did the 10-year anniversary tour for Clarity, and then a few years before the release of this latest record, you did the 10-year anniversary tour for Futures. Do these anniversary tours help spark new music when you do them?
Tom Linton: I think we just get better as players. A lot of the songs from those two records we had never played live before. We had to go back and basically learn how to play them. With each song, we had to pick out what was the most important part of the song to build from. I think by doing that, you just become a better player and you find out what’s best for the song.
Weld: The band took a little bit of a break after the last album, Damages, and the tour for Futures. When did the genesis of Integrity Blues happen?
Linton: It started towards the end of 2015, probably October. That’s when we got back together, and we were just trying to figure out what we were going to do. We wanted to make a record like we [had] never done before. We wanted to push ourselves and not make it like a regular Jimmy Eat World record. We wanted to find a producer that would push us. We started looking for a producer around the end of 2015, and we found Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who we ended up using to produce Integrity Blues.
Weld: And Meldal-Johnsen had worked with Nine Inch Nails.
Linton: Yeah, he played bass in Nine Inch Nails and keyboards as well. He played with Beck for a long time. I think Beck was his main gig for a long time. He also produced M83 and Tegan & Sarah and a bunch of bands.
Weld: The reason I bring that up is that a bunch of these songs have twists and turns that they take musically, especially in “Pass The Baby.” You have a mellow beginning and takes a sharp left turn towards a harder rock sound.
Linton: That’s a demo we’ve had from Chase This Light. We were starting to put it together during those sessions, but we could never figure out how we wanted to do it. We always knew that it was going to start out like that, then end in some crazy way. Once we showed it to Justin, he was really into the song and said we should put it on the record. He really helped us by adding the keyboard parts that you hear and putting it all together in the different sections. It was nice to have him come in and make the song it could be.
Weld: You guys have been together over 20 years without really losing any members. What, to you, has helped keep the band together?
Linton: The big thing is that we were all friends before the band started. Jim [Adkins, lead singer and guitarist] and Zach [Lind, drummer] have known each other since preschool. Rick [Burch, bassist] met when we were 12. Then we all met and started playing in bands when we were in high school. Being friends before everything started has helped us go on for this long. I think a lot of bands put ads in the paper and end up meeting up with someone they don’t really know and start playing instantly and find something good. But once the touring starts and you have to be in close quarters with these people, I find that a lot of bands break up pretty quick.
Weld: You guys have seen several eras of the music industry in your history as a band. I was just curious to find out your take on digital music and streaming.
Linton: There are so many different ways for people to hear your music, whether it’s YouTube or Spotify. There are just so many ways to get music, but there are a lot of other bands’ music that you have to compete with, especially younger bands. I think it’s just all good.
Weld: Do you guys think the mystique of music (especially songs from an upcoming album) sometimes goes away when you premiere a new song and it’s on a fan’s YouTube account within a few hours?
Linton: It depends. If someone has a good recording and a good video of us playing a song for the first, it’s okay and I don’t mind it at all. Sometimes though, the recordings are so bad and the camera is shaking and going all over the place. It doesn’t give a good representation of the song. I think it’s a good thing for the most part in that it gets people excited about hearing new stuff. As long as people know that it’s not the best way that the song can be, then we don’t really care.
Jimmy Eat World will play Iron City on Wednesday, March 1. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $30-$33. For more information, visit ironcitybham.com.