Jimmy Eat World are back and getting ready to grace us with a brand new serving of alt-rock goodness in the form of their 9th studio album, Integrity Blues.
The forthcoming disc, which is scheduled to drop on Friday, 21st October, has already been preceded by big-ticket singles, including the white-knuckled Get Right and the shut-up-and-listen chiller Sure and Certain.
And ahead of its release, we caught up with band leader Jim Adkins to find out all the tasty scoops about the greatest non-emo emo band of all time’s latest LP, and to try to finagle some details about their next Australian tour.
We also got the measure of Jim’s credentials as a drinking buddy, and found out why he’d rather live in Sydney than Tokyo or New York City.
Catch the full chat below.
Watch: Jimmy Eat World – ‘Get Right’ [Lyric Video]
Music Feeds: Thanks for joining us, it’s great to have you guys back! How’s the transition been getting back into full-on album mode again?
Jim Adkins: It’s pretty exciting, you know, we’ve been sitting on these recordings for a little while now and just kind of harbouring this secret, and it’s really cool to be able to finally share stuff and get it out.
MF: And you’ve just been bursting with new music lately – we’ve already seen 2 pretty different new tracks off the album so far – the hangsty ‘Get Right’ and then ‘Sure and Certain’ which is kind of more chilled and uplifting. Would you say that together they give a good indication of the overall sound of the new record?
JA: I dunno, I mean I think our album Integrity Blues is a good mix of everything that we do… and by that I mean just us as people at our foundation. We definitely have certain biases and certain leanings that we just like. There’s a – quote unquote – “good” that I think we all just inwardly agree on, you know? It’s like “us”. And that’s there [laughs]. But there’s definitely some chances that we’re taking on some songs.
MF: Oooh could you tell us more about what you mean by ‘chances’?
JA: Well, I think that – you know – when you’ve been doing something for as long as we have, especially a creative kind of discipline, and you develop a certain competency with it, over time you trust your instincts because you build up strengths. And when you’re faced with a musical puzzle or problem – like, in our case when you’re writing and you want a song to do a certain thing or you’re making a record and you want it to feel a certain way – you just kind of execute that. And there’s, like, a shorthand between us, just because we know each other and we know what the other person can do and bring, it’s actually a sort of beautiful thing you know? You just do it. And while – yes – you’ve solved the puzzle, is it really your best work? Is it an intentional choice to make it your best? Or are you just doing what’s comfortable for you? And making Integrity Blues it was really important for us to short-circuit that and confront that. Like, “is this helping the song become the most realised version of this idea that we have? Or are we just doing what’s easy?” And that definitely led us down some paths that were not comfortable at first, and difficult, and technically difficult, maybe emotionally difficult, maybe slightly pushing the boundaries of our self-perception of what we do is [laughs].
MF: You’ve spoken about challenging yourselves on the new record, but what about diehard fans who’ve been with you from the beginning? Do you think it’ll challenge them too?
JA: That’s really hard to say. We have really really good fans, we couldn’t be happier with where we are in the landscape of music. I think there’s a really dedicated group of people out there who have found something that they can relate to in what we do, regardless of if it’s “cool” and regardless of if we have a song on the radio or not, regardless of if we have any sort of internet virality happening. Like, they actively seek it out and they listen. And for whatever reason, they’ve just kind of made a connection to what we do that’s theirs and, you know, I think those people won’t be disappointed.
MF: And what about kids who – dare I say – may not have really heard of Jimmy Eat World before? Do you think this is a record that teenagers in the year 2016 could also dig?
JA: I hope so. I dunno! I think there’s a lot of levels that you can appreciate it on. Now, if you wanna get really deep into what I’m saying, you certainly can. If you wanna just kinda feel what the song does to you on a purely visceral level, on an emotional level, that’s cool too. You know, if you just want something to have on while you’re vacuuming the house then that’s fine. I dunno, it’s tough to say. I’d like to think that the record could relate to like a teenage kind of audience. I mean, the songs are really about a really simple, fundamental message in a cinematic presentation. That’s how I’d describe it.
MF: Now the name Integrity Blues is a really interesting kind of paradoxical concept – can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind that name?
JA: Yeah, sure, you know I think that most pain stems from an unwillingness to accept reality. And that pain definitely stems from like a cycle that’s directed in a negative way. You just keep obsessing over things that just aren’t real, and dread of the future – dread of a future that doesn’t exist yet – and guilt of a past that you cant do anything about, like, you spend a lot of effort focusing on the wrong target, and the way out of that is through action. And that’s what I feel like the idea of “integrity” is… the best any of us have really, at any point, is we’re all in a state of progress. You know? What you can control is your effort.
MF: I feel like you’re laying some really heavy wisdom on us right now.
JA: I could go on like this for hours [laughs]
MF: I bet you’d make a good drinking buddy!
JA: I don’t drink at all actually… [but] I’d be a great drinking buddy! I’d have your back all the way to tucking you in and driving your car home [laughs]
MF: And now the big question everyone wants to know… it’s been a couple of years since we’ve had a visit from you guys here in Australia… when can we expect to see you again?
JA: I hope soon. Honestly, I’m not trying to hide something but I just don’t know. I want it to be sooner than later. Because it has been too long and I love playing there. Some of my favourite shows ever were in Australia and I miss it.
MF: Australia misses you too! What were some of your favourite shows ever?
JA: Usually, Sydney for some reason, is one of the last stops on an entire tour of ours and so we just play everything that we can. It’s like, ‘Alright! We’ve been going for two and a half hours, what are we adding?’
There’s cities in the world and places that are just so over the top exciting like Tokyo or New York, and while that’s awesome, it’s exhausting. And I don’t know if I’d be all that happy a person if I had to live there. But for some reason, everywhere in Australia has like this weird kind of energy to it that’s just… nice. And I dunno what it is, I mean, I think the culture of fear just operates at such a lower volume in Australia than anywhere in America, and it’s just really nice to breathe that in for a while.
MF: Well I’m sure if you decided to move here your fans wouldn’t protest!”
JA: Aw, you’d get sick of me for sure. You say that now but you’d get sick of me [laughs].
Watch: Jimmy Eat World – ‘Sure And Certain’ [Lyric Video]
Integrity Blues will be released on Friday, 21st October.