Next year rock ‘n’ rollers Jimmy Eat World will celebrate their 30th anniversary as a band. However, the group is not resting on its laurels. Instead, they’re forging a new path that sees the longtime act release music through their label, Exotic Location. Beginning with Jimmy Eat World’s latest single “Something Loud”, the band are once again independent and doing things on their own terms.
Ahead of Jimmy Eat World’s gig at The Uptown on Wednesday, September 14, we spoke with drummer Zach Lind about the band’s new direction.
The pitch: During lockdown, the Phoenix Sessions saw the band dive into your back catalog and perform every song from Survivor, Futures contractsand Clarity, but it seems like the end result of that is that you came out with a lot of excitement about doing new things. Did doing those Phoenix sessions and tackling those albums in their entirety help keep you sane?
Zack Lind: Yeah, I thought it was good for us to do something like the Phoenix Sessions. It was a lot of work. We worked hard on these, but the end result was something we were really, really proud of. I think anytime you can get away from generating new material – and weirdly, that’s kind of like touring. The tour is on the road, and yes, you’re playing new material, but you’re also playing older material, and you kind of take your foot off the gas pedal to think of new ideas or write and record new songs.
It is important to make room for new things. Usually, touring for a year and a half on an album is enough risk, finding new material and coming up with something new, so we kind of needed to incorporate that time, in a way. The Phoenix Sessions were a good opportunity for that.
Every time we talk to a band that comes back and covers an album in its entirety, it always seems like they find out there’s songs like “Oh, we never played that live”, and the work required is almost like a new song.
In fact, we were looking for people who were filming us, playing something live for a long time, of which we had forgotten how we had done it. We would watch a YouTube video of someone while filming our concert, and that person doesn’t know that at the time of filming, we’ll be watching your video in the future, trying to figure out what we were doing to like playing that song .
Sometimes it is understandable for groups. You’re not going to play every song on an album, every concert. You lose the habit of doing something you haven’t done very often or you haven’t done everything and you have to go back and relearn it, you know? And not only relearn the song, but find a way to play it live. So that’s a whole other thing.
The new single, “Something Loud”, is the first single from your label. I feel like the band goes back to your early days, where you released something on an independent label, but this time it’s yours. How does it feel to make that leap, almost 30 years later?
It’s funny because we’ve done this thing before – done something along those lines. Technically, we licensed our last three albums on RCA, so those are technically also on our own label. But yeah, I mean, I think it was something that was right for us – having the freedom and not having any sort of connection to a label, we can kind of do whatever we want. I think it’s something we leaned into in a fun and freeing way.
It feels good to be able to not only do that, but do it in a way that “Something Loud” has started to have some momentum, even without a label. It’s good that we can do this and it makes us excited for things in the future.
Reading Dan Ozzi Sold last year was a reminder that Jimmy Eat World was at the heart of this major-label underground punk rock boom that took place at that time. It’s fascinating to see how some of the bands featured in this book really managed to keep going, and others struggled. What was it like for all of you to be an independent band, then on a major label, then on another major label and all that? It seems like it’s been a whirlwind almost the whole time you’ve been in a band.
We had to be flexible and overcome the different circumstances leading up to it. I think the thing for us is that we always had to go through those things with that. It’s easier. You know not all bands have the same thing [dynamic]. Sometimes stressful times and changes can be upsetting, but it’s much more upsetting when you don’t have a solid relationship between the group members.
When we left Capital Records, instead of feeling flaunted, we felt emboldened. We said to ourselves: “Fuck, we’re going to seize an opportunity”, you know? I think that mindset helps in those little moments of change or when you’re where you might be interpreting something that would give you a sense of doubt. We all kind of did the opposite.
You are not a group that wants to stand and rest on your laurels.
Yes, I think it certainly is. I mean, I think there were times when we took our eyes off the ball and maybe we didn’t do as good a job as others, but it wasn’t because a lack of record or resting on our laurels. But I think there’s a point where, every time you release a new song or a new album, you’re competing against your own back catalog. I think for us, I find that anything we release that’s new has to earn its way into our catalog in a way that we feel confident in, or we shouldn’t release it. With this mindset, we get better results instead of making albums or something that someone expects from us.
You have to be able to release new music to prove to yourself that you should still make music or what’s the point? We always felt like that. At this point, we’re in deep water, what if we stop treading water? That’s it.
Jimmy Eat World plays Uptown on Wednesday, September 14, with fly-half Charly Bliss. Details about this show here.