Jimmy Eat World's Adkins Discusses New 'Adult Break-Up Record'

Big Hassle Media

"Nothing is less effective for me than when you stack happy on top of happy," says the frontman.

Jimmy Eat World singer/songwriter/guitarist Jim Adkins has a way with one-line zingers.

How has the band managed to stay together and release quality music since 1996? "Staying mildly drunk the entire time," Adkins quips. Why did they choose RCA Records to release their new album? "They were the winners of the 100-word 'Why I should put out the next Jimmy Eat World record?' contest."

But beneath the sarcasm, there's an earnest, devoted frontman who's steadily steered the band through label changes and brushes with Top 40 success that could've derailed a less focused act. On June 11, Adkins and his longtime bandmates -- guitarist Tom Linton, bassist Rick Burch, and drummer Zach Lind -- will release "Damage," their ominously titled, sweet-sounding eighth studio LP.  It's the band's first release on RCA, their fourth label since signing on with Capitol for 1996's "Static Prevails."

"There’s people there that have been around a really long time -- people that we’ve crossed paths with here and there since we started working with major labels," says Adkins, this time dead serious. "[It] just feels like they’re the best label that got what we were doing and were cool with the deal we were trying to make."

Since breaking into the mainstream thanks to 2001's "Bleed American" and its enduring hit "The Middle," Jimmy Eat World hasn't come close to duplicating that crossover success. Instead, the band has nurtured a wildly devoted fan base that's helped them outlast almost every other group that was lumped into the emo/pop-punk niche when they first broke. Jimmy Eat World has weathered harsher storms: in order to record their breakthrough album, for instance, they had to endure being dropped from Capitol and recording new material unsigned, on their own dollar, which they've emerged all the better for.

"In a lot of ways, I think I wouldn’t change how it all went down at all," says Adkins reminiscing on the pre-"Middle" days. "The worst thing that could’ve happened out of the gates when 'Static Prevails' came out would have been to have it blow up. That would’ve been the worst thing that could’ve happened to us, looking back."

Adkins has described the new album, which follows 2010's "Invented," as "an adult break-up record," which should absolutely excite longtime fans. Jimmy Eat World's best songs (and most of their songs, period) thrive on feelings and sentimentality; led by single "I Will Steal You Back," "Damage" certainly fits that bill. Musically, the single works in the good-guy rock groove the band has been exploring since 2004's "Futures." There's also some acoustic exploration that plays off tracks like "Heart Is Hard to Find" from their last album.

"Nothing is less effective for me than when you stack happy on top of happy," says Adkins of his tendency to reach for the heartstrings. "I just can’t have empathy for that type of song."

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He went on to describe his muse in piecing together a break-up record: "In writing material for 'Damage,' I wanted an initial jumping-off, so I started writing, searching about love songs. And the kind of love songs that I’m attracted to, that interest me or I find interesting to explore, are the windows of adversity, heartbreak, or break-up… They always speak to me more."

Jimmy Eat World will take the new album on the road on May 3, starting with a five-show string of local Arizona gigs. After that they'll tour North America and Europe through August 18. Aside from playing "Damage" cuts, Adkins plans to crowd-source requests for deep cuts (as far back as "Static Prevails") via social media.

"We’re also planning on some older songs we’ve never played before," Adkins says. "We’re at the point now where we can play material that we thought wasn’t playable."