As a longtime fan of Jimmy Eat World, I can easily connect any record of theirs with specific memories of my life. From the moment I discovered Clarity for the first time, to blaring Static Prevails on many college adventures, and watching them open for The Gaslight Anthem with my friends in the pouring rain, it’s surreal to reflect back on the longevity of their work, as Jimmy Eat World was one of my first, introductory gateway to pop punk and alternative music back in middle school.
Known for anathematic hits like “The Middle,” “A Praise Chorus,” and “Futures,” Jimmy Eat World is a group that conveys blissful feelings of nostalgia that will fill your heart with hope and inspiration to help you through the darkest of days. With a rewarding career spanning over two decades, these Arizona-based alternative rock heroes continue to deliver refreshing studio efforts that bring new life to the band. After taking a year off from extensive touring, Jimmy Eat World returned this year with their ninth full-length, Integrity Blues.
Teaming up with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen [Paramore, M83 and Nine Inch Nails], Integrity Blues is an innovative effort that slightly departs from their traditional sound. While standalone numbers like “Sure And Certain” and “Through” draw similarities to Futures and Static Prevails, deep cuts like “Petty Grids,” “Pass The Baby,” and “Integrity Blues” introduce fans to a spontaneous endeavor that further exemplifies that the band is not afraid to chart unfamiliar territories in a creative studio environment.
While Jimmy Eat World was on the road in Europe and the United Kingdom, I had the opportunity to briefly chat with guitarist Tom Linton to discuss their latest studio release, Integrity Blues, the general reception of their new musical direction, and how this material translates in a live concert setting.
First and foremost, I’d like to congratulate your for releasing Integrity Blues—I’ve been listening to it non-stop. The record has been out for almost a month. How’s the reception been so far?
So far, it’s been really good. On this time around, we’ve never played this much new stuff on a record before live. I think we’re doing around six songs right now, and it’s been a good reaction. It seems to be going pretty good so far. We’re really happy with the record.
Excellent! Recently, you’ve been touring in Europe and the United Kingdom. What’s it like to be out on the road, and to unveil these new songs to your fans?
It’s like, the ultimate endgame kind of, of this whole process (laughs). You know, the record comes out, and for us to go out and tour, and to play these songs for people, it’s one of the most gratifying things about this process.
For sure. Now, Integrity Blues is Jimmy Eat World’s first studio release since Damage back in 2013. This time around, what inspired the musical direction of this album?
First off, we took a year break, which we’ve never done before. In the past, we’ve gone on tour for a year and a half, and gone straight into the studio, and not have really any break. So, it was nice to really take that long of a break, come back after that break, and decide, “Why are we going to make another Jimmy Eat World record if it’s going to be what we’ve been doing? Let’s try to do something that we’ve never done before.” I think part of the change in sound on this record is picking Justin Meldal-Johnsen to produce the record for us.
How did your time off make an influence on the writing process? Did you feel that you’ve entered the creative process with a fresh perspective?
Yeah, for sure. There’s this feeling of being relaxed and well rested, and then we also realized how much that we missed playing music together. You know, since we did not see each other for that long (laughs). It was kind of crazy, but when we got back into the studio, we were completely refreshed, and really hungry to start playing music together again.
As a longtime fan, I feel like I’ve been able to connect each of my favorite Jimmy Eat World albums with different memories of my life. Personally speaking, in what ways does Integrity Blues bring to life and introduce to fans a new chapter of the band’s musical endeavors?
I think with every new record that we make, and the person who produces the record, we learn so much every time we make a record. Whether it would be new recording tricks, new instruments, there is so much stuff that we learn every time we make a record. So, I think for sure, we will definitely hear some of that new influence going forward for the next record.
Pretty soon, you will be making your return to the East Coast. My last memory of Jimmy Eat World playing in the Tri-State Area was when you toured with The Gaslight Anthem and Against Me! in 2014. What are you looking forward to the most about returning to the Tri-State Area?
Just the fans there are great. I want to say that the last show that we did there was a Central Park show, I think. But yeah, the fans have been really good out there. They’re really energetic, and they’re not afraid to have a good time at the show, and that’s something that we’re looking forward to. And play the new stuff too, and some of the older stuff that we haven’t played in a while. It’s going to be fun.
For me personally, “Sure And Certain” and “Through” are two tracks that evoke a nostalgic sound that reminds me of past studio efforts like Static Prevails or Futures. While Integrity Blues is a record like no other, were there any elements of these songs in particular that retain your traditional melodic guitar-driven sound?
Yeah, I can see that. Even though it’s a different record, it’s still a Jimmy Eat World record. It’s okay for people to make those comparisons—we’ve been hearing people say, “It sounds like Futures,” and that’s cool. I think it’s different for everybody. Like, where they are in their life, and to kind of pinpoint that to different bands that you’ve been listening to. So, I can see where you would say that for “Sure And Certain” and “Through” sounding like older songs.
Compared to working on them in the studio, how do you feel that these songs will translate in a live concert setting?
Well, they’re really fun to play live. We have an extra guy out on the road with us. His name is Robin Vining, and he kind of wrote a lot of the backup vocals and guitars and keyboards. So, it’s nice to have that extra guy doing that to fill in a lot of the holes that just the four of us can’t do when we’re by ourselves. I think that is something that helps a lot.
Reflecting on such an eventful and productive year, what do you think 2017 has in store for Jimmy Eat World?
We’re going to be on the road a lot in 2017 with touring. But I am looking forward to playing at some places that we have never played. We’ve never been to Brazil, and I think we are going to Uruguay. So, just going to play those places is something that we’re looking forward to. Hopefully, we will get to add more places like that to the tour, and we would be able to go out, meet some new fans, and perform the new material.
This month, Jimmy Eat World will be making their return to the Tri-State Area, where they will be playing the Victory Beer Hall at XFINITY Live in Philadelphia on Dec. 15, The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on Dec. 16, and Webster Hall in Manhattan on Dec. 17. Jimmy Eat World’s ninth studio album, Integrity Blues, is available now on RCA Records. For more information, go to jimmyeatworld.com.