Jimmy Eat World
Jimmy Eat World
As teenagers, the members of rock group Jimmy Eat World signed their first record contract with a major label just a year after they started playing together. The group then changed its lineup before the release of its first album, Static Prevails, in 1996. Not long after the release of their sophomore effort, Jimmy Eat World was dropped from Capitol Records, and the members had to start from scratch. This time, with experience behind them, they approached their careers on their own terms and conquered the rock world with a voracious appetite.
Singer/guitarist Jim Adkins and drummer Zach Lind went to school together at Mountain View High School in Mesa, Arizona. Adkins, Lind, bassist Mitch Porter, and singer/guitarist Tom Linton played in local bands and eventually joined forces to form Jimmy Eat World in February of 1994. They came up with the name based on a picture drawn by Adkins’ brother after they had an argument as kids. The picture showed Adkins eating the world.
Jimmy Eat World played various venues around Arizona and released split records, singles, and a self-titled album through Wooden Blue Records. Their straightforward sound helped them gain local notoriety. “We describe it as simple music that’s elaborately prepared,” Adkins explained to Michael Moses in Rolling Stone. Others categorized the band as “emocore,” which is commonly defined as punk rock with emotion. In 1995, just a year after their formation, Jimmy Eat World signed a recording contract with Capitol Records. At the time, Adkins and Linton were just 19 years old.
Before they released their debut, Porter left the group and was replaced by Rich Burch, who had gone to Westwood High School with Linton. With the new lineup in place, Jimmy Eat World released their major-label debut album, Static Prevails, in 1996. The album sold more than 10,000 copies. The follow-up tour across the United States included performances for audiences with as few as 100 in attendance and as many as 5,000. “We’re just happy to get out of Arizona,” Linton told the Orange County Register. “When you’ve lived your entire life in one place, it’s nice to get away. During the past year, we’ve played in front of different people in different cities that most of us have never gone to.”
In 1998 Jimmy Eat World released a self-titled EP on the Fueled by Ramen label. The EP featured the track “Lucky Denver Mint,” which later appeared on the Never Been Kissed soundtrack. On February 23, 1999, the group released their second effort for Capitol Records, Clarity, which included the single “Table for Glasses.” Not long after this, the band learned that the record company, after hiring a new president, had dropped them from its roster. The band’s contacts began to dwindle. “We were pretty much invisible there, and it wasn’t going to get any better,” Adkins explained to Matt Schild at the Dallas Observer. “If you are on a major label and nobody knows who you are, it’s just a bad situation.”
Luckily, Capitol Records had given the group a van, which they used to continue touring. In 2000 they played the Bizarre and PopKomm festivals, two of the largest music festivals in Germany. That same year, Jimmy Eat World released Singles on Big Wheel Recreation Records and a split EP with Jebediah. They used the money they received from touring to return to the recording studio. “We got to a point where we thought that we should just make the record,” Adkins told Bob Mehr in the Phoenix New Times. “So we decided to pay for it ourselves.”
After deciding to record on their own, the group realized the artistic freedom it had. “There was no record company, no A&R guy, no manager—just us,” Adkins explained in an interview on the group’s official website. “We looked at the whole thing as a liberating experience, rather than part of any deliberate plan.”
Jimmy Eat World completed the CD Bleed American before taking it to record companies. It didn’t take long before it was picked up by DreamWorks Records and released on June 24, 2001. Featuring the singles “The Middle” and “Bleed American,” the album became their most successful release to date. “Using a disarming sensitivity, they speak to a youth culture frosted over by irony, prefab fun, and knee-jerk belligerence,” wrote Barry Walters wrote in his Rolling Stone review. “Jimmy Eat World favor technique over the unfocused outbursts of other emo bands, but their earnestness is
For the Record…
Members include Jim Adkins, guitar, vocals; Rich Burch (joined group, 1995), bass; Zach Lind, drums; Tom Linton, guitar, vocals; Mitch Porter (left group, 1995), bass.
Group formed in Mesa, AZ, 1994; signed contract with Capitol Records, 1995; released Static Prevails, 1996; released Jimmy Eat World EP on Fueled by Ramen, 1998; released Clarity, 1999; dropped by Capitol Records, 1999; released Singles on Big Wheel Recreation, 2000; signed contract with DreamWorks Records, released Bleed American, 2001.
Addresses: Record company —DreamWorks Records, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608. Website—Jimmy Eat World Official Website: http://www.jimmyeatworld.net.
breathtaking.” Adkins explained how the group’s approach on Bleed American differed from previous work. “On our new stuff, rather than challenging ourselves [by] getting real experimental, we kind of went the other direction, challenging ourselves by getting very simple,” Adkins told Matt Schild in the Dallas Observer.
The simplistic approach paid off. The release of Bleed American was followed by an extensive tour, which included Europe, Australia, and Japan. Jimmy Eat World also joined Blink-182, Tenacious D, and Weezer on the Vans Warped Tour in the United States, toured with Weezer and Tenacious D, and headlined their own club tour. The album had sold more than 173,000 just five months after its release. “Album sales are definitely a big deal to the band because it shows how the fanbase is growing,” Lind told Joe D’Angelo at MTV.com. “[If you’re] doing anything creative, you want more and more people to enjoy what you do. And really, [sales] are just a black and white projection of how well you’re doing.”
According to Adkins, the success of Jimmy Eat World has never relied on an elaborate master plan. “I’m surprised things have worked out as well as they have, because it all has to do with luck and timing,” Adkins told Bob Mehr in the Phoenix New Times. “Honestly, I expected things to be decent, but I didn’t expect to get the chance that I think we’re going to get. That’s pretty much the only thing that you can hope for—is the chance.”
Static Prevails, Capitol, 1996.
Jimmy Eat World (EP), Fueled by Ramen, 1998.
Clarity, Capitol, 1999.
(Contributor) Never Been Kissed (soundtrack), Capitol, 1999.
Singles, Big Wheel Recreation, 2000.
Bleed American, DreamWorks, 2001.
(Contributor) National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (soundtrack), Artemis, 2002.
Dallas Observer, October 26, 2000.
Observer (Tufts University), March 11, 1999.
Orange County Register, January 13-19, 1997.
People, August 6, 2001.
Phoenix New Times, May 10, 2001; June 21, 2001.
Rolling Stone, February 25, 1999.
Yellow Jacket (West Virginia State College), November 2, 1999.
“Bands A-Z: Jimmy Eat World—Biography,” MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/bands/az/jimmy_eat_world/bio.jhtml (January 27, 2002).
“Jimmy Eat World Biography,” RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bio.asp?oid=4293&cf=4293 (January 27, 2002).
Jimmy Eat World Official Website, http://www.jimmyeatworld.net/history (January 27, 2002).
“Jimmy Eat World Suggest Keeping Your Pants On,” MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1451167/20011126/story.jhtml (January 27, 2002).
“Pop Goes the Emo on Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American,” MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1445450/20010726/jimmy_eat_world.jhtml (January 27, 2002).
“Weezer, Tenacious D, Jimmy Eat World Map Out Midget Tour,” MTV.com, http://www.mtv.eom/news/articles/1450326/20011024/story.jhtml (January 27, 2002).
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