Originally published on Swizzle-Stick.com (1999)
Behold, Jimmy Eat World’s second album for Capitol Records, Clarity, is now among us and it will soon revolutionize the way other bands make music. The Arizona band, that initially melded together influences ranging from punk rock to Metallica to Sunny Day Real Estate, has found a new maturity and has filled out their sound with strings, keyboards, and even a drum machine.
I first hooked up with Jimmy Eat World upon the recommendation of Triple Fast Action’s Wes Kidd who co-produced their last album, Statis Prevails, along with Mark Trombino of Drive Like Jehu. The total emotion that the band displayed, both on record and in a live setting, leaves me in awe to this day.
Guitarist Tom Linton recently checked in with Swizzlestick to give the low-down on the new album as well as on the new track the band recently recorded.
What are you guys doing today?
We’re in the studio. We have one new song that we’re thinking about throwing on our new record. But we don’t know how we’re going to do it because 10,000 have already been pressed. Maybe on the next pressing we’ll throw it on. It’s sounding really good.
I finally got a copy of Clarity. Are you prepared for the great praise you will get for it?
We’ll see, we’ll see. It’s a lot different huh? What happened was on the last record we did, we spent more money on the last record and we had less time to do it. On this new record we spent ten days at this really nice studio and we had 35 days at a studio that was okay. So we had more time to try new stuff and experiment.
Did Mark Trombino produce the whole thing?
Yeah, he produced the whole thing. He has had more experience recording other bands (since the last record) and he’s gotten a lot better at producing. He definitely helps a lot with new ideas and stuff like that.
I recognize some of the songs from catching you live over the last year. Have you been playing most of the new stuff while on tour?
Let’s see, you saw us when we played at the college (Ohio State University), huh? Was that the last time?
I saw you in Cleveland in November too, I think.
Some of the songs we played on tour. “Lucky Denver Mint” we played. “Blister” we played a lot. Every night we tried to throw in a couple of new songs to practice them and get them ready for when the record comes out.
So how old are some of the songs? Were they written right after you recorded Static Prevails or are many of them new?
Um…it’s all mixed up. Some of them were written after the second record came out. It’s been a while since the second record came out.
What kind of direction is the song you were working on today headed? Can you compare it to anything that is on Clarity?
It’s just a rock/pop song. It’s not really like a mellow song with strings or anything like that.
Do you have any plans of ever playing a show with a string section and recreating the sound of Clarity?
I think that would be really cool. I think one of these days we will. That would be really cool to do.
It seemed like around November/December a lot of people started talking about the album and a lot of people were putting it on Best of ’98 lists even though it hadn’t been released yet.
Oh really? Even before they heard it?
No. I don’t know how many copies you guys gave out, but it seemed like I kept reading about it. Did you just give it to a few people and it leaked out?
It’s funny because we made a demo tape of all the new songs. We recorded it ourselves and that tape just got everywhere. We just gave it to bands and stuff like that. I just talked to kids at shows and they’d be like “Yeah, I have a tenth generation copy of that tape.”
I was trying to get it from someone who I knew had it. That person had gotten their copy from the Gloria Record and the tape was all screwed up and spliced together.
It’s funny how far that thing got around – that shitty demo tape. It sounds a lot different. It’s way more stripped down and stuff.
Do you think Capitol is actually going to get behind you this time around and help promote the album?
We’re kind of getting played on the radio. So now, last time we played at the Troubadour in L.A., all these Capitol people came to the show and they were like, “We’ve been behind you the whole time.” They were people we had never met. But they are being cool, I think they are going to do a lot more than they did on our last record. They didn’t do shit for us at all.
Are they going to let you make a video, or is that something you even care about?
We probably will. We haven’t even talked about it yet. I guess we’ll see how it goes.
“Lucky Denver Mint” is the first single?
Yeah, it’s crazy. We weren’t really expecting it from what happened with our last record. It’s really cool. We’re happy. A lot of places are playing the single from the EP (distributed by the indie label Fueled By Ramen). Capitol has helped us out a lot. They’ve got a new radio guy there that has actually been helping us a lot by calling up the radio stations and stuff.
Would you be opposed to hearing one of your songs on any of the shows like Dawson’s Creek or Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
We got asked to do a song for Baseketball and we said no. We’ll see. There’s another movie that some guy at Capitol asked us if we wanted to do. I’d like to see what the movie is about before we commit to anything.
How is it now compared to when you started among your peers? Do you get any flak for being on a major label while the rest of them are on indies?
There never was. We’ve had a couple of problems with people, but it’s never really been anything too bad. It’s never really been anything too bad where people have given us too much shit about it.
In the long run, those bands who aren’t on a major label will wind up making more money than you will!
Yeah. Totally, it’s true. That’s funny.
What’s going on with the upcoming tour?
We’re doing half of the tour with a band called At the Drive In from El Paso, Texas. They are really good. I think when we get on the East Coast is when we hook up with Sensefield.
Will you be opening for Sensefield or headlining?
I think we’ll be headlining. We’ll be headlining right? (Tom asks someone on his end)
(voice in the distance) Hell yeah!
That is our roadie, Paul.
Was that a ‘hell yeah’? That’s good. That’s a little bit different than the last time you toured with Sensefield and you opened.
It’s crazy how that shit works. I feel kind of bad.
I noticed that you finally got the Jimmy Eat World webpage up and running. It looks really good.
Thanks. Zach has been working on that like crazy. He’s totally getting into it. I think he’s doing another design right now. He’s upstairs working on stuff. It helps out a lot.
I know you know this question is coming because I’ve asked you a million times before . . .
How did we get our name?
No. But to finally get the explanation on tape, why do you only do lead vocals on one song on the new album?
Uhhhhhhhh . . . we’re just trying something new I guess. The first record that we did, I sang all the songs and Jim sang one song. The second record was even. This record is pretty much I sing one song and Jim sings the rest. I don’t know. It had nothing to do with anybody from Capitol saying “Jim you need to sing.” That’s just how it worked out. Jim is a better singer than I am.
What is your favorite song on the new album?
“Ten.” Probably “Ten.”
My favorites change day to day. I am really digging the new version of “Your New Aesthetic.” I didn’t recognize it the first time I heard it after hearing the version from the EP.
You were like “What the hell?” We’ll probably be playing that live.
Why did you decide to record two very different versions of that song?
That’s actually a question you’re going to have to ask Jim. I’m not really sure about that.
I also noticed that in “Crush” there is a guitar part that reminds me a lot of “Call it in the Air” off the last record.
It kind of is the same I guess – the rocking guitar. Have you heard the first version of “Crush”? The seven-inch? It was released on a three-band split with Sensefield and Mineral. It’s a pretty old song and we just decided to re-record it and see how it turned out. We liked how it turned out so we decided to put it on the record.
What do you think, you’re only 3 albums into your career . . .
There is a fourth album? Are you counting the EP?
No. Our first record, one of our friends in Arizona put it out. It’s totally different. It’s like really fast.
And then came Static Prevails and then what?
Oops. Wait, is that right? Oh, that’s three, sorry.
I actually have a copy of the first one that I bought on the Internet.
Um . . . I’m not even in the band. (laughs)
There is a band with the name Call it in the Air.
Really? Where are they from? Do you think we could sue them? (more laughter) I’m just kidding. Are you sure they named it from our song? I’ll check them out, that’s kind of funny. That’s cool. That’s crazy.
How do you feel about that? A lot of bands are already citing you as an influence.
I think it’s really cool but it’s kind of weird, you know?
I’m interested in seeing how things change in the scene because of your new sound.
You mean as far as the different types of people that will come to the show?
That and how it affects bands that you influenced. I’d like to see if you lead the new revolution of sound with people including different types of instruments and stuff.
I guess we’ll find out in the next year, huh? It’ll be crazy.