jimmy-eat-world-Issue-No27JIMMY EAT WORLD

Looking at love and life with a new perspective—and a new producer

Though best known for their optimistic 2002 hit “The Middle,” Jimmy Eat World’s lyrics have always leaned more toward heartache and internal struggle. With the polished rock of their eighth album, Damage, frontman Jim Adkins decided to write an album that reflected the world-weary attitudes of someone who has grown up writing love songs. “The kinds of love songs that interest me are the ones that deal with heartache and emotional injury,” says Adkins. “Nothing annoys me more than if you stack happy on top of happy. I had to approach it from an honest perspective of the world around me now. I’m a little older, and the idea of love songs now is not the same as when you approach it from the perspective of discovery.”

Damage was recorded in producer Alain Johannes’ studio to analog tape as well as digitally. The decision was made in part because Johannes had the tape machine, but also because it fit the band’s recording strategy. “It was the way we wanted to approach the record: Don’t overthink things. Let it go, move on, do the next thing,” says Adkins. “I think inherently, when you work with tape, that all comes out.”

The choice of producer was itself a shift. Mark Trombino had produced five out of Jimmy Eat World’s previous seven records, including 2010’s Invented. Meanwhile the band—which formed in 1993—had taken on larger roles as co-producers over the years. “We wanted to have a fresh pair of ears around all the time. We haven’t worked like that in a while,” Adkins says. “We’ve been pretty heavy-handed in the engineering and production of our last couple of albums.”

Adkins also says that bringing in Johannes “accomplishes a really important role of a producer in keeping things fun, exciting and rewarding. When you’re really struggling with something, trying to get a take and not hearing what you want to hear, it’s important to have somebody around to get you out of your own head and jog your perspective a bit.”

The band’s perspective has gradually shifted away from the scrappy punk of their early days to their current, more mature song structure. “If you’re writing something, and you go back and say, ‘Man, that sounds exactly like me,’ then I think you’re not on the right track at all,” says Adkins. “If you listen to something and say, ‘Man, I don’t know, does this sound like me?’ Then I think you’re on the right track. Then I think you’re moving forward.”

–Amanda Farah


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