Jimmy Eat World
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Jimmy Eat World

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We were all friends before the band started and I think that’s a big part of it,” says the 42-year-old Linton, reached on the phone from his home in Chandler, Arizona. “Jim and Rick have known each other since pre-school and I’ve known Rick since we were 12,” he continues. “We started playing music in high school, when we were kids. We all get along and that makes it fun.”

That Jimmy Eat World is able to maintain a level of “fun” in their job is evident in Damages, at least sonically. Damages is a no-nonsense collection of the classic riff-driven pop punk that Jimmy Eat World firmly established themselves with their 1999 lauded release, Clarity.

Yet peel away the layers of the record and a haunting lyrical presence is revealed. Damages has been described by lead singer Jim Adkins as an album that examines “…adversity and emotional injury” and has also been described in reviews as an album about “adult breakups.” Writing records with a specific theme in place has become part of Jimmy Eat World’s collective drive, spearheaded by Adkins’ desire to continue to experiment with the process.

“It’s a way for (Adkins) to just step out of the box and try something different to help with the writing process,” says Linton, adding that the “last couple records” have also featured a consistent theme throughout each one.

With the change in label, Jimmy Eat World also chose to change up their standard recording procedures. The band’s success throughout the past two decades has afforded them the ability to record in their own studio and rehearsal space, Unit 2 in Tempe, Arizona. Realising how easy it can be to fall into habitual traps, Linton and the band took to Los Angeles to record Damages. The result is a band that sounds fresh and energised.

I put it to Linton that this change, including the fact that the band funded the recording process themselves while searching for a new label, led to the palpable energy of Damages.

“Back in the day, when we first started playing, that kind of artistic freedom was very important to us,” he said. “But we ended up having to put pressure on ourselves because the last few records were recorded in our own space so it’s gotten very easy for us to get lazy. So if something wasn’t going right it was very easy for us to say, ‘Oh, forget it, we’ll just come back and work on it tomorrow.’

“But for this record we said, ‘Let’s go somewhere we really like, Los Angeles and let’s work with someone we really like, (producer Alain Johannes)’,” he continues. “We got hotel rooms and just recorded in his house. It gave us a timetable because we had to be in and out at a certain time. It was nice to do that and made us very efficient, I think.”

Twenty years into their time as a band, Jimmy Eat World seem to have it all figured out. Routinely throughout our conversation, Linton comes back to the idea that almost serves as their anchor: friendship first. “Young bands sometimes don’t understand that that is the most important thing you can do is play with people you can get along with.”

BY JOSHUA KLOKE