Jimmy Eat World: Set goals that you can control

Jimmy Eat World: Set goals that you can control
Photo by Michael Elins

Ask any pop-punk band about their influences growing up, and you'll most likely find Jimmy Eat World in the mix. They've been making music since the early '90s, catching their big break in 2002 with their catchy hit "The Middle." But the Arizona band is more than that one song; each album before and since captures an evolving group of musicians hell-bent on making music they like. On the heels of their newest album, Damage -- an exercise in smart pop construction -- Jimmy Eat World are set to get back on the road again.

During a two-day break from his home in Phoenix, drummer Zach Lind spoke with Gimme Noise about the making of Damage and the secret to the band's longevity before their show at First Avenue on Monday night. The drummer also voiced his hopes that it will not be unbearably humid when the band hits town, saying, "That's the kind of heat that kills me."

Lind describes the new album as something not drastically different than 2010's Invented, but rather more cohesive. "The last album [Invented] was a little bit of a schizophrenic process. This one was much more simple and straightforward. There's a rawness and simplicity to the album that we didn't have on the last two albums. Working like that, we put more into the way we recorded than anything else, although the songs themselves aren't huge departures from anything we've done before."

Throughout the making of Damage, Jimmy Eat World were without a label and trying to figure out what the plan would be with the new album. The group even considered self-releasing the album -- this being easier these days with the evolution of the internet -- but eventually settled on RCA. Their deal is dramatically different from the often-criticized 360 deal of big record labels, allowing them much more control over their music and their money. Lind shares, "It was the best thing for this record. It's easier to have a company that supports you worldwide, and it required a lot more to self-release than we had the resources for. With our deal with RCA, we are basically the label. They package and distribute it, but we own the record, so in a lot of ways it's not really a conventional record deal."

Not trying to please anyone else has proved to be successful for the band thus far, although it did stump Lind when asked why their fans have been so dedicated to them for so long. "I don't know. My guess would be they really like the music. We really don't think about that at all when we're recording a new record. We don't try to be something for someone else. I think the reason for our longevity is we don't necessarily create a process to please anyone but ourselves and staying true to the art. If you meet a Jimmy Eat World fan, as long as we're making good music and writing good songs, I feel those fans will be around. I think be trying not to make certain kinds of records, we have been different, but over a course of time have been able to include a variety in our catalog."

Success is relative in any career, and Lind brings up his musical successes along with his personal ones. "For us, success is making sure you're doing something you'll be proud of in the long run -- not rushing in the studio. One of the lessons we've learned over the years is that when you do stuff, it's gonna be there in the future. You can't go back and do it again. Just being satisfied that we're making a record we want to listen to is a barometer of success for us."

Outside of music, Lind mentions his family. "I'm trying to be a good dad to three kids, and I try to do everything I can to fulfill that role -- especially since it's difficult being in a band and traveling all of the time. Just like now, I was out in Europe for two and a half weeks, and I'm home for two days before leaving again for another two weeks. Those are the challenges I have. I don't have lofty goals outside of being the best drummer I can be and fulfilling things in my life like being a father. It's good to have goals, but if you get overly specific, like 'We want to have our song played on this radio station' or 'We want to play this festival" -- none of that you control. I try to set goals that I can control."

Something else that the band can't control is how others view them, most specifically other bands and Jimmy Eat World's influence on them. When asked if he felt any pressure trying to live up to other people's expectations of him, Lind replies, "It's flattering that bands look up to us, and I'm really appreciative of that, but it's not something we take so seriously. That worrying would affect our creative process. I don't think about trying to live up to other people's expectations of us. That's not the healthiest train of thought. It can circle back to what you can control. We can't control people. It's fulfilling for us in being creative and doing it honestly -- hopefully there will be an audience for that."

Jimmy Eat World will perform with X Ambassadors at First Avenue on Monday, July 8, 2013.
18+, $25, 7 pm
Purchase tickets here.

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