Capitol Gains

Jimmy Eat World braves the major-label waters one more time and delivers a daring new album

The band's incessant visibility and growing reputation in the indie scene (the Capitol deal doesn't exclude recording singles or songs for other labels or provide for vinyl releases; the vinyl version of Clarity will be released on Boston's Big Wheel Recreation label) led to its crowning accomplishment--touring with the Promise Ring, playing to crowds of 600 to 700 people every night in every town. The excitement culminated in Philadelphia, where the show was opened by Burning Airlines (ex-Jawbox members) and the debut performance of Jets to Brazil (the much-anticipated project featuring Jawbreaker's front man, two members of Lifetime and the drummer from Texas Is the Reason). Lind claims it was the best show that Jimmy Eat World has ever been involved with.

The end of the tour meant a return to the studio to make full use of the expansive budget Capitol provided. The band went to Los Angeles and spent extended time in Sound City and Clear Lake Audio toying with and perfecting Clarity. The results are a surprising change from Static's mostly straightforward rock.

"It was a way better experience than the first record," Adkins says. The band worked with producer Mark Trombino again, and the familiarity proved an advantage. "We knew how he works, and we're cool with whatever he wants to do. We did stuff on this record that I wouldn't have thought of trying when we were recording the last record. Like I sing falsetto on a couple songs, there's drum loops, a lot more texture. We went into the studio knowing what we wanted to get out of it, and I think we got it."

The songs on Clarity are masterful compositions (excepting the rather tired-sounding "United States," a familiar song to followers of the band) embellished with effects and subtle additions that expand the tracks into intricately woven pop tapestries. "I think on the whole it's a little more mellow, a little more moderate," Lind says. "There's some similarities, but there's a lot of new stuff we haven't done. We got techno, got a little acoustical guitar, a little fusion."

"We've got some skatting, some boo-yaas and 'babys'," Adkins interjects.
"And ska," adds Lind.
"There's no ska."
"Nah, no ska, but it's a good variety of stuff."
A variety that includes a ton of loops, both drum and vocal.

The last track, "Goodbye Sky Harbor," is a 17-minute opus that, three-fourths into it, spirals into 10 separate looped vocal tracks eventually bombarded with spasmodically fast drum loops. What's this? Emotronica?

"We're out to redefine emo," Adkins announces, then laughs maniacally. "Don't quote me on that, please."

Whether or not Capitol gets behind Clarity and gives the recording the promotion that it deserves is anybody's guess. Lind says, "It's already falling into the same pattern as the last record. We're wiser now; our expectations are lower. We won't believe it 'til we see it."

"That's pretty much the mindset of the band--that's great, that's wonderful that you guys are gonna do this stuff for us, but I'll believe it when I see it. Until then, I don't care," Adkins adds.

In the meantime, Jimmy Eat World is preparing to play its first two local shows since returning from Los Angeles and go back on the road shortly after. Strangely enough, despite the band's talent, it's never been what you'd call a hometown favorite, playing local shows only sporadically. Lind says, "We're not really in touch with what people out here think of us. When we play shows, they're relatively uneventful. On tour we're generally bigger on the East Coast."

Lind and Adkins also bring up an interesting paradox. "Because we're a hometown band, we know who not to do shows with and who not to do business with; therefore, it makes it harder to do shows. The majority of the people out there just don't treat bands well," Lind explains.

"There's certain promoters that really take the wind out of your sails as far as playing shows, and it's hard 'cause if you don't go with certain people, it makes it difficult because these people have access to places to play. Like these shows coming up, we have to go to an unconventional venue like a bowling alley to work with people who are fair to the bands."

Thinking, Lind adds, "We haven't really checked out playing on Mill Avenue yet."

"I would love to play Long Wong's on a Friday night right in the middle of a normal Long Wong's set, like two bands that don't sound anything like us," Adkins says, laughing. "I think that would be the funniest thing in the world. Just once, though."

Jimmy Eat World is scheduled to perform on Saturday, August 15, and Friday, August 21, at Tempe Bowl. Call for showtime.

Contact Brendan Kelley at his online address: bkelley@newtimes.com

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