Why did Jimmy Eat World decide to do a cover of Swift's song?
When the record came out, [music journalism publication] NME asked us to do a popular music cover of something. I had just seen [Swift] play, and reviews of her record were that it was a breakup record. I had to change a couple things to approach it the way I would do it, so we worked it out to how we do it.
It turned out the NME session they wanted us to play was on their couch sitting in their office, and the whole thing of ours is how heavy it is, so we kind of abandoned that. We got an opportunity to do an iTunes session, so we decided to record it for that. That was the same day we were playing for Conan. We had been playing it out live, and Conan has always been great for us, so we thought it'd be cool to do it.
What were your thoughts with how you arranged the cover?
It's all about the chorus, really. It's a great chorus, so it was just sampling everything else around it and taking what I would sing as the lyrics with the phrasing and tempo and vibe change. Her version is pretty wordy. She's almost rapping, and that didn't work for me, so I had to tuck some phrasing some around. It was finding what I was into and making it fit.
Why did you decide to make your version heavy?
That was just the first thing that popped into my mind about it. If you slowed it down and made it heavier, it would really bring out the rage and fist pump out, instead of the head bop.
What was it like playing with Swift in Glendale?
She had this gag where there was this long catwalk in the arena, and underneath, there are all these things where people are being shot out of. She asked me if I was cool with the elevator, rising from the floor with smoke all around me. The heavy metal kid in me was like, "I have to do that."
What do you hope people take away from the Conan cover?
Probably the same reaction we've been getting from shows. I tell people it's a cover song, and when we start playing it, people don't get it at first, and then when it gets to the chorus, people are just cheering. Then by the end, everyone in the room is admitting they know the song.
What can fans expect from your new world tour you're embarking on in August?
If you like the new record, we're playing a lot of material from that. If you know our catalog at all, we're playing some songs we've never toured before. We're a band that has played for 25 years, and we sound better than we ever have before.
Why did the band decide to go with "Damage" as the first single off the album?
The idea of picking singles for stuff, I'm glad I don't have that job. What I like is rarely the same thing as what's commercially successful. I look at singles as being, someone who doesn't know your band at all, what would you show them that would reflect your band? I do think there is something to be said for having a hookier song be that song for people, that idea of casting a wide net.
I think "Damage" would be my first choice. It's a little bit of everything on the record, maybe a little bit less heavy. It might surprise people who think we only have one dimension.