Back in 2004, when Jimmy Eat World released its fifth album, Futures, singer/guitarist Jim Adkins sang in the title track that he hoped "for better in November" and that listeners would "believe your voice can mean something."
It was around this time President George W. Bush was up for re-election against Senator John Kerry. The song wasn't released as a single until the following year (Adkins says he's fine with the label's decision to release "Pain" as the lead single), and Bush took his seat again in the White House.
Despite any political swaying "Futures" could have made 10 years ago, Adkins insists that, despite the album name, he tries to live in the moment -- an attitude that has seen him through more than 20 years of playing with the band.
"Ten years ago, I didn't know where I'd be in two years," Adkins says. "People who have a five-year plan, I can't relate to that concept. You have as much opportunity right now to be happy and satisfied as you do in that imaginary five-year self. No matter what you choose to do and direct your effort in life, you're always going to be missing things. I think even people who decide what they want to do in 10 years probably have regret."
The work on Futures didn't necessarily indicate the sonic direction that the band -- including guitarist Tom Linton, bassist Rick Burch, and drummer Zach Lind -- would land today. The gold album, produced by Jimmy Eat World's onetime producer Gil Norton, is one of the band's most complex discs, kicking off with the buoyant, catchy title track and moving into moodier territory on the tense "Polaris," where Adkins wails, "You're killing everything in me." "Drugs or Me" is a beautiful, piano-filled ballad clocking in at more than six minutes that has Adkins pleading with someone to ditch substances and head back to a sunnier place. Compared to the band's current writing process, Adkins says, the music that fills Futures shows off the meticulous approach to the band's songwriting style.
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"I think things are a little bit simpler now," Adkins says. "We move on a more instinctual level, rather than more of a planning-out level. The details seem to work themselves out, and that comes with time as a band. Futures is pretty dense. There's a lot going on that we decided to record. [Norton] definitely made us think about detail. There are a lot of things happening under the surface you pick up after you listen a few times."
The band gets to revisit the entire album every night on its current Futures 10 Year Anniversary Tour, on which they play the full album along with deeper cuts. Considering the tour has been mostly sold out, and fans coming out have been with the band for more than a decade, the set list is a special one for longtime admirers of the band. One thing Adkins, a Valley resident, is looking forward to about playing in Tempe is the opportunity to show his friends what he's doing all those days he's on the road.
While Jimmy Eat World is focusing on older material for this tour, which they'll take next to Australia and New Zealand, the band has been writing new material since the release of its latest album, Damage, though Adkins can't confirm any solid plans for the band's next project beyond touring.
For now, the band and local fans can toast to the band's work with a beer named after Futures at Gilbert's Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. The saison, with 6.5 percent alcohol by volume, features prickly pear.
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