"We're just trying to focus on writing the next album, and we've given ourselves a pretty open window to get that done," he says.
That window is open, in part, because Jimmy Eat World left Capitol, its major-label home since 1995, in September, just six months after the release of its sophomore full-length, Clarity. While Adkins isn't especially bitter about the parting, the experience has shaped his views on how he wants to proceed with the next phase of the band's career.
"First, we want to get a good chunk of the next record done before we even talk to anybody about [signing]. I don't want someone to sign us just because this other label wants to sign us. I want them to actually like the tunes."
The time off has proved to be a fruitful period for Adkins creatively. He estimates that he's written 15 to 17 new songs. "And it's completely new stuff," he says, "things we've never even played out before."
Jimmy Eat World plans to start recording by late spring or early summer, with Drive Like Jehu drummer and noted producer Mark Trombino behind the controls.
The group is looking into a number of alternative and slightly unconventional avenues to release the next record. "It's just in the idea stages, but we're considering licensing the new record to some foreign labels and any moneys we get from that we would use to pay for the recording."
It's an option the group is seriously considering, even though the band could have its pick of any number of attractive indie deals.
"There's not a whole lot of indie labels I like to deal with," says Adkins dryly, alluding to the sometimes shady financial practices common at so many independent record companies. "With major labels, it's lots more business and a lot more politics, but at the same time you get quarterly statements printed out," he adds, laughing.
"More importantly, it would feel good to do it all ourselves. Not to have to take a couple hours out of the afternoon to play stuff for label people and bullshit like that. We just want to do our record, give it to a label and say, 'Here it is, put it out.'"
Adkins' smile quickly fades when he's asked about the direction of the new Jimmy Eat World material. "I don't think people are going to like it," he offers after a long pause. "I really don't. But then again, last time I didn't think people would like Clarity. But I really don't think anyone's going to like this new one. I think it will follow the tradition of us alienating our entire listening audience with each new record. It's real rock, even more like pop-structured songs. I don't think any song is over three and a half minutes."
Adkins says the group will continue to write and extensively demo the new songs before heading into the studio and on a Pacific Rim tour scheduled for the fall.
Until then, the Go Big Casino shows are Adkins' main concern. He expresses his reservations about the approaching two-night stand at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe. A pair of back-to-back shows by a largely unknown commodity is a calculated risk in Phoenix's often-apathetic local music clime. To counter that, Adkins is presenting the shows as "special evenings of entertainment" and has invited several respected indie rock performers to share the bill.
The first show, a 21-and-over affair, will feature sets by Juarez and Glorified, a group fronted by Joe Guevara and Chris Vancore, formerly of San Diego-based Jejune. The second night will be an all-ages event with openers including Scott Tennent and former Far leader Jonah Matronga's One Line Drawing.
Whatever reservations he has about the public reception, Adkins is considerably more confident that the event will not disappoint.
"I want to make the show so good that if you didn't show, you messed up. Kind of like, 'Sorry, it's never gonna happen again,'" jokes Adkins. "Frankly, a lot of the stuff we're doing is such a tremendous amount of effort that it might not happen again.
"Everyone wants to make all aspects of the aesthetic presentation overwhelming and cool. This is not a stand-up-and-shout type of rock 'n' roll show. Basically, it'll be a nice night of music you don't need earplugs to listen to."
Go Big Casino is scheduled to perform a 21-and-over show on Friday, February 18, with Glorified, and Juarez; and an all-ages show on Saturday, February 19, with One Line Drawing, and Scott Tennent, at Nita's Hideaway in Tempe. Music starts at 9 p.m. each night.