Monday, October 22, 2007

extrawack! interview: Jimmy Eat World

In the midst of the release-week of their new album (which sits atop of the iTunes charts and will debut top-five in Billboard next week), Jimmy Eat World's Zach Lind checked-in to give us the scoop on touring and staying friends, recording in Mesa, and working with super-producer Butch Vig.

extrawack!: Your new album, Chase The Light, was produced by yourselves and Chris Testa, who is best known, I think, for his work with The Dixie Chicks. How did you hook up with him?

Zach: We met Chris in a studio in L.A. where we were doing some mixing, and Chris was an assistant there on some projects that we were sort of neighbors with, and he’d be in one studio and we’d be in another, and I think we just kind of popped in and started hanging out with the different people there, so we got to know Chris and thought that he was someone who we’d like to work with in the future. And we decided to make this new album in our home studio in Tempe, and we wanted to find someone who was young and excited about recording and was willing to come and live in Arizona for a long period of time...he ended up staying out here for about eight months. He was just a great fit, it worked out really well, and we loved working with Chris.

extrawack!: I see Butch Vig has an Executive Producer credit on this album...what was his involvement?

Zach: He was involved more heavily in the pre-production aspects of the kind of a direction and helping out with the direction of each tune and tightening things up. He came for about a week before we started, he stayed a little bit when we tracked drums, but he mostly stayed in L.A. and we would email him stuff that we’d been doing and he’d send us notes. He had one foot in the project and one foot out which was nice because he’d have an objective point of view. We really liked having him in that role.

extrawack!: The album, to me, sounds somehow more grander or bigger sounding than past albums. Is that just me, or is that something you went for?

Zach: Well, the songs lend themselves to sound a little more grandiose or whatever. We wanted the songs to have a lot of impact and we just kind of went for that and didn’t really shy away from it.

extrawack!: Something I really like about Jimmy Eat World albums is that they all close with kind of a grand finale epic song. I’m assuming that’s done by design...Is it difficult to come to a consensus in the band as to what track to end an album with?

Zach: Not really, I think it really wasn’t a big issue. On this album we thought we’d end with something opposite to that and it would be something almost very upbeat and pop and short. But I think there’s something in that we like to view the whole thing as an album with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even though the songs have their own meaning, we like the albums to have their own feel of a story in their own way. And usually for us the song that leaves you with a certain musical reflection is the one that we put at the end, and "Dizzy" was one of those songs that felt like if we put it anywhere else on the album it would feel out of place and so we kind of went with it and stuck with the formula.

extrawack!: It’s a nice punctuation mark...

Zach: Well, yeah, that’s kind of the way we like to do it, you know? But at the end of the day people get the record and re-sequence it however they want. The sequence seems to be sort of a lost art, but something we pay attention to when we put together the album.

extrawack!: You guys scored Platinum and Gold status on your last couple of albums. Given the current state of the music business, do you think those kinds of sales are within your reach, or have you had to switch-up your game-plan at all?

Zach: I don’t know, we don’t need to necessarily switch-up our game plan...we’re gonna sell what we sell. I think we’ve been a band for about fifteen years now and I think the majority of people who know us have decided if they like us or they don’t, so who knows?

extrawack!: Jimmy Eat World are known in the industry for being "road dogs", and I see you have plans to tour until 2009...and I know that you and Jim have been friends since you were little kids. How have you guys figured out to be together so much, without getting on each others nerves to the point where you all have to take separate tour buses like Motley Crue?

Zach: I think for us, we’ve never really gotten on each others nerves that much. I think the fact that we were all friends before we started the band helps in that regard. I don’t think there’s any issue that comes along that we get worked up about or to the point that we are angry at each other about. I think the cool thing about our band is that everyone is giving it their all, whether it’s in the studio or performing...that’s all you can really expect from each other, so after that, there’s really not much to fight over. We have a pretty easy time of getting along.

Jimmy Eat World - "Big Casino", from Chase The Light:

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