“Our creative goals are set by our own standards,” declares Jim Adkins. As the lead singer and guitarist of acclaimed band Jimmy Eat World, Adkins admits to drawing inspiration for a myriad of varied influences, from Twisted Sister and Quiet Riot, to The Mars Volta and U2. But while Jim respects others’ creativity, his head is in the right place, “We look up to other bands, more about how they operate than regarding what we want to achieve musically. We try not to be too calculating,” Jim explains. Whatever their formula for success, it seems to be working.
In 1994 Jimmy Eat World was formed in Mesa, Arizona. At first, the band delved into punk rock sounds while playing small shows and clubs in their native Arizona, but soon created a more modern/alternative rock vibe which eventually led to a major label deal with Capitol Records.
Over the course of the following decade, college radio hits, movie soundtracks, and label changes allowed Jimmy Eat World to be exposed to a larger audience. And in the summer of 2001, the smash-hit single, “The Middle” was released off the band’s third album, Jimmy Eat World. This song opened up the floodgates as soaring record sales, appearances on MTV’s TRL, and huge tours with bands such as Weezer and Tenacious D would depict. Consisting of Jim Adkins (vocals/guitar), Zach Lind (drums), Tom Linton (guitar), and Rick Burch (bass), Jimmy Eat World earned a spot on the pop rock map.
The band is fresh off another successful tour with Green Day and is currently in the studio working on their fifth album, which will be released on Interscope Records. Vocalist/guitarist Jim Adkins recently sat down with VOX USA to talk a little about gear, influences, and the future of Jimmy Eat World.
VOX: You are the lead singer of Jimmy Eat World and you also play the guitar. Did you always play the guitar?
Jim: There was a time in my life where I wasn’t playing guitar. I was in perhaps, third grade, when I started, I think.
VOX: How did you get into it?
Jim: My dad played guitar, and so he showed me a couple of things. That and watching the birth of MTV era heavy metal – the theatrical kind like Twisted Sister and stuff like that. It was really, really rad looking to a third grader.
VOX: So you’re saying Twisted Sister is the real root of Jimmy Eat World?
Jim: It’s that and maybe Quiet Riot and Ratt, too. A lot of hair metal groups.
VOX: What are you listening to right now?
Jim: Now I’ve been listening to hip-hop stations. My jam is “Riding” by Chamillionaire featuring Krayzie Bone. That’s my jam right now.
VOX: Do you play other instruments as well?
Jim: I play keyboard a little bit. I play drums a little bit. Whatever is around I’ll probably pick up and mess with, but guitar is the main thing I do.
VOX: So when did you first learn about VOX?
Jim: The first time I tried playing VOX amps was probably when we were making our first record, Static Prevails, and they had a VOX Super Beatle at the studio. It had a trapezoid head, and the cabinet was in a convenient angle up or down swivel thing. I think we ended up using that a lot for our first record on Capital, and after that I was always on the lookout for an AC30.
VOX: So you did have other AC30s before the Custom Classics?
Jim: Yeah, for a long time I was using the first series of reissues that came out in ‘97 or ’98. In the mid ‘90s, I found one for a pretty good price and starting using it. I was really impressed with it. I’d throw that up against a true vintage AC30, and while there were some differences, reliability and sound wise, it was good.
VOX: And now you rely on a new AC30 Custom Classic, right?
Jim: Yeah. You know, the first thing I did was throw up the Custom Classic against my vintage reissue. I thought it was cool because internally you can jump the channels. On the Custom Classics you can combine the normal and top boost channels. This is nice because you can add in a level of body that’s different from just bass response. I like that. And I like that there’s a sweep; there’s more than just on or off. There is a wet-dry kind of balance that you could engage in the tremolo aspect of it. You don’t have to have it on a separate channel. I thought that was cool.
Tone-wise it can do what the reissue does, but you could also boost it more so it gets a modern, saturated kind of distortion. Or you can back it off and have a true vintage, crunchy clean tone.
VOX: How do you set up your AC30?
Jim: I set it up mainly on the top boost channel, maybe a little bit of the normal channel. There’s not a whole lot of saturation. I like hearing individual notes over a chord. I can control the distortion and sustain by just dynamic playing, rather than stepping on a box for a boost.
VOX: So what’s in store for Jimmy Eat World?
Jim: Next is writing, recording, and working on a new album.
VOX: Any idea as to when it will be released?
Jim: Not sure…
VOX: You don’t have the record label breathing down your neck?
Jim: Actually, we don’t. I mean it’s kind of pointless to get uptight about making a record when you don’t have one to make.
VOX: That’s true.
Jim: It’s always been our position that the record is really the most important part of what you do. There might be some bands out there that might try to throw anything together so they can go on the road. We kind of come from a place where it’s better to have something that you’re proud of at any cost. That is the only thing you are going to walk away from this whole thing with. So you might as well be proud of it.
VOX: That’s true, too. What else is going on with you, Jim?
Jim: I also have a record label that’s called Western Tread Recordings. I started it so I could release our stuff on vinyl. I wanted to have that available for people. We just released an EP about six months ago that hasn’t been released on vinyl yet. We’re probably going to put that out with a couple of extra songs, so that what’s coming up.
VOX: Is there a market for vinyl still?
Jim: Yeah, people buy it, I don’t know who they are, but they buy it.
VOX: That’s interesting.
Jim: Yeah, I’d buy it.
VOX: Do you own…
Jim: One of those old fashion contraptions that play phonographic records? Yeah.
Find out what’s up next for Jimmy Eat World at www.jimmyeatworld.com.