Interview: We chat to Jimmy Eat World ahead of their UK tour dates

Having released their Integrity Blues album in October this year, Jimmy Eat World are currently on tour across Europe, preparing to return to the UK.

We catch up with drummer Zach Lind after the band’s sound-check in Wiesbaden, Germany, to find out more about the tour, and the live reaction to their excellent new album.

Jimmy Eat World - Sure and Certain

How has the tour been going so far?

It’s been going really well. We’ve had a lot of fun. The shows have been great. People seem to been responding really well. We don’t have anything to complain about.

The tour has had a mixture of venue sizes. Do you have a preference?

There’s good and bad to all. Sometimes the intimate gigs are really fun and exciting. It always comes down to the crowd.

Sometimes the really small shows backfire a little because they are so small people feel self-conscious, so they don’t move around as much. I’m not saying we enjoy those less, but that can be a factor.

There’s a certain capacity that’s a really nice size, where it feels small but people feel like they can cut loose and have fun.

With that in mind, what can UK audiences expect from your shows?

We’re conscious of the fact that we’ve done a lot of shows in the area. We’re planning to do some songs they might not expect us to do. We have a few setlist surprises.

We’ve been working to incorporate more songs in the mix so that it’s not the same show to show.

How do you go about building a setlist with such a large back-catalogue?

It’s not difficult; it just takes a little bit of time. We have the benefit of playing shows and feeling out what works really well. A lot of that has to do with the fact that we’re playing new songs, so you have to get a feel for transitions. How certain songs feel after other songs.

There’s a relationship that happens with songs, and when you get them in the right order it just feels right. Over the course of playing shows, over the last week or so, we feel like the setlist is really strong, and the crowds seem to be a little bit more amped up. That’s been good to see. It means we’re on the right track.

Does that change the way you approach your new tracks from Integrity Blues?

It doesn’t change our perception of our songs. The one takeaway we have from our Integrity Blues stuff is that it seems like people are really into the new songs this time around. Far more than they have been in a really long time, and the record is only a few weeks old. People haven’t had the songs for too long.

There have been really awesome responses to the new songs. Inevitably when you’re playing in front of 2000 people, the majority of people haven’t heard the new stuff, or aren’t familiar with it. There’s a difference in the crowd energy. But the disparity between Integrity Blues and older songs isn’t as wide as we’ve seen in the past. That’s really heartening.

We worked really hard to make sure every song is something that we love. We didn’t put anything on there we didn’t love. If there are certain songs that people react to more then we’ll play those more. We really want to please our fans.

Did you set out to make the new songs more immediate?

We weren’t all that worried about it. Immediacy of a tune isn’t something we prioritise when we are writing a song. We don’t necessarily shoot to write something that feels really immediate.

We enjoy songs that have satisfying moments. That’s just the kind of music we’ve written over the course of the band. We went in with a heightened sense of energy, and a goal to really test our limits and challenges ourselves; to raise the level, and to take each song to its furthest potential. We were focussed on that so much, I think it just comes across. We don’t feel like there are any weak moments on the record.

Do comparisons frustrate you to your older material?

I think you have to shrug it off. When you’re making an album it’s not very wise to sit there and worry about what people expect. You just want to do something that feels like your best work, regardless of if the song is really weird. Is it a good weird? Those are the questions we are asking ourselves.

We don’t necessarily write it off because it’s strange or odd. We pursue it and make it as good as we can, and then decide if it’s going to go on the record. We’re not thinking about Bleed American or Clarity or Futures, we’re just thinking about making this a special album on its own merit. We’re not trying to rehash what we’ve done.

And that’s reflected in your live show?

It’s a pretty balanced setlist from most of our records. We’ve gotten a lot of really good feedback on the setlist. I think the fans are enjoying it.

What’s next for Jimmy Eat World?

We’ll easily be touring for the next year. We just released a new video for Sure and Certain. We’re just looking forward to more shows and sharing the new songs with our fans.

Is it daunting to have a year of touring ahead?

There’s a daunting element because it requires a lot of energy and planning. It’s what we do though. It’s one of the most fun parts of our job. It’s challenging but it’s exciting at the same time.

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