Jimmy Eat World is an American rock group from Mesa, Arizona, formed in 1994.
Jimmy Eat World formed in Mesa, Arizona in 1994. Singer/guitarist Jim Adkins and drummer Zach Lind, who had been friends since kindergarten, joined forces with guitarist Tom Linton and bass player Mitch Porter to try their hand at music. In its early years, the band emulated the style of their punk-rock influences, eventually recording and releasing three singles and a full-length on local label Wooden Blue Records.
The name Jimmy Eat World did not refer to lead singer Jim Adkins. Tom Linton's younger siblings, Ed and Jimmy, fought constantly when they were younger. Jimmy, who was stronger and heavier, would usually win. Ed, at 8-years-old, as revenge, drew with crayons a picture of Jimmy shoving the entire world into his gaping mouth with the caption, "Jimmy eat world." The picture, and by extension the band name, may have been inspired by an episode of the cartoon show Tiny Toon Adventures, where the main characters put on a student film festival. Dizzy Devil's film, "Dizzy Eat World", was a 5 second piece drawn crudely in crayon where Dizzy's gaping maw engulfed the Earth. The piece met with deafening silence from the toon audience.
Eventually, spurred by bands such as Fugazi and Sunny Day Real Estate, the band began to experiment with a sub-genre of the hardcore rock scene called "emo-core". As they began writing songs and touring in the indie scene, the band were surprised to find like-minded bands such as Christie Front Drive, Sense Field, and Seven Storey Mountain working on similar sounds. Typically, similar sounds came from local scenes (such as Seattle's grunge explosion), but with "emo-core", the "scene" was spread throughout the country.
As the band continued touring, they began to attract modest attention in the indie underground. In 1995, label president (and former Nirvana A&R) Gary Gersh signed the fledging band to Capitol Records. Around this time, bass player Mitch Porter parted ways with the band and was replaced by Linton's friend Rick Burch. After a brief scouting for producers, the band joined up with Drive Like Jehu drummer Mark Trombino to record their debut album Static Prevails. Static Prevails closely reflected what existed in the "emo-core" scene at the time, a balance between punk-influenced scream-alongs and quiet, introspective moments.
Rather than push the band through the major-label promotion machine, Gersh opted for a more subtle approach, allowing the band to develop within the indie underground. In the ensuing years, the band was allowed to release singles on independent labels, including split 7-inch's with Christie Front Drive, Jejune, Sense Field, and Mineral. Where most major-label bands were ostracized from the underground as "sell-outs", Jimmy Eat World found themselves in a unique position where they had support from a major label while being embraced by the indie community.
In 1998, the band entered the studio (again with Mark Trombino) to record their follow-up, titled Clarity. Around the same time, however, Gersh was forced out of Capitol. The band delivered the completed album to the label mid-way through the year, but found themselves out of favor with the new label heads, who shelved the album to focus on more popular acts. As a way to help promote what had been recorded, the band negotiated with Capitol to release an EP on indie-label Fueled by Ramen (run by labelmates Less Than Jake) containing two songs from Clarity and three b-sides. The band sent the release to several key alternative stations (including KROQ in Los Angeles) in the hopes that they might give the songs some airtime. To their surprise, several of the stations added lead single "Lucky Denver Mint" to regular rotation. Capitol reacted by scheduling the full album for release in February of 1999.
On the subsequent tour for Clarity, the band found themselves playing to larger and larger venues. Where they had been playing to crowds of fifty to a hundred a few weeks earlier, the band was suddenly playing to 500- and 1000-capacity venues, including packed houses at Boston's Middle East (which aired live on local radio station WBCN) and at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. As a result, the band found themselves receiving much more attention from their label, who released a video for "Lucky Denver Mint" and attached the song to the Drew Barrymore movie Never Been Kissed. However, the label's enthusiasm was short-lived. Plans to release "Blister" as a single were axed, and the band found themselves dropped by the label by the end of the year.
Some bands get dropped by their label and dissolve. Having been well-versed in the ways of indie bands and having wide support from the indie community, Jimmy Eat World saw getting dropped as an opportunity. The band compiled most of their independently-released singles onto a single CD, titled simply Singles, which they released on indie label Big Wheel Recreation. The band's burgeoning fanbase snapped up the release, earning the band enough to fund the recording of their next album. The band then had complete freedom to make the album they wanted without having to take input from outside influences.
Working for a third time with Trombino, the band recorded the album Bleed American. Joining forces with Gersh's new management company, GAS Entertainment, the band scouted for a new label, eventually signing with Dreamworks. The completed album was released in July of 2001. (Following the events of September 11, 2001, the band decided to re-issue the album as Jimmy Eat World out of concern that the title Bleed American might be misinterpreted.)
With the release of Bleed American and the subsequent success of second single "The Middle", the band found itself at the center of newfound attention to "emo". For most of the 90s, "emo" had been an underground movement that almost completely evaded major label and mainstream control. Nearly every late-90s emo band that signed to a major label broke up before releasing an album. But where Clarity was seen as the quintessential emo album, Bleed American was a step away from that sound, standing closer to mainstream rock. While songs like the title track were certainly emo-influenced, songs like "A Praise Chorus", "The Middle", and "Authority Song" clearly were not. However, since the mainstream media had nowhere else to attach the "emo" label, Jimmy Eat World continued to be referred to as an "emo" band, meaning that the term "emo" began to describe something completely different and more mainstream than what existed in the 90s. Major labels pounced, and began signing bands and releasing music that subscribed to this "new" version of emo.
After lengthy touring in support of Bleed American, the band regrouped to work on the follow-up in early 2004. Once again, the band joined up with Trombino, but the collaboration was short-lived. The band decided to part ways with Trombino, instead bringing in producer Gil Norton, well-known for his work with the Pixies and the Foo Fighters. Futures was released in October of 2004, with lead single "Pain" immediately finding success at alternative radio. (By this time, Dreamworks had been acquired by the much larger Interscope Records.)
Subsequent months have seen the release of "Work" and the title-track as singles. Having already toured the US on their own and with Taking Back Sunday, the band has signed on to tour the summer of 2005 with Green Day.
Jim Adkins - Vocals & guitar,
Tom Linton - Guitar & vocals,
Rick Burch - Bass,
Zach Lind - Drums & percussion.