‘90s alt-rock band sheds sound, style

Jimmy Eat World adopts more adult tone with new album, tour includes Virgin Mobile FreeFest in Maryland

Jimmy Eat World is not new to the music business. With more studio albums than can be counted on one hand composed over a decade, they have established themselves as a notable name in the alternative rock world and are named as influences by many bands out today. As they embark on another headlining tour around the country and prepare for the Sept. 28 release of their latest work, “Invented,” it seems as though Jimmy Eat World is just hitting its stride.

In an interview with The Eagle, bassist Rick Burch discussed the band’s new album and how the band has evolved since forming in the mid ‘90s.

Burch explained that, in many ways, “Invented” is both a departure from the band’s old process and a return to the past.

“I think when you hear the songs, it’s definitely Jimmy Eat World, but I don’t know,” Burch said. “To say ‘yeah, we’re more mature now,’ is kind of like cliché or whatever, but I think we are, and we kind of knew what we wanted going into it.”

One of the advantages of being such an established band was that they were able to choose where they wanted to record. For Jimmy Eat World, that meant staying in their home state of Arizona.

“We made ‘Invented’ in our studio that we built up in Arizona here and it was just the four of us guys in the studio, writing and recording,” Burch said. Re-recruited for the album was producer Mike Trombino, who worked with the band on some of their earlier albums including “Clarity” and “Bleed American.”

Staying in town rather than flying off to Los Angeles to record allowed for more than just home cooking — it created a new dynamic as the band began to put together music.

“Since we did everything in our studio here, we recorded as we were writing,” Burch explained. “It’s funny, some of the very first takes of a guitar or a bass are the ones that ended up in the final mix of the song. So, it’s kind of like, we would change things that needed to be changed, and the song would evolve that way.”

Inspiration can be difficult to find after so many albums, so frontman Jim Adkins turned to photographs.

“Essentially he looked at a group of photographs and kind of drew inspiration from those, kind of built a story around the photograph,” Burch said. “And a lot of the photographs were of a female subject, so a lot of the songs are written from a female perspective, which I’m sure was fun and interesting to do.”

“Invented,” although distinctly Jimmy Eat World, has a more adult sound. It’s darker and slower than the band’s early work, and impeccably put together. It begins with “Heart is Hard to Find,” catchy and beautifully harmonized. In contrast, the first single, “My Best Theory,” is upbeat but definitely not uplifting, and sounds similar to a Linkin Park single (minus the screaming). The title track, “Invented,” offers a softer, almost folk-sounding, stripped-down version of Jimmy Eat World. For Burch, this song is a favorite.

“Listening to that one song, it gives you a good idea of what the entire album holds in store,” he said. “It’s a good synopsis of the album as a whole.”

As for the tour, the band is particularly excited for their stop in the D.C. area as a part of Virgin Mobile FreeFest.

“We get to play in front of a lot of people that normally might not come to our own show,” Burch said. “But also, a kinda selfish aspect of it is that we get to see other bands. Because when we’re playing our own shows, it’s us and whatever band we’re touring with, and that’s all we get to see for a month. But with the festivals, there’s tons of different bands. So it’s a good time.”

Fans can look forward to a new addition at the live shows as well. Courtney Marie Andrews will be the fifth musician on stage during the band’s performances, and according to Burch, she fits right in.

“I think it really fills out our sounds and helps us be more true to the recordings,” he said. “She’s even gonna join us for some of the older songs as well, covering harmonies that we couldn’t cover before because they were so high or stuff like that, and keyboard sounds and piano lines. The rehearsals have been going really good and I’m looking forward to having her on stage with us.”

In the end, like every musician, the members of Jimmy Eat World just want you to enjoy what they’ve created as much as they have.

“We’re really proud of [“Invented”], and I’m hoping that people like it as much as we do,” Burch said.

Jimmy Eat World will be performing at Virgin Mobile FreeFest at the Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 25. “Invented” hits stores the following Tuesday, Sept. 28.

mhollander@theeagleonline.com

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle