Interview: Jim Adkins [September 2015]

By Lee Male

Throughout the last 20+ years Jim Adkins has been touring relentlessly and has released 8 studio albums with Arizona based band Jimmy Eat World. The four pieces’ cult classic album ‘Clarity’ is still a staple in any emo top 10 playlist, with their first commercial breakthrough arriving in 2001 in the form of ‘Bleed American’, paving the way for their long and successful career. In the midst of all of this, Jim Adkins has occasionally played the odd acoustic show, often in his home state. However, this year eventually has gifted him with enough time to create something just for himself and tour it for our pleasure.

How did these songs develop as far as writing them specifically for a solo project?

It mostly comes down to the process. Writing these songs really did stop with me. When I came to a point that I felt as happy as I could be with a piece then that was that, and it was complete. It was me saying I want this song to sound like this and that is how it should be. It’s about having an idea and making it work. I wanted a brass section in ‘I Will Go,’ which is something that I had never done before, but it felt vital once the idea had developed. Turning that idea into a completed piece was a great feeling for me.

How does that differ to writing with Jimmy Eat World?

I mean a Jimmy Eat World song could start from anything, one of the guys could come in with a basic guitar riff, a chord progression or even an entire idea for a song that has one specific part we all like, and then build from there. It’s really an experimental process.

Did you produce everything yourself as well as play all of the instruments?

I produced it but had help with some of the instruments. Arizona is a great resource with a whole bunch of talented musicians that I’ve become friends with and some of them were used on songs that I felt they could contribute to in a positive way.

How has the preparation of your set-list gone? Was it hard deciding which songs to play?

I think a great set list is something that develops on the night to be honest. If I see how the crowd are reacting to the songs, and if I feel that it is the right time to play a song then I will.

You have a signature Fender Thin-line Telecaster can you tell me about it?

Growing up I always loved Gibson Les Paul’s and when the opportunity came for me from Fender to have a signature guitar I wanted to combine my favorite parts of Fenders and Gibson Les Paul’s. The set neck and Seymour Duncan P-90’s really do give it that sustain and powerful mid range that I like.

What was it specifically about the songs you have chosen to cover?

I think that something has to shout out at you, something has to pull you into that song and make you think about how you could contribute to it to make it sound how you personally interpret the song. Then there’s trying to project that back to an audience which is what I feel makes a great cover.

So it was not just about cover something that nobody would expect you to? I was very intrigued when /i first read the track listing .

I mean I didn’t want it to be karaoke. That was clear from the start. Just taking a song and pretending you’re part of that band is fun but then there is the reinterpretation version where you take that special piece that reached out to you, move it around and make it your own.

You have chosen your series of six singles to be released as both a limited edition 7″ and a digital version, why did you decide on those two formats?

I had some time to think about how people listen to music and I think that it’s now track by track, smaller quantities and more frequently. A full length album did not feel necessary and for my personal circumstances and time restrictions I can still accomplish what I set out to do. I think that it’s really exciting and a great time to be a music fan. You have such a vast ocean of music at your fingers which is a truly amazing thing. No more restriction on when you can listen to new music and no need for people to seek out ways to illegally download.

What is next for Jimmy Eat World?

I expect that we will be getting back together in the holiday season and start hanging out and writing again. We also have a show in Arizona in September and the Taste Of Chaos Fest in October.

Catch Jim Adkins live on the following dates, and check out his solo EP featuring three new tracks and three covers from the 11th September.

3 GLASGOW Cottiers
4 MANCHESTER Royal Northern College of Music
5 LONDON Union Chapel
8 PARIS, FRANCE Le Backstage
12 VIENNA, AUSTRIA Chaya Fuera
14 BOLOGNA, ITALY Locomotiv
16 BARCELONA, SPAIN Capilla Del Monasterio Romanico De Sant Miquel
17 MADRID, SPAIN Teatro Alfil

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]