An Interview with Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World
Photos : Jimmy Eat World @ Lakeview Amphitheater, Syracuse NY July 2017
J: Jim Adkins
A: What’s been the hardest part about staying together as a band for the past 20+ years, and how to you stay relevant despite all of the drastic changes in the music industry?
J: That’s a great question, for most of what you could call our career now we were just kind of oblivious to any of that. Focused on what is important. Music should be fun to play, should be challenging and rewarding or what are you doing. Really, what are you doing? We have always focused on the band, what comes with the band...recording, touring, writing. Keep that fun. Try to be smart about opportunities that come your way but don’t lose the fact that it should be fun.
A: I heard in another interview that short term goals are really important to you. Do you think that’s been a big thing in the twenty plus years now?
J: Well yeah, if you start thinking about where you are going to be in five years you’re going to miss out on a lot of the things that are happening right around you today. I think it means less of those goals coming to pass, or you might hit that goal but the satisfaction that that goal will bring isn’t going to be worth it. We really try to be good and grateful for the opportunity to play music every day. You put all the days together and then you have twenty years.
A: That’s good that’s what people dream of.
J: I never take that for granted. What ever level you’re at enjoying what you’re doing that’s what matters, that’s what is important. You get caught up in how does this play into the expectations of life that I should be living at X age. It’s so easy to psych yourself out and miss doing. In a weird way that’s kind of what our new album is talking about.
A: What do you as an individual or group to keep that creativity up? Do you do some sort of skill or activity or writing process, writing exercises anything along those lines?
J: Yeah, sometimes. It sort of ebbs and flows along the way with the actual exercise. Some periods we are in a better routine than others. Generally, if you’re doing the things you know you should be doing you will generate these results.
A: Kind of like a natural flow.
J: Yeah, it does take times like voluntary punishment to keep yourself with something to do.
A: Has there been any injury or sickness that you’ve had to play through, if so how was that?
J: Most of the time we are pretty on top of our game and healthy. Nothing as crazy as Dave Grohl on the last album. For pushing through some adversity. We did a lot of wacky stuff we have had to overcome. But there has never been anything like falling off the stage and breaking your arm and having to have a roadie play while you just sing. There has been nothing crazy like that.
A: Is there a bucket list gig or place that you haven’t played yet that you really really want to play?
J: Yeah, like I said before we do our best to find an academic way to appreciate where we are. If I did have to say our short term goals or medium term goals that would be achievable I would definitely have to say places we’ve never been before. This year we did South America for the first time, for whatever reason we had never played there before but it was great! We would go to Iceland. Travel and having different/new experiences is one of the reasons you get into this job. Iceland would be great. I got a lot of friends who go there for vacation. I’m really jealous of what it looks like and I just have to go there and play.
A: Along the way have you had any key mentor or piece of advice that has helped you work through anything?
J: That’s a tough one.
A: Or any type of advice that you can give to up-and-coming bands?
J: First of all, there is so much that you can waste your effort on and it doesn’t matter, at all. What is really important to focus on is the thing you can control, and the ultimate thing you can control as an artist is being proud of your own work. Everything else...cool. The reality is, anybody, no matter how many people you think care, more don’t. That will always be true whether or not you’re Taylor Swift or the kids practicing down the street in their garage.
A: One more for you to close it out. What is the strangest interaction you’ve ever had with a fan?
J: The strangest interaction...We played Saturday Night Live once and Cameron Diaz was the host. That whole thing was surreal to start off with. We played and I was kind of walking around the place by myself there and Philip Seymour Hoffman walked by, he wasn’t part of the show that night, I don’t know what he was doing. He said, “Hey, never heard of you guys before, Really dig it! It was cool!” I didn’t know what to say. I was like uhhh, ‘Big fans of your work too!’ Unexpectedly seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman after playing Saturday Night Live. That was super surreal.