You're treading on dangerous ground when you bring up the E word with any member of Jimmy Eat World. The quartet has been dodging the emo bullet since it formed in Mesa, Arizona, in 1993, and has made it clear that it wants nothing to do with the infuriatingly vague label that has been slapped on everything from Dashboard Confessional to Death Cab for Cutie. The term doesn't seem to be going away: My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way caused a small tempest in the blogosphere a few weeks ago by announcing, in an interview with a college-based Web site called the Maine Campus, "I think emo is fucking garbage it's bullshit."
According to Jimmy Eat World drummer Zach Lind, Way would have been well advised to steer clear of the topic altogether. "I know what he's trying to say, but at the same time, he's just fuelling the fire," Lind says, speaking from his home in Gilbert, Arizona. "He's making some sort of identification that all the journalists are making as well. They might be making a slightly different identification, but the thing is, they're making the attempt. And so, by him saying that, he's not actually doing anything for his cause, because he's just simply playing into the game. For us, we've always said that we have no idea what that word means. It means nothing and everything at the same time, it seems like. So for us, it's just simply not an issue. People can call us what they want."
For his part, Lind prefers to describe Jimmy Eat World's music as guitar-based melodic rock. That label certainly fits the group's latest album, Chasing This Light, produced by the band with assistance from Butch Vig. Although its chugging rhythms are rooted in punk a fact especially evident on the feedback-strafed, politically charged "Electable (Give It Up)" Jimmy Eat World has developed a sure hand with pop hooks over the course of its career. "Let It Happen" and "Here It Goes", for example, boast the sort of choruses that demand to be shouted from the front row. The group even gets experimental on "Gotta Be Somebody's Blues", which welds acoustic-guitar strumming, a looping beat, searing strings, and Jim Adkins's eerily half-whispered vocals into a slowly unfolding panorama of creeping paranoia.
Mind you, Jimmy Eat World fans who aren't inclined toward illegal file-sharing won't be able to get their hands on any of these tracks until Chasing This Light comes out on October 16. That means those who come to the shows scheduled for the first few weeks of the band's current tour will hear a few songs they've never heard before but not too many.
"We try to view it as a fan would view it," Lind says. "I mean, we've all been to shows where we've been to see bands we love and they played nothing but new songs. And it's cool, but at the same time, it's like, 'All right, we just want to hear what we know.' So we're playing enough new songs that we're giving people who are interested a little glimpse, but at the same time it's really heavy with stuff from our catalogue."
In other words, come expecting to throw your fist in the air to the tune of "Lucky Denver Mint", "The Middle", "Pain", and other emo classics.
Just kidding, guys.