Promotional runs tend to be a slog for even the most seasoned of groups, however, Jimmy Eat World’s Tom Linton doesn’t seem too fazed. The guitarist for the veteran Mid-Western emo rockers joins me on the phone mere days after returning from whirlwind European promotional tour, where the band played a string of shows to promote their new record Surviving.
After over 25 years as a band, Linton says there’s not too many nerves when it comes to releasing a new album at this point. “I actually get really excited because usually we’ll work on those songs for a long time,” he says. “I think we just write, Jim will write the songs and then we try to just put together the best songs that we can, you know and hopefully people like them.
“It’s different than our last record Integrity Blues. I feel it’s more rocking, more guitar riffs. It’s stripped down, more rock. We’re really happy with it and think it’s one of our best.”
In the lead up to releasing the album, frontman and lyricist Jim Adkins shared a cryptic message claiming that he’d been a passenger in his body for almost 40 years without realisation (‘I didn’t know it because I was letting a voice inside my head tell me all sorts of lies to continue life at the minimum. As I grew older that minimum got lower…and then lower.’ ). Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of self-reflection embedded within the lyrical content of Surviving, with the lyrics of ‘Diamond’ providing one stark example of Adkins’ newfound existential perception - ‘I cut out at least half of my friends, but no one noticed or mentioned’.
When prompted about how this change in Adkins’ life affected him, the band and how it influenced the album, Linton says that like anyone, Adkin is simply evolving as a person as he ages. Surviving, it would seem, is about acceptance and realising nothing’s perfect.
“I just think that we’re all older now, we all just turned 44, and we’ve looked at what we’ve done in our lives, and we made mistakes,” Linton admits of himself and his bandmates. “We just try to learn from those mistakes and keep going. We know we’re going to make more mistakes.”
Another lyric that points to this idea of that we’re never “finished” as people is on ‘Delivery’ - ‘Don't worry where we end up/ Ending up's not real/ The life we build we never stop creating’. It’s clear that Jimmy Eat World’s songs and sentiments have become so ingrained in the lives and memories of their fans, however, hearing about examples of their impact on listeners never seems to get old for Linton.
“It’s the best compliment you can get when someone says something like that,” the guitarist says earnestly. “When a song of ours has made them a better person, or got them through a rough time, that’s the cool thing about playing music is that is that you see that happen every once in a while.”
When asked why he thinks the band have managed to keep fans interested across three separate decades with popular music changing all the time, Linton believes that connecting with their fans has a lot to do with it. “I think we try to get to know our fans. Usually when we play we’ll go hang out by the bus if they want stuff signed. We just try and make our fans happy. Our fans are the best!”
Linton also concedes that a band delivering a great live show each time they play helps maintain a loyal set of listeners. “I hope it does, (yet) there are some nights that are just gonna be off a little bit,” he admits. “Some nights where Jim gets totally sick., I’ll tell him ‘don’t like, overplay’ and chill out and he’ll still try play as hard as he can and give it his all.”