Rockers look to their Futures

Jimmy Eat World are not political. But in 2004, when they were recording the follow-up to their career-defining 2001 album Bleed American, the Arizona-spawned alt-rockers got caught up in the US presidential race.

The election, which would return George W. Bush to the White House, sparked the opening line to the title track of fifth album, Futures.

"I always believed in futures," singer Jim Adkins began. "I hope for better, in November."

Ten years later and chatting on a bus hurtling through Austria towards a festival appearance in Budapest, founding drummer Zach Lind says Jimmy Eat World's political awakening coincided with the members getting married and becoming fathers.

"The whole decade was a really interesting decade politically and we definitely were more aware," he says. "Up to that point, we hadn't done anything overtly political."

While the quartet were "really disappointed" with the election result, they had their own issues.

"We killed ourselves making this record," Lind says of Futures. "We were coming off the success of Bleed American . . . Before there wasn't a lot of people beating down our door for another record."

After touring extensively on Bleed American, which produced hit single The Middle, Jimmy Eat World rushed straight into the studio with producer Mark Trombino. Lind says they thought they were ready but those sessions "spluttered out". The weight of expectation was overwhelming.

Meanwhile, their label DreamWorks was bought by Universal, Jimmy Eat World was shifted to the Interscope label. The corporate shake-up left them shook up.

Here comes the silver lining. During the turmoil, the band wrote fresh material, specifically Polaris, 23, Work and hit single Pain - songs that defined Futures and make it a fan favourite today.

Now truly ready, Jimmy Eat World headed back to the studio with acclaimed producer Gil Norton, who gave the pop-punk songs grunt and cohesion.

Adkins' tales of lonely, lovelorn misfits making out in cars or behind the school gym on Futures meant the somewhat derisory "emo" tag stuck with the band.

"I guess I'd prefer to be called something else," Lind says. "But what people call us isn't really up to us.

"It's not like if someone calls us 'emo' that we freak out and call the reporter and hunt him down."

Today Jimmy Eat World are alt-rock elder statesmen, boasting eight albums and 20 years together.

After finishing the European festival circuit, they tour North America for a month from October 2, performing Futures from start to finish, before bringing the same show to Australia in November.

A decade on, Lind is fiercely proud of the album that nearly killed Jimmy.

"It's one of the most satisfying records because I feel like it's a really strong record and we fought through a lot of adversity to make it," he says. "It feels good today."

Jimmy Eat World play Metro City on November 11, supported by My Echo.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow Aug 22 from Oztix.

The West Australian

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