So how do you deal with that difficult uh, Fourth album? Jimmy Eat World decided that writing one of the most influential Pop-Rock album’s of the noughties is the way to go about it. Well, yeah… That’ll do it!
“THESE songs to us speak of how much the band went through to achieve what this album offered them, what they had been searching for…”
Jimmy Eat World’ was formed by Jim Adkins and Zach Lind in Arizona, 1993. They released three studio albums before ‘Bleed American’. 1994’s Self-titled debut which displays their early sound with guitarist and eventual backing vocalist Tom Linton singing lead on most of the songs. 1996’s ‘Static Prevails’ and 1999’s ‘Clarity’. All of these albums were before “Emo” had become a buzzword, before teenagers spent their weekday evenings glued to MSN, recommending music to each other or anyone even knew what a profile song was, let alone ironically laughed about once having one. So how did Bleed American become one of ‘the’ albums of a generation about to explode?
Unlike their previous albums, Jimmy Eat World took a very direct approach with ‘Bleed American’ to make the songs more accessible to a wider audience. ‘The Middle’ the best selling single from ‘Bleed American’ opens with the lyric’s “Hey, don’t write yourself off yet” and ‘Sweetness’ open’s with “If you’re listening, Sing it back”. Both songs to us speak of how much the band went through to achieve what this album offered them, what they had been searching for. Commercial success.
The commercial success of ‘Bleed American’ not only pushed a generation and emerging emo sub-culture into the mainstream, it also paved the way and fed the imaginations of some of the greatest musicians of modern music in a multitude of genres. This is a record for the many, not the few.
We mean, take ‘The Middle’ for example. Taylor Swift performed a cover live on stage with Jimmy eat World, Frances Cobain (Kurt’s daughter) uploaded an acoustic version and ‘Patty Waters’ of ‘As It Is’ has a cover on his YouTube channel (We think it’s actually harder to find something he hasn’t covered).
Sweetness was covered by Paramore on their 2008 UK tour. and ‘A Praise Chorus’ was covered by ‘Coheed And Cambria’. In fact if you were to step foot into any alternative club and even commercial pop night, chances are these tracks would be making their way into the playlists.
But let’s not just draw attention to the musical influence of this record. In an interview vocalist, Jim Adkins described a warming up exercise for his writing, in which he wrote storylines and concepts for 15 minutes based on famous photographs by American icons such as Cindy Sherman. This could explain why the visual side of this band’s artwork has always been a homage to the art world. Although it is claimed that the iconic photographer William Eggleston has ‘no idea’ that the band used his famous image, titled Memphis, for the artwork, it is also an image that perfectly portrays this record. Eggleston was known as the first photographer to introduce the use of colour film into the commercial world, comparable in the way in which in a post 90s entertainment industry Jimmy Eat World tried to bring both emo and pop-punk to the forefront of commercial music. The title of the record itself was also a time capsule of America in 2001. Cautious of offending and having been seen to have a political agenda, in the wake of 9/11 the record was simply rebranded, Self Titled, with the original title being reinstated years later.
Finally, a broader reference of influence can be taken from well, almost every pop-rock/emo band you have ever listened to since the early noughties. We know that sounds like a bit of a cop-out but can you honestly think of someone who does not know a ‘Jimmy Eat World’ song? And if you know a ‘Jimmy eat World’ song then you also love one. ‘Bleed American’ is the fundamental ingredient of everything mainstream “emo” become and it will continue to be referenced by musicians in songwriting, continue to provide a stepping stone for people crossing over from pop to rock and continue to sound incredible no matter how much time passes.
Words: Lee Male
JIMMY EAT WORLD HEADLINE THIS YEAR’S SLAM DUNK FESTIVAL. YOU CAN GRAB TICKETS HERE. THE BAND WILL ALSO BE APPEARING AT ROCK AM RING THIS SUMMER. YOU CAN GRAB YOUR TICKETS HERE.