By Christina Zimmer
In 2015, more than 20 years after the band was formed, Jimmy Eat World returned to the studio from a one-year break to record their ninth studio album Integrity Blues. Drummer Zach Lind, who started off playing the saxophone before switching to drums at age 10, explains the effect the break had on the recording while spending some quality time with his family in Arizona prior to the band’s upcoming tour.
“I think it made a big difference. I think it was the first time we’d ever done anything like that where we really just truly took a break and everyone was just sort of absolved of any Jimmy Eat World responsibilities. Yeah, I mean it really gave us a lot of new energy for making Integrity Blues that we wouldn’t have had had we not taken that break.”
The band, whose line-up has remained unchanged since 1995, had high ambitions for the new record.
“The previous album Damage  kind of sounds like we made it sort of over a weekend at a friend’s house or something like that. It’s definitely more casual and a little bit rawer, almost sort of more like garage band rock. Integrity Blues is like the opposite of that where we really wanted to make it sound like a big studio album, like something that was more intricate, something that has more layers.”
To realize this, Jimmy Eat World went “all out,” as Lind describes it.
“We did everything in LA. It was the first time since Futures [released in 2004 and given Gold Status by the RIAA] that we booked like really classic, great studio rooms to work in. We hired a producer, Justin Meldal-Johnsen [Paramore, M83], who was incredible to work with and really helped us achieve what we were hoping to achieve with this album.”
The mission seems accomplished with Pitchfork describing the record as “perhaps Jimmy Eat World’s best record since Bleed American,” their 2001 album that was certified platinum. The record combines variety and the desired big sound with emotionally matured lyrics. In tracks like “Get it right”, the restlessness described in the chorus (“I’m destination addicted, I just gotta be someplace else, never good time never feel the space to get it right”) is reflected in the unforgiving beat and a hammering guitar riff continuing throughout the song, which is only occasionally interrupted by a synthesizer that adds even more tension to the track. “Sure and Certain” only compares to this in terms of the felicitous interaction of music and lyrics: the guitars are warmer, the melody uplifting yet a bit melancholic. Only the rhythmic drums remain forceful as ever and are stepped up a beat later on in the harmonious and encouraging “You are Free.”
Lyrically, the record is encouraging a different perspective on life, to shift from focusing on a desired outcome to appreciating the present moment.
“The general sort of theme throughout the record is about really trying to have a perspective on your own life and seeing things for what they really are, appreciating those things for what they are, and maybe not necessarily some sort of outcome that you’re searching for,” concurs Lind.
“On the one hand it’s good to have goals,” Concludes Lind.
“It’s good to strive for something but on the other hand, by being so fixated on whatever outcome we’re looking for, we can miss the present moment. We fail to appreciate what we have now.”
Jimmy Eat World performs April 26 at the Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver), April 28 at The Palace Theatre (Calgary), April 29 at The Startlite Room (Edmonton), April 30 at the O’Brian’s Event Centre (Saskatoon) and May 1 at the Garrick Centre (Winnipeg).Commodore Ballroom, Garrick Centre, Jimmy Eat World, O'Brian's Event Centre, The Palace Theatre, The Startlite Room