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Interview: Tom Linton of Jimmy Eat World
Written: April 1999

Richmond, Virginia - March 18, 1999

A little setup...

During the second week of March 1999, my band - The Little Dipper - went on a week-long tour down the east coast. We ended up with open nights on Sunday and Thursday, so we took the opportunity to catch Jimmy Eat World at the Middle East in Boston and at Twister's in Richmond.

I've been listening to Jimmy Eat World since a friend of mine clued me in to Static Prevails in early 1998. In November of 1998, I caught them in Atlanta at a really small venue - probably thirty to forty people in attendance. Needless to say, things have changed drastically since then. At the Boston show, the Middle East was packed, wall-to-wall. To top that off, the show was broadcast live on WBCN, one of the Boston modern rock stations. The mainstream was beckoning.

The show in Richmond was much the same - a full crowd of people. But whereas the Boston show was mostly incident-free, lead singer / guitarist Jim Adkins' amp decided not to cooperate in Richmond, thanks to a blown fuse. Jim borrowed an amp from one of the guys in Lazycain - a late eighties model Crate amp that didn't have a clean channel. That extra distortion made for a very unusual show.

Following the show, I had the opportunity to discuss the recent days of Jimmy Eat World with lead guitarist Tom Linton.

C: I'm in a band called The Little Dipper... we drove down... we're on tour...

T: Yeah, I talked to your drummer. He was going to guard the door for me when I was going to take a dump. Like a chain-link fence. And then he walked into the girls' bathroom and found out it was clear... and led me in there.

C: How do you feel about tonight?

T: It was... good, despite the equipment problems we were having. But it wouldn't be a Jimmy Eat World show if not one of our amps catches on fire or one of our guitar necks breaks... every one of our shows - it seems like we're cursed with bad luck.

C: I have to ask... what's up with tonight and the next three days? You've got tonight [Richmond], then Buffalo, then Austin, and then Cleveland...

T: Yeah, we're driving overnight tonight to Buffalo. After the show in Buffalo, we're driving to Cleveland. Then we're flying from Cleveland to Texas. We play two shows in Austin. One's a day show - because with SxSW... it's kinda bullshit for the kids. It's like sixty-five bucks for them to get a pass to see the bands. So we're doing a free show. And then we fly back to Cleveland... and off to tour...

C: You guys are going to be [exhausted].

T: Yeah. We're not looking forward to it.

C: We were listening to A-Ha in the van - do you guys have any weird 80's influences?

T: I listened to... have you heard of Gang Green? It's kind of a punk band - all they do is talk about beer. I used to listen to them - I thought they were kinda funny. I used to listen to Agent Orange... what else... the Cars...

C: So, being a child of the eighties, you were able to avoid the Top 40 stuff?

T: Yeah, pretty much. I listened to Duran Duran, too - that was one of the first bands when I was a kid that I really got into. Nothing really too bad, I guess.

C: I read somewhere in an interview that you guys kinda felt, like a few months ago, that you were at the bottom of the Capitol chain. Do you guys feel like you've moved up at all?

T: Yeah. We put out that EP on an independent label, and some radio stations just started playing it - like KROQ in LA. And Capitol had nothing to do with it getting played. So, all of a sudden, all of these Capitol people show up to our show. And they're like, "Oh, you guys are our favorite band!" It was kinda funny. There's been a few people at Capitol who have been totally behind us the whole time we've been on Capitol. But... I don't know.

C: How'd you guys get hooked up with Fueled By Ramen?

T: From the drummer of Less Than Jake - it's his label. We met him through Capitol.

C: And he said, "I want to put this out"? Or...

T: Well, yeah, we just talked about it. He really has his shit together. So we're like, "Oh, we'll definitely do it."

C: Have you seen an increase in fans this tour?

T: Yeah, definitely. It's been really, really crazy. A lot more than we expected. Like in Austin, Texas - get up on stage and play in front of like 700 people - not even expecting it. I went out to eat - I get up on stage, and I'm like - "Holy shit!" It's been really good.

C: I saw you guys in Atlanta at MJQ Concourse - that really small, underground, really weird venue...

T: Yeah! That's a bad ass place!

C: That's the weirdest venue I've ever been to.

T: It was all like 2001: A Space Odyssey or something.

C: ...and there were like thirty people there. And then I saw you Sunday in Boston, and it was packed.

T: It's really crazy. It's freaking us all out.

C: What did you all think of the radio broadcast? Was that cool? Or surprising?

T: It was kinda weird - thinking when you're playing - that's in the back of your mind. You know, it's like, "Holy shit, there are all of these people listening to this right now." I want to hear what it sounded like - we got a DAT tape of it, but we haven't heard it yet.

C: I'll even compare it to tonight - it sounded like you guys were more focused tonight. It did seem then that you were kinda...

T: Seriously, though, I was... I was kinda nervous. I shouldn't be like that - I should just play. But... I don't know. When you're going on, the guy's like - "all right... there's the possibility of two million people listening to you." And you're just, "Uh..."

C: "The whole population of Boston will be tuning in tonight..."

T: Yeah, I know! We're not used to that.

C: So do you guys think you'll stay with Capitol?

T: Nah. They signed us for six records, but, I mean, unless we sell a shit-load on this record - which we probably won't - we'll probably be dropped. But we don't care.

C: Do you think you'll get a second single?

T: Yeah, I think so.

C: Any ideas what it'd be?

T: Maybe "Blister", from what they're saying.

C: Oh - The Drew Barrymore flick. You guys on the soundtrack. How'd that happen?

T: Someone from Capitol hooked it up. And we did a video - it's kinda for the movie, too. There's like clips of the movie in it. I haven't seen the movie yet, so I don't know.

C: I was watching TV, and I saw "including Jimmy Eat World", and I thought, "Wow, how'd that happen?"

T: Oh, it says that? Like in the credits?

C: On the commercials - at the very end, it says, "Featuring Music by..." and a list of bands, and you guys are at the end of the list.

T: That's... crazy shit...

C: Is it weird hearing your songs on the radio?

T: Yeah. The first time we heard it, we were driving in LA. We heard we were getting played, so we were like, "Let's check it out, maybe we'll get played." They played it, and we just looked at each other and just busted out laughing. It's just really weird. It's cool, though, you know. More people to hear your music - stuff like that.

C: I heard ["Lucky Denver Mint"] at 2:00 in the morning in Hartford. I was like, "Was that Jimmy Eat World? What?"

T: That's funny!

C: Where did your name come from? I'm sure you get asked that a lot. I was thinking - "Boy Meets World, lead singer's name is Jim..."

T: Nah - it has nothing to do with that. Actually, it's a picture that my little brother drew ... probably five years ago. My brother Jim beat up my younger brother Ed, and Jim ran into his room and locked his door, and Ed drew this picture that said "Jimmy Eat World", and it was a picture of him eating the world. My brother Jim is kind of a big guy. A stupid name.

C: It's got a good story, though. I mean, my band's name is "The Little Dipper". I just joined the band - I don't know where the heck they got the name.

T: You should ask them.

C: I probably should. Um... re-recording "Crush". Was that... you thought it was a great song... deserved better production...

T: Yeah, exactly. We thought we could record it better. I don't know, we all liked the song. We recorded that and "Christmas Card". "Christmas Card" turned out okay... but "Crush" sounded really good, so we thought, "Let's just use that."

C: By the way - I love the new song that you guys are doing...

T: Oh - "Sweetness".

C: ...is that what's it's called? I saw it in Atlanta, and you guys changed it a little before Boston, but I love that song. Is it going to be on an EP?

T: We don't know what we're going to do with it. We just got done recording it. We recorded with Mark Trombino and spent two days in the studio and recorded it ... but we're really not sure what we're gonna do with it. There was talk like, maybe on the next pressing [of Clarity] - throwing it on, but that'd be kind of fucked up for the kids who already have it.

C: Are they going to do a "Lucky Denver Mint" single? Maybe put it on there?

T: Nah, I don't think so.

C: How long did it take to record Clarity?

T: We spent like fifty days in the studio. We spent ten days at a really nice studio and forty days at a studio that was just okay. We did the drums and the bass at the nice studio, and did all of the overdubs and guitars - this place called Clear Lake Audio.

C: It was done, what, summer?

T: Yeah. It was finished in June. The end of June.

C: 'Cause I remember reading ... Rocktropolis asked bands to do their Top Ten of 1998, and one of the guys in Blink 182 put Clarity number one for 1998.

T: Really? Those guys have helped us so much. They've been really cool. They're really nice guys - really funny.

C: How did you guys find Mark [Trombino]?

T: I don't know. It might have been... Boy's Life recorded with him a long time ago. And some other bands that we liked, and we liked the recordings.

C: Yeah, it's a great sound.

T: He's really good. That's why we chose him. He's a really cool guy, too.

C: Are you guys psyched about the Warped Tour?

T: Yeah! I think it's going to be cool. I don't know how the people are going to be towards us - it's a lot of really fast punk bands playing. Actually, I don't even know who's playing this year.

C: Hey, good luck on tour!

T: Thanks a lot - you guys, too!


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