Jimmy Eat World’s upcoming DVD, “Believe in What You Want,” is chock-full of material — more than two hours of it — including a concert, a documentary and acoustic in-studio performances. But one thing it doesn’t have is singer Jim Adkins’ wardrobe secret.
“I have a habit of wearing the same clothes for a couple weeks on end,” he confessed Tuesday, just after his morning coffee and just before returning to the studio to resume work on the band’s fifth album. “I found some clothes that really dry well, ’cause I sweat a lot, so I have these clothes that I like to play in that I can walk offstage and throw them in the sink and then hang them up and overnight they’re dry again and they don’t reek like ass.”
His touring trick should prove to be a blessing for the continuity of the concert portion of the DVD, a 12-song set culled from two shows at Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club in June 2002. Also included on the disc, available via the band’s Web site beginning October 7, are acoustic versions of “Hear You Me” and “My Sundown” filmed at nearby Arlington, Virginia’s famed Inner Ear Studios, one of the keystones of the D.C. hardcore scene.
Adkins said that while he fears the DVD will expose “how boring we really are,” hopefully its documentary on the making of 2001’s Jimmy Eat World LP will show some of the band’s newer fans just how much the group had to struggle after being dropped from Capitol (see “Pop Goes The Emo On Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American“ ).
“I think maybe not a lot of people know that basically we paid for it ourselves,” he said of the album, which had been titled Bleed American before a post-September 11 renaming. “We saved up from touring and putting out an independent record. In the time that we were not on Capitol Records and before we signed with DreamWorks, we pretty much didn’t have a label or management and just made the record on our own with [producer] Mark Trombino, who’d helped us out with records before.”
And it’s Trombino who’s in the studio again with them now, where things are “coming along really well,” Adkins said.
“But I sort of threw the brakes on a little bit because I’m doing some major lyric surgery right now,” he continued. “I realized I didn’t have enough party yells and ’Baby, baby’s. So I’m rewriting everything to incorporate all of that.”
He was kidding, of course, though maybe DreamWorks wishes he wasn’t. Many of the 16 or so songs the band is working with are “moody, darker stuff,” Adkins said. “There’s a couple of really metal songs. … It’s hard to say what’s going to end up making the cut for the album, but the majority of it is pretty brooding and dark. There are no singles. On our last record every song was a single, but for this record it seems like there are no singles.”
For one song, a “really loose, kind of sparse” number tentatively titled “Disintegration,” the band assembled four drum sets concert-style, to be played standing up, and recorded syncopated beats laid down simultaneously by Adkins, Jimmy Eat World drummer Zach Lind, Sparta drummer Tony Hajjar and Trombino, who previously handled the sticks for seminal San Diego rockers Drive Like Jehu.
Another studio experiment is simply recording everything in the same place this time, Adkins said, rather than hitting one facility to track the drums and going to another studio for everything else. “It’s kind of nice because we can relax a little more. That’s probably the biggest difference between this record and any of the other ones we’ve made — it’s definitely more comfortable.”
But for a band that made its most successful album while scraping and starving, isn’t there a risk of getting too comfortable?
“I suggested that we all get sh–ty temp jobs and sleep on our friends’ floors again, just to get the vibe right,” Adkins deadpanned, “but nobody was with me on that.”