Jimmy Eat World's new video for "Pain" borrows so heavily from the '80s teen flick "Better Off Dead" that the movie's super-persistent newspaper boy may need to start hounding the band for his "two dollars!" in royalties.
Although it doesn't quote the classic line from the 1985 John Cusack movie, the clip for the first single off Jimmy Eat World's Futures, due October 19, borrows from the film's central theme. It opens with a shot of the main character's photo montage of his ex-girlfriend, in much the same way Cusack's character, Lane Myer, is obsessed with his former flame, Beth Truss.
As the video's protagonist goes through his day, he's dogged by two curly haired twins in red track suits, a riff off "The Royal Tenenbaums" terrible twosome Ari and Uzi. But despite being belted with baseball bats and attacked by a German shepherd while wearing a "steak suit," he's numb to the pain. His poor heart hurts too much.
In the same way Jimmy Eat World's video for "The Middle" illustrated its point with people partying in their underwear, the anguished "Pain" is juxtaposed with a comedic element. So it's not surprising that both ideas stemmed from the same source: director Paul Fedor.
"Paul did such an excellent job with 'The Middle,' balancing the gratuitousness and honesty, that we invited him back," frontman Jim Adkins said of the lensman behind videos for P.O.D., Hoobastank and Santana. "That video could have slipped into a bad 'American Pie' booty [mode], but I see that [video] and I don't think sex at all. Maybe that's because I was there and spent hours with all these people in their underwear. I think sexy, but not sex. I think of the story being told, and that's enabled us to trust that he'd be able to do the same thing with 'Pain.' "
Other directors didn't fare so well with their treatments.
"It's always the weirdest thing when you read a director's treatment," Adkins said. "The person is explaining in writing, trying to describe something only they can see. A lot of times, when they're writing these things, they have to sell more people than just the band — like the people who actually write the check for it. It's always things like, 'The band looks hot as sh--. They're rocking. Drummer Johnny is pounding with fury.' It's a little ridiculous."
Were it not for a last-minute burst of inspiration, Fedor might not have had the same song to work his magic on. "Pain" was the final track the band penned for Futures, written just before hitting the studio to record (see "Jimmy Eat World Say If You Don't Like Futures Right Away, Don't Bother"). Adkins preferred not to go into detail about "Pain" — other than to say it's "about low willpower and taking the easy way to become pacified, which may or may not solve anything in the long run" — though he did say that there's usually never one specific instance that inspires a Jimmy Eat World song.
"Our songs are never really about a singular thing," he explained. "They never really have been. Our songs are like journal entries. There are no real rules about them. It could be about how you're feeling lately. It could be used to sum up everything you've been thinking about over a certain amount of time. It could be the first thing that comes to your head."
Jimmy Eat World tour dates, according to Interscope Records:
- 9/30 - Riverside, CA @ U.C. Riverside Recreation Center
- 10/15 - Brooklyn, NY @ The Warsaw
- 10/19 - Pomona, CA @ The Glasshouse
- 10/23 - Tempe, AZ @ Tempe Beach Park
- 10/24 - Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
- 10/26 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
- 10/27 - Orem, UT @ McKay Events Center
- 10/29 - Los Angeles, CA @ Henry Fonda Theater
- 11/1 - San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
- 11/3 - Portland, OR @ The Crystal Ballroom
- 11/6 - Boston, MA @ The Avalon
- 11/10 - Asbury Park, NJ @ The Stone Pony
- 11/11 - Pittsburgh, PA @ The Rock Club