Jimmy Eat World

Years from now, when a music video channel decides to go behind the music of Jimmy Eat World, the day the band parted ways with Capitol Records may be described as their “darkest hour.” Yet the description would be ill-fitting.

When the label relationship unceremoniously ceased in August 1999, Jimmy Eat World did what any respectable rock band steeped in the DIY ethic would do: They hit the road.

Though Capitol had never released any of the band’s full-length albums, Static Prevails and Clarity, in Europe, the group bought bundles of the records on its own and shipped them across the pond. They followed the shipment with a self-promoted, five-week run through the continent.

Singer/guitarist Jim Adkins (no, the band is not named after him) said the band was anything but lost without the label support.

“We never relied on Capitol for anything,” Adkins explained. “So, when they were gone, it wasn’t like there was this big absence.

“It felt like we could breathe, like we could stretch out a little bit more. There was nothing they were giving us that, when they were gone, we couldn’t just as easily do ourselves.”

In the States, the band had built a loyal, often rabid fan base through an exhaustive amount of touring. That same strategy won the support of European fans, especially in Germany.

Since that first jaunt in ’99, Jimmy Eat World has been back through Europe numerous times.

Helter Skelter’s Steve Strange, who has booked the band in Europe since July 2001, said every successive tour he books for the guys sells out larger-capacity venues. Last year, they were selling out 400- to 500-seat facilities; he expects their June 1st gig at London’s 4,300-capacity Brixton Academy to sell out at least eight weeks before the show.

So far this year, Strange has booked four runs for the band and is working on confirming a few festival dates.

“I think they’ve crossed the channel more than some ships have recently,” Strange said.

Jimmy Eat World

Speaking from his Arizona homebase after yet another transatlantic flight home, Adkins told POLLSTAR he has no idea why European audiences are so enthusiastic about the band.

“I’ve given up trying to predict why elements of pop culture become successful or why certain bands are on the radio,” he said.

Whatever the recipe for the band’s success, the main ingredient appears to be independence. At the end of 2000, with the proceeds from constant touring and an indie-released collection of singles, Jimmy Eat World set about recording its first full-length album without major label support. The sessions for the self-titled record (originally titled Bleed American but changed after September 11th) were funded wholly by the band.

After DreamWorks agreed to release the album, the first two singles, “Bleed American” and “The Middle,” fueled a headlining Stateside tour at 1,000- to 1,500-capacity clubs scheduled for the fall, which was cut short in September. All of the shows, which had sold out before the band even left for the first date, were rescheduled for February and March.

Flowerbooking’s Tim Edwards started working with the act more than three years ago, when it was signed on for multiple support dates with The Promise Ring, one of his clients with whom Jimmy Eat World shares a similar following. Up until that point, the group was largely self-booked and self-managed, with drummer Zach Lind assuming much of the business duties.

Eventually, Edwards sat the members down and told them he was interested in repping them exclusively in the States.

Though success of the singles has brought an increase in the size of venues, Jimmy Eat World still maintains the same workhorse ethic behind touring. In fact, the only time off the band has taken was for Christmas and a six-week break when Lind and his wife had a baby.

“When I booked Jimmy Eat World two years ago,” Edwards said, “they would leave for a 20-date tour and tell me they wanted to play 20 shows, if not more. … And now there’s more press days, more in-stores, more radio needs, more promotional things. It’s just not feasible to do.”

According to Edwards, the band’s management, GAS Entertainment, has been instrumental in the rising success of its live shows. By being cognizant of the radio exposure the band is getting in each market, GAS has been able to point the agent to towns he doesn’t normally book, like Tulsa, Okla., which produce sellouts.

At the end of March, the band heads across the Atlantic once again to cram at least seven dates in the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands into 10 days before heading back to North America for gigs in Canada and the States. On April 17th, Jimmy Eat World will help Blink-182 and Green Day kick off the Pop Disaster tour, sticking around for about a month before heading back to the U.K.

Edwards is looking to line up support slots for the summer and a headlining tour in the fall.

“I imagine the long term is going to be similar to this year’s plan,” Edwards said. “They’ve always been a real hard touring band and they like being on the road, so we’re going to keep touring them until they beg for mercy.” Pull Quote: “I’ve given up trying to predict why elements of pop culture become successful or why certain bands are on the radio.”