Jimmy Eat World | 20th Anniversary “Bleed American”
May 28, 2021 by Jenna Enemy
A few summers ago in downtown Minneapolis, a goth bassist, a hardcore drummer, and my rude and riot self, walked into a bar…a karaoke bar. Of course it was fated we would sing a ditty for all the folks in the dive (whose dry coughs synced in and out of time with the old juke box as they patiently waited for the next karaoke victim to hit the stage). But what would these three musically-diverse individuals choose to sing together? Surely there couldn’t be one single artist we all could agree on? I asked the question: “What are we singing tonight, boys?” Without missing a beat, we all replied, “Sweetness.”
We hit that first vocal break in unison with all the energy we could muster, asking the emptying dive bar, “Are you listening, whoa!” Then something incredible happened: the blue-hairs fresh out of VFW bingo started clapping their hands, the barflies slightly swayed on their stools, the bartender that didn’t like anyone winked at me. (Although he later claimed to have something caught in his eye and told me to leave him alone, his surliness could not detract from that night’s electric moment.)
This moment confirmed my Jimmy Eat World hypothesis: Everyone knows and loves Jimmy Eat World, and this level of universal admiration simply does not exist for any other band.
Jimmy Eat World formed in 1993 in Mesa, Arizona with lead vocalist and lead guitarist Jim Adkins, rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Tom Linton, bassist Rick Burch, and drummer Zach Lind. Fans love and root for them, and have watched this “underdog” of a band come up against all odds.
It’s hard to believe that Jimmy Eat World was once shelved and dropped from their record deal with Capitol Records, but with their determination and belief in themselves, they won all of our hearts. When things were seemingly bleak, the band decided to try on a new perspective and saw losing their label as a form of freedom instead of a doomsday curse. The band grinded it out at day jobs, yet continued touring out of a small van just to make money to record their new songs – this time all on their own. This collection of songs would soon become the certified platinum 2001 album, “Bleed American.” (The title was later changed to “Jimmy Eat World” due to the 9/11 attacks that followed months after its release.)
“Bleed American” brought Jimmy Eat World to the mainstream with the previously-mentioned, group-bonding track, “Sweetness,” “A Praise Chorus,” “Bleed American,” and the mega-hit single, “The Middle.” Each of those tracks landed in the top 20 on the charts, and “The Middle” topped the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks, plus the album scored gold records for the band.
The band continued to release new material through the 2000s, plus released a deluxe edition of “Bleed American.” The deluxe edition contained the original album and bonus material: B-sides, acoustic tracks, live material, demos, and the title was restored to “Bleed American.”
And now in 2021, July marks the 20th anniversary of “Bleed American,” and although you’d think the band would be taking some time to celebrate its success and impact on us all, they are in true Jimmy Eat World form focused on constantly creating new content.
Last year, Adkins donned a “new post-apocalyptic, ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart-esk’” sci-fi inspired look for the video “555” (from 2019’s release “Surviving”). Last week, the band announced the release of the graphic novel inspired by the song and the characters of the video. Co-written by Adkins, writer Alex Paknadel, and Illustrated by Koren Shadmi, “555” tells a very grim tale with themes of isolation, corrupt systems, and people as industrial machines.
Of course, as fans of the band as a musical vessel, many of us were thrilled to see this message on Twitter last week:
Lollapalooza! We’re so excited to see you July 29 – Aug. 1, 2021 at Grant Park! #Lolla
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We couldn’t be more excited to see you too! Diverse musicians, music fans of all ages (and various types of blue hair!), and perhaps even cranky bartenders.
If you can’t make it to Chicago for Lolla, you can catch Jimmy Eat World in Napa in September or here in Irvine at Five Point Amphitheatre October 23rd!
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ALSO NOTABLE, Jimmy Eat World “555 (The Graphic Novel)” is now available.