There I was sitting on a hayrack ride with my friend Andy and Get Up Kids frontman Matt Pryor and his family. We were on our way to Codfish Hollow Barnstormers in Maquoketa Iowa. The only way to the barn was via a Hayrack Ride from Marvin. This is already a winning experience. We were headed to see Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World perform a solo show. I can honestly say I’ve never had an experience like that before and it’s certainly an experience I will never forget. I plan on coming back to Codfish Hollow Barnstormers, many times.
Jim Adkins is currently in the middle of releasing a series of singles one week at a time. You can pick up your singles here along with touring the united states before he heads over to Europe for most of August and September.
I got the chance to chat with Jim about his current solo project, playing unique venues like Codfish Hollow and what keeps him inspired.
Bob Zerull (BZ): I got a chance to catch your show at Codfish Hollow Barn last week. How much fun has it been to just strip everything down and do these solo shows after all these years of touring with Jimmy Eat World?
Jim Adkins (JA): It’s a totally different experience. It’s challenging and rewarding for different reasons. It’s fun. I’ve been doing the one band for twenty years now, so something slightly different is nice.
BZ: I had never been to Codfish Hollow Barn, but what an amazing place to see a show. Have you been coming across different amazing venues while on this tour?
JA: It’s the gamut of dirty rock clubs to barns in the middle of nowhere. All of it’s awesome. There’s been some really cool spots and some nostalgically bad spots… I learned a long time ago to set your expectations to zero every single time you come on stage. Now it’s all unique and wonderful.
BZ: You’re releasing a series of singles throughout this summer which I think is a really neat idea. It’s kind of fun getting a new song in your email every week. Where did this idea come from?
JA: I thought a lot about how people listen to music. It seems like mostly people listen by track, whether it’s a curated playlist or a streaming service or just your own personal collection of files. That’s just how people listen to music now. Yeah you might throw on an album and cruise through it but I think that even the most avid music fan, at best half of your music listening is album listening. It just felt like the perfect opportunity to execute the idea of less stuff more often instead of here’s an album.
BZ: Do you think that artists are trying too hard to hang on to the way it used to be instead of implementing ideas like this? I could see something like this being the future of music.
JA: Because you can carry the library of congress with you everywhere you go on your phone and stream it anytime you want, with the way music lives now what you’re doing is creating a body of work. Every single song lives right next to every other song and you’re adding to that every time. Maybe the benefit of doing albums is that there’s still of a lot of old traditional media that thrive off of that. But I think you’re right in the future I don’t think that’s going to necessarily be what we’re going to need. Your casual listener is listening by track. The refreshing and inspiring side of all of this is that as a musician or song writer you don’t necessarily need the extended time to do what you do. If you have a great song that you’re proud of you can easily get that out there and show it to people. Whether people perceive it as good is another question entirely but you can get it out there and do what you want. It’s a real inspiring and awesome time to be involved in music.
BZ: You’ve got three new songs on this singles project you’re doing. Are you always writing or was this process different from your normal writing process?
JA: You never really clock out of a gig. You might not always be flushing out songs but you’re always idea gathering. I try to make what I’m doing now fit within a certain theme or objective. I guess the material for the solo endeavor is on purpose a little bit different that what I would do with the band.
BZ: Is that lyrically different or musically or both?
JA: It’s kind of both maybe. I’ve learned that doing this for as long as I have I’ve come to the point where I’ve learned a lot about myself in terms of what I like and what I can do that gets me the result I want. I know that I’m me and I’m not going to be able to escape that. Whether it’s just me or me cowriting, it’s going to have me in it.
BZ: You’ve been around a long time with Jimmy Eat World and a lot of bands who have been doing it as long as you have get burnt out. Do you think the creative freedom that goes along with this project you’re working on right now is going to help prevent you from getting burnt out?
JA: Well sure man. I think that the longer we do the band the more we realize how lucky and grateful we need to feel for the opportunity to continue to do it. We have to protect that. It’s really important to protect the passion of where it all comes from. I think the idea of taking a breather in between albums and trying and exploring new things is important. That’s what I get out of that. We’ll come back from our little break here and we’ll all be really excited about it. Hopefully that’ll show up in the writing.
BZ: So many bands from your era wrote themselves into a corner. They’ve created this sound that they can’t get away from. It seems to me you guys have been able to keep your sound broad enough that you can do whatever you want, that said have you ever felt handcuffed by Jimmy Eat World?
JA: I think we’ve done a good job about leaving musical doors open. We’ve always just felt like we’ll finish the song. Don’t judge something until you’re done with it. Then we decide which songs are the best. It doesn’t matter if it’s guitar stoner rock or some weirdo hybrid thing. It’s all about the song. As long as we’re honest with ourselves about what we like and think is good then people will come along with us. It’s pretty awesome.
BZ: You’ve got a lot dates in Europe this August and September. It seems like the musical landscape over there is much better for artists than it is here, have you noticed that?
JA: It’s a little different. I don’t know if I’d say better. Maybe for some types of music. I think if you’re willing to put in the work to go there and stay out there in front of people they respect that.
BZ: They seem to have more eclectic tastes and the people over there support everything at least that’s the way it looks like from the outside looking in. I feel like people in the states don’t go to shows like they used to.
JA: The biggest difference is that over there people have already made up their minds that they’re going to have fun before they leave the house. In a lot of American cities I’ve got to win over the cool police a little bit.
BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.