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Jimmy Eat World Are 'Surviving': "At The End Of The Day, We're Fighting For The Same Thing"

Jimmy Eat World 

Photo: Oliver Halfin

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Jimmy Eat World Are 'Surviving': "At The End Of The Day, We're Fighting For The Same Thing"

The Recording Academy speaks to frontman Jim Adkins about where 'Surviving' fits in the emo stalwarts' extensive catalog

GRAMMYs/Oct 29, 2019 - 01:19 am

25 years and 10 albums into his career, Jim Adkins, frontman of emo mainstays Jimmy Eat World, says one of the key factors for keeping a band together this long comes down to a choice made every day.

"We all realize, at the end of the day, that we're fighting for the same thing," he says on the phone from Arizona.

The band's latest album, Surviving, out now, comes after the band's 25th anniversary in February and 20 years after making their third album, Clarity, which, at the time, they thought would be their last. "It was like a last meal on death row. We loaded up our plate with string sections, timpanis, mallet instruments and dream machines," a post reads on the band's Instagram reflecting back during the album's anniversary date.

Surviving has Adkins in a different headspace than 20 years ago. Not that Adkins isn't aware that it could all end ("Your career is finite," he says). But lately he's much more focused on reflecting on the self. 

"What's been fascinating me lately [are] the blocks you put in your own way that prevent you from experiencing growth. That keep you in a state of fear or depression, or self-pity, or a lack of self-worth," he says. " What evolutionary advantage possibly could there be for the levels of self-sabotage we think we need?" 

The band's newer music still features the hard-rocking melodies fans have come to love and revere, and Adkins admits that the pressure to live up to his own expectations has grown over the years. "You're not just making albums, you're not just releasing singles," he says. "You're building your catalog. And everything that you do lives right next to everything you've ever done."

The Recording Academy spoke with Adkins about where Surviving fits in Jimmy Eat World's extensive catalog (Surviving is their 10th studio album), the challenging aspects of making a record, what he's the most proud to have accomplished with the band and more. 

Surviving is album number 10. How does it feel to be 10 albums in?

Pretty crazy. We don't take any of this for granted and there's a finite amount of opportunities that you get. It could be one album, it could be 15 albums. I think on page one of [Donald] Passman's book [All You Need to Know About the Music Business] he says it a couple times, your career is finite. And I take that to heart so you have to appreciate everything that comes your way. And we've been really, really fortunate that we've been able to do this for as long as we have.

You recently celebrated an anniversary as a band. What, in your opinion, has been the glue that has kept you guys together for so long?

That's a good question. I think it's a couple of factors. There's a level of respect for each other, especially creatively. I think that the idea of how many bands break up because of quote, unquote creative differences, which I know is kind of a cover for some extra other deep stuff. But it's true. I can see how that derails a lot of people and as heated as an argument might be when we're working on material, we all realize at the end of the day that we're fighting for the same thing.

It's not like you don't take any of that stuff personally. I wouldn't want to work with people that didn't have passionate ideas and envisions for the creative direction. Of course, it's not going to be exactly the same [as mine]. That's why you work with other people. If you want to just do your thing, you just do your thing. [If you want a collaborative environment], you're going to get things that aren't your idea. But hopefully in the end ... it'll make for an idea that nobody had on their own. They'll be something collaborative. It's something that none of you had thought of on your own and couldn't have thought on your own.

Some artists have told me it's basically like marriage, being in a group for so long.

Yeah, yeah. I can see that. It's a relationship on a level ... Any relationship that's going to last is, it's a partnership first. A band is a partnership first.

This album explores how you deal with ego. Tell me more about that.

Yeah, roughly. Every song has its own little thing, but roughly what's been fascinating me lately [are] the blocks you put in your own way that prevent you from experiencing growth. That keeps you in a state of fear or depression, or self-pity, or a lack of self-worth. A lot of those things are really your own fault. The crazy thing is I put this stuff there, but yet I'm so afraid to take it away. Why? Why is that? What evolutionary advantage possibly could there be for the levels of self-sabotage we think we need? 

It's crazy. "I really don't like where I am right now. I'm not happy with my job. I'm not happy with the relationship I'm in. I live in constant fear of finances or whatever." But to change or do anything different, that's just too scary. I don't know if I want to do that. Why? Why is that? It's kind of fascinating to me. So, that's what a lot of Surviving is about. 

I've read stuff about the ego and sometimes what happens is that we're not living in the moment. Like you said, we're thinking about the future, we're thinking about how we're not happy. Do you feel like you were in the moment creating this album?

Yeah, I can see why there are people who check out of society and dedicate their entire being to inner work of removing the self. Eckhart Tolle has a great book [on that], The Power Of Now.

It really changed a lot of stuff for me. But yeah, that's true. We future trip, we hold onto guilt. We choose to re-live pain that doesn't exist. I don't know if this kind of gets at your question at all, but it's like something I used to find myself doing is catch myself in this state of anxiousness, or I basically work myself up into a really not great place. And that's the thing, I took 15 minutes out of the day and nothing else in the world had changed, but I had gone and chosen to re-live pain in my head. 

It's crazy. I'm not being present. I'm not interacting with people around me. I'm not experiencing a connection to people 'cause I'm in my own head. Either future tripping or reliving guilt I guess would be the fear of the past, I suppose you could call it. So, it's a constant quest to be present, and it's a longer answer than maybe you intended. But it's sort of the trick, with creation, with writing, with music. You got to turn off somewhat because I think writer's block is essentially not being able to shut off the inner critique.

But music is like you're responding to something. You're also creating something. You're responsible for the momentum and the direction. And you're also listening, and you're responding to that at the same time. And if your inner critic is constantly chiming into naysaying something, you're not going to get anywhere. So you got to turn that off. It's a real trick to be present, but also to turn that voice off is a real trick. And that's why this is so hard.

Have you always been this aware?

No. No. [Laughs.] Not at all. It's a newer thing, I guess.

Did anything else inspire this album?

Well, I mean everything. I think our albums are time capsules. These sort of encompass everything that's been happening, everything that I am curious about, everything that floats to the surface of life and living in the timeframe since our last thing that we did, which was about three years ago, Integrity Blues, came out three years ago. So yeah, it's basically a time capsule of the last three years. 

Was there something about making this album that was different from the rest?

Hmm. I think the longer that we do this, the more pressure there is to live up to our own expectations, our own standards. Increasingly, the way people consume music now... You're not just making albums, you're not just releasing singles. You're building your catalog. And everything that you do lives right next to everything you've ever done. It's right next to it. And then that lives right next to the Library of Congress and anybody can take whatever they want out of that. So, what you're doing has to feel... there has to be a reason for it. If anything, that might be the difference is if we're going to take the time to add to our catalog, it better be something we feel is meaningful. It better be something we feel like there's a reason that we're doing it in the first place.

So what do you feel was the reason you made Surviving?

In the past, I think when you're starting out and especially us, when we were younger, you just do something. You don't know why. You just feel it. You have to, we have to do it. Here's my idea, I just have to get this out. You don't question it. You don't analyze it. You just do it cause you have to. Not like someone's making you do it. You have to otherwise, you'll just explode. You will die, you'll die unless you can get this thing thinking out.

That's how it feels when you're younger. But as you get older, I think this is a quest to know yourself. The more you learn doing that, you find reasons there. You find things that are important to you. And that's the thing that you choose to talk about. So, I guess that's just the reason now. I don't know. We feel like our ideas are good enough to live next to everything else we've ever done.

Is there a part of the album-making process that you enjoy the most?

I think there are two thoughts really. When the first draft demo, when you get the initial idea and you take your stab at hearing that happen in real life and if something comes out of it, that's great. And then I think the next phase is probably listening back to it. Listening back to the master copy for the first time. Yeah, it'll never quite sound that way again, ever. So, it's nice to take a second and play that once.

Was there a challenging aspect in making Surviving?

I think it's all pretty challenging. I think the most challenging aspect of it is that simple thing that confronts you every time sit down to work. It's just finding the balance of not... I'm trying to be present with whatever is happening and also silencing the inner critic. Because there's an awareness and then there's a complete subconscious that you have to kind of balance. That's always harder.

What is one thing that you are really proud to have accomplished all these years later?

I guess I could say I'm proud that we've always been honest with what we've put out. We're always been honest with the music we put our name on is material we feel is fun to play [and] had been rewarding to create. We've never made something to chase the approval of some imaginary listener.

People really pick up on that. There's nothing more of a turnoff and someone trying to chase your approval. So I think that we've done a good job in disregarding that. Not everyone's going to like what we do, but I think if you put out something honest, I think the right people will find it.

Behind The Record Celebrates Behind-The-Scenes Creators Of Your Favorite Albums

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GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.

 

Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

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Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 GRAMMY.com

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or ticketing@grammy.com.

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy

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Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske
Seattle

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards