Last summer, when asked to name the best Warped Tour performance she'd ever seen, Juliet Simms of Tampa rock band Automatic Loveletter didn't hesitate.
"Jimmy Eat World," she said. "Seeing them was insane, back in, like, '04."
It seems odd that a band with one big hit (The Middle) and a handful of minor ones (Lucky Denver Mint, Sweetness, Pain) would go on to be held in such esteem by younger bands. But over the past 18 years, by taking their signature emo/power-pop style mainstream, Jimmy Eat World helped pave the way for young bands like Fall Out Boy, Paramore and Panic at the Disco to become superstars. Today, the Arizona foursome are seen by many as forefathers of the genre.
In 2009, the band marked the 10-year anniversary of their landmark album Clarity by playing the album in full, to rave reviews. This year they're touring in support of 2010 disc Invented, and will play their first Coachella in April. The band hits the Ritz Ybor on Wednesday.
I spoke by phone to singer Jim Adkins. Here are excerpts.
This'll be your first Coachella. Are you nervous about venturing into the land of the hipster?
You know, is Coachella really hipster? I mean, how hipster is Big Audio Dynamite? I don't know if Big Audio Dynamite is even on hipsters' radar. Usually there's one or two big, filling, mass-appeal kind of artists, and then the rest are pretty big, pretty popular, but not on that same level. But you put them all together, and it's like the event is the headliner more than any actual lineup slot.
Jimmy Eat World is held in high regard by a lot of young Warped Tour bands. Do you get that sense when you play with younger bands?
Yeah, sometimes. I guess Bleed American, one of our more popular records, came out almost 10 years ago. So in scene years, we're like the Doobie Brothers. People have started playing in bands and gotten successful and broken up in that time span. So I guess it's possible that that can develop. It's really flattering.
Nine years ago, when The Middle came out, MTV and radio could still make stars. Now, have you had to recalibrate your idea of a successful Jimmy Eat World single or album?
I think our ideas of success have gotten refined, but the general idea has always been the same. The only guaranteed reward that you have doing this is just the satisfaction of challenging yourself and making something real that you hear in your head. Anything beyond that is sort of out of your control.