It's ironic that Jimmy Eat World, one of indie rock's front-runners (alongside peers like The Promise Ring and The Get Up Kids), a band that's seen their fan base swell in exponential proportions in the past year, have never released a full-length album on an independent label. Unlike their contemporaries who've hashed it out for years on struggling, bedroom-based record companies with minimal tour support and microscopic recording budgets, the Eat Worlds inked their first record contract with Capitol Records fresh out of high school in 1995. And though many would think signing a deal with a major label would equate to instant success, Jimmy Eat World's two-album tenure on Capitol hardly put a blip on the radar of mainstream rock.
"Unfortunately Capitol really didn't believe in us," drummer Zach Lind recalls of his prior label experience. "But in a way, that was sort of a good thing, because it let us take control of what we needed to do. We learned we had to do it ourselves, because no one else would do it for us."
During their self-educating stay at Capitol, Lind and the group created a pair of critically acclaimed albums, Static Prevails and Clarity, which were produced with Mark Trombino. Though both albums were clearly written from the same creative minds, each had distinct personalities.
Static Prevails was the more aggressive, noisier, and edgier installment, showcasing Lind's substantial rock drive and remnants of his punk-rock upbringing. It was on Static where Lind established his trademark sound as a highly dynamic performer, with an ability to explode at the drop of a hat. Complementing vocalist/guitarists Jim Adkins and Tom Linton's breathy to full-bore vocal trade-offs, Lind was right on cue during each transition, keeping it simple yet bursting into full quarter-note crashes when called for.
Clarity took an entirely different route, opting for an airy, predominantly experimental approach to their material. With Lind occasionally exchanging his sticks for timpani mallets or incorporating drum loops, the album had a fresh sonic edge. Unfortunately, rousing critical acclaim didn't necessarily translate into rocketing sales figures, and the band left Capitol after Clarity's release in 1999.
Lind and company headed back into the studio with Trombino and tracked a new batch of material on their own, eventually signing up with DreamWorks shortly thereafter. With the completed album in the hands of their new home, the band began touring again. In August 2001, Jimmy Eat World's third album, an eponymous effort (originally dubbed Bleed American) was released.
The end result of Jimmy Eat World was twelve tracks of pure power-pop bliss. Although the material was decidedly poppier and more straightforward than their previous efforts, Lind's performance was just as creative as ever, from the missing beats of "Get It Faster" to the innovative tom work on "Your House." And with three successful radio singles, "Bleed American," "Sweetness," and "The Middle" in tow, Lind and company were able to latch onto major tours with Weezer, Green Day, and Blink-182, where audiences got to witness the drummer's relaxed yet disciplined physical demeanor first-hand.
All of a sudden the anonymous group of nine years wasn't so faceless anymore. And though Lind says it's been the ride he's always wished for, he insists his dreams are yet to be fully realized.