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Jimmy Eat World's virtual "Phoenix Sessions," 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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Jimmy Eat World has been quiet for much of the pandemic lockdown. But the Arizona quartet, best known for its 2001 hit "The Middle," is ready to make some noise again.

On Friday, Jan. 15, the group launches "Phoenix Sessions," a three-show series that begins streaming on Friday, Jan. 15, with a performance of the quartet's latest album, 2019's "Surviving (Chapter X)." It will be followed by 2004's "Futures (Chapter V)" on Jan. 29 and 1999's "Clarity (Chapter II)" on Feb. 12, and $1 from every ticket sold will raise money to the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) Relief Fund.

For frontman Jim Adkins it's "a really awesome way to connect with fans, but also an opportunity to do something just rad." And he's happy to finally have Jimmy Eat World back in the middle, if you will, of the music world, if only for a few weeks...

Adkins says by phone that Jimmy Eat World took a deliberate wait-and-see attitude before trying to put streaming performances online. "I think back in March when all the tours got canceled and everyone, rightly so, flipped out, it was sort of an uncontrolled burst of people performing music online. It was super cool, but it took us a minute to figure out where we fit in the scope of that whole scene and who we could get to help us."

Hooking up with national firm Danny Wimmer Presents, Adkins is confident "we've put together something that's super-high quality, and I think fans will be excited by. It's by far the most intense performance look and sound I think we've ever released before. Each one was shot in a different location, and we're using lightmapping and projections so you can really do more with the environment than we could never get away with with a normal stage production."

Adkins and company found that "playing music in a virtual sense is cool" but had challenges. "I think for us it was to throw out the idea that this is a regular show, and then what can you do? What can you make it look like if you get rid of the idea it has to look like a band vs. audience, set up on stage facing a crowd when there is no crowd? Why do that if that's not what's happening. So when you get rid of that convention anything's possible, and there were a lot of different possibilities to explore that were a lot of fun."

As for the choice of albums, Adkins says Jimmy Eat World hadn't finished touring to support "Surviving" and wanted to give those songs a further airing. With the other two, he adds, "we wanted to give people something that maybe a more casual fan might know and then a more hardcore fan would definitely know." And while it's the 20th anniversary this year for the group's biggest seller, "Bleed American," the band felt "it was just a little too obvious" to include it. But Adkins says the virtual shows "might be something we continue to do in the future, just because it's cool."

Adkins has spent time during the lockdown learning contemporary video technology, but he's also been writing songs -- though he's not yet thinking about the band's next album. "You're always working on new music. How much of that ends up being new Jimmy Eat World songs is completely unknown. A song can be mostly finished in demo state and we could go in and record it at an album session and then it could just kind of die. With us nothing is really finished until it's on the street, so it's hard to say what we have coming. But we're always working."

Jimmy Eat World's "Phoenix Sessions" series begins at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, with a full performance of 2019's "Surviving (Chapter X)." Subsequent episodes premiere on Jan. 29 and Feb. 12. Tickets via JimmyEatWorldLive.com. $1 per ticket goes to the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) Relief Fund.

Web Site: www.JimmyEatWorldLive.com

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