INTERVIEW: Jimmy Eat World

Published in The Music (NSW, QLD, VIC, WA) and, Nov 2014



Rehashing a classic album on its ten-year anniversary is more than a trip down memory lane for Jimmy Eat World bassist-turned-distiller Rick Burch. Daniel Cribb gets a taste of what’s to come.

It’s usually items of tin or aluminium bestowed as gifts upon ten-year anniversaries, but for Jimmy Eat World bassist Rick Burch, the decennium of the band’s classic album Futures coincides with the opening of a distillery in Arizona with friends John Miller and Jeff Barlow called CaskWerks Distilling Co, that specialises in whisky, cider and gin.

“We’ve just signed a lease on a [place] so we’re going to start building out hopefully in October,” Burch says with enthusiasm from the front of the band’s Budapest-bound European tour bus. “We’ll have all our permits approved and then we can start cutting floor drains and moving walls around where they need to [be] and hopefully by December [we’ll be] running our first batches through the system, so early next year we’ll have some bottles to share.”

In the interim, Jimmy Eat World have a run of headline dates in Australia this November to mark ten years since the release of their classic album Futures. “The way we’re envisioning it, the night will start out with Futures and we’ll play the album top to bottom, and once that’s finished we’ll take a short break, catch our breath and come back for like a mini-set, like a mini-normal Jimmy Eat World show.

“There are a few songs on there we’ve never performed live so it’s the challenge of approaching those and figuring out how we’re going to do that live. But there’s also just stepping back, and it puts me back to where we were when we were making that album. We’d just come off Bleed American and toured on that for over two years. Futures was the first time we had an awareness that people were waiting to hear what we were going to do next. It was just a big growth point in our lives so it kind of takes you right back there. It’s really cool: kind of like a time machine.”

But rehashing Futures and playing it in full goes far deeper than a mere trip down memory lane for the Arizona pop-punkers. Classic albums such as Futures cemented the band’s status, but with singles and EPs quickly taking precedent as far as how music is produced and consumed today, the artistic merit behind the album format seems to be losing some of the sparkle it once had. “It is really a song-by-song basis and it’s kind of getting away from an artist building and presenting an entire album as a whole. I’m not sure that I like that,” Burch says. “There’s something about an album that’s more than just a collection of songs. It’s an entire piece that lives as a whole. I always find it interesting and I think it’s cool when you can see a band perform an album live.”

2014 also marks 20 years of Jimmy Eat World, and it was the extensive touring schedule each of the band’s eight albums demanded that sparked Burch’s passion for distilling spirits. Booze and music often go hand in hand, so it’s not surprising that, after travelling the world in the band and experiencing what other cultures have to offer, Burch’s passion for distilling became more than a hobby.

“The format of making a beverage is another creative format. It’s something humans have been doing for thousands of years, but can still be very creative in that realm. It also puts a smile on your face, that finished product,” he laughs. “Travelling the world I discovered that I love whisky, and being able to visit these places around the world and try different drinks and makes, I found it very interesting. I wanted to learn more about it so I started investigating how it’s made, the process – I realised that I really love the process.

“I discovered I loved it and discovered that I had some ideas on ways – you know, recipes and things, so I was able to try some things out and found something that I really loved as far as the flavours I was getting and ensuring that friends and maybe more people would like to try this, so I’m going big with it. Building a bottle to pass around the table, it’s a lot of fun.”

The logistics of shipping alcohol internationally can be a nightmare, but CaskWerks may eventually have the ability to supply their product to Australia. In the meantime, fans can rejoice in the news that the band has been penning riffs and ideas for a new record while on the road, and running through Futures in the process may result in an older Jimmy Eat World sound for album number nine. “Subconsciously I can see that happening for sure. It’s involuntary that you’re influenced by what you’re focusing on in any point in time and what you’re surrounded by. When [we] finish the Futures tour we’ll go back and start hacking through those [ideas] and see what has life and what shows promise – [that’s] kind of the way we’ve worked in the past. The ideas are always happening; you might not be able to get them fleshed out right away but they’re always there.”