Interview With Rick Burch of Jimmy Eat World
On Saturday, May 28, 2011, alternative rock band Jimmy Eat World performed at The Pageant in St Louis, in support of their most recent album, Invented, released back in September of 2011. St. Louis Music Press contributor Keith Kettmann got to speak with Jimmy Eat World bassist Rick Burch on the telephone prior to the show, about the upcoming visit to St. Louis and lots more….
Keith: How’s your day going today?
Rick: Great! Today we are in Portland, Oregon, and I’m just kind of getting the show going. We are about to do sound check in a little bit. Things are going good.
Keith: What are you guys promoting right now? I know that Invented came out a few months ago; is that what you guys are currently touring in support of?
Rick: Yes. We are mostly playing songs off of Invented, but we are also playing songs off of most of our other albums as well…a couple of songs off of each record.
Keith: Do you guys play the same set every night, or do you switch it up from town to town, depending on the crowd?
Rick: There’s definitely a core of songs that we play every night, but we do switch it up. There’s about five songs that we will switch in and out to try and mix it up, especially if we are playing somewhere within a few hours of another show, just in case if there are the people that dedicated to go to both shows. So that way they don’t see the same thing.
Keith: What was the creative approach to Invented? Was it any different from any of your other albums?
Rick:Yeah, it was a little different. Most of the work we did on our own, without a producer or an engineer. We just did it with the four of us in our studio in Arizona, working away. It wasn’t until about 80% of the process was finished that we brought in Mark Trombino to help us get it across the finish line. It was really cool it just being the four of us writing and recording the new music. It was a lot of fun.
Keith: How was it working with Mark again? The last time you worked together was on Futures.
Rick: Yeah he did some work on Futures, so it was the last time we worked with him. It was pretty cool reconnecting with him. It was also unique in the respect that he wasn’t really ever in our studio in Tempe when we were working with him. We would do stuff and make notes and send him digital copies of the songs, and then he would listen, make notes, maybe change some things on his computer and send them back to us. So we were using the internet to send songs back and forth. He was at his place in California, and we were at our studio in Arizona. It was interesting to try it out, and it actually worked out really great.
Keith: As far as your bass rig goes, do you use the same setup in the studio as you do live? I saw on a late night show that you used a Fender P-Bass with a reverse headstock on it. Do you use that one a lot?
Rick: That guitar came together, I guess it was a few years ago. I had it and the neck was broken on it, so I called up a friend at Fender, and he said, “Hey, you guys tune down a lot, right?”, which we do; we play a lot of the songs in C#, so he recommended that I try the reverse headstock. What that does is it makes the E-string have more length, and what that does is, it helps stabilize that really low note. Because before, and I had noticed this, when I’d hit the string and I was tuning, you can see the movement of the string would add tension and change the pitch of the string.
Keith: Can you tell me about the dynamics within the band? Like how do songs come together for you guys?
Rick: Every song comes together in a different way. Jim’s definitely the main creative force behind the music, but sometimes Jim will come in with an idea that’s on an acoustic guitar, just like a melody and some chords, and we’ll all listen to it and make suggestions. A song could evolve out of that. Sometimes we’ll just be making noise at rehearsal and a cool guitar riff will happen or a cool drum beat, and we’ll be like, “Hey, we need to remember that!” Sometimes the genesis is just from one of us or sometimes it’s just something that happens. Also at the same time, Jim will come in with a song and it’s pretty much done, and it doesn’t require very much at all. Every song comes together differently.
Keith: What is one of your favorite songs to play live?
Rick: Lately I’ve been liking to play “Evidence” [from Invented] a lot because it’s just a really rocking riff. It’s a lot of fun to play.
Keith: Is there a song that you never get tired of playing live?
Rick: We try to play a song from each album every night. I still enjoy playing the old songs now as much as I did when they were new. I just have a great time, and I definitely don’t get tired of playing and songs. We’ve probably played “Blister” [from Clarity] more than any other song. And I still have a great time playing it.
Keith: Do you have any advice for a regional band or a band that’s just starting out?
Rick: Just get out there and play your music for people. Make sure you’re playing music that you like. It’s definitely obvious if you’re not into what you’re doing. People can see that. Just have fun with what you’re doing.
Keith: What was your first show with the band like?
Rick: It was in Flagstaff, Arizona at the Elk’s Lodge, and it was hot, sweaty, and it was awesome. I had so much fun. I’ve known the guys from before Jimmy Eat World started, so we were all friends. It was just a lot of fun.
Keith: What’s something that you’ve never been asked in an interview that you would like [to be asked]?
Rick: Oh geez! I don’t know! I guess, “If I still enjoy playing with the guys in Jimmy Eat World?”, and the answer would be, “Yes.” I really appreciate that we can have this much fun and get away with it.
Keith: What is the hardest thing about touring?
Rick: Sometimes the traveling aspect of it. Getting from point A to point B can be pretty grueling and monotonous.
Keith: What would be the best?
Rick: Besides the shows, being able to go to new places, meet new people and start new friendships is one thing we’ve valued in our touring. Recently we got to go to a couple of places we had never been before, New Zealand being one of them. It was a really cool place and also a lot of nice people there. I’m really looking forward to getting back over there.
Keith: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
Rick: Someone saying, “Hey man, you guys are solid!”
Keith: What would you be doing if you weren’t a musician?
Rick: I don’t know. Maybe like a… I’d like to be a brew master at a brewery.
Keith: I know I’m like ten years too late, but what are your feelings towards MP3s and the whole “Napster” thing? Are you for it or against it?
Rick: I have to say that I’m against it…[pause] You know what?… I’m not against it! Even as it was happening, I remember when I first learned what an MP3 was, and I was amazed that a song can be compacted down into a small amount of data that you can send in an email. And I thought that was really cool, for the reason that it would be really easy to share songs with your friends. It helped us out. We had never been to Europe before and we booked ourselves tickets, rented a van and were driving ourselves around. Our first show was in Germany, and we didn’t have any records released there but we had like 300 people at our show, and they knew the words to “Sweetness” [ from Bleed American], a song that had never been officially released on any album [at that time]! It was a total trip, and it was due to the internet…
Keith: If you could be any cartoon character, who would you be?
Rick: Probably Stan from South Park. He seems to be the sensible one, and he’s always able to learn something “today.”
Keith: We are really looking forward to your St. Louis show! Is there anything you’d like say to the people that will be there?
Rick: I, as well, am looking forward to the St. Louis show. It should be a lot of fun. I hope everyone has a good time, like we will.
Find out more about Jimmy Eat World with this link:
Official Website, www.jimmyeatworld.com