Concert preview: Yearlong hiatus invigorates Jimmy Eat World on 'Integrity Blues'

Joel Oliphint

Back in 2014, Jimmy Eat World began writing what the emo vets hoped would be their ninth studio album. Fresh off a tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of the band's 2004 record,Futures - a fan favorite alongside 2001'sBleed American (remember "The Middle"?) and 1999's increasingly influentialClarity (still the band's best) - Jimmy Eat World found itself unable to do what it had consistently done since the mid '90s.

"We started the writing process, and it just seemed like there wasn't a lot of momentum," drummer Zach Lind said recently by phone. "We were getting stuck in the mud a little bit. As we discussed it, it seemed like a good idea to take a break and turn the Jimmy Eat World switch off in our brains for a year and give everyone the space to do something else."

Even though the break was a mutual decision, Lind said there was some trepidation. "It's a little bit of a risk, and it's a little scary to do something like that," he said. "We took the break with the intention of coming back and starting up again, but going into it, you'd be naïve to think that it's a sure thing. So I think there was a little bit of an element of, 'Who knows?'"

In the year off, Lind set up his drums at home and taught himself multi-track recording, then decided to learn how to play bass. Pretty soon, he was putting songs together and enlisting his wife to help with vocal duties for what became a new project, the Wretched Desert, and an EP,Street Lights.

When Jimmy Eat World reconvened to write and record what eventually became new albumIntegrity Blues, Lind had a few more tools in his toolbox. "I'm more capable of coming up with parts and helping out with melodies. There's a chorus melody on the record I wrote," Lind said. "It may not have been something I would have tried if I hadn't had that experience of making Wretched Desert."

"Pass the Baby," one of the standout tracks onIntegrity Blues, starts as a slow burn, with subtle, electronic percussion, crystalline, xx-style guitar, porcelain-smooth bass and Jim Adkins' breathy vocals, but the fire eventually leads to a full-on explosion of Sabbath-like riffing and pummeling, Neanderthal drums.

"The first part of ['Pass the Baby'] has been sitting around since 2006. That's one of the oldest ideas on the record," Lind said. "We always thought it would be cool to start it really close and tight sounding, and then it wanders off into this crazy other spot."

The band embraced a willingness to explore new territory elsewhere on the album, too. "There was a lot more on-the-fly, from-the-gut [ideas] making this record. And while that was really nerve-racking, I think it was a much better way to make a record," Lind said. "We wanted to make a record that proved to ourselves that we should still be doing this."

Newport Music Hall

7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13

1722 N. High St., Campus