Saturday, September 29, 2007


Mesa's Jimmy Eat World will preview its new album, Chase This Light, today at EdgeFest in Queen Creek.

The disc, in stores Oct. 16, is the fifth studio release for the pop-punk quartet, which sold 615,000 copies of its last album, 2004's Futures.

Singer-guitarist Jim Adkins, guitarist Tom Linton, bassist Rick Burch and drummer Zach Lind are using two dates in Arizona to kick off their fall tour (they played in Flagstaff on Thursday). advertisement

Frontman Adkins checked in by phone Thursday to talk about the album, the tour and being a not-so-big-time gambler.

Question: You just finished filming a video for the new album's debut single, Big Casino, in Las Vegas. Were you filming on the Strip?

Answer: We were in this neon-sign graveyard, where they retire signs from places that don't need them anymore. A bunch of people have shot (videos) there before, but it won't look nearly as good as what we did. (Laughs.)

Q: Are you much of a gambler?

A: I'm kind of an average gambler. I never, you know, win. I break even sometimes; that's kind of like winning.

Q: Is anybody else in the band into gambling big-time?

A: Tom (Linton, guitar) is into roulette. That's his bag. But we're not gamblers at all, except when we get hustled into the occasional (dice) game of c-low with other bands.

Q: You've had a solid run of videos through the years. Is that a fun part of the music business? How do you view it?

A: With mixed emotions. It's still a somewhat necessary tool of marketing your record, but it's kind of a big expense, and there's a dwindling amount of avenues to showcase that.

Q: You've said Chase This Light is the best album Jimmy Eat World has made. What's the key reason?

A: You're always more excited about your most recent accomplishment. But just the way it came together, the place where our heads were at collectively, we're at a good place. We function at our best when we're not having to rely on other people to accomplish our goals.

Q: With five albums under your belt, how do you approach recording now?

A: Every record, we've been more and more into recording ourselves. With this record, we decided to take our budget and buy gear and just make the record in (Tempe) Arizona.

Q: You made another trip to Europe this past summer. Your band seems to enjoy going overseas.

A: We love traveling and going new places. We actually do pretty well in Europe. We've been going there since 1999. . . . Now, it's like touring here, except with better wine and cheese.

Q: You'll be outdoors at EdgeFest (at the former site of Country Thunder USA). Do you enjoy playing in the open air?

A: Sure. We'll play anywhere. (Laughs.) I like variety. I think we're going to show up in Brooks & Dunn wear and look confused onstage and say, "Isn't this Country Thunder?"

The population of Queen Creek is expected to nearly double on Saturday, causing local business owners and town officials to see dollar signs.

As attendees to the annual EdgeFest concert descend on the growing town of 20,000 , people will be buying snacks at local stores, fuel at gas stations and frothy refreshment at the event beer garden which benefits the town's Kiwanis Club. Town officials said Queen Creek stands to gain in tax dollars, exposure and nonprofit fundraising.

"Events like this are huge," Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce president Vince Davis said. "They bring a lot of people into the area to see what we have to offer. It gives exposure to Queen Creek that we wouldn't normally get otherwise."

EdgeFest will bring a different kind of audience to Schnepf Farms, normally a family entertainment venue, where the concert will take place, Davis said. Nationally known alternative rock bands will be performing from noon to 10 p.m. at the venue.

"Anytime we can introduce our community to potential customers, you're that much better off," Queen Creek Mayor Art Sanders said. "As long as what we show them is good, and I think it is."

Both town and chamber officials said it would be difficult to estimate in exact dollars the impact EdgeFest will have on Queen Creek, but Davis said businesses will benefit most if they take advantage of the crowds.

Queen Creek's Dippin' Dots on Ellsworth and Ocotillo Roads will be putting out balloons and signs to welcome concertgoers, store manager Sherry Erickson said.

"We're thrilled for the opportunity to have more people come in our door," she said. "We'll just make sure we have an extra person or two working."

Beyond businesses that display signs and banners, "businesses that will win by default are convenience stores and those with brand names people recognize, such as Circle K or McDonalds," Davis said.

Those businesses that could benefit from sheer exposure are the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center and local home developers along the route to the concert, he said.

He also pointed out the Kiwanis Club will have quite a fundraiser at the concert's beer garden because the club is sponsoring the liquor license.

"They're projected to make $20,000 to $30,000, and all of that money stays local and will benefit the youth in the community," said Mark Schnepf, owner of Schnepf Farms.

Aside from sales tax revenue and nonprofits benefiting from fundraising opportunities, there is marketing value in hearing Queen Creek mentioned on air and in print thousands of times leading up the concert, Schnepf said.

"That equates to $200,000 worth of marketing value for the community," he said.

Though the farm is popular for its fall Pumpkin and Chili Party and spring Peach Festival, Schnepf said it also is a great venue for concerts.

"We hosted Country Thunder for nine years," he said. "We've been active in trying to attract other large events to the community, and we recognize there's not just a benefit to Schnepf Farms, there's an economic benefit to the entire community."

Representatives with KEDJ (103.9 FM), which organizes EdgeFest, said they plan to make Schnepf Farms a permanent home for the alternative rock music festival because it has room for growth. Edgefest may not be drawing in massive crowds from around the country like Coachella or Bonnaroo, but its organizers are hoping to get to that status one day. At least a little bit closer.

One thing they are trying this year is allowing concertgoers to camp out the night before the big show, which takes place Sept. 29 at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek.

"All the great major festivals in the country have camping . . . so our goal is to make Edgefest bigger every year," said Joshua Bassett, promotional director for the Edge 103.9.

To secure a camp spot is a bit pricey. Seventy dollars gets you and a friend a guaranteed campsite, which does not include festival passes. The whole package costs about $140, and campers must bring their own tents.

But those who rough it get to enjoy an intimate campfire concert, including local favorite Mat Weddle from Obadiah Parker.

"There will be an acoustic national act and local act, hosted by our Morning Ritual," Bassett said. "We're still working on the national act, but it will probably either be Bedouin Soundclash or Louis XVI."

With Halloween getting close, each camper has full access to the Nest, the haunted attraction at Schnepf Farms.

Because this is the first year with camping, organizers are trying to keep it small, allotting just 50 spots to see how people respond.

There will be no vendors on site, so campers should bring their own food and water. Camping is only for adults 18 and over. While searching for a one-act play to direct at an upcoming director's festival, playwright, dramaturge, adaptor, and director Cindy Marie Jenkins stumbled across a collection of interviews from individuals affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Deeply moved by the stories of these survivors, Jenkins immediately began adapting the interviews for the stage. Voices from Chornobyl premiered at Open Fist and was later showcased at L.A's annual theatre festival, EdgeFest. Now in its third incarnation, Voices from Chornobyl will be a part of the Empty Stage's New Voices Series Sept. 30th and Oct. 14th.

What was it about the stories of these individuals that compelled you to compile them into a play?

CMJ: There was such poetry in their descriptions. Conflicted feelings about being interviewed, about their land, and ultimately radiation. They are tied to their land and their homes in ways that I had never experienced. The beauty in their horror and how they went on living their lives. How they were treated. Who knew what. Also, before I read the book, if you had asked me about Chernobyl, I barely would have been able to mumble out "nuclear-something-or-other." I wondered how many other Americans knew little about the event? How many Los Angeles residents knew where the nearest nuclear plant or landfill was? I sure didn't. At that time, the misinformation about the WMD's was uncovered, so the themes of leadership and ignorance rang true in me.

On a purely theatrical side,I love working with a play like an orchestra, and storytelling through sounds only. Then opening my eyes and matching the physical environment with the words,all in a very close collaboration with the actors and designers. When I'm processing a new adaptation (we're on Draft 13 and 3 fully-produced productions), I re-read the entire book and find a unique way of record-keeping, which sounds very clinical, but I need to process the entire book again before finding the new voices for a new adaptation.

What is the overall theme of Voices from Chornobyl?

CMJ: Living. How do you live within radiation? How do you live away from home? How do you live in your home when the earth betrays you? Survival of the mind and of the body. The subtitle is "Chronicle of the Future" and that is really the theme - how do we survive in this world we've created, and how will our children survive?

One of the voices in the play talks about being a "Chernobyl person." What is a "Chernobyl person"? Can this term be more broadly applied outside the world of the play? If so, to whom?

CMJ: A Chernobyl person is one who is labeled. We all know how easy it is to label people and then not regard them as anything but the group into which they've been put. People are afraid of Chernobyl people (I am speaking of the people interviewed in the book) and afraid that they glow in the dark. Young children and adults alike are labeled. Family members won't allow Chernobyl people to live with them when they were evacuated. That quote "You are a normal person. A regular person. You go to work, you go on vacation once a year, you eat dinner with your family. Then one day all of a sudden you become a Chernobyl person. A freak." I've heard that sentiment expressed by cancer victims, new mothers, anyone who can be labeled. A label lets society remain ignorant. "They" have to deal with it and no one else. "We" don't have to deal with their issues.

But we do! The more I immerse myself in Chernobyl-land, the more I realize that we all have to deal with "their" issues. We all breathe the same air. We all live on the same planet. Just because it happened in the Ukraine doesn't mean that we don't feel the ramifications of it. For instance, every day I receive headlines that have the words "Chernobyl power plant" in the title. Anytime that the word "nuclear" is even brought up, someone uses Chernobyl as a tool against nuclear power, when it's actually nearly impossible for the accident to occur in that same way.

Those 2 examples might appear to contradict each other. That is because I have never set out for this piece to be anti-nuclear, anti-Soviet or anything like that. I want people to walk away from it with their own stories and to just be more aware and active in supporting their environment.

How has Voices from Chornobyl been received by L.A. audiences?

CMJ: Very well, but we need more exposure. After the original production, I had the book in the lobby and they sold like hotcakes. People said they wanted to go home and learn more about it. That is what I want. After the Edgefest production, strangers came up to me and wanted to know more; that is actually how we were invited to be part of the Empty Stage Theatre's New Voices Festival, from someone seeing the show at Edgefest.

We are working on more exposure, linking our website to Chernobyl websites with more traffic, working closely with the publisher. A charity in the UK wants to host a reading on the anniversary of the accident in 2008. That's great, but I don't want to preach to the converted. I want to convert and I want the converted to take a long hard look at their world and find out what they can do to save it.

What are you hoping audiences will take away from the play?

CMJ: I saw a great bumper sticker today : "Ignore the environment. It will just go away." I want people to walk out of the theater and for the images and the words to seep into their actions. Walk to the store and bring your own bag; let cyclists who are obeying the rules of the road to share the roads with you. Arrange your life around the world and not the other way around. Keep your perspective wider than the dashboard. Instead of labeling, listen to people and their experiences and learn what you can. We are all part of the same world and must work together.


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