When we contacted "Interview Your Favorite Band" Holiday Auction winner Derek Weiner to find out the bands he was most interested in talking to, he responded with a list. "Admittedly, I may be dreaming a little too big," he wrote, "but I figured why not give you the wish list and let you be the judge of that?" At the top was platinum-selling alt rock/power pop foursome Jimmy Eat World.
Luckly, the Jimmy Eat World folks were totally down with the idea. And not only did Weiner get to talk to bassist Rick Burch in advance of the band's gig at the Ritz Ybor, the musician gave Weiner ample time to get in all his questions and offered a well-thought-out answer to each. Here are some highlights.—Leilani Polk
Tell me about your newest album. What were your inspirations and what were you looking to accomplish with it?
When we started working on Invented — whenever we sit down and start working on new stuff — we try not to limit ourselves or dictate how it's going to be. We just let it happen, let it develop on its own. We don't try and direct it too much other than trying to maintain our sound, but we also want to grow and try new things. I think the finished product stays within those parameters, for sure. We're really proud of it.
If you were playing your last show ever, where would you want it to be? And what song would you want to close your career with?
I would love to play at Brixton Academy, which is in London, England. And 930 Club is definitely one of the top three places that we like to play. I think the closing song would be "Sweetness." It just wraps up so nicely. Leaves you on a good note.
I know you guys produced Bleed American  on your own, and I read that you took day jobs to help fund it. What were your day jobs and how was the entire process different?
We didn't have the backing of a record label and at the time, we didn't have a manager. It was essentially the four of us, then later [producer] Mark Trombino. We did a tour where all the money that we made that didn't go to gas went to the recording budget, which helped immensely. But as far as our living expenses, we still needed to eat and pay rent and stuff like that, so we had day jobs. At that time, for part of it, I was working at a place called the Things Shop, for the Volkswagen Things. I did shipping and receiving. Also during the Bleed American time I worked at Trader Joe's. I think Jim worked at an art supply store. Tom worked at an Oil Wheat, which is a bread maker. And Zach was, I think he worked for a print journalist.
It's funny — you guys were making Clarity and Static Prevails while still working these day jobs all while I'm thinking 'Oh my gosh, these rock stars out there are living the life!'
You know what? I'm going to shatter that myth. There is no life. There is just life.
Are there any songs you guys won't play? Or just really don't want to play?
No, we don't have any. If there was one someone else might think we don't want to play, it'd be "The Middle," but actually we play that just about every night and that's because we like playing it. You know, it's our song. That's part of who we are. So, we're proud of that.
Do you think iTunes and the expansion of the Internet has changed the music industry for the better or for the worse? And how has is affected Jimmy Eat World?
It's changed the landscape of how bands get their music out there. When we were a young band, one of the major questions we had was, how do we get our music to people? You needed a record label to help you do that, to make an actual physical product and send it around.
But now ... if you have an internet connection, that is your record label. You can send [your music] to any number of places. And people can hear it just by pushing enter on a keyboard. It's kind of a double-edged sword because you can do that, but then, so can everyone else. So it is a totally saturated environment. I think this is when social networking places and sites come into play, where you find people with similar tastes to yours. You used to go into the record store and talk to the person working. What's new? What's coming out? Now you're going into a chatroom online somewhere.
As far as affecting us as a band, we're in a unique situation where we had been around a good time before the "death" of the CD. I think we've done a pretty good job of maintaining a handle of how to deal with it all. But I don't know if Jimmy Eat World would become Jimmy Eat World if we were starting right now. Just because it is such a different game...