Photo: Oliver Halfin

Track by Track Jimmy Eat World talk through new album ‘Surviving’

The Arizona four-piece give us a run through of their most personal album to date.

With their 10th album out today, Jimmy Eat World are giving us a track-by-track run through of their most personal record to date, ‘Surviving’. All about frontman Jim Adkins’ journey to overcome past struggles, it’s thought provoking, poignant and powerful, and a pretty ripping rock record too.

We’ll let Jim explain it all more…


I’ve learned that when I am hurting from some kind of pain, I have to look for my part in it. Because that is the part I can do something about. Everything else I need to let go because choosing to carry it means I’ll drown. If it is something that truly wasn’t my fault, my part is the fact I am choosing to carry it.

Your past is part of you. But it doesn’t have to define you. When you’re ready, you can move forward knowing your story is what you do, not what happens to you.

Criminal Energy

Criminal energy is an expression I’ve heard in Germany. I could have this wrong but as it’s been explained to me, it’s something like moral sickness that you are unlucky to have or lucky you don’t have.

I don’t agree the capacity to do wrong is something escapable. I don’t agree you either have it or you don’t.

If you already think you won the binary criminal energy lottery at birth, then in the face of suffering you are more likely to play the victim. Your lesser self knows that identifying as a victim is the easiest way to get off-course. At best it leads to self-pity and depression. At worst it leads to anger and violence. Opening the door to the unholy righteous feeling is a sick rush. Walking it back is very hard because it means admitting you’ve become someone you never thought you could be.

How and why we turn over the keys to our lesser selves is interesting to me. And when your lesser self is driving, that’s criminal energy.


Some of the most important memories I have are ones where I became self-aware as they happened. Time seems to slow down and I hear myself saying: wow, I’m really … here.

Most of the time I feel we go through our days mentally living in the future, past or maybe only slightly present in an automated-response way. It’s really sad because I have come to believe life in the present is the only thing we truly have.

Any time I have been able to make a true connection to someone it has been because I’m fully … there. It’s like if you are not making an effort to stay present, you’re walking around with a sign reading: “undiscoverable”.


I didn’t start feeling free until I came to accept the reality of my personal condition, which meant looking at the facts and surrendering to truth. It’s a difficult leap of faith because whatever is on the other side of that is new. And although you might think anything would be better than THIS, the uncertainty of THAT is just too scary to hurl yourself into.

If it feels like I’m just not ever getting a “win” or that the universe is uncaring and un-listening, it is usually because I am resisting accepting reality. What I’m really doing is trying to bend something to my will that I have no power over.

The song is called 555 because I thought of someone feeling this way and blaming god. Like finding out the prayer line is actually a fictional 555-prefix number from the movies …

One Mil

I’ve said, “Well, they probably aren’t going to like me anyway” so often that it became part of my identity. Confident people seemed to have something that was just foreign. I don’t think any dating from my past happened because it was me who made it happen.

All The Way (Stay)

I was talking to a friend of mine who quit drinking and was recently single. He was wondering how the hell you are supposed to meet people now. He said, “so do you go to a bar and just hang out or what?!” I was like, “no man. When someone dreams about the ideal way they’d want to meet someone I don’t think many say a bar.”

It might just be me, but I think it’s more like someone passes you and compliments what you’re reading. It’s when you are doing some kind of work you value, and they are interested.

Bars, apps … those just seem so pointless. You’re building and building-up this image of yourself to someone and then struggle to meet that image. It sounds exhausting. At some point you are going to let the real you into the room. At some point you have to be vulnerable?


My cycles of motivation usually start off with some kind of commitment to myself in a list-form. I’m going to organize. I’m going to plan. I’m going to buy a real calendar and put giant sharpie marks on actual dates. Yeah!

Most of the time that’s where my cycle of motivation stops.

I’ve been trying to figure out why.

My current working idea is that I have a problem being satisfied with smaller, incremental change. I have a hard time celebrating the small victories. And that prevents me from reaching a goal.

I have to accept all there is, is progress over time. It’s not something you hear often because “This book will change your life … over the next 5 years!” … isn’t exactly a hot sell.

Love Never

Love Never is about the expectation of love versus the reality of love.

Love isn’t an abstract dream that one day falls out of the sky, fully formed. It’s a choice. It’s a verb.

It’s making. It’s building. It is quite simply the choice to continue with this person in the face of zero convenience or benefit. Until the effort registers as a reward itself, love will always feel like a pursuit instead of someplace you already are. All the boring, all the tedious and all the bland … that IS love as much as the excitement, the passion and the adventure.



Whatever that meant, I was always pretty sure what I was doing with my life, wasn’t it. I should have asked myself … normal? Compared to what?

Those people you went to high school with who have these things called “careers”? No one is perfectly doing all this. No one is really fully adjusted. No one is flawlessly parenting, let alone parenting themselves.

It can feel tempting to torpedo your life and start over. But it would be a waste. You will still be you. Trying to measure up to some imaginary metric for normal is pointless. You can be normal the instant you decide you are.


Zach turned me on to Ken Wilber’s stuff. I think it was him who posted the idea of trying to understand people’s political beliefs by asking, “Why is there suffering in the world?”

Some people will answer that it’s due to a lack of personal responsibility. Some people will say it is due to a lack of equal opportunity.

The point is a rough way to describe political bias. But when I think about the question, I believe it isn’t as simple as either/or.

If responsibility isn’t a core value, you will at best not appreciate the opportunities presented. And at worst squander opportunity. But today, when the single biggest factor in upward mobility is the randomness of birth … it doesn’t matter how much responsibility you exude into society. You aren’t going anywhere without help.

This song ponders what happens when rigid ideology meets disaster. What happens when you go to die on the hill of “Congratulations! You’re on your own” … and get what you’re asking for?

Like a bully flaunts power to feel better over their own insecurity, the otherized “takers” only deserve punishment.

We really do nothing on our own. Every step of the way has had a pioneer or trailblazer… who had a pioneer or a trailblazer point the direction for them. We are all part of a system. Connected. It’s just in our evolutionary advantage to care more about our similarities rather than punish our differences.

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