Leggo my emo

Jimmy Eat World isn’t known as a political band, but its four members have been active in their native Arizona when it comes to their favorite member of Congress, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. They’ve played a few fundraisers for her in the past, and so they were particularly distraught, like most Americans, in the wake of her shooting outside a Tucson, Ariz., grocery Jan. 8.

“It’s very sad and disheartening, and it’s hard to make sense of it,” drummer Zach Lind said. “We really think she’s an excellent representative for Arizona and has done a lot for her state. She’s always been someone we supported, and we’re not always thrilled with the kind of representation we get here in Arizona.”

As for the subsequent debate about political rhetoric that followed Giffords’ shooting, Lind rejected any suggestion that overheated words triggered the massacre that killed six bystanders. Still, he added that “you have to be responsible for what you say and all the ways in which it can be perceived.”

He would know. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the band temporarily changed the title of its 2001 record, “Bleed American,” to the less provocative “Jimmy Eat World.” Whatever it was called, the disc proved a platinum-seller, fueled by hit power-pop hits “The Middle” and “Sweetness.” Combined with a critically praised 1999 effort, “Clarity,” the group — playing Saturday at Diamond Ballroom — became the poster boys of emo rock, a genre distinguished by emotional nakedness.

But it’s a classification that rankles Lind. He said he and his bandmates — vocalist/guitarist Jim Adkins, guitarist Tom Linton and bassist Rick Burch — never hoisted that label on themselves.

“You can call it whatever you want, but we don’t set out to make any kind of music,” said Lind. “We do what interests us. We can’t control if people call it ‘emo’ or something else. We just try to avoid it. It’s kind of like the best way to teach a puppy not to jump on your leg is to ignore the puppy. That’s what we do: Ignore the puppy.”

We can’t control if people call it “emo.” We just try to avoid it.

—Zach Lind

He said that approach was especially true for Jimmy Eat World’s latest disc, “Invented.” Marked by gleaming melodies and ringing guitars, it also happens to be the band’s reunion with producer Mark Trombino, who last worked with the outfit on the ballyhooed “Bleed American.”

“It’s the first record we made where we were the only people in the room the majority of the time,” said Lind. “We followed our gut. It can sometimes be cloudy when you’re making a record. It’s not just your interests involved, but there’s lots of people who have different things at stake.”

He conceded that perhaps Jimmy Eat World shouldn’t have followed its collective gut when it came to naming the band. The odd, grammatically incorrect moniker came from a drawing by one of Linton’s younger brothers.

“We literally spent five minutes on that decision,” he said, chuckling. “We never realized we’d be living with that decision more than 16 years later. We might’ve taken a little bit more time deciding.”

Phil Bacharach

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