Spotlight: Jim Adkins

Jason KeilOctober 26, 2020
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Photography by Michael Woodall
Photography by Michael Woodall

Podcasting Rocker

Last month, local rock outfit Jimmy Eat World was due to wrap its Criminal Energy tour in Phoenix. Then you-know-what happened. But frontman Jim Adkins has  hardly frittered away his quarantine bingeing on Netflix docs. Over the summer, he gave several virtual performances to drum up support for local venues and record stores. The singer-guitarist has also been bringing other musicians (virtually) into his studio to discuss the ins and outs of the creative process on his new podcast, Pass-Through Frequencies. Adkins spoke with us in August about why the show has been nostalgic for him and why he won’t leave Phoenix.

Which podcasts inspired yours?

Song Exploder and Dissect are two that are pretty deep, but they aren’t the same of what I wanted to do. They get pretty into the weeds about getting into a specific element of a specific song. They’re fascinating, but what interests me is the universality of creative problem-solving. It’s not dissimilar from non-creative problem-solving. I’ve had more than a couple of people walk away from conversations when my musician friends and I get talking in a crowd, and I didn’t want this podcast to be that. I’m chasing ideas, and I want to see where it goes.

You haven’t stayed still in quarantine. Have you done anything relaxing?

You don’t clock out of this gig ever, and the musicians I’m talking to don’t clock out, either. There’s always something you can do. Some days are definitely more active than others, but I’m doing something related to an idea that I’m passionate about.

With some guests, it does feel like you’re taking a trip down memory lane.

There’s definitely a selfish aspect to this, for sure. These are all people I would see out and about if we were on tour, but we’re not doing that this year. This is kind of a fun way to catch up with people who I might not be able to get ahold of otherwise.

Has talking with them about songwriting made you less hard on yourself?

Not at all. I’m still crippled with self-doubt on a regular basis. Until you actually find a way to sidestep your inner critic, it doesn’t matter what other people are going to tell you. It is striking how similar everyone’s battles are, and that’s what is fascinating to me. There’s a point where you can zone out and go in whatever direction your creativity is taking you. That stops almost immediately when you become self-aware, but you need some of that awareness to direct your creativity. The trickiest thing about this process is navigating your self-awareness,
the flow of your subconscious, and directing them into a place that is interesting to you.

You’ve stayed in the Valley for most of your career. How have you resisted the urge to leave Phoenix?

I can do the things I want to do here. I know who to call if I want to put together some side project, do something wacky with the band, or want to play a solo gig. If I lived in New York, it would take me five years to find those people. I also know how hard it is to break out of here, so being around and staying informed on what’s happening is a way we can give back and help someone else. There’s a good feeling in helping push forward the scene that we came from.

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