Conducted by Mike Mastroianni

"My first interview with Jimmy took place after a smoking set at Boston's Paradise Club June 2, 2001. Jimmy's one request was that we go to the local Starbucks. There we talked outside Starbucks on the sidewalk on Newbury Street. Thanks to Jimmy and to Eve for half the transcribing. Edited slightly for content." -Mike

M: What are you listening to right now for music? And before you play?
J: Right now we've been listening to this band called Doves. Mogwai & God Speed You Black Emperor. We listen to a few different things before we play like The Dandy Warhols new record. And Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. And Depeche Mode "Violator" before we play.

M: What are you other interests besides music?
J: I don't have any really. I'm completely obsessed with music. Movies sometimes, once in a while. Music, Coffee, Running ( I run a lot), and my children.

M: Where did Race get his name?
J: Race got his name because its exactly the opposite of how he lives his life. He takes his time with everything.

M: What inspires you when your writing lyrics?
J: It can be anything really. The main thing to me is that I try to do my best to be alive and feel as much as I can. Ideally with that, it leaves me hopefully susceptible to a lot of different things that are going on around me. It can be something that I've personally gone through, or am going through, or a close friend is going through or something I just see as a passerby that affects me in a way that it becomes personal to me. Sometimes I write songs about a thought that I had about being in a certain place emotionally and spiritually that I strive to be in. In the last bunch of years I've come to realize that being happy isn't something you wake up to. There's a lot of things that go into eventually making yourself happy. Anytime I might realize what one of those things are I try to remember it and remind myself of that. And sometimes I'll end up putting that into a song when I sing it to remind myself that makes me happy. So then in turn singing these songs ends up being therapeutic.

M: The band's been together for almost 10 years now?
J: I started doing Ours in 92, and have played on and off with all these guys since. I started playing with Dave around 90'. Race, we've known each other forever, so we've always played together here and there acoustic guitars mostly. Then around 96' we started playing electric guitars. And we've known Anthony forever too. We used to practice at his house when he was younger. So I kind of feel like he's learned music to be in this band. He learned a lot of the songs from the tape SOUR. He grew up on a lot of those songs, learned them and knew them. There's a part of me that feels like, just like I learned to play music to be in this band and not do anything else, I feel like he did, as well as Race, as well as Dave. So we really have a good history together.

M: Any vocal training on your part?
J: I studied for about seven vocal lessons, but then I couldn't afford to keep going plus I wanted to practice what I had learned and then I never felt the desire to go back. Maybe one day

M: Tell me about the Sour LP?
J: Sour was something that was a struggle. Its taken so much for me to exactly put songs down on tape and let people hear them because I obsess over them and get completely to the point where I wanna work on something until it blows me away. Much like this record (Distorted Lullabies) we spent so much time recording Sour. It was something we wanted to put out as a benchmark, and move on from it. I wasn't thrilled with it, but there were certain moments on it. Ultimately I would have loved not to put it out. I'm glad we did, because then we got to move on. When I listen to it I cringe a little bit because I wasn't as in-tune musically as I've become. After that, realizing how much I hated it, I went back and learned how to play every instrument so that I could figure out what it was about each thing on that record that I hated. I think it's interesting because I did it right out of high school, me Dave and two other guys. They were a bit older than me but I was straight out of high school so it was a bit of an accomplishment. I wrote half the songs and Dave wrote half of the songs on it.

M: Any of those songs gonna see the light of day again?
J: Probably. One of the songs "Dracula's Bride" that Dave wrote is one of my favorite songs of all time. He wrote it and I love singing it. Its one of those songs that I feel like it was written for me so I feel like it was my song. I respect him beyond for writing it. So hopefully we'll record that for the next one. There's also a song called "Use Me" that I've reworked a little bit, just developed a little bit, that I really love. There's a few other pieces of songs on there that will definitely make it out to the next record.

M: Were any of those songs changed into songs that appeared on Distorted Lullabies?
J: No. Towards 95' Dave & I stopped playing together because we were going in different directions. I needed time off and then I started playing by myself in 96' and pushed myself to write new songs. It was too painful to play those songs, everything that we had gone through. I didn't want to be reminded of that time at all. When I did write new songs that's when everything started happening. We played 3 shows with all new songs and that's when record companies started listening for some reason. There was something about a lot of those old songs that were extremely self-serving musically and lyrically. I felt that way at least singing a lot of them. It was this feeling of complaining all the time in the words and being miserable [and there wasn't any]. You can listen to a Cure song or a Morrissey song and feel that he's a little bit cynical, but you still feel it's more melancholy that it is miserable. And we were leaning towards miserable, like dark, dark, like Seattle vibe music and I really didn't like that. I wasn't a fan of it. I love melody and sad songs but still songs with a feeling of some sort of, not even lyrically hope, but just musically it didn't sound dismal. Dark is completely cool and I can't help the fact that I write a lot of dark songs, but it was just different. And the songs that I started to write this time around just felt like they weren't complaining anymore. It was more of a shared experience that I felt when I was singing these words. That people really knew how I felt, and that they related to it and that I felt like I was singing about what other people felt as well [rather than just]. A lot of the earlier songs (what's the best way to put it?), I was complaining, but it was my problem. It wasn't even problems that were real. It was just self-created problems. So I was always whining and being miserable. I felt like I couldn't sing the songs anymore because I emotionally solved all those problems that I was singing about in those songs. So, it didn't feel real to sing them anymore. So basically I wrote a bunch of new songs and moved on.

M: Tell me about the bidding war from the record companies for you. Tell me how that came about.
J: Well, in the spring of '97 I finally committed to playing music for the right reasons. I stopped thinking about getting a deal and when it was going to happen. I still wanted to do that; I wanted to make records and reach a lot of people and try to, you know, make a life out of it, but I stopped depending on it. I went and got a good job and I worked everyday. As soon as I would come home from my job I would work on writing songs and playing music. So I was really enjoying the time [rather than]- Before that there was this feeling of "When's it gonna happen?" When's it gonna happen?" that we didn't fully enjoy what we were going through. And now I was finally enjoying it for the right reasons. I planned on spending two, three, four years or whatever it took to getting it right, building a band, and then signing a record deal.

M: So, your goal all along was to get signed?
J: Yeah, to make records, you know. So, you know, I went out, played a few shows by myself and I finally found four (note- I think Jimmy meant to say three, see a bit below) that would commit to playing again. And it was Race and then two other guys. And we basically played like three shows. And we planned on, like I said, when they came into the band I said let's spend some time, "let's really make this a band." I showed them what to play when they came in. I made up all these parts. I said "you just play all these parts and, um, as time goes on we'll develop and become a true band. But for now, I have all these songs, all these parts, play them, you know, and lets do this." So they respected and liked the songs enough to say "Yeah, that's a great part. I would love to play it." So, it really felt like I had three other, but there were four positive people who wanted to-- I mean, you know, it's hard with a band. Before that its like you suggest something to someone and for whatever their own ego reasons, you know, they may not wholeheartedly play the part. But these guys gave everything they had to translating, you know, in trying to translate my ideas. They really made an effort. And something with that energy between us felt so positive that we went out, we played three shows and immediately this bidding war started. So I mean we, you know, we weren't a band really. It was three shows and it just happened.

M: Was it MCA and DreamWorks that were fighting over you?
J: No. That's something that somebody just posted on the internet which is extremely the farthest thing from the truth. I just laugh at it (because all the stuff that people post, all this wacky stuff--). MCA wasn't even in the running. I never met with anybody from MCA. I met with just about every other label but MCA. Maybe that came from someone from MCA pissed off that I didn't meet with them. And I have a five record deal with DreamWorks not a one record deal. I was offered a one record deal from Sony because they wanted to sign me and I said I was going to sign with DreamWorks. Rick Rubin wanted to sign me to American Records. And Donny Einer (?) was going to offer me a one record deal. He said "You can try it. If you're not happy with the end of it, you can move on." I don't know who this person is talking about the MCA--, but it's completely wrong. There's nothing true about it. I have a five record deal with DreamWorks.

M: You feel you're going to keep this present line-up in the band?
J: I hope so. We've done the last bunch of things- We did things in a strange way like I still write the songs and I still come up with most of the parts but there's that element of when somebody gets what you're trying to do and they can add to it and elevate it and take it beyond your actual thoughts of what you hoped it would be, that to me in the truest sense is a band. And that happened on some of the last few recordings that we've done: "Sometimes," the reprise for "Drowning" and we're done some other recordings here and there that didn't make it to the record on time, [but yeah] We have- it's a really unorthodox way of going about it. It's not like "you're the bass player, you play bass." "You're the keyboard player, you play keyboard." It's like if somebody has a part that they come up with or somebody plays a certain thing better than the other one, then that's how we do it. We kind of treat it like-- The Beatles treated it that way. They never really spoke about it much but Paul played drums on tons of things (and that's just--) I think any other way is limiting for songs that are so complex (to me). Not complex in like they're hard to play or even like any of us are virtuosos because we're not. We play to be in this band. But complex in the sense that if we play something from "As I Wander" to "Fallen Souls" that's kind of a big range of the song. And there are some things that say Kirke would play naturally as a drummer and some things that I'll get behind the drums and just have a better feel for. So that's the way we treat it. We're really committed; everybody is basically a part of the band, and I hope that we continue moving ahead in that positive direction. We've had a really positive working relationship for a good while now and you know, I hope it continues. It should continue 'cause I don't see any reason why it wouldn't continue.

M: Any idea on the next single?
J: Well, I would think that it would be, personally I would think that it should be something like "Miseryhead" or "Bleed" or "I'm a Monster." I know that everybody has-- I hear so many different things from so many different people. People say "Dancing Alone." People say "Meet Me In The Tower."

M: I was thinking "I'm a Monster."
J: "I'm a Monster" to me is one that's a no brainier. [It's clearly-] I would say "I'm a Monster" across the board, no doubt, second single if not for the thought of maybe we should put out another rock song. And then the third song goes "I'm a Monster." [So that's-] I heard talk of "Fallen Souls." "Fallen Souls" though doesn't sound like a single to me. That's a band song. I don't hear it as a single. People hear it as a single like of the label hears it like that then, you know, then more power to them because that's a move that's basically- that's a credible move. That's a song with integrity and if they want to release that more power to them. I'm not gonna fight that. But I think "I'm a Monster" is a no brainier and I would personally say across the board "I'm a Monster."

M: I was just assuming that that was going to be the next single because it's on a lot of promotional CDs.
J: [But I would think-] I've heard some mixes of "Bleed" as well that are just so amazing (that just world class like- I don't know). It sounds like a world class song to me. We didn't fully get that mix for the record, but I know that if we remix it, it could be a big single. I kind of feel that way about it, but we'll see.

M: Tell us what your plans are for the rest of the year.
J: I don't even know. I know there's- they basically include a lot of touring. I don't know where, how, or when. All I know is that right now we're going through June as you know. All those dates are on the website. They're working right now on getting tours for us through the entire summer and then Europe for the fall. There are some festivals in the fall that they're trying to get us on. And- I'm really looking forward to going to Europe. It's so important to me that we do the right setup and push for the record over there because it just is. You can't rule out Europe and just say Europe doesn't matter because Europe is so important. Some bands do nothing but break in Europe and never break in the states and have full careers in Europe. It's really important to me to get there.