There's a moment in the Classic Albums documentary TV series on the making of Nirvana's Nevermind when producer Butch Vig recounts his argument put to an uncooperative Kurt Cobain for utilising double-track vocals in the studio. In persuading the late rock star and avid Beatles fan to use the layered effect, Vig insists "well, John Lennon did it" - hence Cobain relents.
Less tangible but no less effective examples of Vig's studio smarts can be heard on Chase This Light, the new record for veteran Arizona power-pop outfit Jimmy Eat World. According to drummer Zach Lind, the noted producer's influence on the band's sixth album was subtle to say the least.
"It's hard to really measure his contribution because it was more of a generality of things," says Lind of Vig's 'executive producer' role. "We really leaned on him on songs we really felt like we were having problems with, songs that we felt we hadn't quite figured out. We took the problem songs to him and he always seemed to have a certain suggestion that would lead us to get to the place we wanted to be.
"One song early on was Chase This Light actually, that was one that took a while to get to where it is. There's a great guitar line and a vocal melody in it but how do we build around that and not get in the way? I remember him being very helpful for that song and without Butch's outside perspective it would have been more difficult to get it down."
I believe you guys traded tapes with him back and forth to Los Angeles?
"Yeah, we're pretty open to suggestions in the studio. If someone like Butch has a suggestion then we'll typically try it. We've always felt that it doesn't hurt to try something. I don't think we have any absolutes where we say 'oh, we can't try that in the studio, that's against the rules'. For us, if it makes the song better then that's cool, if it doesn't then it doesn't."
You're on a major label and using a big name producer but do you still regard the band as having an independent heart?
"We've always tried to keep a certain sense of independence. I mean we've been a band that always been on a major label but we've always had a mindset of being an independent band. We learnt early on in our adolescence that the less you rely on outside people whether it be labels or anyone then it's better for the band. So the more you know and the more you're involved in your career the better. We've always felt that's the right way to operate."
How have your relationships with labels changed over the years?
"I think labels, in terms of our band-label relationship, have always been consistent. With us, I think we like to be partners with our label to a certain degree but for us to totally rely on them, you know, the more involved we are then the better the product is. To sit back and allow other people to take of certain things for you is a mistake."
So what's the feeling with each new record?
"It's honestly really stressful! When you release an album it's easy to get caught up in conventional measurements of success. You're worried about numbers and how many records you're selling. But now that we've had a few weeks away from that it's just so much nicer not to worry about it anymore and just do what we do and wrap our heads around trying to be the best band we can be - rather than the outcomes of conventional success."
What's more important to you, a song that sounds physically appealing or one that connects emotionally?
"I think a mixture of the two. I think to focus on one or the other it can end up being contrived. If you think this song needs to convey something really strong emotionally then I think you're probably going to overshoot your mark. Hopefully those things just happen naturally without trying to over think them."
You recorded this album at your home studio right?
"Yes, we'd done some recording there before for our Futures release but this is the first time we've done a whole record there. It was a great experience. The studio has evolved a little bit with better equipment but it's pretty much the same .. I think we've proven to the people around us that we can make records that way. If you can't do that after 15 years then you're pretty useless."
So what's sustained you through those years?
"I think it's kind of mixture of everything you know, we feel like we get along really well and don't have a lot of big tension so it's been relatively easy to keep it going. I'm not sure why that is but being in this band and moving on through the years has been a really positive experience I think and we don't see any reason why it should stop."