In the midst of mid-'90s grunge, four childhood friends formed a band that would eventually impact modern rock of the new millennium. Jimmy Eat World formed in 1994 with kindergarten pals Jim Adkins (vocals/guitar) and Zach Lind (drums), Tom Linton (guitar/vocals), and Mitch Porter (bass). The foursome derived the band's moniker from Linton's younger brothers, Ed and Jimmy. The two had a fight one day and Ed resorted to drawing a picture of his cherubic older brother eating the world with "Jimmy Eat World" printed beneath. The band thought it was a perfect fit. Soon, they tinkered around with heavy punk rock sounds, playing small shows around their native Mesa, AZ. Influences ranged from Rocket From the Crypt, early Def Leppard, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Fugazi, and the Velvet Underground, leaving Jimmy Eat World as a work in progress.
Over the course of 1994 and early 1995, Jimmy Eat World issued several EPs and singles on the Tempe, AZ, imprint, Wooden Blue Records. Limited-edition pressings of "One, Two, Three, Four," "Back From the Dead Mother Fucker," and split EPs with Christie Front Drive, Emery, and Blueprint would later run out of print. During this time, the band gained a following. Capitol Records took notice and signed Jimmy Eat World in mid-1995. Porter soon exited the group; Linton's best mate since seventh grade, bassist Rick Burch, was added to Jimmy Eat World and a dynamic was officially in place. Static Prevails marked their major debut later that year.
In 1998, the band found itself under the emo billing thanks to the intricately hard-edged yet sensitive second album Clarity. It was a basic rock record and not exactly emo; Adkins' songwriting was at its finest. First single "Lucky Denver Mint" was an instant hit among college radio. It scored a spot on the Drew Barrymore love comedy Never Been Kissed in 1999, allowing Jimmy Eat World to be exposed to a larger audience. Their fan base only continued to soar; however, their relationship with Capitol was beginning to sour. They recorded a third LP for the label by 1999, but it was shelved. The decided to leave the label, and Capitol was happy to oblige. Split releases with Sense Field and Jebediah soon followed.
Jimmy Eat World's powerful rock sound was attracting those overseas; Clarity was popular on the German charts in 2000. That same year, the band funded and self-promoted their first ever tour of Europe. Singles appeared on Big Wheel Recreation later that year. During this jaunt, Jimmy Eat World redesigned their focus in music. DreamWorks opted to take a chance on the band, and Jimmy Eat World went back to work. They hooked up with Clarity's famed producer, Mark Trombino (blink-182, Midtown, Drive Like Jehu), for a follow-up. Bleed American, which would later be retitled as Jimmy Eat World after the horrific events of September 11th, was released in July 2001. "Bleed American" did moderately well, but the second single, the catchy cool "The Middle," landed Jimmy Eat World on the pop/rock map. Spots on MTV's TRL and VH1, and tours with Weezer and Tenacious D proved golden. A year after its release, Jimmy Eat World was still burning up the charts and modern rock radio. A third single entitled "Sweetness" was released in summer 2002, allowing Jimmy Eat World to eventually sell 1.3 million copies in the U.S. By 2003, the band wrapped up two years of touring; however, the Dreamworks record label closed its doors in January 2004. Jimmy Eat World shifted things over to Interscope and joined producer Gil Norton for the recording of their fourth album. Futures was released in October 2004.