Jimmy Eat World powered by sports fans

Jimmy Eat World drummer Zach Lind, second from left, is the son of a former MLB player. Courtesy of Michael Elins

Rockers Jimmy Eat World, set to release their seventh album, "Damage," on June 11, kicked off a world tour Friday on the West Coast before heading to Europe.

"Touring is the best part of it all," said the band's drummer, Zach Lind. "Playing live is kind of extension of the musical process but one of the things we’ve always lived for.”

Jimmy Eat World played their first show of the 2013 tour at House of Blues in San Diego and are set to hit the Netherlands, England and Luxembourg before coming back to the States and Canada next month.

Along with the kick that Lind and his bandmates -- guitarist/vocalist Jim Adkins, guitarist Tom Linton and bass player Rick Burch -- get from the live experience, there are other experiences that helped Lind learn his craft.

"Basically I grew up in baseball,” Lind said. "I feel like my background in baseball has helped me as a drummer."

Lind notes that the time he spent playing on the baseball diamond and in batting cages affected his drive and technique as a musician.

"Not only hitting a drum, but hitting it a certain way. There's the timing and the leverage in the swing. It's hard to pinpoint, but it's like there's a consistency as a drummer that's like looking for the right pop in [swinging] the bat."

Interestingly enough, for Lind, baseball was in the blood. His father, Jack Lind, played for the Arizona State Sun Devils team that won the 1967 World Series, crushing Houston 11-2. Jack Lind also went on later to play a few years as an infielder for the Milwaukee Brewers before retiring and spending time as a scout for the Houston Astros, then was a minor league baseball coach for more than a decade.

"Baseball was a big part of my life, and I loved it, still do," Zach Lind said. "But at the same time I was in high school I was in a band, and music just took over."

"Literally one day, I decided to hang up my hat, leaving baseball practice to head straight to band practice," Lind said. "It wasn't a hard thing for me since I love music so much."

Lind said the band's interests aren't confined to his love of baseball.

"Sports -- baseball, football, everything, really -- is a big interest of ours, and football especially is something that we love."

Lind, a big Arizona Cardinals fan and Arizona State fan, grew up outside Tempe, Ariz., and said that football is a major obsession for him and Jimmy Eat World.

"There's a Jimmy Eat World fantasy football league that I'm the commissioner of. Our guitarist Tom, my wife and others are involved in it," Lind said. He also said that pro football -- watching it, talking about it with other bands, and playing the fantasy league -- added spark and momentum to the touring process.

"We used to tour with another band, The Promise Ring, and they are about as crazy into football as we are, so it was our pastime on the road."

The band's love of everything American didn't preclude them from picking up other sports interests, especially when traveling abroad.

"A few years ago we were in the UK and got to see Manchester United play Newcastle," Lind said. "I didn't come into it as a Man U fan per se, but I left as a big fan of Wayne Rooney."

Lind remarked that the Manchester United striker's drive, toughness and intensity instantly made him a fan.

"As a musician you can be pretty intense and passionate about making music. There's sort of a competitive mentality to it," Lind said. "Now that Man United have won their 20th title and [manager Sir Alex] Ferguson is leaving, it will be interesting to see if Rooney stays.

"But I'll be a fan of Rooney whatever team he plays for."

Jimmy Eat World became well known for their moving hooks and hard-hitting tunes, and originally renowned for their year 2001 smash hit "The Middle" and other singles off the "Bleed American" album.

The soon-to-be-released album is a mix of the original sound and new vibes. Songs like the single "I Will Steal You Back" and the title track "Damage" take the listener back to the early days, while other songs like "How'd You Have Me" call on the guitar sounds and shuddering stomps of very early U2 discs such as "War."

"We wanted to get out of our comfort zone on this record," Lind said, "and I think 'Damage' shows our passion as a band and has more of an edge."