the Eddie Vedder edition of "hey girl"
Interview from: http://www.thevine.com.au/music/interviews/pearl-jam-its-all-kind-of-a-dream-20140106-270409/
Pearl Jam: “It’s all kind of a dream”
Pearl Jam are on their way to Australia in a few weeks to headline the 2014 Big Day Out. One of BDO organiser Ken West’s “white wales”, the band are one of the few heavyweights to have never played the festival.
Despite being iconic (sole?) survivors of the early ’90s grunge explosion, and toting a new album (their tenth) in Lightning Bolt, the argument for Pearl Jam’s ongoing relevancy could be put down to infamous live shows; a fact we were reeducated on when seeing them in Melbourne 2009. (Read our review here on TheVine.)
Aly Eveille spoke to Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard about the new album, returning to Australia, and still being “the same group of kids”.”
Aly Eveille: How is the tour going?
Stone Gossard: Touring is going well. We’re having a lot of fun. We’ve played a couple of shows so far. We were in Oklahoma and Dallas and now we’re out on the west coast of the United States. So we’re on our home coast and it’s been going well. The crowds have been as enthusiastic as ever. It’s kind of shocking!
I don’t believe you! Surely you guys are used to it?
(Laughs) Well every year things are good but you don’t expect them to get better as you get closer to being 50 years old. Somehow that’s worked out.
You’ve sold more than 60 million albums world wide and you’ve played across the globe. What’s the journey been like for you?
It’s all kind of a dream. It’s funny because all of us started out playing music when we were in our teens and back then the mantra was that there’s not a chance of making any money playing music or of succeeding because it’s just a racket, you never know how it works and you should go back to school or whatever.
I think we all just came from an era where we just had a dream, believed in each other and were wilful enough in terms of how hard we worked and how strong our convictions were. We went into it wanting to share with each other. We really wanted to be a band for the long term and we didn’t want to make the same mistakes some of our heroes made like breaking up, fighting and not being able to get through tough times.
Those things have really stuck with us and we’re still—shockingly—the same group of kids that we were. I mean, we have kids now or families and we’ve grown up a lot but we still go into our rehearsals and our recording processes the same… sort of wide eyed, like ‘oh my god, I can’t believe we’re about to do this’.
We’re still making songs and once we start writing, six months, one year, two years later we have this record with 10 or 12 songs on it and then all of a sudden we start working them into the set and they become favourites and have a life of their own in our live show. It’s fun to watch the new songs develop a place in the set where people start to know them.
I think that’s maybe our most important aspect of this band, is the live show and this history and all of these songs we end up playing.
So with the release of your 10th studio album Lightning Bolt, what can fans expect from you guys?
It’s a continuation, you know. Eddie is such an amazing lyricist and he’s written from so many different perspectives and he’s able to put himself in so many different spots. He always has really rich lyrics and they keep on revealing themselves. It’s a dense and beautiful lyrical content that ripens with age.
For sure we have some love songs and some ballads but there’s also a lot of up-tempo stuff that’s really important to the band, particularly for the live show. When you get out there and there are thousands of people, that energy really needs some fast songs. That energy can be intense and you want to be able to harness that.
We still love writing songs that remind us of the hard rock bands – the kind of bands we grew up listening to. You know, punk bands and hard rock, we still just love being a part of that energy. We also like to play folk songs and quiet numbers that really showcase his (Eddie’s) sensitivity and his range as well.
How did you choose the name Lightning Bolt?
It was a title of a song. We always have to come up with an album name; it’s part of the process. We wanted to summarise the record and do it in a word that’s invocative, that represents the record in some way and ties it all together. I think [those words have] a certain energy to it by the nature of its description. [‘Lightning Bolt’] is also a beautiful song about a particular female and it has some unharnesable energy and I think that’s fantastic
Do you think there’s been a lot of change to your music since you started? A natural evolution as to how you guys work as a band?
You know, we’re always evolving for sure. I think when Ed first joined the band he was still discovering his super powers in a way (laughs). It was really Jeff and I that were the veterans at that point.
But Ed quickly proved himself to be a leader in the band, the artistic leader by far. He could step out and play a ukulele by himself in front of 60 thousand people and make something happen and you have to respect that charisma and gravity. So I think his evolution is our bands evolution.
But everyone still writes for the band, everyone has still written lyrics over the course of our ten albums. We still share in how the band operates, we make business decisions together. It’s really still a group effort. But I’d be lying to say Ed’s not the leader of the band, he really is and deservedly so. We work best when he’s feeling comfortable and is in a position to lead.
As performers you get a really unique opportunity to pour yourself into your music, and that’s something that your fans connect with the most. What’s it like having people around the world bond with it?
When you’re playing live and you step out and start a song, and can see almost everybody and can hear these people singing the lyrics that you’ve either written or partaken in writing, it’s kind of other-worldly. I think we’re not the most qualified to comment on it, because we’re used to it in a way. We’re certainly not jaded, but it’s become kind of normal. Which is insane because it still feels like ‘oh my god, this is shocking’, particularly when you go to different places.
Like Australia, the first time we went to Australia we already had huge amounts of fans there. Or if you go Italy, Portugal, South America, Argentina or Brazil, places where you’ve never travelled to before and never had any real connection with, then you go there and you experience so many people that have had their own relationship with your music, it’s out of this world.
What’s in store for the crowds during your sets at Big Day Out?
We’re super excited. The whole band is ready to go and we’ll be playing a full Pearl Jam set when we’re down there. Australia is such a beautiful place, a place where all of us have spent a lot of extra time before and after tours. I’ve done diving off Exmouth (WA)…we’re in the ocean all the time. We love Byron Bay, Bondi and Manly. There are so many great beaches and wonderful people. Everyone is really excited about going back there and re-experiencing the country.
One thing I want to let everyone know… people are talking about us playing other shows while we’re down there but it’s just going to be Big Day Out. So if you want see us that’s the way to do it. We won’t be doing any other shows.
What’s the best thing about playing at a festival like Big Day Out?
It’s cool, although there are some days where it’s a daunting task. You’ve got to get up there for a huge crowd that’s been out there all day, so you need to have your focus. It’s cool because there’s no sound check or anything like that. You just walk out and start playing. Sometimes there’s almost a little over preparation. But it’ll be raw and we’ll be ready. We’re in top form and by the time we get to Australia we’ll be ready to go. We’re hoping it’s not going to be 38 degrees when we’re there, though!
It might be! What’s it like playing in Australia?
Australia has been so enthusiastic for Pearl Jam for so long. From the get go it’s been one of our favourite places. We couldn’t believe it when we got there the first time. It’s like Southern California and London combined in some way and we thought it was great! We have a great time there and the people really are wonderful and have supported the band from the get go. Australia has always gotten Pearl Jam in a way that we won’t ever forget.
This article first appeared in Skippers Inflight Magazine, published by Inflight Publishing. Reprinted here exclusively with permission.