[artist id="1006"]Pearl Jam[/artist] could not have picked a bigger platform on which to debut their new song, "Get Some," than Conan O'Brien's first "Tonight Show" episode. And the veteran Seattle band did not disappoint, ripping through the blistering track for the first time in public.
The song will appear on the group's forthcoming ninth studio album, Backspacer, due in the fall, which finds them reuniting with longtime producer and friend Brendan O'Brien for the first time in more than a decade.
"Launching a show like this takes a lot of hard work, and one of the things that has sustained me over the past three months was knowing that at the end of our first show, I would get to watch a performance by one of the greatest rock bands in the world," Conan O'Brien gushed as he introduced Pearl Jam.
The band performed another new song called "The Fixer" last week, during a private show at Seattle's Showbox theater that was filmed for a Target commercial, according to Billboard.com. The commercial, filmed by director Cameron Crowe, is part of an exclusive retail deal for the album, which will not be distributed by a traditional record label. Longtime Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis told Billboard that in addition to Target, he is working on deals with an online retailer, a mobile partner, a gaming company and a network of independent retailers. As usual, the CD will also be available through the band's fan club, Ten Club.
"Target ended up allowing us to have other partners," Curtis said. "We'll be able to take care of all levels of the Pearl Jam fan. ... We wish we could tell the whole story right now, but all the deals aren't done. Target was cool enough to realize that little independent record stores are not their competition."
While the Showbox gig in front of 300 hired "extras" was intended to cull footage for the Target ad, Curtis said the three or four songs that were filmed at the show may also be used for a project Crowe is working on in connection with the band's 20th anniversary.
Some blogs immediately took PJ to task for cutting a deal with a so-called "big box" retailer after a career spent kicking at the big boys, but Curtis explained that there's more to the agreement than meets the eye.
"Everyone's making assumptions because Target is a big corporation," he said. "It's important to remember we just got out of this 18-year relationship with [former record label] Sony, and I'm pretty sure they are a bigger corporation than Target. We have the freedom to pick our partners and more control than we've ever had before. We're excited to choose who we're in business with."
Looking at the exclusive deal signed by AC/DC to sell their comeback Black Ice at Wal-Mart last year and Radiohead's efforts to self-release In Rainbows, Curtis said he wanted to take those lessons and create a plan that was "multi-dimensional to address old and modern ways of fans accessing music. It will allow all of our fans to have the same access. ... All we've been searching for forever is independence and control over our own stuff. The way of releasing records is changing every day. This is the best way we could do it ourselves in America. Right or wrong, we'll figure that out and make it better the next time."