With a new Pearl Jam album on its way and the Seattle rockers already making a foray into the live concert scene, frontman Eddie Vedder has a lot to look forward to, and, he'll tell you, perhaps even more to be thankful for.
"This has been the best year of my life," Vedder told the Los Angeles Times' Robert Hilburn Friday, after PJ's soundcheck on the opening night of a four-gig stand with the Stones in Oakland, Calif. "I feel like I've really gotten a lot of things together. I'm even looking forward to touring."
During a rare interview with the Times before Pearl Jam took the stage, Vedder briefly discussed the band's fifth album (due out Feb. 3). He not only said that the year in which Yield was recorded was a banner period for him, but added that he's eager to get back on the road -- a surprising sentiment in light of the troubles that have beset past Pearl Jam tours as they've tried to stage outings without the help of TicketMaster.
"We talked about touring this year, but we didn't want to lock ourselves in the studio with a timetable," Vedder said. "We wanted to give ourselves time in and out of the studio to let everyone come up with songs and lyrics and to have some time for themselves, and it worked great. During one stretch, we came up with something like 32 songs."
Last week a select number of fans witnessed the live debut of several songs
from Yield when Pearl Jam played a surprise show at the Catalyst in
Santa Cruz, Calif. The band included those tunes -- the first single
"Given to Fly," as well as "Wish List," "Brain of J" and "Do the Evolution" -- over
the course of their Friday and Saturday shows with the Stones before 50,000
fans (many of whom were as excited to see Pearl Jam as they were the
Vedder said the new tracks continue along the path
established by last year's No Code album, which was critically
hailed as adventurous but whose quiet moments of introspection did not strike
as passionate a chord with some fans. "To me, the new album is a natural progression from No Code," Vedder
told the Times. "I love that album, but I found myself waiting in a
couple of places for some more up-tempo numbers. This time, a lot of the
songs start off quiet, but then they lift up."
Caryn Rose, co-webmaster of the Five Horizons Pearl Jam Internet
fanzine, said another album in the vein of No Code would be a
Godsend to her. "I'm glad to hear him talk about the album like that,"
said Rose, who maintains the 5H site from the band's hometown of
Seattle. "What I had been hearing from people is that they're gonna go
back to [Pearl Jam's breakthrough debut] Ten. If they went back to
Ten I would have been extremely disappointed. No Code is PJ
finally starting to realize their promise. They're just starting to be more confident about what they have to say and being willing to take chances on it."
Having had the chance to hear "Do the Evolution" for the first time from the eighth row of the Oakland Coliseum Friday, Rose, 33, added that she almost couldn't believe her ears. "I couldn't talk, I couldn't breathe," she said. "I started hyperventilating and my heart just stopped. My body just went, 'Oh my God, what is this?' It's that good."
In addition to Vedder's comments, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament told the Times that the band's sometimes off-kilter touring and recording regimen ultimately results in more music for the fans. "It's just the way we choose to work. Some bands are in your face all the time," he said. "In videos, magazines, McDonald's ads, whatever, but then they'll only put out an album every three years or so. We put out a record every year or year and a half. So it's a question
of what do you want to end up with every three years or so -- 30 songs or
10 songs and all the other stuff?"
The band will launch its tour in support of the new album on Feb. 20 in
Hawaii before heading to Australia. Pearl Jam will then return to mainland
United States for a series of concerts throughout the country. [Mon., Nov. 17, 1997, 6:00 p.m. PDT]