Pearl Jam plan to use their fan club website as a clearinghouse for unreleased and rare material, including live shows, radio broadcasts and even studio demos.
In a posting made this week on the band's official fan club website, Ten
Club (www.tenclub.net), Pearl Jam's usually uncommunicative singer, Eddie
Vedder, wrote, "[The website] could be a great place to find things out
of the ordinary and not be faced with the unreasonable price of bootlegs."
The one-page missive, which appears to have been written on a typewriter and signed "Eddie" by hand, is dated "winter, 1999." Annie Ohayon, publicist for the band known for its love of vinyl albums and for bucking traditional music-business practices confirmed Tuesday that Vedder wrote the letter.
Vedder signed off on the note by saying that the group hopes to have some "gearhead" information on the Ten Club site soon, including chord progressions and explanations of songs. "No matter what happens in the future," Vedder wrote, "I would like to express our gratitude for your interest in the group. ... It has enabled us the opportunity to be different and approach things in our own way."
Longtime San Francisco Bay Area fan Andy Gems, a producer at Yahoo!, said he was glad to see the band making an effort to move into the Internet space and use the Web to keep in contact with its fans.
"I love that they're entering the digital age," Gems said. "Especially with Ed being such an analog buff. He's big on the vinyl scene, and he seems to have sort of an analog lifestyle going, so this is a great thing for fans."
Vedder also promised in the posting that the group's annual Christmas single would be "two absolutely unlistenable" tracks, in a nod to the unexpected, smash success of last year's Christmas single, the group's cover of J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers' 1964 song "Last Kiss" (RealAudio excerpt).
"[T]he 'Last Kiss' song made it from the small piece of vinyl to the airwaves," Vedder wrote about the band's biggest radio hit to date. "Normally, and it hadn't happened before, we would have never released the song outside of the Ten Club hub."
The track was released in December 1998 to fan club members. After radio stations started playing it, the band released it commercially and donated proceeds to the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, an international relief organization.
Vedder thanked fan club members for not complaining when the song was released to raise money for the victims of the war in Kosovo.
"So we appreciate your part in letting go of 'exclusivity' in order to help a massive group of folks in dire need," he said. "And this upcoming Christmas single will be two absolutely unlistenable tracks, [so] as to thwart any outside interest. ... You will be exclusive once again."
Not everyone was convinced Vedder wasn't describing the songs with a wink and a nod. Gems said he suspected Vedder was kidding about the songs' unlistenable nature. "I can't help wonder if Ed is cracking a little joke here," he said.
The band-sanctioned Rumor Pit website (sonymusic.com/artists/PearlJam/rumorpit/rumorpit.html) reports that the two songs on the single are new tunes, although the names of the tracks were not revealed in the posting. Ohayon said no information was available on the titles of the songs.
In early November, Ohayon said the bandmembers were halfway through the recording sessions for their seventh album, due in the first half of next year.
Recording sessions for the still-untitled disc began in September, with Tchad Blake (Tom Waits, Sheryl Crow) producing. The sessions marked the first time since the band's 1991 debut, Ten which Pearl Jam produced with Rick Parashar that the group has not worked with producer Brendan O'Brien (Korn, Rage Against the Machine).
"This new record ... we've been working on is sounding quite good to our ears. ... I can imagine wanting to go out and play it live," Vedder wrote.
Former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron will perform on the album. Pearl
Jam enlisted Cameron for their 1998 tour, replacing Jack Irons, who dropped
out citing health concerns.
The Seattle rockers took a break to play at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit on Oct. 3031, where they unveiled two new, unnamed songs. A posting on the Rumor Pit site said those are not the songs that will be on the fan club single.