Before the group put together its "Monkey Wrench Radio" last weekend in Seattle, Pearl Jam sat down with MTV News for an exclusive on-camera interview and talked about the follow up to 1996's rather low-key "No Code."
"I think the last couple records, Eddie (Vedder) has really been at the helm of those records," bassist Jeff Ament told MTV News. "I remember at the end of the last record, he said, 'Y'know, this was really a lot of work for me, and next time, it would be great if I didn't have to work so hard on the arrangements, and if people came in with more complete ideas, and even more complete songs, that would really help me out a lot,' and I think everybody took that to heart."
Vedder himself agreed, observing, "Stone (Gossard, guitarist) was writing music and lyrics. Jeff had music and lyrics. I had music and lyrics... we were able to team up, y'know. Have a partnership there and team up and write together on this one."
In addition to lightening the creative load on Vedder, the new approach to songwriting had another by-product as well.
"I think the fact that everybody had so much input into the record, like everybody really got a little bit of their say on the record, and I think because of that, everybody feels like they're an integral part of the band," Ament observed.
"When you come in with a demo," Gossard said, "you kind of already have an idea of, a rough version that everyone can get excited about to start with. Then you give it another one or two chances of really taking that song to the next level, and you end up sort of contouring it a bit more, and sort of honing it, so I think there's a little more of that going on this record."
Apparently the communal approach to "Yield" worked as the group is split over which track is the strongest.
"'Evolution' is my favorite song," Vedder noted. "I can listen to like it's some band that just came out of nowhere. I just like the song. I was able to listen to it as an outside observer and just really play it over and over. Maybe because I was singing it from a third person so it didn't really feel like me singing."
Guitarist Mike McCready and drummer Jack Irons both found "In Hiding" to be a personal favorite on the album.
"I like 'In Hiding' a lot," Irons said. "It's like a band track. It sounds like five guys just played a track together and I think that's pretty much what happened."
"Just something about it that strikes me," McCready said of "In Hiding."
"Even in the earlier demo stages when I heard it I knew it was something that had to happen."
Overall, Vedder said he still feels the album works as a whole, complete work.
"I think every record we've tried to make a linear experience," Vedder said. "I think we think of the records the same way we think of the set lists when you play live. There's builds, and ups and downs, and something at the end, which the last two records seemed to have lullabies at the end. So you're looking at it as a piece. It's not an opera, yet... that's slated for 2001, but it's still a complete piece I think."
Of course, Pearl Jam have long been outspoken supporters of the endangered vinyl medium, and "Yield" is available on vinyl, though you may have to hunt for it.
Pearl Jam launches a world tour February 20 in Maui, then goes on to play the Far East before returning to the U.S. in late spring or summer.
The new issue of "Performance" magazine reports that the band is looking for a supporting act to take on the road from June 19 to July 19, and then from August 17 to September 20. Before that, the band will play dates in Hawaii and Australia, and the band's official Pearl Jam Rumor Pit reports that the band has added a show in the Aussie town of Perth after a petition bearing more than 12,000 signatures was delivered to Gossard requesting the show.