The iconic Pearl Jam sits down with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 at their warehouse headquarters in Seattle for an in-depth conversation ahead of the release of Dark Matter. They talk about why Andrew Watt was the perfect producer for them, collaborating with Stevie Wonder on the song “Waiting For Stevie,” and how a studio flood led to them finishing the record at Rick Rubin’s legendary Shangri-La Studio. Zane gets an exclusive look inside the warehouse with unprecedented access. The band deep dives with him into how they feel about their critics, reflect back on their Ticketmaster feud, and their purpose of striving to be a positive force in the world.



Pearl Jam Talk To Apple Music About Their Clubhouse…

Eddie Vedder: Well, we used to have a place more centrally located in the city, and when we were getting moved out of there, we were a bit at a loss. It was an older building and we had an attachment to it, and then we found this nondescript rectangle of a building. We were fortunate that it was more what we bring to it as opposed to the actual building or structure, and then we got it sounding good. A lot of people worked hard. I think all of us to have a clubhouse, a headquarters, it's all under one roof from our political activism to some of the what... We sell things. Merchandise and t-shirts and posters. Everybody who works in these different departments, it's a family. So this is a comfortable place and it's not often empty. There's usually if you think you're just going to run down and use the studio or record or, someone's usually practicing for a benefit, someone's got kids tutoring kids and doing experimental recording. That was a few weeks ago that looked really interesting, but it's a lively building. It's a healthy vessel and the blood's pumping through it. 

Pearl Jam Talk To Apple Music About How Their Feel About Their Critics Throughout Their Career…

Stone Gossard: I think it's always a balance of you take a little from the outside, you know in your heart what feels good. We've had a long run, so we've had a lot of opportunity to be up and down and still have it sort of all come out in the wash, in terms of some records you come out and they're not critically acclaimed, but 10 years later there's a song in there you realize is your favorite song and it means something. You realize something in that song that is still talking to you 10 years later. So it's all a little smudgy in general, but I like a review that's critical, I think you get something out of that. It's nice to read a glowing review, but I do think somebody who sort of parses it a little bit more sometimes is you get something out of that. You can learn something.

Eddie Vedder: I think you filter the good things that are said, but it's even more important to filter the other stuff. I mean, it's good to have your... What's the sound guy in there? You look at it with your good eye closed. But maybe there's some constructive criticism in there and usually it's more about a live show than a record or something, but I think it's okay to be aware. Maybe there's a bit of truth in there or maybe something that you were trying to ignore and you're like, "Oh, okay." Or maybe somebody won't notice, but it's apparent and something for you to work on. So there's something to be said to take in what could be critical. And to be honest, you're probably going to find more meaning in that than what you can get out of the positive stuff. I mean, what would be good to read something positive about this one is that people respect our artistic direction. And if it wasn't for everybody or if the live show wasn't for everybody or something, then that's okay because art is subjective but it is a step for us, whether it's a step forward or any direct... It is a step and it's an artistic step and again, it's subjective, but we believe in it. 

Pearl Jam Tells Apple Music Why Andrew Watt Was The Perfect Producer For Them…

Stone Gossard: His style is he has got a guitar on the whole time you're playing with him, he's playing with you, he's playing with the band. We've never done anything like that before. That was a little bit of jumping off the cliff but again, his enthusiasm and his understanding of the band, his love for the band, his ability to play any of our songs at any point and go... Know the history of the band, all the B-sides, everything that we've ever done and then to be cheering us on in a way that you'd laugh at it and think this is silly, but then also it was infectious and you would just end up being sort of caught up in his enthusiasm and his confidence about it. Yeah, and that's why he really is the perfect producer for us because we're so part of his childhood. He understands us so well that there's no color he's bringing to this band that makes people go, "Oh, that sounds like..." Or this is something different. He actually can fit in a way that it sounds right, and that's just how he produces. He plays along. He's got to feel the music in the way that the band does. 

Pearl Jam Talks To Apple Music About Finishing The Record At Rick Rubin’s Legendary Studio Shangri-La After Their Studio Flooded… 

Eddie Vedder: We were kind of scrambling and there was a couple of places we definitely knew we didn't want to record, and then Rick Rubin was kind enough to help us. Literally, he was a parachute. We were going to hit the ground unceremoniously, but it was a parachute and where we landed was this place called Shangri-La, which a history for all of us, but me growing up with The Last Waltz. And that was a really, there's a vibe there that if you're attenuated to it, it's palpable. And I feel like I was able to tap into it, I think we all did.

Zane Lowe: Were there moments where you felt the spirit of The Band everything else not to be too caught about it, but was in you?

Eddie Vedder: Again, because I really wanted to keep up with everybody and things were moving quick and didn't want it to be homework. And there's an old school bus, again dilapidated, but vibey and I just had a typewriter in there and-

Zane Lowe: That's Bob Dylan's old tour bus.

Pearl Jam Talks To Apple Music About Writing “Won’t Tell”… 

Jeff Ament: Well, I will say that the best part for me was that it was a brand-new way of writing and collaborating. It was, I have a version of the song and Andrew had said, "Hey, you got something? And so I played for him and he goes, "That's great. What if we just give Ed the lyrics? Don't play in the song. The band works up a version of it, we tweaked a couple things and then just see how it works out?" To hear the melody and the phrasing that he chose, was literally hair standing up on my neck going like whoa, this is a cool way to do this. And then even further down the road, the words got totally changed and then it turned into his interpretation of a dream that I had. So it was one more further removed from a dream, so it seemed dimensional to me in a way that I'd never been involved with songwriting wise. So again at this point, 30 years down the road with the band to have there was a new thing. It is just like, you live for it. 

Pearl Jam Talks To Apple Music About Recording “Wreckage” And How Andrew Watt Pushed Them…

Eddie Vedder: A lot of it I think was written on the mic. I think probably that one was a lot of just... And Andrew would, to be honest, he'd start to piss me off a little bit and then I'd try to do something really good just to say like, "Fuck you. Back off." Seriously. I would be like.. There was one day I said, "Look, I need tonight off, or I need to sleep or I need to do something, but you have... Work with Mike on this. Just I'm trying to buy myself frigging eight hours or 10 hours of not... I just need to clear." Because we're already 15 days in a row of just, go, go, go. He said, "I get it. I totally get it. Little dude, I'm with you. I will stay an extra three weeks, whatever it takes, I will do this, I will do this." I said, "Okay good, because come on it's going good, but something's going to break here."

He said, "So how about this? You go home at 10:00, but before you go, if you get the bridge on the Stone thing and then the outro on the other... Oh, and then if we can just do... And stay with us here, we're going to record that other thing.. So then that was one of those things I was like, "All right, give me 10 minutes." I went in and wrote and sang it and I just wanted to get the fuck out... I just needed eight hours to myself.

So I don't have call him and apologies, let me clarify that…that was part of being pushed and we should be pushed. And maybe when you're starting to feel a little shaky and vulnerable or whatever, that could be the opening to access some of the deeper shit that might be normally closed down. It's not like you have just a zipper. It's like you get into these layers and maybe being on edge might be, I think ended up being helpful. And so I appreciate the fact. I mean, look, the whole band we started this group is kind of where we all picked up instruments because in some ways it was a fuck you to authority or parents who wanted you to have a real job or whatever. I think that's always been in us. So to have Andrew gave us a fire, it wasn't we were fighting with him, but it was good to be pushed. And I don't think some of it would've happened quite the way it did if we hadn't been.

Pearl Jam Talks To Apple Music About Working On The Song “Waiting For Stevie”…

Eddie Vedder: Andrew had worked with Stevie because Stevie was working with Elton [John], and Andrew was working with Elton. So Stevie was in that basement and playing this old piano, which was Andrew's Mrs. Mills. And so they had an open line of communication and then he was going to come down. Now the whole time before he shows up, you don't think it's really going to happen anyways because how could this happen? How could you be? Is this really going to happen? But sure enough, he showed up and was just incredible. We recorded late into the night, and one of the great things, he doesn't really have a circadian rhythm, so it's just his time and it was a powerful, powerful thing. But what happened is, in that time between 8:00 and 11:00 while we were waiting, Andrew was playing something. I said, "Did I show you that?" No. Or something like that. I said, "Well, here's one." I had this thing from no code. It was so similar. So then we overlaid and then, so that was where the riff of the Stevie song came out. When the group joined in, then it just achieved liftoff.

Pearl Jam Talks To Apple Music About Wanting To Be A Positive Force On The World…

Eddie Vedder: You want to be careful not to add to the noise. And we all do things that make tangible, practical, positive effects in our, either communities or within the medical community looking for a cure for a disease. Everybody has issues and functions and being a positive force in this world. Music, you don't want to divide... I think there's a power in having people join together, be communal, have a communal experience, where they're all agreeing on something for two and a half hours and there's power in bringing people together. And then from there, then they can take that feeling of community and acceptance and agreeance and positivity and planting healthy seeds.

Matt Cameron: I think in terms of issues and things, trying to deal with things on a local level and do esteemable acts hopefully throughout the day or try to do things that you have control over maybe a little bit. There's a thing that my friend Whitney Williams has turned me on to, is like you make people without houseless kits of little bag with socks and a $20 bill and things that people need. And so you hand those out in your car if you see somebody, and those are kind of like mutual aid trying to do things one-on-one with people and recognize their humanity. And I think that's a cool thing to be part of, and it's part of the ethos of what happens in our band. 

Pearl Jam Tells Apple Music How They Feel This Album Has Changed Them… 

Stone Gossard: I think we just learned a really great lesson in terms of our trusting each other and our collaborative, the power of our collaboration in terms of how we each bring something to the table. And we've made records in a lot of different ways but this experience, when we look back on it, really is everything got touched by everyone. And it just shows that when you're 60, there's still a lot of dreams to be had. There's still a lot of... Art is still very exciting and particularly collaborative art. I mean, I think that that's our superpower is that we're still doing it together. There's not a lot of bands that write together like we do, and not a lot of bands that have singers that want to share in the way that Ed wants to share with us and that he gets energized by it, that he we're at our best when we're doing it. So I say more of that. That's exciting territory because it's a little bit of all of us, and that's something that's original.


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