Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder | Audacy Check In | 4.18.24

Audacy Check-In

17-04-2024 • 28 minutos

Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder joins us this week for a special Audacy Check In with KROQ's Nicole Alvarez discussing the band's brand new 12th studio album, Dark Matter, their upcoming world tour, and much more.

For fans who know Pearl Jam’s music inside and out, it can be easy to track the evolution of the band as musicians and human beings by listening to their new album, Dark Matter. After hearing the finished product, frontman Eddie Vedder admits with a laugh that he was still surprised by “just how good it sounded.” Vedder goes on to expound on the masterful abilities of their producer this time around, complimenting “how good this guy Andrew Watt made our band sound and the performances he was getting out of us.”

“It was moving very quickly,” Eddie explains. “It was recorded and written really quickly, and with the end of almost every night being just about a completed piece of music or, if not, very, very close. It just kept the momentum going, which, you know, we just hadn't recorded like that in a while.”

The biggest surprise, he adds, was “the power that was coming out of the speakers… it held up that loud volume. And then the lyrics, I think that you're writing lyrics just to -- not keep up with the music -- but to be part of the fabric, to mesh. or if there's a song with a tempo.” Speaking specifically about the album track “Running,” Vedder explains how the lyrics for the song “are part and parcel with the tempo and performances of that song. It's a frenetic lyric to go with a frenetic song.”

“Those are the things that, I guess, you're just surprised that you finish it,” he laughs.

Vedder credits Watt’s passion for music in general for bringing out the best of his band, and making them feel excitement in new, almost embarrassing ways. “It's pretty over the top,” Eddie says. “But I'm telling you, it's so pure. He wouldn't mind me saying this; it comes from such a pure place that it’s just truly undeniable. And I'm sure The Stones felt the same way working with him. He's just really focused. He also has this strange kind of ADD ability to recall. You know, it would be a detriment to maybe some people that maybe had a little bit more of a normal occupation.”

“He can remember a take that [guitarist] Mike McCreedy soloed 10 days ago, and he can remember that it was take number three,” Eddie continues. “He found the perfect occupation to put this kind of savant-like connection to music… he's using his powers for good. It’s pretty stunning and it bodes well for keeping things moving. Momentum is huge, and it also turns into positivity and confidence and flexibility… and then it's the ability to create an atmosphere where you feel like you can experiment, or try something, or, work harder to make it better. You’re not like, ‘OK, I think that's good enough.’”

“There was no ‘good enough,’” Vedder says. “It had to rise to the level… the guitar had to match the level of performance of Matt Cameron on the drums. The vocals had to match the high intensity of the guitar. It was just kind of, everybody keeps stepping up to reach kind of a peak or pinnacle of what is possible. You're always trying to do your best, but it turns out you could do even better.”

Eddie had a chance to work with Watt on his 2022 solo album Earthling, and remembers another trick that Andrew had up his sleeve for those sessions, which seem to have seeped into the new Pearl Jam offering as well. “What you could say about the mix is, everything's louder than everything else. Meaning, if you want to focus on what the bass is doing, it's more just attenuating your ear to the bass and all of a sudden that's the loudest thing. And then you say, ‘Well, what's the kick drum doing?’ Then that becomes the loudest thing, just by directing your brain, moving your ear like as if you were a horse catching up. Just tuning your radar, whatever you want to tune it into could be a background vocal or a guitar melody that you think is kind of in the back. But when you focus in on it, it's right there.”

“Every instrument kind of has its own lane,” Vedder adds. “I don't know where he maybe picked up on that, even through some of the more Pop music that he did, but it certainly can apply here.”

Fans can expect all killer and no filler on Dark Matter as well, Eddie says. “The only trick,” he says that needed to be applied to choosing the album tracks and sequencing of songs “was kind of telling the story, if there is one. Really, it was just quality piece of music after quality piece of music.”

“If I could say it without sounding too self-aggrandizing, but, a lot of records, there's a couple of songs that maybe you put in the more difficult listening category or something… There was no lack of good material,” he adds. “That doesn't always happen.” Forced to pick a favorite, "I think the whole record feels personal," he says. "There's a song called 'Something Special' on there, which is really kind of a parenting, mom and dad seeing their kids grow up and leaving the nest -- either going to college or going to high school -- and hoping you did a good enough job to know that they're gonna be okay out in the world. That's where they're gonna learn their lessons, and no matter [the] love and support that you raise them with -- and discipline -- there's gonna be a bunch of lessons out there. The world's gonna hand them difficulties, hopefully not on a daily basis, but you hope that you've given them the tools to navigate through the good times and the pitfalls. So, I could say that one's a little bit more unabashedly personal."

As the band’s Dark Matter world tour continues to take shape before kicking off this May, some of the nerves behind introducing these new tracks to fans have begun to subside and morph into genuine excitement. “If you would ask me four days ago, I would have been maybe a little more nervous, but we've just had our first couple of days of practice and I think everybody worked hard on the songs coming into practice, as opposed to learning them once we get here.”

“It felt a little daunting,” he admits, “as we said, the sound of the record is galvanized and has a lot of strength to it. So, can we do that live? That question has been answered in the last couple of days.”

“There’s a different kind of focus that happens,” he says when taking the stage, “and it's kind of being ready to find that or to be conscious of what might happen tonight… It could be a reaction from the crowd, it could be locking eyes with somebody and you can tell they're going through something… I have a pretty good vantage point and I can kind of find those things and that inspires me.”

“Another great pleasure of being in this band is standing right in front of Matt Cameron, who's just, you know, there's a lot of great, great drummers out there these days. It's a particularly healthy time to be listening if you appreciate drummers and what drummers can do behind the kit. But he's just so extraordinary. There's horsepower there… Literally, it feels like you're riding a racehorse and it's wild, and it's always different. The way he locks in with Jeff and then the way Jeff [Ament] and Stone [Gossard] lock in… and then it allows Mike a canvas to do his. It could be very technical and perfect and it could be Jackson Pollock as well.”

Given the chance, Eddie agrees with Nicole about grabbing the new PJ album and retreating to the best place to listen to new music: In a car, with the windows closed “whether you're moving or just still,” he says. “I mean, I do it in the driveway. I think my neighbors heard this record before me. But also, being out on the road with the windows open, that's pretty good too.”

“Some of my best listening experiences have been with Walkman's on a hike at the top of a mountain,” Vedder adds. “There's something about the outdoors, or on the shoreline. It's like nature has a hand in it… and I think probably because lyrically nature is in there. Nature and the ocean, and waves… whether it's a calm sunset or a storm… I think nature informs a lot of the lyrics as well.”

Giving us a preview of what's to come, KROQ's Nicole Alvarez had Eddie Vedder talking about Pearl Jam's fast-approaching Dark Matter world tour, namely their shows in Los Angeles on the 21st and 22nd of May at the Forum. “But the other one,” he revealed, would be the Ohana Festival in Dana Point, CA happening this September. “This year it's September 27th-29th and as of today, I can tell you the headliners on the 27th and 29th are gonna be our group.”

“So, Pearl Jam on the seashore… that's something to look forward to for us, certainly," Vedder adds. "And then in the middle on the 28th, we have Neil Young and Crazy Horse. The whole rosters are very impressive and inspiring and exciting… it should be good!”

After making their return earlier this year with their new album's title track, the Seattle Alt-rock faves officially revealed 2024's Dark Matter was set to arrive on April 19, produced by multi-GRAMMY award-winning producer Andrew Watt, marking the band’s first release since 2020’s critically-acclaimed Gigaton.

Don’t miss our full Audacy Check In with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder above -- and stay tuned for more conversations with your favorite artists on Audacy.com/live.

Words by Joe Cingrana Interview by Nicole Alvarez