In a new interview with Guitar World, PEARL JAM guitarist Mike McCready spoke about the progress of the recording sessions for the band's new studio album. The follow-up to 2020's "Gigaton" is being recorded with Andrew Watt, the multi-Grammy-winning producer who has worked with Dua Lipa, Post Malone and Justin Bieber, as well as Ozzy Osbourne, Eddie Vedder and THE ROLLING STONES.
"It's just about finished," McCready said of the new effort. "I think there's a few tweaks here and there that have to happen, and we're probably not going to have anything out this year. But Andrew Watt brought an energy and a youthfulness and a great ear to us that I think we needed. He kind of kicked us in our asses a little bit. Like, 'Okay, let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go go go!' He's the most hyper guy I've ever met besides myself. But he's a giant fan of our band, and he's a really smoking guitar player in his own right. He got us into a room and just pushed us as hard as we could be pushed."
He continued: "You know, it's hard for a quote-unquote outsider to come into our world because we've done things a certain way. We're open to new things, but we are also in our own world. We've done things for 30 years. So we know the dynamics of our band very well. But sometimes we need to get pushed and questioned, and Andrew did a great job of that."
This past June, PEARL JAM bassist Jeff Ament told Kyle Meredith about the inspiration for the band's new material: "Well, we've talked a lot about, in the last three or four years, how we've sort of earned the right to do whatever the fuck we want to right now. And so why wouldn't we go all the way with that? Saying, like, 'Everybody, make a list of the 10 things that you wanna do in this band before we're done. Where is the city that you've never played? Or where is the venue you wanna go back to? Or what's the kind of song you wanna write? Or what's the cause you wanna get behind within the context of the band?' Those are sort of the things I talk about.
"It feels like we're sort of at this point where we should be able to turn a big corner," he continued. "We've earned the right to sort of, like… And that's tough, because there's five of us that are pulling the cart. And so sometimes you end up pulling the cart in opposite directions. It's, like, just embracing all of that — embracing everybody's ideas and everybody's hopes and dreams and wishes and styles.
"We have this amazing community as a band and the families within the band, and the people that we work with and the people that have worked with us for, like, 32 years in some cases. It's taken us this long for it to work this efficiently. We should be killing it right now in every way. I think that's what we hope for musically. I think we wanna turn the corner and I think we wanna access all the best parts of each other and we wanna flourish within that. We just wanna support the best parts of each other so we consequently make the best music.
"Sometimes there's a lot of ego involved, and if somebody feels like they're working harder than the other person, or whatever the stuff is, but if you can just leave that stuff behind and focus on how do we support each other so each person brings the best to the song we're working on right now," Ament added. "And I think that's what we're trying to do. The stuff we've been doing the last couple of years, it sort of feels like we've hit on that in a few instances."
2020 officially marked 30 years of PEARL JAM performing live. Eleven studio albums, hundreds of unique live performances and official live concert bootleg releases later, the band continues to be critically acclaimed and commercially successful — with over 85 million albums sold worldwide. PEARL JAM was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2017.
"Gigaton" was released in March 2020. Featuring fan favorites "Dance Of The Clairvoyants", "Superblood Wolfmoon" and "Quick Escape", the album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Rock Albums, Top Alternative Albums, and Billboard Vinyl Albums Chart. In addition, it hit Top 5 on Billboard 200 chart, No. 2 on Billboard Top Album Sales chart and to date has reached over 200 million global streams. The album was critically acclaimed, with Entertainment Weekly raving, "It's a sturdy rock album from five guys who know what they're doing, took time till they had something to say, are interpolating new influences and sound stoked to be back together in a room."
Photo credit: Danny Clinch