PEARL JAM's New Album Will Be 'A Lot Heavier Than You'd Expect'

January 5, 2024

PEARL JAM guitarist Mike McCready has said that the band's upcoming album is "a lot heavier than you'd expect." The follow-up to 2020's "Gigaton" is being produced by Andrew Watt, who previously worked with Eddie Vedder on the PEARL JAM singer's 2022 solo LP "Earthling".

In a new interview with Classic Rock magazine, McCready stated about collaborating with Watt, the multi-Grammy-winning producer who has also worked with Dua Lipa, Post Malone and Justin Bieber, as well as Ozzy Osbourne and THE ROLLING STONES: "When we were in the studio with him this past year, he really kicked our asses, got us focused and playing, song after song. It took a long time to make 'Gigaton', but this new one didn't take long. Andrew was, like, 'You guys take forever to make records. Let's do this, right now.'"

Regarding the musical direction of PEARL JAM's new material, Mike said: "It's a lot heavier than you'd expect. There's the melody and energy of the first couple of records. Andrew pushed us to play as hard and melodic and thoughtful as we've done in a long time. I feel like Matt Cameron's drumming has elements of what he did in SOUNDGARDEN."

He added: "For better or worse, you're gonna hear a lot more lead guitar from me — stuff I haven't done in a long time. I went crazy, like with Chris Cornell and TEMPLE OF THE DOG on 'Reach Down' [1991] all those years ago. I got to do it again. Usually the first or second takes are best. After that I start thinking about it and it doesn't have the feel. But Andrew caught the lightning in a bottle, as they say."

McCready also discussed how the current situation in America has affected PEARL JAM singer Eddie Vedder who has had a career full of activism and advocacy for political causes.

"I think Ed has always been very aware of everything that's going on and always fighting for the underdog," the guitarist said. "Certainly America has got so many fucked-up issues. Guns. Racism. That idiot Trump. All that stuff has always been there, but you have to be aware of it and consciously fight it, because you want this to be a better world, if you're a good human. And I see Ed as that, and hopefully we are. We try to be proactive and solution-oriented, and not sit back and do nothing."

Asked what he thinks are the best and worst things that could happen in 2024, Mike said: "Oh god. Well, if Trump got elected, that'd be the worst thing in the world to me. I'd rather think about the best things that can happen. We have to come together. We have to be compassionate. We have to take care of the environment. We have to not be racist. We have to not be idiots. There's all these things we can do. But we have to choose to think that way."

Last September, McCready was also full of praise for Watt, telling Guitar World magazine: "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."

In June 2023, 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.

PEARL JAM's latest album, "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

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