PEARL JAM's STONE GOSSARD: 'Heavy Metal Changed My Life'

May 15, 2024

In a new interview with Matt Pinfield of 95.5 KLOS's "New & Approved" show, PEARL JAM guitarist Stone Gossard spoke about his appreciation for some of the classic heavy metal records of the early 1980s. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Heavy metal changed my life. And then punk rock, on top of that, allowed me a door into heavy metal. 'Cause I sucked and heavy metal was a little bit about being fucking wizardly. If you couldn't compete with Yngwie [Malmsteen], you needed to be gifted, and punk rock allowed me to be gifted in a different way, which was, like, can you just hit a couple of notes that sound good? And maybe that's enough, and then maybe somebody else can do something too. More of THE TALKING HEADS approach."

Asked which heavy metal and hard rock records he loved when he was a kid, Stone said: "MERCYFUL FATE 'The Oath', 'Melissa'. IRON MAIDEN — the first two or three IRON MAIDEN records freaked me out. ALICE COOPER. And then, yeah, going back and then finding ALICE COOPER and T. REX and the '70s glam. And then SEX PISTOLS. How good does THE SEX PISTOLS record sound right now? And there's nothing to it. It's just four points of view just fucking jammed in there."

In a December 2022 interview with Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station, Gossard was asked for his take on the long-running narrative that grunge reinvented the rock and roll genre and killed the career of many hard rock and heavy metal musicians. He replied: "I think we changed the landscape at that time; I just don't think we reinvented anything. We were taking punk rock and the blues and rock and roll and we were just kind of doing it in a different way. I do think we impacted the music industry at that time, and it's only because hair bands were so entrenched and the record business was so entrenched and everybody was just doing the same thing for so long that it lost its flavor.

"I was into hair bands; I wanted guys to dress up and have crazy hair and makeup," he continued. "But I think everything — there's time for a change at some point, and everyone wants something fresh again.

"I love the moment when kids get ahold of something and they break it and they wanna just make it their own. And so anytime that happens, it's kind of fun. It's a good time to listen. Then it makes it more about for anyone to make a band; it's not just stellar musicians. Sometimes it's just gotta be a group of people that just love making racket together."

Gossard previously discussed grunge's impact on the hard rock and heavy metal scene in the summer of 2022 in an interview with VWMusic. At the time, he said: "I think there's always renewal in the world, and with that renewal, comes new perspectives. And I think that hard rock was really stagnating at that point in a way that gave an opportunity to what I'll call 'less musically talented' musicians to say, 'Hey, there's another way to play rock songs. There's another way to have songs that are heavy. And there's another way to create chaos and energy from those songs that would be outside the normal color palette of a heavy metal song.'

"I mean, coming up, I listened to a lot of heavy metal," he continued. "I listened to a lot of MOTÖRHEAD. I listened to a lot of IRON MAIDEN. I listened to a lot of MERCYFUL FATE. I listened to a lot of LED ZEPPELIN. I listened to all those New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands, and I was into it. This said, as a kid, I didn't really know how to play like that, so I was just doing what sounded right to me. And I think that in the late '80s, there was a very free attitude about art and music that was brewing in the wake of hard rock, and a lot of people were experimenting with sounds, and the bands formed from there. There was something about it that was fresh, that really captured people's ears, and that had a huge effect on it all too. But you know, a lot of those heavy metal bands you're talking about are still around, so clearly they all didn't die. Sure, a lot of them had to regroup, and yes, some did die, but that's part of the life cycle, right? There are still a lot of fans out there who love hard rock, and I'm one of them. I love hard rock, and I always have, but renewal and rebirth are a part of art, I think."

PEARL JAM's twelfth studio album, "Dark Matter", was released on April 19 via Monkeywrench Records/Republic Records.

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