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89 Revista Rock (Brazil)

by Ricardo Calil

Translated from Portuguese to English by Andrea

Q:What should the fans expect from the new album: the good old Pearl Jam or lots of new things?
Mike: The good new Pearl Jam... With Matt on the drums, we reached another musical level. I hope the fans will enjoy hearing as much as we enjoyed making it.

Q:Wasn't the choice of "Nothing As It Seems" for a single a little risky, since it's one of the darkest in the album?
Stone: That shows that we take music seriously. When the idea of releasing it as a single came, the whole band loved it. Instead of thinking if the radio was going to play it, we wanted to release a song that would make people want to buy the album. It may be a hit or not. Some people are going to think it's bad for the record sales, others will think we're revealing new sides of the band.
Mike: I love that song. It bothers and pleases me at the same time.
Stone: There's nothing on the radio that sounds like that. People will find interesting that we may sound like Pink Floyd.

Q: So Pink Floyd was an influence on the song, becouse it reminds you of their sound?
Jeff: Someone said that before. The vocal melody sounds a little bit like Pink Floyd, yes.

Q: This is the first time that Brendan O'Brien is not producing the album. Why did you decide to work with Tchad Blake this time?
Mike: To me that's a tough question, I confess I would rather work with Brendan. Tchad had some good ideas, he did a great job on the slow songs like "Nothing As It Seems." But other songs were harder for him, so we called Brendan to remix to make the songs heavier. I feel more confortable with Brendan, he has a musical brain.
Matt: There's a lot of producers who are engineers, but not Brendan. He's a musician, a complete producer, which is rare these days.

Q: How did the battle against Ticketmaster end? Who's selling tickets for this tour?
Jeff: Ticketmaster is selling half the tickets. They have an exclusive contract with 90% of the big arenas.
Stone: We lost the fight.

Q: Do you feel defeated?
Stone: No, we decided that it would be a secondary subject and we would go back to just being a band, worry only about the music. But at least now on the ticket is printed how much goes to Ticketmaster and to Pearl Jam.

Q: What good bands came after your generation? What have you heard lately?
Jeff: There's a lot of good stuff going on. Radiohead has some great songs, Supergrass is awesome.
Stone: I've listened to Chris Cornell a lot lately and Fiona Apple, my favourite record of the year so far.
Matt: Melvins and PJ Harvey.
Mike: I've been listening to older stuff, Clash, Simon and Garfunkel, Rolling Stones.

Q: What do you think of bands like the Nixons, Creed and Days of the New, who sound like Pearl Jam?
Matt: There's an audience for them but they're not exciting for me. They sound a bit like a setup.

Q: You've played with some of your idols, like Neil Young, Pete Townshend and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Who else do you wanna play with?
Stone: We're playing with Joe Strummer on the European tour and Supergrass on the American tour. Frank Black, Iggy Pop and Ben Harper played with us lately. We're very lucky to play with those guys.

Q: You don't give a lot of interviews. Why are you doing promotion for this album?
Mike: Before, it was too crazy around us. Now it's calmer. We're very excited about this album.
Stone: We booked 2 days for press and 4 months for the tour. It's a good proportion.

Q: Doesn't it mean that you're handling the pressures better, more comfortable in the position of rock stars?
Stone: We're more selective, we're open to one thing or another, but not everything they expect from us. 2 days sounds pretty reasonable. Jeff: The interviews give us a chance to talk about our music, try to understand what we did. We're not saying we're rock stars. we don't make videos, we're not on MTV a lot.
Stone: We don't have big mansions, we didn't move to Hollywood, we don't buy leather pants.
Matt: But it's still not a bad job.
Mike: It's a lot better than my old job as a waiter.

Q: Many critics say Pearl Jam is the best band in the world. what do you think of that?
Stone: Anyone who's been to our rehearsals last year would disagree (laughs).
Jeff: I think we're a great live band, maybe one of the top five, but somedays we make mistakes.
Matt: There's so much music out there, you can't say one is better. But, to me, the Mutants are the best.
Mike: The Stones are -- or were -- the best band in the world.
Stone: All you have to do is look at the Beatles or Led Zeppelin, but your comparing yourselves to rock legends.
Stone: But you can also compare us to new bands like Supergrass, they're amazing musicians. But i'm happy with Pearl Jam, there's a lot of energy when we play live.

Q: How is the relationship between you after 10 years? do you still hang out or just meet to make music?
Jeff: We hang out as much as we did before. Of course, the first year was a honeymoon, then each wanted his own room in the hotels. that's natural in any band, even with my best friends there's some troubled times, but those are the most gratifying relationships -- when it goes away and we can be together.
Mike: We have separate lives and meet to make records and tour. This way we keep both things going.
Matt: When you're recording or on tour, relationships gets tense, then things go back to normal. It's healthy to leave and come back recharged.

Q: Is that why the side projects are important? Keep your sanity?
Mike: Yes. Get away from the craziness, learn from other people, learn to play and relax.

Q: To Pearl Jam, it was always important to keep the honesty and integrity. After ten years, do you think you've made it?
Stone: Integrity comes from honesty. It's not something planned, it just happens. If you make music for yourself, you're being honest. If you make music for others, like to reach people of a certain age, then you're being disonest.
Matt: Pearl Jam is one of the few bands that have been on the road for so long and has some integrity, because they control every step they make.

Q: Do you think you're better now?
Mike: I feel more confident, and we want to keep getting better. If we keep playing like last tour, this one will be very exciting.
Jeff: We're playing even better now that we have a great drummer.

Q: What about Jack Irons? Is he coming back?
Stone: Jack decided he wouldn't be able to go on tour, not the way we wanted. Then we made a decision together that it would be better to separate, no hurt feelings. He's a family guy, he doesn't like to go on a plane.

Q: So Matt can be considered the official drummer?
: At the moment, yes. I don't know if he's gonna make a long term decision, but as long as he wants to make records with us, he's the PJ drummer.

Q: Then, Matt, how long do you plan on staying?
Matt: At least until the end of the tour. But I have another band and a family. My priorities have changed. But Pearl Jam have been really understanding with the fact that I can't make a definite commitment.
: He's family, we feel like he was in the band before.

Q: Matt, do you think you have been lucky being able to play with 2 great bands of the 90's?
Matt: Sure, I thank my lucky stars for the fact that I was able to play with great bands.

Q: What are the differences between PJ and Soundgarden?
: With Soundgarden we had to play as loud and strong as possible. In Pearl Jam things are more open. I finish a Pearl Jam concert less tired than with Soundgarden. But there are similarities. One of those is that both bands has lead singers with a strong sense of rhythm.

Q: Does the word grunge mean anything to you?
Stone: To me, grunge is a comic word, has always been. A term launched to create a hype.
Mike: It's a label. But it's also something that came from music. Since it rains a lot in Seattle, we would spend the day at the garage, playing.
Jeff: I think Mudhoney was the band that fit better in the term, and so did Nirvana. I never saw Pearl Jam as a grunge band, we didn't come from that but we were influenced by them. By coincidence we were in the same scene that people identified as grunge. So you're kind of attached to that.
Matt: Grunge to me is a mark in history, represents a musical revolurion that happened and ended. If it's necessary to have a label for that, then fine.