Exclusive: Pearl Jam Stories from Josh Brolin, Ethan Hawke, Soundgarden, Duff McKagan, Slipknot, System of a Down, Avenged Sevenfold and More
Wed, 20 Nov 2013 11:42:03
Pearl Jam changed the world. That's just a fact at this point. They're the most important band to emerge during the nineties, and their relevance grows with their legacy. This year's Lightning Bolt illuminated the Seattle legends at the top of their game from musicality to melody. It's a definitive Pearl Jam record and the best album of the year.
So, given Pearl Jam's importance, ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief talked to everybody from actors to musician's about the band's impact in this exclusive feature.
What can you say about Pearl Jam? Do you have a story to share or favorite record or song you can mention?
Josh Brolin of No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Jonah Hex, & Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
Josh Brolin: I think Pearl Jam would be my favorite band presently. I can't get away from them because I think they're phenomenal!
Ethan Hawke of The Purge, Sinister, Daybreakers, & Training Day
Ethan Hawke: I'm of the generation of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. I go back to all of that music. Did you see PJ 20? I loved it. It was phenomenal. It's funny Willie Nelson just covered Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe", and it's a great cover.
Duff McKagan of Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver, Loaded, Walking Papers
Duff McKagan: When did I first hear Pearl Jam? That's a good question. Well, Mike McCready and I go back to teenage years. We were pals in Seattle and the scene. I'd seen his band Shadow a bunch. I knew Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament from Green River and, of course, Mother Love Bone. I actually played with Pearl Jam the first time I heard them. I was at the Cathouse in Hollywood. There may have been alcohol involved [Laughs]. I got up and played drums. I think we did the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer". I was really glad that Pearl Jam doc, PJ 20, really exposed and highlighted what an epic guitar player Mike is—all of those guys. I don't know if Mike's gotten his due in the whole Guitar World thing, but he's the real deal. When he gets on stage, the animal comes out. He's just a mild-mannered, funny, really cool dude off stage. He's the nicest guy you've ever met. Then, he gets on stage, and he turns into this howling banshee. It's real.
Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden
Ben Shepherd: I actually saw Pearl Jam when they were called Mookie Blaylock. It was at The OK Hotel in Seattle. That was before they got busted for using the name Mookie Blaylock [Laughs]. I told them they should've just dropped the "Blaylock" part and went with "Mookie". I thought that was a great name for them! I was always brutally honest with those guys about their music, band, and everything. I love them though. Stone Gossard and I were even in a band together once. The drummer quit though [Laughs].
Corey Taylor of Slipknot & Stone Sour
Corey Taylor: It was on Ten. I've got to say that Ten is their best record to be honest—and not because of the singles. It's because of the songs in between like "Why Go" and "Porch", which is a great fucking jam. Before "Black" became a weird "non-single" single, there's "Black". "Release" is so gorgeous. That song will break me down and make me fucking cry like that. "Garden" is an amazing song. "Once" is incredible. I could basically quote the entire album. That transition of "Oceans" into "Porch" is very cool. However, I will say the best Pearl Jam song is "State of Love and Trust" from the Singles soundtrack. The way those chords play out and the way he plays those chords is so righteous. That's fucking rock 'n' roll.
Serj Tankian of System of a Down
Serj Tankian: I'm a huge fan of Pearl Jam. I've got to check out the new record! I heard them when they first came out. It was Ten. I love that record. Fuck, when I first started singing, I probably sounded like Eddie Vedder [Laughs]. It was at that time when they were first coming out. I got to meet Eddie years later, and I told him what a big fan I am. He's a very cool guy. They're great!
M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold
M. Shadows: It's crazy. Pearl Jam's Ten was the first record I ever bought. It's a classic man. That was where it started!
Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria
Claudio Sanchez: Growing up in that era, how could you not be into Pearl Jam? All of music changed. I was so into it. My favorite Pearl Jam record would probably be Vitalogy. When it comes to Pearl Jam, I really like when they started to break off like they did on Vs.. They became dirtier. I really liked No Code. I heard the single "Mind Your Manners" from the new record coming out Lightning Bolt, and I like that. It's the broken side of Pearl Jam. My favorite would either be Vitalogy or No Code.
Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant
Matt Shultz: I first heard Pearl Jam when I was probably eleven-years-old. My cousin had gotten one of their records for Christmas. He brought it to Granny's, and we had a jam session in the back room. I think it became pretty controversial with some of the lyrical content, but it was great [Laughs].
John Boecklin of DevilDriver
John Boecklin: Pearl Jam has such an enormous sense of heavy integrity.
Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge
Myles Kennedy: The first time I heard Pearl Jam I was actually watching MTV. The music video for "Alive" came out. I remember hearing about Mother Love Bone. It was one of those bands my friends would talk about when they'd go over to Seattle. Pearl Jam had such a fascinating story. It was all happening, and then Andrew Wood died. Then, they found this surfer guy Eddie Vedder from San Diego. The rest is history. It's a pretty incredible story. Ten and Vs. are amazing records, and Eddie is such a phenomenal frontman. I have a lot of respect for those guys. It's funny. Growing up in Spokane, I'd hear rumblings about the grunge scene. I remember a demo circulating with Alice In Chains' "Queen of the Rodeo", which was really cool. Personally, I rediscovered it later. You can't help but look at that movement with reverence and appreciation. It was one of the most important movements as far as American rock 'n' roll goes.
Bill Kelliher of Mastodon & Primate
Bill Kelliher: Now, I know all of the Pearl Jam guys, and they are all awesome too. I've played festivals with them. When grunge was happening, I was into hardcore, punk rock, and heavy metal. As an adult, I can really appreciate what they do. When they play, I watch their whole set. They're great at what they do.
Nick Hexum of 311 & The Nick Hexum Quintet
Nick Hexum: I'm a big Pearl Jam fan. I'm going to see them in Los Angeles next month. They're a band I have a lot of respect for. I think Vs. was the record I listened to the most. There's a lot of creativity there. They really stick to their guns as far as insisting on doing it their own way. That's pretty cool.
Aaron Lewis of Staind
Aaron Lewis: I heard Ten when it first came out. I was blown away by it back then, and I still am. I started covering "Black" around that time too. It's just one of those songs. The melody structure is really unique. Eddie Vedder's lyrics aren't literal. He's more poetic. I always thought maybe he wrote them as poetry first and then fit them to the music. Either way, I'll always be a fan of Pearl Jam.
Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch
Ivan Moody: Come on brother, it's Ten. Talk about just a great fucking rock 'n' roll record. The anger's real in there. The energy is so powerful. That was a band on fire, and I definitely will always come back to that album. I remember I first heard it back in the day, and it's got the same power.
Ryan Star: That would be the band. If Pearl Jam asked me to come tour with them tomorrow, my dreams would come true. They are severely honest. They're soldiers, man. I really look for bands like that. When I was listening to Pearl Jam and hearing them talk about The Who, it was fucking crazy! Now, I'm an artist talking about them. Ten changed my life. It's the reason I do what I do. I heard that record, and I formed a band. That was it. Song for song and delivering message though, it has to be Vs.. That was their zone. It's their Doolittle. They were getting into that punk rock thing, but they were writing real songs. They're a true band. At the time, they were fresh off being on the cover of Time magazine. They were at the most powerful level you can be at, but they were tighter than ever. When you get big, you just become this unit. They wrote some incredible and inspiring music.
Chris Howorth of In This Moment
Chris Howorth: I always liked the band, but I just saw PJ 20 a couple of days ago. Seeing the rock documentaries always gets me more into it. Now, I really like the band! It's so good and inspirational. Being in the business, we've been trying to do this since 2007. We're finally getting a little taste of some success. You just see the struggles these people go through and the ups and downs, trying to keep it going. Most audiences don't get to see all that. It's cool to watch that.
Zack Lopez of Middle Class Rut
Zack Lopez: I got Ten as a kid. They're a great band for sure. I've always liked Pearl Jam records that ended with a super mellow song that goes out on a different note. That's a cool trademark of theirs.
D.J. Caruso Director of Eagle Eye, Disturbia, & I Am Number Four
D.J. Caruso: "Black" is my favorite Pearl Jam song. That's the one. Eddie Vedder got me through the nineties [Laughs].
Pearl Jam's music is featured in the Relativity film "Out of the Furnace," in theaters December 6.
What's your favorite Pearl Jam song?
See our review of Lightning Bolt here!