In West Hollywood, California, Pearl Jam unveiled their eagerly anticipated 12th studio album at the iconic Troubadour, a venue synonymous with the rise of music legends like Elton John. According to ABC News and many other sources, the intimate gathering included family, friends, industry insiders, and reporters, creating a vibrant atmosphere for the first public airing of the album. The seasoned rock veterans, including 59-year-old singer Eddie Vedder, 57-year-old lead guitarist Mike McCready, and 60-year-old bassist Jeff Ament, showcased their musical prowess in a display that defies the notion of mellowing with age (they were around when MTV Unplugged was still a big deal). This marks their first release since 2020's Gigaton, and the band, rooted in the '90s Seattle scene, remains a force to be reckoned with after more than three decades.
The album, recorded at Rick Rubin's Shangri-La studio in Malibu, California, under the guidance of producer Andrew Watt, remains shrouded in mystery regarding its title and track names. However, the sonic experience is primed for release, embodying a heightened intensity compared to its predecessor. As Vedder introduced the album to the audience, he expressed confidence, stating, "No hyperbole, I think this is our best work." The secrecy surrounding the album's details adds to the anticipation, with the release date kept under wraps.
Acknowledging their drummer Matt Cameron as the standout star of this album, Vedder emphasized the relentless energy Cameron brings to the tracks. According to sources, the album's musical vigor, characterized by speed, aggression, and tenacity, is a testament to the band's refusal to be constrained by their age. The lyrics are said to delve into dark and bleak themes initially, but as the album progresses, the enduring hopefulness that has defined Pearl Jam since its inception shines through. A notable presence at the event was Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith (who has played drums since the fifth grade), emphasizing the camaraderie within the music industry.
More on the successful Pearl Jam event, the album, and emotions involved
The afternoon event, marked by flowing alcohol and a mass tequila-shot toast, was strategically designed to prepare the audience, including aging friends, for the powerful tunes they were about to experience. Vedder humorously recounted his strategy of softening them with booze, anticipating a two-day recovery from the sonic impact. The band credited Andrew Watt, a Pearl Jam super fan, and accomplished producer with an encyclopedic knowledge of their musical history, for elevating their creative process. Watt's influence, coupled with his detailed understanding of the band's legacy, contributed significantly to the album's evolution.
Reflecting on the surreal experience of listening to a recording in an empty venue, Vedder compared the collaborative effort of making a record to a surfer attempting to create the perfect wave. Vedder also says the band sought to capture a range of emotions, from anxiousness and anger to sadness, joy, and regret. As the audience bobbed their heads in front of the vacant stage, Vedder acknowledged the unusual circumstances, but the emotional resonance of the event prevailed. Jeff Ament, almost choked up, expressed pride and gratitude for the journey they had undertaken together, marking this moment as a significant milestone in their musical legacy.
One of Pearl Jam's somewhat underrated, hard rockin' tunes: