Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pearl Jam


This article is about the rock group. For the self-titled album,

Pearl Jam is an American rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990. Since its inception, the band's line-up has included Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), and Mike McCready (lead guitar). The band's current drummer is Matt Cameron, formerly of Soundgarden, who has been with the band since 1998.
Formed after the demise of Ament and Gossard's previous band Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam broke into the mainstream with its debut album, Ten. One of the key bands of the grunge movement in the early 1990s, Pearl Jam was criticized early on — most notably by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain — as being a corporate cash-in on the alternative rock explosion. However, over the course of the band's career its members became noted for their refusal to adhere to traditional music industry practices, including refusing to make music videos and engaging in a much-publicized boycott of Ticketmaster. In 2006, Rolling Stone described the band as having "spent much of the past decade deliberately tearing apart their own fame."
Since its inception, the band has sold thirty million records in the U.S.,and an estimated sixty million albums worldwide. Pearl Jam has outlasted many of its contemporaries from the alternative rock breakthrough of the early 1990s, and is considered one of the most influential bands of the decade.Allmusic calls Pearl Jam "the most popular American rock & roll band of the '90s.

History

Formation: 1984–1990

Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were members of pioneering grunge band Green River during the mid-1980s. Green River toured and recorded to moderate success but disbanded in 1987 due to a stylistic division between the pair and bandmates Mark Arm and Steve Turner.In late 1987, Gossard and Ament began playing with Malfunkshun vocalist Andrew Wood, eventually organizing the band Mother Love Bone. In 1988 and 1989, the band recorded and toured to increasing interest and found the support of the PolyGram record label, which signed the band in early 1989. Mother Love Bone's debut album, Apple, was released in July 1990, four months after Wood died of a heroin overdose.
Ament and Gossard were devastated by the death of Wood and the resulting demise of Mother Love Bone. Gossard spent his time afterwards writing material that was harder-edged than what he had been doing previously.After a few months, Gossard started practicing with fellow Seattle guitarist Mike McCready, whose band Shadow had broken up; McCready in turn encouraged Gossard to reconnect with Ament.After practicing for a while, the trio sent out a five-song demo tape in order to find a singer and a drummer. They gave former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons the demo to see if he would be interested in joining the band and to distribute the demo to anyone he felt might fit the lead vocal position.
Irons passed on the invitation but gave the demo to his basketball buddy, San Diego, California singer Eddie Vedder. Vedder was the lead vocalist for a San Diego band, Bad Radio, and worked part time at a gas station. He listened to the tape shortly before going surfing, where lyrics came to him.He then recorded the vocals to three of the songs ("Alive", "Once", and "Footsteps") in what he would later describe as a "mini-opera" he entitled "Mamasan".Vedder sent the tape with his vocals back to the three Seattle musicians, who were so impressed that they had him fly to Seattle. Within a week, Vedder had joined the band.
With the addition of Dave Krusen on drums, the band took the name Mookie Blaylock, in reference to the then-active All-Star basketball player. The band played its first official show at the Off Ramp Café in Seattle on October 22, 1990,and soon signed to Epic Records. However, concerns about trademark issues necessitated a name change; the band's name became "Pearl Jam".In an early promotional interview, Vedder said that the name "Pearl Jam" was a reference to his great-grandmother Pearl, who was married to a Native American and had a special recipe for peyote-laced jam.In a 2006 Rolling Stone cover story however, Vedder admitted that this story was "total bullshit" (even though he indeed had a great-grandma named Pearl). Ament and McCready explained that Ament came up with "pearl", and that the band later settled on "Pearl Jam" after attending a concert by Neil Young, in which he stretched up his songs as improvisations of 15-20 minutes in length, a practice known as jamming.


Ten and the grunge explosion: 1991–1992

Pearl Jam entered Seattle's London Bridge Studios in March 1991 to record its debut album, Ten.[14] McCready said that "Ten was mostly Stone and Jeff; me and Eddie were along for the ride at that time."Krusen left the band in May 1991 after checking himself into rehabilitation;[16] he was replaced by Matt Chamberlain, who had previously played with Edie Brickell & New Bohemians. After playing only a handful of shows, one of which was filmed for the "Alive" video, Chamberlain left to join the Saturday Night Live band.Chamberlain suggested Dave Abbruzzese as his replacement. Abbruzzese joined the group and played the rest of Pearl Jam's live shows supporting Ten.
Released on August 27, 1991, Ten (named after Mookie Blaylock's jersey number)contained eleven tracks dealing with dark subjects like depression, suicide, loneliness, and murder. Ten's musical style, influenced by classic rock, combined an "expansive harmonic vocabulary" with an anthemic sound.The album was slow to sell, but by the second half of 1992 it became a breakthrough success, being certified gold and reaching number two on the Billboard charts. Ten produced the hit singles "Alive", "Even Flow", and "Jeremy". Originally interpreted as an anthem by many,Vedder later revealed that "Alive" tells the semi-biographical tale of a son discovering that his father is actually his stepfather, while his mother’s grief turns her to sexually embrace her son, who strongly resembles the biological father.The song "Jeremy" ( sample (help·info)) and its accompanying video were inspired by a true story in which a high school student shot himself in front of his classmates.Ten stayed on the Billboard charts for more than two years, and has gone on to become one of the highest-selling rock records ever, going twelve times platinum.
With the success of Ten, Pearl Jam became a key member of the Seattle grunge explosion, along with Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden. The band was criticized in the music press; British music magazine NME said that Pearl Jam was "trying to steal money from young alternative kids' pockets."Nirvana's Kurt Cobain angrily attacked Pearl Jam, claiming the band were commercial sellouts, and argued Ten was not a true alternative album because it had so many prominent guitar leads.Cobain later reconciled with Vedder, and they reportedly were on amicable terms before Cobain's death in 1994.
Pearl Jam toured relentlessly in support of Ten. Ament stated that "essentially Ten was just an excuse to tour," adding, "We told the record company, 'We know we can be a great band, so let's just get the opportunity to get out and play.The band's manager, Kelly Curtis, stated, "Once people came and saw them live, this lightbulb would go on. Doing their first tour, you kind of knew it was happening and there was no stopping it.Early on in Pearl Jam's career, the band became known for its intense live performances. Looking back at this time, Vedder said that "playing music and then getting a shot at making a record and at having an audience and stuff, it's just like an untamed force...But it didn't come from jock mentality. It came from just being let out of the gates.In 1992, Pearl Jam made television appearances on Saturday Night Live and MTV Unplugged and took a slot on that summer's Lollapalooza tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, and Ministry, among others. The band contributed two songs to the soundtrack of the 1992 Cameron Crowe film Singles: "State of Love and Trust" and "Breath". Ament, Gossard and Vedder appeared in Singles under the name "Citizen Dick"; their parts were filmed when Pearl Jam was known as Mookie Blaylock.


Dealing with success: 1993–1995

The band members grew uncomfortable with their success, with much of the burden of Pearl Jam's popularity falling on frontman Vedder.While Pearl Jam received four awards at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards for its video for "Jeremy", including Video of the Year and Best Group Video, the band refused to make a video for "Black" in spite of pressure by the label. This action began a trend of the band refusing to make videos for its songs. "Ten years from now," Ament said, "I don't want people to remember our songs as videos.
Pearl Jam headed into the studio in early 1993 facing the challenge of following up the commercial success of its debut. McCready said, "The band was blown up pretty big and everything was pretty crazy.Released on October 19, 1993, Pearl Jam's second album, Vs., sold a record 950,378 copies in its first week of release and outperformed all other entries in the Billboard top ten that week combined.Vs. included the singles "Go", "Daughter", "Animal", and "Dissident". Paul Evans of Rolling Stone said, "Few American bands have arrived more clearly talented than this one did with Ten; and Vs. tops even that debut." He added, "Like Jim Morrison and Pete Townshend, Vedder makes a forte of his psychological-mythic explorations...As guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready paint dense and slashing backdrops, he invites us into a drama of experiment and strife.The band decided, beginning with the release of Vs., to scale back its commercial efforts.The members declined to produce any more music videos after the massive success of "Jeremy" and opted for fewer interviews and television appearances. Industry insiders compared Pearl Jam's tour that year to the touring habits of Led Zeppelin, in that the band "ignored the press and took its music directly to the fans.During the Vs. Tour, the band set a cap on ticket prices in an attempt to thwart scalpers.
By 1994, Pearl Jam was "fighting on all fronts", as its manager described the band at the time.[30] Pearl Jam was outraged when, after it played a pair of shows in Chicago, Illinois, it discovered that ticket vendor Ticketmaster had added a service charge to the tickets. The United States Department of Justice was investigating the company's practices at the time and asked the band to create a memorandum of its experiences with the company. Gossard and Ament soon testified at a subcommittee investigation in Washington, D.C.The band eventually canceled its 1994 summer tour in protest.After the Justice Department dropped the case, Pearl Jam continued to boycott Ticketmaster, refusing to play venues that had contracts with the company.Music critic Jim DeRogatis noted that along with the Ticketmaster debacle, "the band has refused to release singles or make videos; it has demanded that its albums be released on vinyl; and it wants to be more like its '60s heroes, The Who, releasing two or three albums a year." He also stated that sources said that most of the band's third album Vitalogy was completed by early 1994, but that either a forced delay by Epic or the battle with Ticketmaster were to blame for the delay.
Pearl Jam wrote and recorded while touring behind Vs. and the majority of the tracks for its next album, Vitalogy, were recorded during breaks on the tour. Tensions within the band had dramatically increased by this time. Producer Brendan O'Brien said, "Vitalogy was a little strained. I'm being polite — there was some imploding going on."[15] After Pearl Jam finished the recording of Vitalogy, drummer Dave Abbruzzese was fired. The band cited political differences between Abbruzzese and the other members; for example, Abbruzzese disagreed with the Ticketmaster boycott.He was replaced by Jack Irons, a close friend of Vedder and the former and original drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Irons made his debut with the band at Neil Young's 1994 Bridge School Benefit, but he was not officially announced as the band's new drummer until its 1995 Self-Pollution satellite radio broadcast, a four-and-a-half hour long pirate broadcast out of Seattle which was available to any radio stations that wanted to carry it.
Vitalogy was released first on November 22, 1994 on vinyl and then two weeks later on December 6, 1994 on CD and cassette. The CD became the second-fastest-selling in history, with more than 877,000 units sold in its first week.Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic said that "thanks to its stripped-down, lean production, Vitalogy stands as Pearl Jam's most original and uncompromising album.Many of the songs on the album appear to be based around the pressures of fame.The song "Spin the Black Circle", a homage to vinyl records, won a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Hard Rock Performance. Vitalogy also included the songs "Not for You", "Corduroy", "Better Man", and "Immortality". "Better Man" (sample (info)), a song originally penned and performed by Vedder while in Bad Radio, reached number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, spending a total of eight weeks there. Considered a "blatantly great pop song" by producer Brendan O'Brien, Pearl Jam was reluctant to record it and had initially rejected it from Vs. due to its accessibility.
The band continued its boycott against Ticketmaster during its 1995 tour for Vitalogy, but was surprised that virtually no other bands joined in.Pearl Jam's initiative to play only at non-Ticketmaster venues effectively, with a few exceptions, prevented it from playing shows in the United States for the next three years.Ament later said, "We were so hardheaded about the 1995 tour. Had to prove we could tour on our own, and it pretty much killed us, killed our career.In the same year Pearl Jam backed Neil Young, whom the band had noted as an influence, on his album Mirror Ball. Contractual obligations prevented the use of the band's name anywhere on the album, but the members were all credited individually in the album's liner notes.Two songs from the sessions were left off Mirror Ball: "I Got Id" and "Long Road". These two tracks were released separately by Pearl Jam in the form of the 1995 EP, Merkin Ball.


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