Pearl Jam quietly set up shop in a Los Angeles recording studio back in April to work on new music for their tenth album, a direct way for the band to keep their heads above the tides of nostalgia surrounding their 20th anniversary year. Between album reissues, a flyaway anniversary festival weekend for fans and a documentary covering the band's first two decades, it wouldn't be difficult for the Seattle grunge survivors to get lost in the wash of their own history.
Things are moving along faster than expected in the studio, perhaps fueled by the band's reluctance to tether themselves to the past.
"I don't want to jinx it," Eddie Vedder tells Rolling Stone the studio, "But it's on! I feel like we have to keep our eyes on the road,” says Vedder. “Being nostalgic is like taking an offramp and getting a sandwich – and then you get back on the highway. I don't want to be spending the rest of my life at the gas station.”
"We did a whole bunch of demos and everybody's got a disc of 25 [songs] right now," bassist Jeff Ament told Billboard back in March. "April will be the time where we get together and learn to play all these demos and figure out which 12-15 of them float to the top. Hopefully we can get something done this year."
The band has also been working with Crowe on a documentary that chronicles its entire career. “I just saw a rough cut,” says Ament. “It was so fucking weird seeing footage of stuff I didn't know anybody was taping at the time. The whole movie is Cameron’s love letter to us – but it’s equal parts complimentary and really painful. It shows our growing pains and some real bad times, including Roskilde [the 2000 Danish festival where nine fans were trampled to death during the band’s set]. It was just really hard to watch.”
“Ed and I were just going through old photos, journals and clippings for the box set,” says Ament. “By the end, we were both like, ‘Ugh, we’re done with the past for a while.’ We’re ready to work on new songs and get excited about what’s ahead.”
Vedder hits the road this month for a solo US tour in support of his new release, Ukelele Songs. Check out our review of the remarkably sentimental album.