Stone On The Phone

by Kathy Davis on July 23, 2009

Thanks to a post from TheSkyIScrape, we’ve heard a couple of interviews with the birthday week boy himself, Stone Gossard. He called in to Phoenix, Arizona FM 103.9 and had a few things to say; you can listen for yourself here.   Boiled down to it’s finest essence:

Regarding Pearl Jam’s lack of face to face press: Sometimes it helps to be a little hidden, you don’t get out of there and make a fool of yourself as often and people have the illusion that somehow you’re special. It’s a little magic that Pearl Jam’s perfected.  ”Just showin’ up to win”, as Henny Youngman would say.

About Backspacer:  Everything’s kinda all happening…it’s up in the atmosphere now and we’ve launched. We’re happy… excited about the record. The band’s in good spirits and we’re all kind of excited about the potential for this record.  The songs are short, concise; there are some beautiful Ed ballads reminiscent of his “Into The Wild” stuff some really catchy and simple rock songs. Some songs that sound (like they are)influenced by The Police maybe…some by Devo… some classic PJ we went for the variety, high energy.  

TSIS recapped Stone’s phone chat with Philadelphia station Radio FM 104.5, which you can listen to here.  TSIS’s recap is here; below is a cross post.

On pop elements in “The Fixer” and “Backspacer”: I think the band definitely progressed and did some things we haven’t done before.  When people talk about “pop” I think it’s about a simplicity of melody and a simplicity of arrangement that doesn’t over complicate a good idea or a great lyric.  I think the Fixer is a great example.  You really hear something about Eddie’s personality in the lyric and you get a view that a lot of people don’t get from him which is a sort of optimistic and playful melody and lyric.

We’ve made a couple of political and pointed records, the last two in particular, and just to move away from that is great, because it allows you to go back to that when you need to and it refreshes everybody, and it comes down to a beat and a melody and your friends and a lyric and a poem and something that’s important to you.

This record has a lot of things that are very different from The Fixer, it’s got some beautiful Ed ballads that are reminiscent of the Into The Wild Soundtrack as well as some really great rockers.

On album leaks:  I’m surprised it hasn’t leaked yet.  That’s the shock.  You don’t want to have people hearing a leaked version as a first source.  It’s inevitable that those things happen.  I don’t spend much time stressing about it.

On what’s up with Brad:  Brad has got their feelers out toward each other.  There is speculation that we’re going to do some more dates.  I know we have a record that we finished last year, that we’ve kinda been figuring out when to put out and where.  I would keep an eye on the Pearl Jam website and look onto my page, and if there is any new Brad stuff, you’ll hear it first there.  (Regarding a potential solo album) I like making records.  Sure.  That was eight years ago, so I’m always recording and doing stuff.  I can imagine doing some touring maybe with Brad and doing some songs by myself.

UPDATE: Another interview surfaced with a 2nd Philly station, 93.3 FM WMMR.  You can listen here; it’s a lovely, revealing ten minute interview – highlights are below. 

On Philly: Philly has been incredibly supportive and the shows have been so great there and the response has been so intense that it’s always on the list for any time we go out and do shows…fantastic on inspiring the band to make more music…so thank you!

Will Springsteen put in an appearance with PJ at The Spectrum?   Bruce doesn’t send me his schedule, anywhere he wants to play if he’s interested nobody is going to tell him he can’t…we’d love it -maybe you should call him and see if he wants to.

On “The Fixer”:   Matt Cameron penned the music, me and Mike McCready wrote the bridge..we’d been screwing around with it on an afternoon, Ed wasn’t in there yet but we were working something up that we could play (for) him; by the time he got there it was a little bit late so we just left him with the last version of a demo that was a little long and had too many things going on and he just screwed around with it with  the ProTools rig and did some edits to it and reconfigured it a little bit and it turned into this three minute pop song. We got in the next day and he played it for us and our jaws dropped and we said ‘okay that’s what we need’. It was one of the first songs that got everybody so excited about the record and the potential of it. A lot of things fell into place after that song, so it’s a really important song to the band, it’s simple to play, it’s fun, it just rocks. And its an optimistic (song with) open lyrics about – in my mind - about (Eddie) having to fix everybody’s songs. (laughs) Everybody in the band writes and everybody has ideas about what’s cool and what’s not,  but it’s  not all cool and it’s not all great – you have to get in there and fix stuff sometimes. It’s really about (Ed’s) personality too - he is that, he does love reaching out to people in a way that can take what they’ve done and help them make it better.

On Backspacer’s distribution:  Mom and Pop stores are the heart of rock music in America. It’s where everyone goes and spends time and hears about new music and gets to see cool stuff and touch it and pick it up. We were excited about working a deal; Target is the exclusive big box (retailer). We cut out Best Buy and Walmart, but we brought in I-Tunes, (we’ll be) selling it thought the website, Indies, games will have some content so there will be a lot of different ways to get the record, and hopefully everybody will be able to find it in a way that suits them.

About “Backspacer’s Artwork:  All the artwork is by Tom Tomorrow and it’s great. It’s dense, there’s multiple images -images of the band, cartoons, all this sort of bizarro otherworldly dreamscape. He did a great job. (The art is) colorful, super interesting…there will be posters and stuff  to look at in a larger format too, hopefully – like the record.

Regarding Target Commercial:  Target will use footage from the (Cameron Crowe shot) video we made for “The Fixer” and cut together a commercial. In the past when we put something out,  (retailers) make a commercial, and they use stock footage and say “buy it at Woolworth” or whatever it is. This is the first time that  we said ‘whatever the thing with Target is, let’s make sure that it looks great and it’s exciting’ so it was a bit closer than we’ve been in the past. Trying to navigate our business,  at the same time be innovative and challenge the “business as usual”. Those two things we try to kind of walk  the line there and that’s what were’ doing in this regard for sure.

Regarding Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam 20th anniversary movie: Cameron Crowe has had a big pile of footage that we’ve gathered over the last 20 years that hasn’t been seen before and he’s wading through it to see if there’s a movie there. It’s Pearl Jam through (his) eyes; no one’s seen anything, we have no idea what it’s gonna be like but I’m curious and excited. I think he’s a great storyteller; he understands this band in a way that most people don’t in the sense that he knew us before we ever sold a record. His movie (Singles) helped our careers and it’s an honor to have him wading through that stuff and seeing if there’s something there.

On Pearl Jam’s staying power/cohesiveness: It even goes down to our manager, (people like) George Webb our guitar tech –  a lot of folks that we’ve worked with for a long time and I think we sort of stumbled onto (the cohesiveness) in a sense. We went into the band saying ‘I think bands should work out there differences if they can’;  we never wanted our favorite bands to break up, and we just applied the same principles to the business. I think it’s not always possible, there’s times when things do break up but we’ve been stubborn about not breaking up and it’s paid off. We kept trusting in the process. Even in the past, individuals have been unhappy or not feeling 100% about(something), but you wait a couple years and look back and go “oh my god what was I complaining about? I really wanted to help the band.”  You have lots of opportunity to reflect and figure it out. There’s some tension there – it’s a balancing act.  

Stoney G at KROK radio in 2007

Stoney G at KROK radio in 2007

Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.

Leave a Comment