Jeff Cleveland Interview, Mike NOT on Fallon

by Kathy Davis on May 9, 2010

It’s time to catch up on news!

Bass Playing Genius Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament spoke to John Soeder at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and here are the two interview bits, published May 4th and May 5th, fused together:

Count on a few surprises when Pearl Jam performs Sunday, May 9, at The Q in Cleveland. It will be the Seattle rock group’s first concert here since 2006.

When putting together set lists, the band makes an effort to avoid repeating itself.

“Generally, it starts with Ed [Vedder, Pearl Jam's frontman] looking at other set lists and trying to craft something that we haven’t done there,” bassist Jeff Ament said during a recent phone interview.

“When we come to Cleveland, we’ll have the set lists from the other times we’ve played there and look for songs we haven’t played. Then it just kind of depends on the climate, what’s going on in the country and on the planet. Somebody’ll say, ‘Man, we haven’t played ‘Cropduster’ in awhile,’ so we’ll throw that in.”

Long after the grunge movement of the 1990s faded like a well-worn flannel shirt, Pearl Jam is still rocking strong.

“Whenever you stick with a long-term relationship, good things come out of it and you end up getting into areas you would never get into unless you’ve worked through the tough times,” bassist Jeff Ament said by phone last week from Seattle, where Pearl Jam first came together 20 years ago.

“We’re reaping the benefits now,” said Ament, 47. “We made a great record, and we’ve had a handful of shows in the last couple of years that are right up there with some of the best shows we’ve ever played.”

Singer Eddie Vedder, guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready, drummer Matt Cameron and Ament are in the midst of a three-week U.S. tour to promote “Backspacer,” Pearl Jam’s ninth studio effort. It came out last year.

Most songs on the album clock in around the 3-minute mark, whizzing past in a blur of visceral rhythms, unshakable riffs and impassioned vocals. “The Fixer” and “Supersonic” rock hard and true, while the achingly pretty ballad “Just Breathe” contemplates love and death.

The album title is a nod to principal lyricist Vedder’s habit of writing on a typewriter. Other band members pitch in with the songwriting to varying degrees.

Ament wrote the music for “Got Some,” a hard-hitting “Backspacer” highlight.

“The first couple of times we went through it, Ed came up with something, then he went back in his little cave, came back out with fairly finished lyrics within an hour and — presto! — we had a song,” Ament said.

“That’s pretty much every song on the record got written. If Ed was inspired by the music, then the song happened really quickly. There really wasn’t a whole ton of sitting on something for a long period of time and rewriting and rearranging. We must be getting better at collaborating.”

He credits the group’s longevity to setting limits.

“When we started as a band, if Neil Young calls or Keith Richards calls and says, ‘Hey, I want you to play with me’ — how can you say no?” Ament said. “After three or four years of that, we were run so ragged. We hadn’t learned to say ‘no’ to anybody, whether it was a record company or management or our heroes.

“There came a point around ’95-’96 when we said, ‘We’re done. We’ll call you. Don’t call us.’ That was a big moment.

“Now, we do 12 shows, take three weeks off, do another 12 shows, take three weeks off, go in the studio for 10 days and take a month off. It feels manageable.

“We’ve got a bunch of songs that we’ve started to write in the last three months, which is exciting. We still really love to make music with one another. It’s always great to look forward to that next time that you’re going to make a record or the next time you’re going to go out and play some shows. . . . It’s a great life.”

UPDATE regarding Mike McCready’s scheduled appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Tuesday:  I had earlier posted that Mike would join the Roots for a night once again on Fallon, however we’ve just received word that due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready will NOT be guesting with the band on May 11th.  We are not sure if the conflict is with Mike’s schedule or the show’s , so don’t jump to any conclusions! :)   Sorry,  everyone


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.

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