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Pearl Jam Tells Zane Lowe All About Recording Their New Album 'Dark Matter'

Eddie Vedder and co. just released their new album 'Dark Matter' a couple of weeks ago.

pearl jam
Source: Republic Records

Their chat touched on the writing and recording process behind Dark Matter, working in Bob Dylan's old tour bus, collaborating with Stevie Wonder, and more.

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Pearl Jam just released their new album Dark Matter last month. And so, as is tradition with big releases these days, the band sat down with Apple Music's Zane Lowe for a lengthy interview about the new record.

The in-depth, hour-long chat, conducted at Pearl Jam's own warehouse headquarters in Seattle, touched on the writing and recording process behind Dark Matter, working in Bob Dylan's old tour bus, collaborating with Stevie Wonder, and more.

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Pearl Jam recorded Dark Matter with producer Andrew Watt. "His style is he has got a guitar on the whole time you're playing with him, he's playing with you, he's playing with the band. We've never done anything like that before," guitarist Stone Gossard explained. "That was a little bit of jumping off the cliff but again, his enthusiasm and his understanding of the band, his love for the band, his ability to play any of our songs at any point and know the history of the band, all the B-sides, everything that we've ever done and then to be cheering us on in a way that you'd laugh at it and think this is silly, but then also it was infectious and you would just end up being sort of caught up in his enthusiasm and his confidence about it. That's why he really is the perfect producer for us because we're so part of his childhood ... He actually can fit in a way that it sounds right, and that's just how he produces. He plays along. He's got to feel the music in the way that the band does."

Although the band started recording at Watt's studio in Beverly Hills, unexpected flooding forced them to relocate to Rick Rubin's famed Shangri-La studio. "We were kind of scrambling and there was a couple of places we definitely knew we didn't want to record, and then Rick Rubin was kind enough to help us," frontman Eddie Vedder recalled. "Literally, he was a parachute. We were going to hit the ground unceremoniously, but it was a parachute and where we landed was this place called Shangri-La, which has a history for all of us, but me growing up with The Last Waltz. There's a vibe there that if you're attuned to it, it's palpable. And I feel like I was able to tap into it, I think we all did ... There's an old school bus, again dilapidated, but vibey and I just had a typewriter in there and..."

"That's Bob Dylan's old tour bus," Zane Lowe interjected.

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pearl jam
Source: Republic Records

Pearl Jam recorded Dark Matter with producer Andrew Watt

Vedder also discussed the creation of the song "Waiting for Stevie," which was written while he and Watt were waiting for Stevie Wonder to come record a harmonica part for "Try" off of the Pearl Jam singer's 2022 solo album Earthling.

"Andrew had worked with Stevie because Stevie was working with Elton [John], and Andrew was working with Elton. So Stevie was in that basement and playing this old piano, which was Andrew's Mrs. Mills," Vedder remembered. "And so they had an open line of communication and then he was going to come down. Now the whole time before he shows up, you don't think it's really going to happen anyways because how could this happen? How could you be? Is this really going to happen? But sure enough, he showed up and was just incredible."

"We recorded late into the night, and one of the great things, he doesn't really have a circadian rhythm, so it's just his time and it was a powerful, powerful thing. But what happened is, in that time between 8:00 and 11:00 while we were waiting, Andrew was playing something. I said, 'Did I show you that?' No. Or something like that. I said, 'Well, here's one.' I had this thing from No Code. It was so similar. So then we overlaid and then that was where the riff of the Stevie song came out. When the group joined in, then it just achieved liftoff."

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pearl jam zane lowe
Source: Republic Records

"I think there's a power in having people join together, be communal," Eddie Vedder said.

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"I think we just learned a really great lesson in terms of our trusting each other and the power of our collaboration in terms of how we each bring something to the table," Gossard reflected. "And we've made records in a lot of different ways but this experience, when we look back on it, everything got touched by everyone. And it just shows that when you're 60, there's still a lot of dreams to be had. Art is still very exciting, and particularly collaborative art. I think that that's our superpower, that we're still doing it together. There's not a lot of bands that write together like we do, and not a lot of bands that have singers that want to share in the way that Ed wants to share with us,. and that he gets energized by it, that we're at our best when we're doing it. That's exciting territory because it's a little bit of all of us, and that's something that's original."

Vedder agreed, explaining that he always tries to be a positive force in the world. "Music, you don't want to divide... I think there's a power in having people join together, be communal, have a communal experience, where they're all agreeing on something for two and a half hours and there's power in bringing people together," he said. "And then from there, then they can take that feeling of community and acceptance and agreeance and positivity and planting healthy seeds."


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