Q&a Pearl Jam - Stone Gossard on Cameron Crowe's Pearl Jam movie, festival and more...
Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard has spoken to Q about their forthcoming film. Helmed by Almost Famous director and long-term collaborator Cameron Crowe (they appeared in his 1992 homage to Seattle's grunge scene, Singles, plus he interviewed them for Rolling Stone and directed the video for Backspacer's The Fixer), Pearl Jam Twenty charts the rock titans two-decade long history andwill be released in September.
The quintet celebrate their 20th anniversary by headlining their own mini-festival, PJ20, in Wisconsin in September, with The Strokes and Queens Of The Stone Age supporting, while the movie will premier at Toronto Film Festival in September, followed by a theatrical release and an accompanying book release in mid-October. The DVD of the film come in November.
What were your first thoughts watching your younger self, unaware of what was tocome, in the film?
"I first thoughts were, well, this is pretty funny. It's funnier than I thought it would be. I laughed! Until you watch yourself in a movie that somebody's edited, it's a strange sort of thing. On one hand, you're trying to be objective about this movie, but at the same time, it's like a home movie. What it all means, I'm not sure. The whole band is really happy that he found a structure to all that footage that hits on some big momentsthat are important to us and probably are important to our fans, and maybe are important to some people that don't necessarily love the band but areinterested in the movie."
What were your preconceptions beforeseeing it?
"I had no idea. I think that this was the only way this could've happened, somebody like Cameron saying, Hand over all the footage and let me look through it and see if there's a movie in there. Basically, I think Cameron's a pretty amazing storyteller and he's a huge music fan and somebody we've known for a long, long time so it was easy for us to say, Ok, let's do it. I didn't really have any preconceived notions of what it was gonna be. I was told there waslots and lots of interviews that were never aired before and a lot of footage from back in the day that you're watching just saying, that's amazing that that situation happened, a lot of it was different to how it happened."
You've had quite a longstanding relationship with Cameron Crowe - he interviewed Pearl Jam for Rolling Stone, and you camoe'd in his film Singles. Does this feel like the culmination of that?
"Well, Kelly Curtis [long-serving Pearl Jam manager] and Cameron were friends from Park days and our relationship with Kelly Curtis started in '87/'87 with Mother Love Bone, so, ahm, it's just one of those connections you have that just keeps coming around, which is very much like us, we've dug in with each other, we are who we are and we've got the same group of friends and it's pretty amazing to have someone like Cameron and say that he wants to do this, that he's interested in it. All of us feel pretty honoured that he wanted to take this on."
It must have involved putting quite a lot of trust in his hands.
"He's a great filmmaker and I think that's the most important thing - whatever the footage is, if somebody's gonna put out the movie, it's gotta be a good movie first and foremost. It's gotta move, it's gotta entertain, there's gotta be something there. He whittled 1200 hours of footage down to just under two hours."
What was your favourite moment in the film?
"Well, I dunno... there's a lot of outtakes of old interviews that we did, back in the early 90s. We were pretty cheeky, pretty funny."
Was it interesting watching the band's sound evolve in front of your eyes - for one thing, you have a new drummer every 15 minutes...
"Y'know, it's both fun and painful. It's all of the above. Every year is filled with good times and fights and struggles and misunderstandings. All of it adds up to being in a band over a long time. It's a complete feeling and I think we like it that way. I don't think life is one thing, it's a lot of things."
Pearl Jam have always looked brutally forward - was it odd looking back?
"Well, I'm glad we waited this long. 20 years seems a good time to stop and at least take a general look back. But I do think none of us are going to be happy unless we're working on a new record, or feeling that we've figured out some new rhythm, or a new approach to lyrics, something that makes us feel like we're coming out with something that's exciting to us. The nostalgia thing, I think all of us will say it's a nice place to visit but I wouldn't wanna live there."
Have you got to the stage where you feel like elder statesmen yet?
"You can't think about yourselves as elder statesmen if Bob Dylan and Neil Young and Jimmy Page and Pete Townsend [are still about] - those are the guys who we think are elder statesmen! We're middle-aged! Their influence is so massive, it doesn't make any sense to think about anything else than keeping our heads down and aiming as high as we can aim, knowing that we're always gonna be ourselves. That's worked out for us pretty well. We're just gonna try and stay in that same psychology of, like, anything can happen, you never know when you're gonna write a great song or have a song that connects with people, that old songs, even if they seemed like crap when you wrote them, sometimes you can reinhabit them and all of a sudden they can become great songs just by strumming slightly different, or being more relaxed. We have all these amazing stories that Ed has written, the variety of lyrics and the variety of perspectives is amazing and our job as a band is to strum along and create energy, and animate him if we can, see if we can make him excited. It's as simple as that, there's magic but we're not skilled craftsmen."
You'll host your own mini-festival in September to celebrate your 20th anniversary. How did you go about choosing the line-up?
"I think, if you look at The Strokes and Queens [Of The Stone Age], they're bands that everyone in the band is in agreeance that they're hugely important and amazing bands. We're really proud to have those guys. We had an opportunity to do a show at this spot and spent some time and make it a little bit more than a regular Pearl Jam show and expand a little bit. We're still in the process of rolling that out. I'm sure they'll be some special guests, I'm sure they'll be some collaborative things going on, but that's all coming together. Then we've got another show and a tour."
9:53 AM | 11/08/2011
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