Pearl Jam is one of those rock bands that is never content to rest on its laurels. That doesn’t mean its music always works, but as a longtime Pearl Jam fan, I’ve seldom thought the band was coasting.
As the Sept. 20 release of “Backspacer,” the Seattle quintet’s latest studio album approaches, get a glimpse of the recording process via “Backspacer Short,” a mini-movie directed by noted photographer Danny Clinch.
“Backspacer” is a first for Pearl Jam in many ways: it’s the band’s shortest record and the only album where the songs were written before the band went into the studio. After all this time, it’s clear the songwriting process remains as much a mystery for PJ frontman Eddie Vedder as it ever has.
Looking more and more like a benevolent mountain man, with his full beard and gravelly voice, he haltingly describes the process: “If you can have something hit you… it’s like a …it’s happening quick and it’s getting to where it needs to go, capturing lightning in a bottle.” Good a description of writing as a song as we’ve heard.
Vedder and his bandmates, all in their 40s now, seem to be embracing the experience and wisdom that has come with age instead of desperately and impossibly trying to recapture their youth.
There’s a “keen focus on maintaining your vitality,” Vedder says, “whereas ten years earlier you not only took it for granted, you pissed on it.”
The short features snippets of three tracks from “Backspacer”: “Got Some,” a classic- PJ sounding mid-tempo collision, and the lovely acoustic “Just Breathe” (which sounds like it could have been on the “Into the Wild” soundtrack) as well as upbeat first single, “The Fixer,” which is already a mainstay at modern rock.