This year’s best videos

#1 Placebo – “Too Many Friends”, directed by Saman Kesh.

Saman Kesh is the best director working. Placebo is not the best band working. But this is definitely one of the most interesting and unique videos I’ve seen this year. Speaking to Videostatic, Saman Kesh explains: ”It was designed as a puzzle. I actually got the idea when somebody told me ‘Hey man, I love your work… I’m always not sure If my interpretation is right though, but awesome!!!’ I was kind of sad by this as I took it as ‘your shit isn’t clear motherfucker!’—haha. So, it weaseled its way into the writing as a “what do YOU think happened, viewer?” We originally had four answers, but we found it to be a bit too confusing, so we decided to compartmentalize them into A) Guys fault, B) Girl’s fault, C) We are wrong, you tell us”.

#2 Mazes – “Bodies”, directed by Austin of Vision Fortune.

Simplicity is king. Directed by Austin of Vision Fortune, this video explores the connection between moving and still imagery as several couples pose for photographs. Of the video Austin says, “The idea of the video came from the idea that we as humans are inevitably attracted to both moving image and still imagery such as photography and painting. The video explores and raises questions about the parallels between these two mediums: we see the subjects sitting as still as possible for these ‘video’ portraits, subtle nuances appear on closer inspection as we the audience see eyes blinking and twitching”.

#3 Co La – “Make It Slay”, directed by Andrew Strasser

Dem thirsty. Baltimore musician and producer Co La, signed to OPN’s infamous Software imprint, has released a hell of a CGI HD video centered solely around a champagne flute. Director Andrew Strasser on the clip: “‘Make It Slay’ is the kind of jam that inspires angles. When Matt approached me about making a video based around a champagne glass, the choice to animate freed any limits. This was also another opportunity to mix the message of carbonated ‘cola’. This video is full of references to 3D animation tutorial culture, but does not glamorize cyber culture. Instead it pits feat in idyllic artificial environments—beauty is your biggest enemy.”

#4 Death Grips – “You might think he loves you for your money but I know what he really loves you for it’s your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat”, self-directed.

Fucking with all the boundaries left, Death Grips are showing a.g.a.i.n. the path to free your mind.

#5 Beach House – “Wishes”, directed by Eric Wareheim.

It’s happening again: Laura Palmer’s dad lip-syncs to this dreamy Beach House track while riding a horse, surrounded by cheerleaders wearing horse masks in a soccer stadium?

#6 The Civil Wars – “The One That Got Away”, directed by Tom Haines.

“The One That Got Away” was the first single from Grammy nominated goth folk duo The Civil Wars—unfortunately they split up before their new album was released. Longtime directing champion Tom Haines on the video: “I wanted to create the idea of a character who was living on the edge of society, but that gave her strength,” Haines says. “She is vulnerable but adaptable, and sadly, seismic natural disasters seem to be increasingly something we may have to live with, so adaptability is crucial to survival. It somehow reflected the ideas of loss, regret and transience which echo in the song.”

#7 Scratch Massive feat. Koudlam – “Waiting for a Sign”, directed by Edouard Salier.

The video is set in some post-apocalyptic Thailand with boys lost in a Lord of the Flies daze. I love it. And Koudlam is the best thing that happened in 2013.

#8 Oneohtrix Point Never – “Still Life” (Betamale), directed by Jon Rafman

Extremely disturbing and extremely NSFW.

#9 Dean Blunt – “Felony / Stalker 7″, self-directed

искусство, обращенное спиной к зрителю, но силящееся объяснить ему выражение своего лица (за счет в основном обнажения боли, которое в то же время не считывается как жалоба).

#10 Pharrell Williams – “Happy”, directed by We Are From LA

You cannot watch this video and NOT want to dance by the end of it. Promise. Cameos include Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Jasper, Jimmy Kimmel, Magic Johnson, Steve Carell, Jamie Foxx, Kelly Osboune. Pharrell Williams: “The best work comes from people who are motivated by crisis—when something stops the original idea, they respond by coming up with something even better. Existence is all mathematics, he says. There’s an equation for success in every obstacle.”

The Strypes’ Debut Album ‘Snapshot’ is an electrifying collage of the band’s own material

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The Strypes’ Debut Album ‘Snapshot’ Released Sept 9th 2013

Just under a year after they emerged with their first release – ‘Young, Gifted & Blue’, a set of vintage R’n’B covers – The Strypes are set to crown their phenomenal rise with the release of their debut full-length album – ‘Snapshot‘, available since September 9th on Virgin EMI.

Few bands have rocketed in 2013 as The Strypes have without the hype à la Haim. Entering the year on the back of praise for ‘Young, Gifted & Blue’ and swelling excitement surrounding their astonishingly explosive live shows, The Strypes released their major label debut single – ‘Blue Collar Jane’ – in April, shortly before playing a show at the legendary 100 Club in London, tickets for which sold out within the space of an hour.

They’ve since continued to tour extensively, including a set on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury that saw the tent completely packed out. The Strypes will extend their reach even further this winter when they embark on a stadium tour of the UK and Europe with the Arctic Monkeys, taking in some of the continent’s premiere venues.

‘Snapshot’ – an electrifying collage of The Strypes’ own material and some of the much-loved throwback covers that pepper their live sets – is now available.

The Strypes Band
  • The Strypes (16-18 yrs-old) are 4-piece rhythm and blues band hailing from Cavan, Ireland, formed in 2011 by Ross Farrelly (lead vocals/harmonica), Josh McClorey (lead guitar/vocals), Pete O’Hanlon (bass guitar/harmonica) and Evan Walsh (drums).

    The group has spent the past 18 months launching their explosive R&B assault on the clubs and festivals of Ireland, the UK and Europe, viciously hammering out a no-nonsense blues repertoire drawing from the songbooks of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Slim Harpo and more with the passion and venom of British blues groups such as Dr. Feelgood, The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones and The Animals.

    Having already been met with critical acclaim from greats such as Jeff Beck and Paul Weller and been tipped by NME as the No. 1 new band to watch, it seems things can only get better for The Strypes.

Nominations: UK Festival Award for Best Breakthrough Act

Eminem: The Great Confounder [npr]

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Eminem, in a still from his video for “Don’t Front,” a bonus track on The Marshall Mathers LP 2.

There’s this idea of Eminem as a reluctant celebrity turned recluse, who’s holed himself up in his Detroit mansion with more money than he knows what to do with. In this scenario he strives to go about his life as his civilian alter ego, Marshall Mathers — taking care of his daughters while maintaining his sobriety with the help of a select circle of lifelong friends. But there remains this insatiability about Mathers; a need to be puerile, to be a provocateur and to do it all in rhyme. So when he does step out of his bubble, and suit up as Eminem to record rap music for the public, the results are confounding and engaging — as they are on his 7th solo major label studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, positioned as a thematic follow-up to 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP.

Rap album sequels are usually a cynical nostalgia play or an attempt to reboot a career via course corrections. Tellingly, MMLP2‘s songs aren’t as conceptually groundbreaking as “,” as sensitivity-assaulting as “” or as narratively poignant as “,” from its predecessor. But that’s largely due to the fact that all of this ground has already been broken by Eminem himself. Still, on this new record, he eschews the overarching narrative of his past two efforts — this is not the horror shock-rap of 2009’s Relapse or the optimistic sobriety of 2010’s Recovery. Instead, he’s revisiting the ideas of the first Marshall Mathers album.

There’s the discomfort with fame, the eye-poking cartoon violence and, on “Bad Guy,” Stan’s younger brother, Matthew, who was just a sidenote over a dozen years ago, but now serves as a narrator determined to avenge his deceased brother’s suicide. “Bad Guy” is a worthy sequel and, much like the Dido-sampling original that launched Eminem into the stratosphere, it takes the whole song (and multiple listens) to understand the tale. It’s Eminem at his finest — experimenting with voices and tones, playing with words in a conversation and eviscerating himself by using an outside voice to amplify his doubts. (Though, on another song, he does refer to himself as “a white honky devil” and, on one more, admits “I ain’t as big as I was,” just after rehashing his 13-year old controversial reference to the Columbine shooting.)

As a writer, Eminem reminds us (because we severely forgot) that he’s perhaps the most technically proficient rapper the art has ever seen. He doesn’t just rap circles around other rappers, he draws ideograms around them, treating punchlines other rappers would trade their microphones for as filler, doodling never-heard rhyme couplets and scribbling from topic to topic with elongated and labored fancies of poetry that graffiti internal rhyme and assonance in a ridiculous collage. His white honky devil line in full goes: “I just happen to be a white devil honky with two horns that don’t honk / But every time I speak you hear a beep” — accompanied by a censor’s tone. It’s all total rap nerd stuff — he interpolates J. J. Fad’s “” and Hot Stylz’ “” on one song — and it’s totally necessary in a genre that’s built on words, but has seen words come to mean less and less with each passing year.

On “Rhyme or Reason” he illustrates one of the album’s executive producers, Rick Rubin as Yoda (complete with voice and syntax) and takes you into his writing process. “Can’t even find the page I was writing this rhyme on,” he raps. “Oh, it’s on a rampage / Couldn’t see what I wrote / I write small / It says ‘Ever since I drove a ’79 Lincoln with whitewalls / Had a fire in my heart / And a dire desire to aspire to die hard.'”

Some of his references are dated, but mostly in a self-reflective manner. On “Rap God,” he notes that he “Got a phat knot from that rap profit / Made a living and a killing off it / Ever since Bill Clinton was still in office / With Monica Lewinsky feeling on his nutsack.” It’s the ramblings of man who doesn’t seem to understand how he can disappear from the music landscape for months and years at a time and still have the biggest-selling album in the world (Recovery), much less be the top-selling artist of the past decade. His response? To dis marginally relevant rapper Asher Roth, take swipes at longtime foes Insane Clown Posse, offhandedly refer to Sarah Palin as a slut and treat a random celebrity as a target for nastiness every once in a while.

But, for the most part, where Eminem’s past vitriol was pointed at specific persons — his mother, his daughter’s mother, Mariah Carey, named bullies — he’s now aiming his venom at nameless adversaries. In a sense, it’s a sign of progress (he had been sued for defamation by everyone in the previous sentence who’s not a pop star), but the result is a messy outpouring of unfocused misogyny and rampant homophobia that’s incredibly uncomfortable to listen to.

The music doesn’t help much at times. Largely produced by Eminem and Rubin (without a single track from the album’s other executive producer and Eminem mentor, Dr. Dre, whose menacing, key-heavy sonics always gave Eminem the perfect sinister edge), there are obvious plays for pop relevance (“Monster” featuring Rihanna), arena-ready anthemic boasts (“Stronger Than I Was,” Legacy,” the “Call of Duty” tie-in “Survival”) and a number of genre-jumping off-kilter numbers (“So Far” and “Love Game” with Kendrick Lamar, the album’s lone guest rapper). It’s almost as if he’s trying everything to be accepted and unacceptable, all at once. Yet Eminem’s ability to be lyrically captivating through it all is astounding. At one point he raps: “My honesty’s brutal / But it’s honestly futile / If I don’t utilize what I do, though / For good at least once in a while / So I wanna make sure somewhere in the chickenscratch I scribble and doodle enough rhymes / To maybe try to help get some people through tough times / But I gotta keep a few punchlines.”

On “Headlights,” he talks directly to his mother, Debbie Mathers, apologizing for years of public vehemence. Coming near the end of the album, it’s an amazing moment. After spending an hour or so doing everything he can to blame everyone else for his emotional lot in life and harping on his daddy issues, he raps, “But I’m sorry momma for ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ / At the time I was angry, rightfully maybe so / Never meant that far to take it, though / ‘Cause now I know it’s not your fault / And I’m not makin’ jokes / That song I no longer play at shows / And I cringe every time it’s on the radio.”

Despite being delivered via a chortle, “Headlights” is tender and vulnerable. And, hopefully, it emerges as the album’s centerpiece. Eminem has always spoken to alienation, both in his raps and musical choices. He’s long prospered by making pop music for the juggalo set and there are very few moments on The Marshall Mathers LP 2 where he actually shows personal growth. On “So Far…,” he wrestles with problems of fame — like being approached by a fan at a McDonald’s bathroom stall while taking a number two. He also complains about not understanding iPods and Playstations, or knowing how to download a new Ludacris song off the Internet. Lest he be confused with dad-rap, he confesses that he “turned 40 and still sag / Teenagers act more f—-in’ mature, Jack.” It’s engaging because he soungs like an eternal rebel coming to terms with no longer being “the youth,” but it’s also confounding because just this week he was honored as the Artist of the Year at the first-ever fan-decided YouTube Awards and doesn’t seem to get it. “Got friends on Facebook, all over the world,” he sings in a honky-tonk fashion. “Not sure what that means, they tell me it’s good / So I’m Artist of the Decade, I even got a plaque / I’d hang it up, but the frame is all cracked.”

At the end of it all Marshall Mathers, the man, and Eminem, the artist (and by extension, the alter alter ego of Slim Shady), are still taking steps toward being one whole person, almost a decade-and-a-half after they emerged onto the national scene. Oh “Evil Twin,” the album’s closer, he describes himself as a “borderline genius who’s bored of his lines” and ravages about twenty pop culture touchstones before ending: “Still Shady inside / Hair every bit as dyed / As it used to be / When I first introduced y’all to my skittish side / And blamed it on him when they tried to criticize / ‘Cause we are the same, b——.”

At one point, he sings “I own a mansion, but live in a house / A king-sized bed, but I sleep on the couch.” It’s no wonder. He’s got a lot of people to accommodate.

Lamb of God Premiere Video Trailer for “As the Palaces Burn” Reissue

Lamb Of God

Lamb Of God

Metal masters Lamb of God are getting ready to reissue their second album, As the Palaces Burn, on November 11 via Razor & Tie. The album was remixed by longtime producer Josh Wilbur, and the reissue features three unreleased demos and a 70-minute documentary telling the story behind the album via interviews with band members and original album producer Devin Townsend. The CD package features updated artwork by longtime Lamb of God designer Ken Adams and a new booklet essay by former Revolver Editor in Chief Tom Beaujour.

In anticipation of the release, the band has teamed up with Revolver to premiere a video trailer for the documentary that is a part of the reissue. Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments!

For more on Lamb of God check out their website and Facebook page. To order the As the Palaces Burn reissue, go to Lamb of God’s http://lambofgod.merchnow.com/ site.

Lamb Of God – As The Palaces Burn 10th Anniversary DVD Trailer

As Lamb of God winds down the touring cycle for their sixth studio album Resolution, they have announced the release of a remixed and remastered version of their second album, As the Palaces Burn, on November 11th via Prosthetic/Razor & Tie. You can check out a remixed track of “Purified” below.

The album remixed by longtime producer Josh Wilbur features three unreleased demos and a 70-minute story behind the album documentary featuring interviews with all five band members, including original album producer Devin Townsend. The CD package features updated artwork by longtime Lamb of God designer Ken Adams and a new booklet essay by former Revolver Editor in Chief Tom Beajour.

The album will be released during the final North American leg of the Resolution tour cycle featuring Killswitch Engage, Testament, and Huntress. The band will then bring the Resolution cycle to an end with an UK/Europe tour in January featuring Decapitated and Huntress. The final shows will be in South Africa on January 24 and 25. This will be the band’s first visit to that continent.

The Resolution cycle was the most eventful of the band’s long career. Starting in January 2012 with a #3 debut on Billboard, touring began on January 25 of that year and ends exactly two years later. In that period, the band was faced with a career threatening crisis with the arrest and incarceration of vocalist Randy Blythe. After a trial that ended in acquittal, the prosecution appealed and the initial verdict was upheld.

Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe will be releasing a memoir centered on his life and trail in the Czech Republic.

In the book, which is due out in the spring of 2014, Blythe will cover his much publicized arrest, incarceration, trial, and acquittal for manslaughter in the Czech Republic last year.

In a press release, Blythe said, “While I’ve dreamed of being a published author almost since I began to read, I never imagined my first book would center around such a sad topic. Sometimes though, life unexpectedly provides you a story that needs to be told. I believe this one does (for several different reasons, not just for the benefit of myself), so I will tell it with the respect and dignity all involved deserve. This will be a good read, I promise you, and I hope some good comes of it.”

To preorder As The Palaces Burn, go to lambofgod.merchnow.com.

Lamb Of God – Purified (2013 Remixed & Remastered Version)

Canadian Band to Watch: Half Moon Run

Half Moon Run

Half Moon Run

Click to listen to Half Moon Run’s “Dark Eyes”

Half Moon Run have gained widespread recognition by opening for bands like Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters and Men and Metric. Now the Canadian indie rockers step out on their own with Dark Eyes, their LP debut.

Anchored by Devon Portielje, all four members harmonize on songs with measured, gentle guitar arrangements that lend the album a mellow, ethereal feel. The music varies widely, from keyboard-driven tracks like “Judgement” and “She Wants to Know” to cryptic lyrics dealing with addiction on “Full Circle” and “Drug You.” The cheery “Call Me in the Afternoon” masks somber lyrical content with subtle folk instrumentation.

Half Moon Run will tour extensively this summer. They will play all three of Mumford & Sons’ U.S. Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers. The band will also be on the summer festival circuit, including performances at Lollapalooza and Leeds Festival.

Dark Eyes was released in the U.S. on July 23rd.

Half Moon Run – Dark Eyes [Full Album]

Montreal rockers rip through ‘Call Me in the Afternoon’

On the heels of a tour with Of Monsters and Men and a coveted slot at last week’s Lollapalooza festival, Montreal indie-rockers Half Moon Run are rising fast. Here, you can watch them offer up a poignant live performance of “Call Me in the Afternoon,” a track from the group’s debut album, Dark Eyes. The stirring clip was shot on tour in Brussels in May.

Half Moon Run – comprising Devon Portielje, Conner Molander, Dylan Phillips and Isaac Symonds – still have a busy slate of shows ahead. They will perform at the Reading and Leeds festivals on August 23rd and 24th in England before continuing on to dates in the Midwest and South. See their tour dates here.

Half Moon Run – Call Me In The Afternoon in session for BBC Radio 1

Published on Jul 24, 2013

Half Moon Run perform their single Call Me In The Afternoon for Huw Stephens from the BBC’s legendary Maida Vale studios. Make sure you check out the other videos for Full Circle, Nerve and Unofferable.

Irish Band The Strypes don’t take succes for granted – Interview

The Strypes interview – Josh and Ross (part 1)


Published on Sep 25, 2013
Josh and Ross about quitting school, writing their own songs, Blue Collar Jane, Snapshot, capturing the live energy, working with Chris Thomas, admiration, the future.
 
 

The Strypes interview – Josh and Ross (part 2)

 
 

We complain about the state of the charts and how all pop music has become pointless drivel spewed out by talentless, money grabbing twats – who only see music as a means of profit and not as art.

But when a young (lest we forget they are 15 and 16 year olds – I doubt Lennon was doing anything particularly ground breaking at that age) group of talented musicians who seem to have a genuine interest in music come along all anyone can seem to do is attack them.

The rat pack of the music industry have been salivating and doing their weasel weiner dance (insert Redfoo from LMFAO’s “wiggle dance”) over Haim, a group that seem more interested in being interviewed, playing festivals and hanging with celebrities than writing good fucking songs. It took them eight years to release an album with only four new songs written by other people!

The Strypes are an Irish four-piece rock ‘n’ roll band from Cavan, Ireland, formed in 2008 consisting of Ross Farrelly (lead vocals/harmonica), Josh McClorey (lead guitar/vocals), Pete O’Hanlon (bass guitar/harmonica) and Evan Walsh (drums). The band played the local scene with various members switching parts as they searched for their sound. They draw inspiration from 60’s blues boom and 70’s pub rock bands such as Dr. Feelgood, Eddie and the Hot Rods, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Lew Lewis and Rockpile as well as the original bluesmen and rock ‘n’ roll artists such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter, among others. The band members’ current ages are 16 to 18 years.

Q&A: Pearl Jam Producer Brendan O’Brien on the Making of ‘Lightning Bolt’

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‘Eddie Vedder still pulls out the same typewriter he’s been using for 20 years’

Pearl Jam have worked with a handful of producers over their two-decade career, but they keep coming back to Brendan O’Brien. He first worked with the band on Vs. in 1993, and since then he’s produced everything from Vitalogy to Yield to their 2009 LP Backspacer. O’Brien teamed up with Pearl Jam again for their upcoming 10th disc, Lightning Bolt, in stores on October 14th.

We spoke with O’Brien about the new album, his long history with Pearl Jam, his ill-fated attempt to cut a record with Aerosmith and the summer he spent on the road as Neil Young’s keyboardist.  

I was just watching the footage of you playing with Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field. That must have been a lot of fun.
That was a blast. 

What was the scene like backstage during the rain delay?
It was a little tense here and there, because the band really wanted it to work out. This was a real big moment for those guys – for Eddie, for all of them. They were really concerned it was gonna get blown out. I don’t believe there was a “rain day” anywhere. There wasn’t a chance to make it up.

They were determined to make it work. Their road manager, Smitty, just worked those people at the neighborhood coalition to let them extend the curfew until two a.m. When it became clear that was going to happen, spirits definitely picked up.

I remember standing off to the side of the stage when they came back on. I was expecting to see a smattering of empty seats. Nobody went home. Everybody was there, ready to go.

Tell me how this new Pearl Jam album started. What were the first steps?
The seeds of this album actually started when we were doing the last record, Backspacer. Everybody was really happy with how that worked out. We had a really good time doing it. The idea was to do another record in the same way, where we get together in Seattle, work the songs up and cut them down in Los Angeles at Henson, the studio where I usually work.

We started working about a year and a half ago, maybe even longer. We did about six or seven songs that were ready. My idea was, “Let’s do these songs, make them great and be all excited about them, and then that will propel the band into writing the rest of the songs. We’ll get right back and do the rest of them.” Well, that didn’t happen. I was not able to get them into the studio for another year and a half. 

Why?
[Laughs] They had a lot of things going on. I just don’t think they were quite ready just yet to do the whole . . . Once they finish a record, I think they know they’ve gotta crank the whole thing up. If they’re happy with the record, it sort of means they’re going to get the whole thing rolling. I just don’t think they were quite ready to do all of that. They all had various solo things going on.That’s the best I can figure. You’ll have to ask them. Whatever happened, we got together about five months ago and started back up. We had a group of songs, and we picked from those. The good news is that we had sort of a template of songs that we started in the first session, and we knew we had to do something at least that good, or better. If they weren’t rising to that kind of level, we would just move on from there. Do you think they benefited from all that time off because they came back with fresh heads?
Um . . . I don’t know if it would’ve been any different if we’d started right back up, but I do know that for whatever reason, the songs weren’t there previously. And we kind of had to wait for the songs to come. I don’t know if that’s any better or worse. Certainly not worse, but I don’t know if it was any better for the time off. But it certainly worked out great. I can’t complain about it. 

Do they get together as a group and write prior to meeting back up? Do they record stuff separately and then present them to the group when they reconvene with you? How does the process work?
At this point, most of the guys kind of work on their own thing separately and then bring them in, and they finish them as a group. That’s how most of the stuff has worked out on the last few records I’ve worked on. I think it works out best for them when they do that. Everyone has their own sort of recording gear and their own little studios. I mean, Stone [Gossard] has a full-blown, actual studio. They all have their own recording rigs at home, so they’re able to do their own demos.

In the early days of Vs. and Vitalogy there was a certain amount of everybody getting in a room and kind of jamming out. Now, it’s pretty much everyone puts together songs, and they finish them together as a band. 

It’s a relatively unique situation, where you have a band with five songwriters.
Yeah, right. Everyone has something to offer. It’s unique, and it has its own special challenges. You’d like everyone to be heard, but I think everyone has sort of grown up at this point. We’re going to put 11 or 12 songs on the record. Someone may or may not be as represented as they were on other records. This is how it works out.

For some records, someone gets a lot of songs, and the next one . . . It’s just how the songs work out as a team. Again, it can be a challenge from a producer’s perspective, because you’re trying to keep everybody involved. This is very much a band, as much as any band I’ve ever worked with. They do have a leader – Eddie is their leader. But they all kind of lead different spots in different ways, and they do all have their moments. They’re all very capable guys, songwriting-wise. 

How does the sound of this record compare to the previous one?
I’m terrible at stuff like that. The way I’ve always kind of recorded records and made records is that we shut up and the songs dictate how it’s going to sound. We don’t really think about it that much. There’s not a lot of pretense about it. So I don’t know that they sound that much . . . we kind of recorded in the same fashion.

But I guess there are a few longer, more devoted songs. On Backspacer I really love that all the songs were fairly short. I love that about it. They were all “get in, get out fast.” This record has a few songs that have a bit more of a . . . they kind of . . . what’s the word I’m looking for here? They’re longer. [Laughs] I don’t know if the word “depth” is right, but some of the songs kind of take you down a road for a while.

There’s a song called “Sirens” that I think is one of the best songs on the record. That clocks in around five minutes, which is long pop song. It really works out. A song called “Infallible” – at least that’s what I believe it’s called – is also a little more developed that way.

I’ll leave it to the guys in the band to describe what the songs are about and that kind of stuff. But as far as sonically, the way it sounds different, I don’t know. You’ll have to tell me.

Why?
[Laughs] They had a lot of things going on. I just don’t think they were quite ready just yet to do the whole . . . Once they finish a record, I think they know they’ve gotta crank the whole thing up. If they’re happy with the record, it sort of means they’re going to get the whole thing rolling. I just don’t think they were quite ready to do all of that. They all had various solo things going on.

That’s the best I can figure. You’ll have to ask them. Whatever happened, we got together about five months ago and started back up. We had a group of songs, and we picked from those. The good news is that we had sort of a template of songs that we started in the first session, and we knew we had to do something at least that good, or better. If they weren’t rising to that kind of level, we would just move on from there. 

Do you think they benefited from all that time off because they came back with fresh heads?
Um . . . I don’t know if it would’ve been any different if we’d started right back up, but I do know that for whatever reason, the songs weren’t there previously. And we kind of had to wait for the songs to come. I don’t know if that’s any better or worse. Certainly not worse, but I don’t know if it was any better for the time off. But it certainly worked out great. I can’t complain about it. 

Do they get together as a group and write prior to meeting back up? Do they record stuff separately and then present them to the group when they reconvene with you? How does the process work?
At this point, most of the guys kind of work on their own thing separately and then bring them in, and they finish them as a group. That’s how most of the stuff has worked out on the last few records I’ve worked on. I think it works out best for them when they do that. Everyone has their own sort of recording gear and their own little studios. I mean, Stone [Gossard] has a full-blown, actual studio. They all have their own recording rigs at home, so they’re able to do their own demos.

In the early days of Vs. and Vitalogy there was a certain amount of everybody getting in a room and kind of jamming out. Now, it’s pretty much everyone puts together songs, and they finish them together as a band. 

It’s a relatively unique situation, where you have a band with five songwriters.
Yeah, right. Everyone has something to offer. It’s unique, and it has its own special challenges. You’d like everyone to be heard, but I think everyone has sort of grown up at this point. We’re going to put 11 or 12 songs on the record. Someone may or may not be as represented as they were on other records. This is how it works out.

For some records, someone gets a lot of songs, and the next one . . . It’s just how the songs work out as a team. Again, it can be a challenge from a producer’s perspective, because you’re trying to keep everybody involved. This is very much a band, as much as any band I’ve ever worked with. They do have a leader – Eddie is their leader. But they all kind of lead different spots in different ways, and they do all have their moments. They’re all very capable guys, songwriting-wise. 

How does the sound of this record compare to the previous one?
I’m terrible at stuff like that. The way I’ve always kind of recorded records and made records is that we shut up and the songs dictate how it’s going to sound. We don’t really think about it that much. There’s not a lot of pretense about it. So I don’t know that they sound that much . . . we kind of recorded in the same fashion.

But I guess there are a few longer, more devoted songs. On Backspacer I really love that all the songs were fairly short. I love that about it. They were all “get in, get out fast.” This record has a few songs that have a bit more of a . . . they kind of . . . what’s the word I’m looking for here? They’re longer. [Laughs] I don’t know if the word “depth” is right, but some of the songs kind of take you down a road for a while.

There’s a song called “Sirens” that I think is one of the best songs on the record. That clocks in around five minutes, which is long pop song. It really works out. A song called “Infallible” – at least that’s what I believe it’s called – is also a little more developed that way.

I’ll leave it to the guys in the band to describe what the songs are about and that kind of stuff. But as far as sonically, the way it sounds different, I don’t know. You’ll have to tell me.

How has your role as producer changed since the days of Vs. and Vitalogy?
It’s changed a bit. We all kind of hit at the same time. They had just blown up with popularity out of nowhere. So I think that my role at the time was really getting those guys in a room and getting them in a headspace to record and make records. In a lot of ways it was as lot more difficult, just because they were trying to feel their way around it.

We made a lot of good records in those days, but there was a different way of doing it. In those days, there was a lot of setting up. We actually went into Vitalogy without having any songs. We’d start at noon and say, “What have you got?” and we’d start working. We’d never do that now. That’s for young people. That’s for people who have not made many records yet.

Once you’ve made a few records, you realize that’s just toil and trouble. I think my role now has turned into more of a traditional producer. I kind of help them pick songs and help with all of the sessions. We’ve had a trust develop over the years where they trust me to do the right thing, for the most part. And if there’s anything that they’re just not digging what we’re doing, they know that I’ll listen and we’ll figure something else out. 

Walk me through a typical day of creating this album.
Well, there’s two different days. One is the tracking sessions, where they’re all in the room at the same time. We still do track the songs with everybody playing at the same time. We may not use everything we tracked at the same time, but I think it’s important for all of us, even with Eddie’s singing. I’ve got to hear everybody at the same time so I know if the parts are going to work or if the key is going to work, or the tempo. All that stuff.

If everybody is in the room at the same time, we’ll listen to the demo that whoever has made, and then we’ll start working on the arrangement that works best for the band. We pretty much worked out every song on this record one song at a time. We would work a song up, work the arrangement, get it sounding right, and then track the song. We’d do that before we moved onto the next one.  

How many weeks total did you track?
Mixing and everything, probably no more than six or seven weeks. Maybe a little more. 

But that’s across two years.
Right. Well, we did them in two sessions. The first session, over a year and a half ago, took three weeks.  Then we were probably in Los Angeles for a couple of weeks to record at this last session. I think we mixed everything in Seattle. They wanted to mix up there because they all wanted to be around. It takes a little longer when everybody is around. I say a “little longer,” but It probably took 10 days. That’s not a long time for some people, but that seems like a long time to me.  

Do you ever serve as a band mediator? I mean, what do you do when they don’t agree on something? Are you the designated neutral party?
Sometime’s the producer’s role is to try and be a little bit of – I don’t know if “conscience” is the right word, but just the voice of the band that says, “This is really working. Let’s give it a shot.” And I have said those things out loud: “Hey, let’s really give this a shot, and I promise if this is not working out, at some point we’ll stop and do something else.”

If I really think something deserves attention, I will say that. And they’ll usually do it. And there are times when it works out, and other time they’ll do it and they’ll come back to me and go, “Uh, hey, we’ve tried it and we’re not digging it. Let’s move on.”  

I’m sure everything is much easier now. When you started, these were young guys with a lot of pressure on their shoulders.
I like to think we’re all better at our jobs than we were in those days. I feel like I’m better at what I do. But I feel like we were pretty good at it then. They’ve all sort of come to terms with what they want and what they’re doing. They’ve really learned over the years. When we first met and started working, I knew Jeff [Ament] and Stone OK, but I didn’t know anyone else very well at all.

I barely knew Eddie, and Eddie was a tough guy to get next to in those days. And so I didn’t really try that hard, because he didn’t seem to want to. He wanted to be more of a working thing, and that was difficult sometimes. But that’s just how it was.

In those early days, how difficult or hard it might have been, it seemed to work out. But you’re right that it is easier now in several ways. Everything is a little smoother. 

Are they more democratic these days?
In some things they’ve always been very democratic, and in some things someone takes over and it’s their moment. That’s how it works. They’ve usually been pretty good at identifying what those moments are. If Eddie’s got a song that he feels really strongly about, then we’re probably going to do it. If one of the guys has a song that they feel really strongly about, I can promise you that we’re going to do everything we can to try and work that out.  

There’s also a lot less pressure on them these days. They have this massive fan base, but it’s not like 1993, where the media and the entire music industry was obsessing over their next move.
I think they probably feel that. I don’t. I take each record very personally. I feel like it’s my job to help them put the very best forward. It’s my job to help them put out a record where people say, “Oh, them. I love Pearl Jam! I’d forgotten how much I liked them. I like this stuff, too. It’s great!”

It’s easy for a band that’s been around for a long time to gear down a bit when it comes to songwriting and making records. It’s very easy to bring it down. But not these guys. They want it badly. I think that’s awesome. I’m very happy with that.

How has your role as producer changed since the days of Vs. and Vitalogy?
It’s changed a bit. We all kind of hit at the same time. They had just blown up with popularity out of nowhere. So I think that my role at the time was really getting those guys in a room and getting them in a headspace to record and make records. In a lot of ways it was as lot more difficult, just because they were trying to feel their way around it.

We made a lot of good records in those days, but there was a different way of doing it. In those days, there was a lot of setting up. We actually went into Vitalogy without having any songs. We’d start at noon and say, “What have you got?” and we’d start working. We’d never do that now. That’s for young people. That’s for people who have not made many records yet.

Once you’ve made a few records, you realize that’s just toil and trouble. I think my role now has turned into more of a traditional producer. I kind of help them pick songs and help with all of the sessions. We’ve had a trust develop over the years where they trust me to do the right thing, for the most part. And if there’s anything that they’re just not digging what we’re doing, they know that I’ll listen and we’ll figure something else out. 

Walk me through a typical day of creating this album.
Well, there’s two different days. One is the tracking sessions, where they’re all in the room at the same time. We still do track the songs with everybody playing at the same time. We may not use everything we tracked at the same time, but I think it’s important for all of us, even with Eddie’s singing. I’ve got to hear everybody at the same time so I know if the parts are going to work or if the key is going to work, or the tempo. All that stuff.

If everybody is in the room at the same time, we’ll listen to the demo that whoever has made, and then we’ll start working on the arrangement that works best for the band. We pretty much worked out every song on this record one song at a time. We would work a song up, work the arrangement, get it sounding right, and then track the song. We’d do that before we moved onto the next one.  

How many weeks total did you track?
Mixing and everything, probably no more than six or seven weeks. Maybe a little more. 

But that’s across two years.
Right. Well, we did them in two sessions. The first session, over a year and a half ago, took three weeks.  Then we were probably in Los Angeles for a couple of weeks to record at this last session. I think we mixed everything in Seattle. They wanted to mix up there because they all wanted to be around. It takes a little longer when everybody is around. I say a “little longer,” but It probably took 10 days. That’s not a long time for some people, but that seems like a long time to me.  

Do you ever serve as a band mediator? I mean, what do you do when they don’t agree on something? Are you the designated neutral party?
Sometime’s the producer’s role is to try and be a little bit of – I don’t know if “conscience” is the right word, but just the voice of the band that says, “This is really working. Let’s give it a shot.” And I have said those things out loud: “Hey, let’s really give this a shot, and I promise if this is not working out, at some point we’ll stop and do something else.”

If I really think something deserves attention, I will say that. And they’ll usually do it. And there are times when it works out, and other time they’ll do it and they’ll come back to me and go, “Uh, hey, we’ve tried it and we’re not digging it. Let’s move on.”  

I’m sure everything is much easier now. When you started, these were young guys with a lot of pressure on their shoulders.
I like to think we’re all better at our jobs than we were in those days. I feel like I’m better at what I do. But I feel like we were pretty good at it then. They’ve all sort of come to terms with what they want and what they’re doing. They’ve really learned over the years. When we first met and started working, I knew Jeff [Ament] and Stone OK, but I didn’t know anyone else very well at all.

I barely knew Eddie, and Eddie was a tough guy to get next to in those days. And so I didn’t really try that hard, because he didn’t seem to want to. He wanted to be more of a working thing, and that was difficult sometimes. But that’s just how it was.

In those early days, how difficult or hard it might have been, it seemed to work out. But you’re right that it is easier now in several ways. Everything is a little smoother. 

Are they more democratic these days?
In some things they’ve always been very democratic, and in some things someone takes over and it’s their moment. That’s how it works. They’ve usually been pretty good at identifying what those moments are. If Eddie’s got a song that he feels really strongly about, then we’re probably going to do it. If one of the guys has a song that they feel really strongly about, I can promise you that we’re going to do everything we can to try and work that out.  

There’s also a lot less pressure on them these days. They have this massive fan base, but it’s not like 1993, where the media and the entire music industry was obsessing over their next move.
I think they probably feel that. I don’t. I take each record very personally. I feel like it’s my job to help them put the very best forward. It’s my job to help them put out a record where people say, “Oh, them. I love Pearl Jam! I’d forgotten how much I liked them. I like this stuff, too. It’s great!”

It’s easy for a band that’s been around for a long time to gear down a bit when it comes to songwriting and making records. It’s very easy to bring it down. But not these guys. They want it badly. I think that’s awesome. I’m very happy with that.

How has your role as producer changed since the days of Vs. and Vitalogy?
It’s changed a bit. We all kind of hit at the same time. They had just blown up with popularity out of nowhere. So I think that my role at the time was really getting those guys in a room and getting them in a headspace to record and make records. In a lot of ways it was as lot more difficult, just because they were trying to feel their way around it.

We made a lot of good records in those days, but there was a different way of doing it. In those days, there was a lot of setting up. We actually went into Vitalogy without having any songs. We’d start at noon and say, “What have you got?” and we’d start working. We’d never do that now. That’s for young people. That’s for people who have not made many records yet.

Once you’ve made a few records, you realize that’s just toil and trouble. I think my role now has turned into more of a traditional producer. I kind of help them pick songs and help with all of the sessions. We’ve had a trust develop over the years where they trust me to do the right thing, for the most part. And if there’s anything that they’re just not digging what we’re doing, they know that I’ll listen and we’ll figure something else out. 

Walk me through a typical day of creating this album.
Well, there’s two different days. One is the tracking sessions, where they’re all in the room at the same time. We still do track the songs with everybody playing at the same time. We may not use everything we tracked at the same time, but I think it’s important for all of us, even with Eddie’s singing. I’ve got to hear everybody at the same time so I know if the parts are going to work or if the key is going to work, or the tempo. All that stuff.

If everybody is in the room at the same time, we’ll listen to the demo that whoever has made, and then we’ll start working on the arrangement that works best for the band. We pretty much worked out every song on this record one song at a time. We would work a song up, work the arrangement, get it sounding right, and then track the song. We’d do that before we moved onto the next one.  

How many weeks total did you track?
Mixing and everything, probably no more than six or seven weeks. Maybe a little more. 

But that’s across two years.
Right. Well, we did them in two sessions. The first session, over a year and a half ago, took three weeks.  Then we were probably in Los Angeles for a couple of weeks to record at this last session. I think we mixed everything in Seattle. They wanted to mix up there because they all wanted to be around. It takes a little longer when everybody is around. I say a “little longer,” but It probably took 10 days. That’s not a long time for some people, but that seems like a long time to me.  

Do you ever serve as a band mediator? I mean, what do you do when they don’t agree on something? Are you the designated neutral party?
Sometime’s the producer’s role is to try and be a little bit of – I don’t know if “conscience” is the right word, but just the voice of the band that says, “This is really working. Let’s give it a shot.” And I have said those things out loud: “Hey, let’s really give this a shot, and I promise if this is not working out, at some point we’ll stop and do something else.”

If I really think something deserves attention, I will say that. And they’ll usually do it. And there are times when it works out, and other time they’ll do it and they’ll come back to me and go, “Uh, hey, we’ve tried it and we’re not digging it. Let’s move on.”  

I’m sure everything is much easier now. When you started, these were young guys with a lot of pressure on their shoulders.
I like to think we’re all better at our jobs than we were in those days. I feel like I’m better at what I do. But I feel like we were pretty good at it then. They’ve all sort of come to terms with what they want and what they’re doing. They’ve really learned over the years. When we first met and started working, I knew Jeff [Ament] and Stone OK, but I didn’t know anyone else very well at all.

I barely knew Eddie, and Eddie was a tough guy to get next to in those days. And so I didn’t really try that hard, because he didn’t seem to want to. He wanted to be more of a working thing, and that was difficult sometimes. But that’s just how it was.

In those early days, how difficult or hard it might have been, it seemed to work out. But you’re right that it is easier now in several ways. Everything is a little smoother. 

Are they more democratic these days?
In some things they’ve always been very democratic, and in some things someone takes over and it’s their moment. That’s how it works. They’ve usually been pretty good at identifying what those moments are. If Eddie’s got a song that he feels really strongly about, then we’re probably going to do it. If one of the guys has a song that they feel really strongly about, I can promise you that we’re going to do everything we can to try and work that out.  

There’s also a lot less pressure on them these days. They have this massive fan base, but it’s not like 1993, where the media and the entire music industry was obsessing over their next move.
I think they probably feel that. I don’t. I take each record very personally. I feel like it’s my job to help them put the very best forward. It’s my job to help them put out a record where people say, “Oh, them. I love Pearl Jam! I’d forgotten how much I liked them. I like this stuff, too. It’s great!”

It’s easy for a band that’s been around for a long time to gear down a bit when it comes to songwriting and making records. It’s very easy to bring it down. But not these guys. They want it badly. I think that’s awesome. I’m very happy with that.

I imagine it’s very healthy for all the guys to have solo projects. It means they can go work on their own and then come back and be really reinvigorated. Do you feel that way?
Um, yeah, sure. [Laughs]

So, no?
To be honest, I would have loved to have gotten back together sooner than a year and a half between sessions. I think it was very doable, but they’re going to do what they’re going to do. One of the reasons they’ve been a band so long and have been able to stay together is that they’ve figured out how to make it work. And it really is not up to me.

People ask me all the time, “Hey, why don’t you work with so and so? Why don’t you work him, him or her?” It’s like, they have to ask me first. It’s really not up to me. The schedule is not up to me. I’ve got to work around their schedules, for the most part.

So their solo things are very important to them. They put a lot of energy and effort into it. My thinking is that I’m very selfish when it comes to Pearl Jam. I’m like, “I want all your energy and your best songs for these records. That’s all I care about.” The other stuff, I’m thrilled that you’re doing it, but I’m very single-minded when it comes to that. 

But they keep bringing you back year after year. They could have basically any producer in the world, so that’s got to be flattering.
Well, yeah. That’s awesome. Trust me, I do not take that for granted. I work my hardest, and I have a great team, and I put my best people together with them. Again, I don’t take it for granted at all. 

There must be a comfort level with you that they could simply not have with any other producer.
I think so. But along with that, sometimes I’ve got to keep it all business. There are times away from the studio where we’ve become friends. They know my family and I know their families. My kids have grown up around them, and so we have that. That’s a separate, awesome part of our lives that I cherish.

But when we’re in the studio, sometimes I gotta keep it all business. I have to address them and have talks about songs in a way that’s not necessarily, “Hey, we’re all bros!” It’s like, “Hey, I’m your producer and you’re paying me to make tough decisions.” But that’s the gig.  

How is the Eddie Vedder of today different than the guy you first met 20 years ago?
To me, he’s remarkably the same. When it comes to writing songs and his intensity towards his work . . . He stills pulls out the same typewriter from the same little brown suitcase he’s been using for 20 years. It’s remarkable how much he approaches it the same. I know he’s a different guy since he’s a family man now, a father, but all that looks the same to me.   

I was talking to Joey Kramer from Aerosmith about three years ago and he was telling me about the record you started with them. He said it was a tragedy the thing never happened.
[Laughs] Yeah, yeah. 

I guess sometimes things just don’t work out.
[Laughs] Um, yeah. You could say that. Joey seems to be an awesome guy. How about that? Let me just say that I really enjoyed hanging out with Tom [Hamilton,] Brad [Whitford] and Joey. They were great. They were awesome. I just think you caught them at a particularly bad moment in time.
Maybe so, but that didn’t stop . . . Ah, well, never mind. I’m talking to a writer here. I gotta stop. Lastly, I was just watching video of the Pearl Jam/Neil Young 1995 European tour. You look like you were just having an absolute blast as part of that band.
It really was. From my perspective, I had just gone from someone trying to get anybody to pay attention to me. I was like, “Please hire me to do a job. I don’t care what it is. I want to make records.” Then in 1993, it just blew up. I worked nonstop. Late 1992 and 1993 was out of control, and I had a family. So I decided to take the whole summer off. Everybody was cool with that.

We’d done this record [Mirror Ball] with Neil Young. We did it very fast, but it was a lot of fun. I get a call from Pearl Jam’s manager and I hear, “Hey, Neil’s going on tour and he wants you to come play keyboards and sing, because Eddie’s not going. It’s the rest of the guys, and Eddie’s the only who could play all of the keyboards parts and sing the background.” I said, “Hey, I would love to, but I’m taking the summer off.”

So then I get a call from Neil’s manager.:”Hey man, Neil really wants you.” I said, “Listen, I would love to tour Europe with Neil, but I just can’t go. I told my family I was taking the summer off.”

The next call is from Neil. “Hey man, I’d really love for you to come. Bring you family along.” And I went, “OK. Sounds good.” [Laughs]

His point was, “You can play keyboards. You can do all this stuff.” I said to him, “I’m really a guitar player, Neil.” He goes, “I know, but you’re really good at keyboards, so you can do that. And I need somebody to sing all the backups.” So that was kind of my job. I took my wife and my two older daughters. My youngest was too small. We toured Europe together as a family, and it was a blast. 

It had to be surreal to be playing stuff like “Powderinger” and “Cortez the Killer” with Neil Young at these enormous concerts.

It really was. I’ m a little older than the band. I think I was 35 at the time. I remember thinking, “I really, really need to take this in. I need to put this in the memory bank.” I made a point to do my best to soak it all in. It was a great time. My older kids are in their early 20s now, but they all remember it. We’ve got pictures of them with Jeff and the band and Neil. It was just a blast.

I don’t think I made any money. I think I spent all of it on my family and traveling, but it was still absolutely great. 

It was a bummer that tour never came to the States. Lots of people forget it even happened.
There was talk of that happening, but for whatever reason it just didn’t. I was ready to go. At that point I was like, “This is a blast.” But it didn’t happen. We went over to the Middle East, we played in Jerusalem and other places. It was just unbelievable.

The countdown on Pearl Jam‘s website has finally hit zero and with it comes news that the band will release their 10th studio album, Lightning Bolt, on October 15th. The album cut “Mind Your Manners” is also available for your listening pleasure, and you can now pre-order Lightning Bolt as well.

Helmed by the band’s longtime producer Brendan O’Brien (who’s also worked with artists including Bruce Springsteen, Audioslave and the Gaslight Anthem), Lighting Bolt follows up the band’s last effort, 2009’s Backspacer.