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Pearl Jam Debut ‘Dark Matter’ Songs On ‘The Howard Stern Show’

Group also played 'Daughter' and 'Yellow Ledbetter' while sharing stories with the SiriusXM host
Pearl Jam (Photo credit: Danny Clinch)

In their first full band appearance on SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show, Pearl Jam debuted two songs this morning (April 22) from their new album, Dark Matter, while also sharing stories with the host during a two-plus hour segment.

Appearing live from their Seattle warehouse, the band first played the surging Dark Matter opener “Scared of Fear” and then the frenetic, punky “Running.” When Stern asked if he could choose a couple of other songs for Pearl Jam to perform, he initially suggested “Daughter” and “Glorified G,” but frontman Eddie Vedder politely denied the request for the latter.

“We played it the other day and I thought, there must be one that has more energy to it,” he said of “Glorified G,” which has only appeared live eight times since 2016. “I do like the song.” Instead, Pearl Jam closed their segment with “Yellow Ledbetter” after explaining why the fan-favorite B-side didn’t make the cut for the band’s seminal 1991 debut, Ten.

“It wasn’t my choice,” guitarist Mike McCready said with a laugh of the track. “I remember I wanted it on the first record, for sure.” Added Vedder, “It was my fault because I never finished the lyrics. I think that was the issue. I don’t even think I was given a chance to. In fact, in my memory, I was saying, we really need this song on the record, and they said, we’ve got 11 [songs]. We’re done.” When Stern then asked why Vedder didn’t complete the words in light of him constantly carrying around a journal, he replied, “Apparently I didn’t have it that day.”

A few other things we learned during the broadcast, which came ahead of the May 4 kick-off of Pearl Jam’s 2024 world tour:

– McCready owns a piece of land next to longtime friend Brandi Carlile about 30 minutes outside of Seattle. “We follow her as she has a machete and cuts down trails,” he said. “She’ll throw some fish on the barbecue and we’ll have all the kids running through the forest. It’s very nature-oriented. We’ll have a big jam session at times. It’s very fun to get out of Seattle.”

– Vedder remains a big fan of axe-throwing. “In bars, they do that thing with the small hatchets. This is not a hatchet,” he said of the objects he utilizes. “It’s a bigger double-sided axe with two sharp sides. We wear catcher’s helmets backward to protect the back of our necks. It’s a drinking game. There’s something about the sound of it [that’s] really satisfying. It connects you to some inner Neanderthal or Cro-Mag, just enough.”

– Asked whether the new song “Waiting for Stevie” was actually about Stevie Wonder, for whom Vedder and producer Andrew Watt waited hours to show up for a recording session, the frontman said, “No, but in a way, it’s a song about being affected by music, and music changing your life, and maybe leading you to your tribe. In that way, it connects to Stevie because his music has that power.”

– Guitarist Stone Gossard said it felt like “a miracle” the first time he heard Vedder’s original words and melodies atop the instrumental that eventually became “Alive.” The song had been tinkered with in Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament’s pre-Pearl Jam band Mother Love Bone but was never completed before frontman Andrew Wood died of a drug overdose in early 1990. “We listened to maybe two or three tapes,” Gossard said of the search for a new vocalist. “We put out a few feelers but we didn’t know where to begin. It felt a little divine in terms of, something happened that was special. To be able to meet Ed and have him come up here and play music with us that first week … he was so wanting to dive in and make more music. That’s all we wanted to do, is write songs and play music together.”

– Joking about the inordinate number of takes required to complete “Even Flow” in the studio, Gossard said, “I’ll take the blame for this one. I think the main problem is that I wrote a song where the two parts kind of want to run at different tempos.” Vedder countered, “My problem was, never having made a record before, I thought take two was unbelievable. I was in a booth watching them in the live room. I was giving it everything I had [on] every take. No one told me, you can hold back a little bit. You’ll end up singing this again. So when they were arguing about the tempo, I was just happy to be there.”

– Stern floated the idea of a Get Back-style Pearl Jam documentary spotlighting the band’s songwriting process, but Gossard quickly said, “it would ruin it, Howard. It would ruin it. If there’s cameras in the room, all of a sudden, you’re self-conscious. [But] you’re welcome to come and hang out on a couch while we’re writing a song.”

– Stern seemed convinced the new song “Wreckage” was a commentary on Donald Trump, but Vedder set him straight with a chuckle: “I don’t know if I’d attach that to the ex-president, but I guess it is about a difficult relationship.”