Pearl Jam is an American rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Since its inception, the band’s line-up has included Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), and Mike McCready (lead guitar). The band’s current drummer is Matt Cameron, also of Soundgarden, who has been with the band since 1998.
Formed after the demise of Ament and Gossard’s previous band, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam broke into the mainstream with its debut album, Ten. One of the key bands of the grunge movement in the early 1990s, Pearl Jam was criticized early on as being a corporate cash-in on the alternative rock explosion. However, over the course of the band’s career its members became noted for their refusal to adhere to traditional music industry practices, including refusing to make music videos and engaging in a much-publicised boycott of Ticketmaster. In 2006, Rolling Stone described the band as having “spent much of the past decade deliberately tearing apart their own fame.”
To date, the band has sold over 30 million records in the U.S, and an estimated 60 million worldwide. Pearl Jam has outlasted many of its contemporaries from the alternative rock breakthrough of the early 1990s, and is considered one of the most influential bands of the decade. Allmusic refers to Pearl Jam as “the most popular American rock & roll band of the ’90s.
In 2007, Pearl Jam recorded a cover of The Who’s “Love, Reign o’er Me” for the Mike Binder film, Reign Over Me; it was later made available as a music download on the iTunes Music Store. The band embarked on a 13-date European tour, and headlined Lollapalooza in Grant Park, on August 5, 2007. The band released a CD box set in June 2007, entitled Live at the Gorge 05/06, that documents its shows at The Gorge Amphitheatre, and in September 2007 a concert DVD, entitled Immagine in Cornice, which documents the band’s Italian shows from its 2006 tour was released.
In June 2008, Pearl Jam performed as the headline act at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. The Bonnaroo appearance took place amidst a twelve-date tour in the Eastern United States. In July 2008, the band performed at the VH1 tribute to The Who alongside Foo Fighters, Incubus and The Flaming Lips. In the days prior to Election Day 2008, Pearl Jam digitally released through its official website a free documentary film, entitled Vote for Change? 2004, which follows the band’s time spent on the 2004 Vote for Change tour.
On March 24, 2009, Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten, was reissued in four editions, featuring such extras as a remastering and remix of the entire album by Brendan O’Brien, a DVD of the band’s 1992 appearance on MTV Unplugged, and an LP of its September 20, 1992 concert at Magnuson Park in Seattle. It is the first reissue in a planned re-release of Pearl Jam’s entire catalogue that will lead up to the band’s 20th anniversary in 2011. A Pearl Jam retrospective film directed by Cameron Crowe, and titled Pearl Jam Twenty is also planned to coincide with the anniversary. On January 5, 2011, the band announced that their albums Vs. and Vitalogy would be reissued in the spring time in deluxe form.
Pearl Jam began work for the follow-up to Pearl Jam in early 2008. In 2009, the band began to build on instrumental and demo tracks written during 2008. The band’s ninth studio album, Backspacer, was released on September 20, 2009. Backspacer debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard music charts, the band’s first album to do so since No Code in 1996. McCready said, “I like the sparseness of the songs and the way that Brendan pulled us together and made us play as good as we could.”The music on the record features a sound influenced by pop and New Wave. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic said that “prior to Backspacer, Pearl Jam wouldn’t or couldn’t have made music this unfettered, unapologetically assured, casual, and, yes, fun.” Regarding the lyrics, Vedder said, “I’ve tried, over the years, to be hopeful in the lyrics, and I think that’s going to be easier now.”The Fixer” was chosen as the album’s first single. A video for the single was made and directed by Cameron Crowe, using footage from their secret show in Seattle in May. Pearl Jam did not re-sign its record deal with J Records, and the band released the album through its own label Monkeywrench Records in the United States and through Universal Music Group internationally. Pearl Jam reached a deal with Target to be the exclusive big-box store retailer for the album in the United States. The album also saw release through the band’s official website, independent record stores, online retailers, and iTunes. In an interview McCready revealed that Pearl Jam may finish the Backspacer outtakes in the next six months, and told San Diego radio station KBZT that the band may release an EP in 2010 consisting of those songs, while Vedder instead suggested that the songs may be used for the band’s next studio album.
On June 1, 2009, Pearl Jam played a new song from Backspacer called “Got Some” on the first episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. In August 2009, Pearl Jam headlined the Virgin Festival, the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, and played five shows in Europe and three in North America. In October 2009, Pearl Jam headlined the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The Austin City Limits appearance took place amidst the fourteen-date North American leg of the band’s Backspacer Tour. Later in October on Halloween night, the band played in what was the last performance at the Philadelphia Spectrum. An additional leg consisting of a tour of Oceania took place afterwards. The band appeared as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on March 13, 2010. In May 2010, the band embarked on a month long tour starting with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The tour headed to the East Coast and ended May 21, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York. A European tour took place in June and July 2010, where the band performed in Northern Ireland for the first time at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. In late October 2010, Pearl Jam performed at the 24th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. A live album, titled Live on Ten Legs, was released on January 17, 2011. It is compilation of live tracks from their 2003 to 2010 world tours, and is a follow-up to Live on Two Legs, which consisted of songs recorded during their 1998 North American tour.
In March 2011, bassist Jeff Ament told Billboard that the band has 25 songs and they’d be heading into the studio in April to begin recording the follow-up to Backspacer. On May 16, 2011, the band confirmed that they would play the Labor Day weekend at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, Wisconsin, followed by ten shows in Canada.
On September 8 2011, the band released a new song titled “Olé”.