Stone Gossard on Integral Naked - Innocence Lost, Integrity Gained
March 10, 2008 14:56
Restoring Idealism to Rock and Roll. Part 2. Innocence Lost, Integrity Gained.
Few bands in recent history have done more to express idealism and authenticity in music than Pearl Jam. In this fascinating interview with guitarist Stone Gossard, we are offered a tour through Pearl Jam's last five albums, a discussion about the music industry and bootleg culture, and a heart-wrenching reflection on one of the most painful experiences in the band's long history....
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Who: Stone Gossard, guitarist and founding member of Pearl Jam, one of the most influential bands in recent decades, and often described as "the most popular American rock band of the 1990's."
Summary: Continuing the conversation from Part 1 of this fascinating dialogue, Stone and Ken take a personal look at some of the experiences that have defined Pearl Jam's iconic career. Stone guides us through an intimate walkthrough of the band's last five albums: No Code, Yield, Binaural, Riot Act, and the self-titled Pearl Jam. They discuss in detail some of the wild oscillations that occur in Pearl Jam's overall sound, between what might be described as a more traditional classic-rock sensibility and their more experimental forays into sonic novelty, causing critics to describe just about every other album as a "deliberate break from their sound"—indeed making it very difficult to nail down what exactly their sound is in the first place.
They then talk about the band's decision to make their live recordings available to their fans through the web, an innovative move which severely curtails much of the parasitic greed that exists in bootleg culture—in which people sell often lousy recordings to fans for ridiculous profits, none of which makes it back to the band itself. This was certainly a win-win solution for everyone involved, as the fans are offered sound-board quality recordings of live shows, while the band was offered another revenue stream, through which they can better support their own musical ideals—increasing their ability to continue making music their own way, without having to compromise their sound for mainstream consumption.
Finally, Stone and Ken reflect upon one of the most impossibly painful moments in the history of the band, when nine fans were tragically trampled to death at a music festival in Denmark, back in 2000. With a heart that is obviously still tender, heavy, and forever mournful, Stone invites us to share an experience that has irrevocably changed the band, collectively and individually, in just about every way. Bruce Springsteen is quoted as saying that "the great challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism after you lose your innocence." In many ways Pearl Jam has watched their meteoric rise lead to their innocence being torn to shreds by the currents of success and celebrity, the tragedy in Denmark being the pinnacle of this sort of loss—but for them, losing their innocence only seems to reinforce their idealism, transforming it from the rhetoric of youthful naiveté into real, practical exemplars of ever-increasing care, compassion, and sophistication, while setting new benchmarks of artistic integrity for the rest of the world.
Pearl Jam has been one of the most powerful forces of idealism in rock music for almost two decades. You can hear it in their lyrics and their music, you can see it in their various philanthropic work, you can feel it in their unwavering devotion to their fans. And they continue to grow into their own ever-deepening sense of idealism, battling the tides of ignorance, corruption, and, well, really crappy music to this very day....
We are honored to have Stone Gossard as our beloved friend, and truly excited that you can join us in this inspiring discussion....
"Bands have to be smart about when somebody's really helping them out; they're notorious for being ungrateful...."
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