Six Surprises From the New Pearl Jam Documentary
Along with reissues of their early records, Pearl Jam are releasing a documentary this year by their old friend, director Cameron Crowe (Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Almost Famous).
Filled with behind-the-scenes footage and performance clips from the 1990s to present day, the film also reveals little-known facts about the band members' personal lives.
We scored an advanced copy from a guy who sells DVDs near our office's bus stop and can reveal six of the film's juiciest surprises about the enduring rock band.
6. Jeff Ament is a Wookiee.
According to film lore, George Lucas envisioned Chewbacca as a "gentle, hairy, non-English-speaking co-pilot" to Han Solo.
We cannot think of a better description for Jeff Ament, Pearl Jam's amiable and furry bassist who, like any other Wookiee, communicates using only hand gestures and bear-like grunts and is inseparable from his human keeper (Eddie Vedder).
For those of you demanding hard evidence, we dug up a photo of Ament in the 1980s, when he played in a hair metal band (above).
5. They still get fan mail from Scott Stapp.
And following the advice of their security consultant, Pearl Jam file each letter in a cabinet with all the mail they get from mental hospitals and maximum-security prisons.
4. They're terrified they will never outdo the Mad Season record.
Now in their third decade, Pearl Jam continue to crank out records and stage sold-out world tours with barely a summer off in between. Why is this? Do they really like their fans (and the money) that much?
No. It's all because Eddie Vedder will not rest until Pearl Jam outdo Mike McCready's 1995 side project, Mad Season.
Although Mad Season scored only two modest hits, Vedder is known to be obsessed with their record, Above, calling it "everything I've ever wanted to say but never could."
For the past 16 years, Vedder has listened to Above every morning, and in 2003, he reportedly hired a songwriting coach to help him emulate its "pure fucking artistry" (his words, not ours).
Until he reaches his lofty goal, we can expect Vedder to force his Pearl Jam bandmates into the studio and onto the tour bus, threatening to withhold their pay or send incriminating photos to their wives unless they "play like a real goddamn band, like Mad Season."
3. Eddie Vedder applies for a bat-boy job with the Chicago Cubs every year.
A lifelong, outspoken fan of the Cubs, Vedder has been applying for a bat-boy position with the team since 1982. Despite making repeat phone calls, tearfully pleading with individual players outside of Wrigley Field, and getting record-label boss Clive Davis to write him an outstanding letter of recommendation, Vedder has been denied an interview each time.
In 2008, Vedder even went so far as to write a favorable song about the Cubs, "All the Way" but it was of little use in getting him the gig.
When reached by phone last week, Cubs management told us they've rejected Vedder's applications over the years for reasons including budget cuts and Vedder being "too old," "vastly underqualified" and "way too desperate."
2. "Alive" is not about Eddie Vedder's dad.
Everyone thinks Pearl Jam's most recognized song is about Eddie Vedder's mysterious father. In reality, it was inspired by Vedder's favorite episode of Silver Spoons, in which Rick Schroder learns his mother is not dead, as his father always claimed, but an incarcerated member of the Weather Underground.
The Ricker learns of his family's dark legacy when he receives a birthday card from his mom in which "I'm Still Alive" is scrawled in blood, traumatizing Rick more than his discovery that best friend Alfonso Ribeiro is dyslexic. Moved by Schroder's performance, Vedder invited Stone Gossard over for a late-night jam session -- and the rest is rock & roll history.
1. Mike McCready has Crohn's disease.
No, really, he does. Read about some of his efforts to raise awareness here.