Interview with David Sadoff

December, 1991 Houston, Texas, KLOL FM 
Echoes of Exposure with David Sadoff 

Stone: Green River was the very first band which was started by basically Jeff and Mark Arm and Steve Turner who are now in Mudhoney. We put out about 3 records on SubPop plus a couple of compilation sort of things. I guess that band broke up in '86-'87 and right after...
Eddie: There are a lot of Green River t-shirts out there, and people that say that they're the greatest band ever but at the time, that you were in the band, no one really liked you... Stone: No, we didn't...we weren't really huge, necessarily. We were kind of huge in Seattle...semi-huge...we were a sellout.
INTERVIEWER: What were you doing when Green River was around?
Eddie: Listening to them.
Stone: No, you weren't. He never even heard of Green River
INT: Did you have a t-shirt?
Eddie: [laughs] Actually, no. [to Stone] I did listen to Green River.
Stone: Did you?
Eddie: I didn't really listen to Love Bone that much. Green
River, I knew.
Stone: But anyway...
Eddie: And I still wasn't intimidated. [Stone cracks up and they laugh at their joke]
Stone: I knew their history... And then right after that, me and Jeff kind of hooked up with Andy Wood who was the singer for Mother Love Bone... and Bruce Fairweather, who was already in Green River at that time, who was a replacement guitar player for Steve ...joined too and Greg Gilmore. Mother Love Bone was a band for whatever...2 1/2 years or so before Andy Wood died of a heroin overdose, and after that we just decided that it was time to do something new and fresh, and we just went in and made a demo tape, and ended up sending it out to people, and Eddie Vedder was one of the first people that got it via Jack Irons, the old drummer for the Chili Peppers and we've been working together ever since really.
Eddie: We...actually I owe a lot, I think we all owe a lot to Jack Irons.
Stone: We do.
Eddie: The symmetry is really intense. I mean he was also in a band, the reason he left I think was what had happened to Hillel ...and the passing of Hillel Slovak and the fact that we're playing with the Chili Peppers now. I mean the symmetry is really pretty intense.
Stone: Synchronicity, really.

INT: The first promotional release that came out from Pearl Jam was a 3-song CD that included Alive and also a cover of a Beatles song, "I've Got a Feeling". Is there any particular reason why you chose to cover that song?

Stone: I think it was Jeff's idea to cover that song. I think it was one of his favorite songs as a kid and I think that it just felt like the right kind of song for this band to do. And I don't think that we ever actually really learned it. I think you can tell by listening to it. [laughter] And that's the way we like it.
Eddie: I think the first week we were playing too...that was recorded really early in our young career as this band and I think it was that album, the Abbey Road record, that's how it felt when we were playing. It was just this loose kind of thing and if you listen to that record, it was pretty amazing the way everyone was playing together, even though it was the last time.

[they play I've Got a Feeling]
INT: I asked Stone Gossard about his working relationship with long-time musical partner, Jeff Ament.

Stone: Yeah, we have an interesting dynamic in our relationship that's, for some reason, we work together pretty well, I think.
Eddie: Even though they don't speak to one another.
Stone: [laughs] We don't actually speak...
Eddie: It's all done through music and then of course they have their 'people'. So Stone's people will talk to Jeff's people and ...
Stone: Well, it's strange because I think, generally, I don't think me and Jeff would be two people that would just hang out together if we weren't playing music together. I think we'd be friends and stuff but we wouldn't... But it's because we're so opposite in a lot of different ways as far as just general personalities...something about it works. We've had this relationship and it's continued and we just... I think we've both really grown to appreciate it and into seeing it through.
INT: How did you all finally arrive at the name Pearl Jam?

Eddie: [Stone's laughing in the background.] Well, we drove by a few other names and decided to keep moving until we could find one that we could make ourselves at home in. And it was...I think the name's open to interpretation...even though the real story is the fact that my great grandma was married to an indian chief and... Actually I don't know if he was a chief... Yeah, actually he was demoted. [Stone's cracking up.] He was a chief for a while and then...
Stone: L'il Chief.
Eddie: When he moved into like white society, he was no longer ordained...but they the ultimate combining of their cultures was the fact that like my great grandma made this jam that was passed down for generations but then she added his end of it by adding, like peyote and hallucenogenics and it was this kind of hallucenogenic jam...
Stone: ...they smeared all over each other.
Eddie: Really?
Stone: That's my own interpretation. [laughter]

INT: Isn't there a basketball player who originally was going to be the moniker for the band?

Eddie: Ah yeah, we were called...the name of the band was Mookie Blaylock.
Stone: This is the New Jersey Nets point guard.
Eddie: And he's an amazing cult hero of ours.
However...ultimately, I guess we thought it was a little bit of a goofy name and we don't think we're really a goofy band.
Stone: [laughing] We take ourselves very seriously.
Eddie: [laughing] Yes, as you can see by this fine interview.

INT: But he still made his way onto one of your t-shirts.

Stone: Oh yeah. He'll continue to be our mentor.
Eddie: And we named the record after him. You know his number is 10. That's where the title of the album comes from and we're getting closer to maybe even making contact with Mookie. Jeff, in New York, reached over the stands as he was running out after a game against the Knicks and handed him a Mookie Blaylock t-shirt of ours.
Stone: So Mookie thinks there's a bunch of crazed, white, rock musicians... [laughing] ...following him around, making t-shirts and singing his praises.
Eddie: He's frightened of us. He sits at home and tells his wife, "Why does this happen to me? Why? What did I do?"

[after Black]

December, 1991 Houston, Texas, KLOL FM
Echoes of Exposure with David Sadoff continues...
INT: While Pearl Jam songs often deal with real-life occurences, they manage to leave the songs open to the interpretation of their audience. Eddie Vedder explains this and talks about the song, Jeremy.

Eddie: Actually, you know, I've kept a lot of songs or some of the lyrical content shrouded in mystery because just like the name we were mentioning before, it's been really great to get other people's interpretations and even inject themselves into the songs. That, to me, has been really fulfilling and then it becomes something bigger than just five guys in a band and this is their song. It allows somebody who's listening to it or has the need to listen to something intensely.. it allows them to be part of it...but I think, Jeremy, I decided I will start talking about what that song is about and actually, there's a place, a town called Richardson? There's a town called Richardson, is there?

INT: In Texas? Yeah, not far from here.
Eddie: That's where it happened. It was in Richardson, Texas. I saw a small paragraph in the paper about a kid named, his first name was Jeremy and he took, he shot himself in the front of his English class. I think I'm going to have to go visit Richardson. I think we have some time...a day off in Dallas?
Stone: We have a couple days off.
Eddie: Yeah, it was Richardson High School, I think was the name.
INT: That wasn't that long ago, was it?
Eddie: No, I wrote, I mean I literally wrote the song that night, I think...I don't know that much. I actually even thought about... I'm really divulging a lot here... and I should explain it...the fact that I thought of even calling up and finding out more, like I wonder why that happened? I wonder why he did it and it seemed like Richardson sounded to me like a decent suburb, middle if not upper class. The fact is, I didn't want to. I thought that was intruding completely and so... I actually knew somebody in junior high school, in San Diego, California, that did the same thing, just about, didn't take his life but ended up shooting up an oceanography room. I remember being in the halls and hearing it and I had actually had altercations with this kid in the past. I was kind of a rebellious fifth-grader and I think we got in fights and stuff. So it's a bit about this kid named Jeremy and it's also a bit about a kid named Brian that I knew and I don't know...the song, I think it says a lot. I think it goes somewhere...and a lot of people interpret it different ways and it's just been recently that I've been talking about the true meaning behind it and I hope no one's offended and believe me, I think of Jeremy when I sing it. [newspaper article of the Jeremy story]

[Jeremy played]
INT: Both Stone Gossard and Eddie Vedder have had considerable experience in dealing with record labels. I asked them what advice they would offer a young band shopping around a demo tape. However, what I got was a less-than-serious answer.

Eddie: Well, I'm going to start my own label called Buttcrack Records and they can actually just write to me and I'll sign 'em. I'll sign everybody. [Stone laughs]
INT: And what's the address they should send that to?
Eddie: Just send it right to our fan club, Ten Club, cause I'm kind of undermining it through the band. They're not going to know it but they're going to be supporting this label. I'm just out there for the kids, looking out for...
Stone: He's signing punk rock acts for like huge dough too, four to five hundred thousand dollar record contracts... [laughter] Eddie: Just so they can be superfluous...and experience it at least a week in their lives. Here's $500,000 dollars, you have to spend it this week. Make a great record.
Stone: Maybe.

INT: On a more serious note, I asked Eddie about the song, Why Go.

Eddie: The song Why Go Home was written about a specific girl in Chicago who is... I think her mom caught her smoking pot or something. She was about 13 years old and she was just fine. I think her mom thought she had some troubles when I think it was really maybe the parents that were having troubles and the next thing you know, this young girl was in a hospital. They kept her there for quite a long time. She was so strong that she refused to accept many of the accusations of her doing terrible things when she wasn't really doing anything and the next thing you know she was in this ...she'd been hospitalized for like two years. The fact is that this is going on all over the place and this insurance thing that goes on with hospitals and insurance and these kind of counseling...
Stone: Prisons.
Eddie: ...prisons that they set up and it's really something that I think is really addressed subliminally in the song, but it has to be addressed on a bigger level. It happens everywhere and I just hope that someday we're able to change the fact that it is happening.
Stone: If you're below 18, you really have no rights in this country. Your parents can basically stick you in prison if they feel, if they deem it necessary, so that's kind of a frightening thing considering there's a lot of really screwed up parents. Eddie: So it's called, Why Go Home.

INT: Guitarist Stone Gossard has been playing in bands for the past seven years, beginning with his work in Green River and Mother Love Bone and now as a member of Pearl Jam. I asked him what was the most important thing that he had learned now that he didn't know when he first began playing.

Stone: There's a lot of things that I've learned from being in bands. As far as one summed up theory, one would definitely be communication. I mean forcing yourself to communicate with someone about different problems that always arise whenever you work in a band situation whether it's 4 or 5 members that have to work together for anything to happen that's good and to keep your focus on the day to day. Keep your focus on what you need to do today. Do you need to go down to the studio and pick up the demo tape? Or do you need to send out the tape? Or do you need to rehearse? Or do you need to sit and play your guitar for three hours and not think about the future? Because, I think, if you concentrate on what you need to do to become a better musician and a better person as far as dealing with your bandmates and just those general kinds of things, good things will happen to you if you're good...if you're talented. It's always nice to fantasize about what could happen in the future but I think generally we've always, this band and myself have always focused so much more on the day-to-day that you don't get caught up in the whole "wanting to be a rock star more than anything in the world". That's where your priorities get really screwed up, I think.

INT: Was there more pressure on you as a band in Mother Love Bone than there is now in Pearl Jam?

Stone: I think a lot more pressure just because we were a younger band and I don't think the band ever became fully comfortable with itself. I don't think the band ever got to the point where it could groove together, like a lot of new songs coming together, like people working on a lot of different angles and different styles of songwriting... whereas Pearl Jam has just been an amazing experience as far as how easily I've been writing and just how comfortable I've felt in bringing songs to the band and how... I hope everyone else has been comfortable in just letting ideas come up and not worrying about how many songs anyone writes or whatever but just allowing anyone to do what they want, for the most part. Especially in the studio environment where you can just go in and do something yourself some day, and there's a lot of weird kind of things that go along with songwriting and trying to make a band work and the whole ego thing and just's a difficult, really difficult thing.
Eddie: And it's good to experiment. That's why I'm actually going to play drums on the next record and Doug from KingsX is going to sing.

INT: Yeah, but does Doug know about this? Well, I want to thank you guys for coming by.

Eddie: No, it was our pleasure. It sounds like a really great show that you do. It's been talked about quite a bit. It's very much our pleasure to be here. We hope this will actually be on after the show so I hope everyone had an amazing time and the Chili Peppers, I know, treated you right. And I hope I'm still alive.
[over Alive]
Eddie: I've seen people sing it in front as if it were a celebration and I've also sang it at times as if it were like a burden. I think everyone kind of has their own interpretation. I know I certainly do and I think it's just really funny that we all...some people think it's about Andrew Wood. The paper in Seattle said it was a tribute to Andrew Wood and it just wasn't. Stone: It's a tribute to Temple of the Dog. [laughs]

INT: You've been listening to a special interview with Stone Gossard and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. I'd like to thank Stone and Eddie for taking the time and special thanks to George Weinberg of Epic Records and Doug Ray of Moffit Productions. I'm David Sadoff.

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