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Jeff interview with the Canadian Press

*The Canadian Press, as you might've guessed, is our equivalent of the Associated Press...

Pearl Jam recording new CD, will give Canadians sneak peek during Sept. tour


Angela Pacienza

Canadian Press

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


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The music group Pearl Jam is shown in this undated handout photo. (CP/HO-Danny Clinch)


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TORONTO (CP) - Canuck fans who visit Pearl Jam's website these days will hear a familiar tune - their national anthem.

The grunge pioneers posted Canada's song to create buzz for their upcoming, 15-city tour, which includes gigs in Saskatoon and St. John's, Nfld. - locales often ignored by big rock outfits.

While Pearl Jam won't have a new record to promote during the September shows, they have long wanted to make a more comprehensive swing through Canada, says bassist Jeff Ament.

"Typically, those shows (in Canada) are highlights for us in terms of North American shows. The last tour cycle we talked about doing this. We just couldn't fit it in," he said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press from his home in Seattle.

Canada, says Ament, holds a special place in the band's heart because of its international policies and its decision to stay out of the war in Iraq.

Ament says the band was moved by last fall's Vote for Change tour, when acts like Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M. and the Dixie Chicks played a series of concerts in an attempt to oust President George W. Bush from office.

"That tour last fall had a big effect on us. There's things that have happened since then . . . those are the things that we talk about," he said.

Ament and his bandmates are hopeful that the political climate in the U.S. will change.

"I'm not going to give up. There's too much potential here," he said.

That frame of mind is helping shape new material for a forthcoming album, of which seven songs are "completely done."

"It seems like it's a hard time not to be inspired," said Ament, one of Pearl Jam's founding members.

"There's too much going on in the world . . . the war and the state of our country and our country's role in the rest of the world - not being on the same page as what's going on."

He's quick to assure fans the songs won't be overtly political.

"Ed is pretty good at masking things and really leaving the words open to interpretation . . . but there are some things that it's hard not to be point blank: (expletive), this is wrong," he said.

Ament's hopeful the band will deliver a new CD by late fall. Fans at the September shows will hear new material as well as revered hits from Pearl Jam's 15-year career like Evenflow and Jeremy.

Touring without an album is a bit of a spunky move, as music industry convention currently pushes performers to tour only after a CD is completed (unless the band is doing a farewell tour).

"We've been wanting to do something like this forever where we're not bound to the rules that have been made about how you tour and how you make records," explained Ament.

"We want to loosen that up a little bit . . . it didn't used to be that way. In the '60s and '70s bands just did it all. You go play some shows, go to studio and record a few songs, go play a few more shows."

Pearl Jam has always been a band that marched to a different beat.

For its second album, 1993's Vs., the outfit went against the norm, refusing to make music videos for any of the album's songs. In 2000 the group tried to circumvent concert bootleggers by releasing CD versions of 72 shows.

They also bucked a trend in 1994 when they famously took on Ticketmaster, accusing the company of using unfair business practices to set concert admission prices. Ament gave three hours of testimony before a U.S. justice committee in that fight.

There was a highly publicized boycott on both sides which made it difficult for Pearl Jam to tour. Eventually the group went crawling back to the ticketing powerhouse.

Given prices have continued to rise to an average price of $70 per ticket, Ament doesn't regret the action.

"Our role was just to educate people about where their money is going," he said.

Trying to avoid the corporate world, Pearl Jam is using Vancouver concert promoter Paul Mercs to organize the tour instead of powerhouses House of Blues or ClearChannel.

And tickets are being kept at a reasonable $59.50, plus service charges.

Ament thinks that's still too high for young fans.

"Typically we try to be at the lower end of what our peers are charging . . . It seems, like anything, it gets harder and harder to do," he said.


Tickets for Pearl Jam's tour go on sale Saturday.

On the Net:


Pearl Jam's tour dates:

Sept. 2: Vancouver, General Motors Place

Sept. 4: Calgary, Pengrowth Saddledome

Sept. 5: Edmonton, Rexall Place

Sept. 7: Saskatoon, Credit Union Centre

Sept. 8: Winnipeg, MTS Centre

Sept. 9: Thunder Bay, Ont., Fort William Gardens

Sept. 11: Kitchener, Ont., Kitchener Memorial Auditorium

Sept. 12: London, Ont., John Labatt Centre

Sept. 13: Hamilton, Copps Coliseum

Sept. 15: Montreal, Bell Centre

Sept. 16: Ottawa, Corel Centre

Sept. 19: Toronto, Air Canada Centre

Sept. 20: Quebec City, Colisee Pepsi

Sept. 22: Halifax, Metro Centre

Sept. 24: St. John's, Nfld., Mile One Stadium

 The Canadian Press 2005

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