Pearl Jam guitarist hints at 'heavier than you'd expect' new album

The band could release an album in 2024.
Jim Bennett/GettyImages

Pearl Jam haven't released new music since 2020's Gigaton, but a recent interview of guitarist Mike McCready by Classic Rock hints that the wait might be over in 2024.

The Seattle grunge legends have released music at a much slower pace than they once did earlier in their career, so any reports of a new Pearl Jam record is an exciting proposition. The band toured extensively following Gigaton's release and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in 2021 and in subsequent years, but the last couple of Pearl Jam records have been considered critical flops. Could 2024 be the year the band releases a solid comeback record?

The last couple of Pearl Jam records could best be described as mid-tempo affairs, with much of the bombast and energy of their live show and early work nowhere to be found. But according to McCready, the new record could be what longtime fans have been waiting for.

What does the new Pearl Jam album sound like?

“It’s a lot heavier than you’d expect,” McCready said per Henry Yates “There’s the melody and energy of the first couple of records. Andrew [Watt} pushed us to play as hard and melodic and thoughtful as we’ve done in a long time. I feel like Matt Cameron’s drumming has elements of what he did in Soundgarden.”

If all of that sounds promising to Pearl Jam fans, McCready doubled down on how prominent his guitar shredding will be featured in the band's new material.

"For better or worse, you’re gonna hear a lot more lead guitar from me," added McCready. "stuff I haven’t done in a long time. I went crazy, like with Chris Cornell and Temple Of The Dog on Reach Down [1991], all those years ago. I got to do it again."

Pearl Jam are working with producer Andrew Watt for the second time

Andrew Watt is fast becoming the producer of choice for legacy rock bands trying to regain their creative spark. Watt produced Pearl Jam's last release Gigaton, and has also worked with frontman Eddie Vedder on his 2022 solo album Earthling.

Most recently, Watt produced Hackney Diamonds, the first new Rolling Stones album of original material since 2005's A Bigger Bang. With more of a pop-rock pedigree, McCready was complimentary of Watt's approach to writing and recording this new record.

"When we were in the studio with him [Watt] this past year, he really kicked our asses," explained McCready. "got us focused and playing, song after song. It took a long time to make Gigaton, but this new one didn’t take long."

With no release date yet announced, Pearl Jam fans will have to wait a bit longer before they can hear the results for themselves. The band was recently announced as a headliner for day two of BottleRock on May 25 in Napa, California.

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