Monday, 29 October 2007

Jeff Spoke In Class Today...

Do you live in Montana? Do you attend the University Of Montana? Do You Study Entertainment Management?

If so, you probably know that Mr. Jeff-I-Stole-Your-Basketball-Bitches-Ament just happened to pop in to give a speech during a lecture this week!

What did he have to say I hear you ask? Allow me to lay out the highlights....

The first real gig Jeff ever played was with some friends at a bar in downtown Missoula called the “Top Hat.”
He was an art student here for a short time in the early 80s before dropping out and moving to Seattle to start his music career.
He said he had only $60 to his name when he arrived in Seattle.
Because he was speaking to an entertainment management class, he said networking was vital to his career. He described having a network of about 150 people in the Seattle punk scene.
Jeff said Pearl Jam has maintained a lot of control over their work through the years and has never really worked with any heavy-handed producers.
He talked a little bit about the evolving music industry and mentioned that some producers and managers are steering their bands toward providing music for commercials. For some bands it’s hard to turn down that kind of money. He said Pearl Jam is fortunate that it hasn’t had to do that and he said the band is approached all the time about providing material for ads, but they turn them down.
Jeff was asked about how Pearl Jam formed and he told a short story about picking Ed up at the airport and going directly into a room and playing music for five or six hours, then they shared a bottle of wine and immediately started to get to know each other. He said at that point he and Stone wanted to be in a band that was serious about music and wasn’t about partying all the time and getting chicks. He said Pearl Jam was all business right from the get-go.
He said there are three members of the band who are “super heavily opinionated.” He did not elaborate, but I’m sure you can guess who those three are.
He said the band is very good to its crew, which numbers between 40 and 50 during tours. He says they have profit-sharing programs and some of the crew members who have been around for a long time have made good livings.
He said “Stone and I have our own little language” because they’ve collaborated together for so long. He says this sometimes confuses other band members during jams or the music-writing process.
Jeff noted that he used to do all the artwork for the band but it became too demanding as they rose to fame. He said the record company would call him some days and say “we need artwork for the single – you’ve got two days” and then he decided he couldn’t do it all anymore.
He talked a bit about his upbringing in Big Sandy, Montana and that being a “jock, a punk rocker and a basketball player” didn’t go well together. He drew a lot of laughter when he said this.- He said the names “Mookie Blaylock” and “Pearl Jam” were last-minute names. Somebody asked him how they came up with Pearl Jam and it was interesting to hear his explanation after it was such a secret for so many years. He told the same story that’s only recently come to light. He said many names were floating around and everyone in the band liked “Pearl” and thought something needed to go with it. Then Ed, Stone and Jeff went to New York to sign a deal with Sony/Epic and they went to a Neil Young show where Young only played about eight songs but they were all “20 minute jams.” Jeff said he thinks he said suggested “how about Jam?” to Ed and Stone and that’s how it was added to make Pearl Jam.
He added a funny anecdote to this story. Three years later when Pearl Jam played the Bridge School Benefit and met Neil Young for the first time Young showed up in a ’55 Cadillac with a customized license plate that said “Pearl 10.” It was a total coincidence, but it gave the band members shivers.
Jeff thinks YouTube is great and doesn’t mind seeing Pearl Jam stuff up there. He just hopes that a five minute video of him playing with his fly unzipped never shows up there!
He talked about the band’s official bootlegs and told a funny story about being in a record store in New York years ago before MP3s were around and REAL BOOTLEGED COPIES of their shows were being sold for $30 or $40. He said there were three rows of Pearl Jam bootlegs and Mike McCready grabbed a copy of each one, walked up to the cash register and said something to the effect of, “I’m in this band. You are selling these illegally and I’m taking them and there’s nothing you can do about it!”
Jeff was asked about fame and said that Pearl Jam really got big here in the states when they were touring in Europe for the first time and it caught them by surprise when they got home. He said when the band got back from Europe they played a show in Columbus, Ohio for a pretty big crowd by their standards at the time. He said that after the show the band could barely get to their bus because so many people were loitering outside wanting to meet them. That’s when they first realized that their music was catching on.
He said the whole Nirvana feud was generated by the media, and there was a time when they couldn’t get through an interview without a reporter pushing the issue. He said it got ridiculous.- Continuing his discussion of fame, he said there was a time when he couldn’t go to the grocery store without it being weird and the band eventually had to pull back. He said it was good for the band.
Somebody asked him who he listens to and he said Kings of Leon, The Strokes and My Morning Jacket and lots of others. He says people often complain to him that there’s no good music coming out anymore and he responds that that’s crazy. He said there’s lots of great stuff out there and technology has made it more accessible.
Somebody asked him what’s next for the band and he said he didn’t really know. He said they’re on “hiatus,” but they have one show already booked for next year. He says eventually band members will start calling each other and get the itch to start working together again. He said Ed usually is the last one to come into the fold.
Jeff said Ed’s work on Into the Wild is awesome and he appreciated it even more after seeing how it fit into the movie.
Someone asked him how many songs surface during the recording process but don’t make it onto the albums, and he said everyone usually brings 4 or 5 songs to the table and gets one or two of them on the album. He said a song doesn’t make the cut unless someone else in the band champions it. So if you’re a member of Pearl Jam and you want one of your songs on the next record, at least one other band member needs to be a big fan of it. He said there are songs that people have gotten onto the record that in retrospect probably didn’t belong, “myself included.”
Someone asked Jeff what he does during these “hiatuses.” He said the breaks are great and he still spends a lot of time jamming and recording music. He’s also very involved in the Missoula community and has championed local efforts to build skate parks and other things for the community.

Incase you were wondering about the authenticity of this, a member of our Jam-tastic community with possibly a teeny-tiny bit too much time on their hands contacted the University to confirm the above did take place!


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