The two rock stars sat down together to talk about politics, musical influences and some of the songs on the Pearl Jam frontman’s new album for Amazon Music.
Speaking about the track ‘Long Way’, Springsteen commented that he could hear “the ghost of Tom” in the song. “Somebody acquired for me a Guild four-string tenor [bass] – it almost looks like a Hofner in a way,” Vedder replied. “So I started playing some little things and had my guy record it and then I put drums on it and put some vocals on it and it all happened in an afternoon. But I didn’t know what the chords were because I’m playing a Tenor – I’m just making shapes and sounds and all that.”
He continued to explain that when he gave the track to producer Andrew Watt, he realised the chords were standard ones, like G, C and D. “I thought I was coming up with some really interesting ones that’d never been played before,” he said. “It was very simple chords and that was kind of how Tom Petty would write.”
Vedder added: “I got to be fairly close to Tom and maybe subconsciously you start writing songs or you write songs that you need to hear. We thought we should put some B3 [organ] on it and we know Benmont [Tench] from The Heartbreakers, so we called Benmont and he came down. I think it was the first time he had pulled the organ out of storage since the last show. It was very, very powerful.”
“Wow, I didn’t know that,” Springsteen responded. “It’s a beautiful sort of secret tribute there.” You can watch the whole conversation on Amazon until Sunday (February 13). After then, it will be uploaded to Vedder’s YouTube channel.
In a three-star review, NME said of ‘Earthling’: “Traversing musical styles, the record’s through-line is its allegiance to fatherhood itself; most of these tunes sound less like classic Vedder, and more like the music that raised him. The synth-driven ‘Invincible’ offers an ethereal dose of U2, ‘Long Way’ is a deliberate Tom Petty imitation (featuring Petty’s keyboardist Benmont Tench) and ‘The Dark’ could be a ‘Born in the USA’ B-side. Dismiss this as uninspired “dad rock”, or embrace it as a dad making the music he’d want to hear.”
Meanwhile, Vedder was recently embroiled in a light feud with Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx after he dismissed the hair metal band as “vacuous” in an interview. Sixx responded on Twitter, calling Pearl Jam “one of the most boring bands in history”, before Vedder took another jab at the band during a recent solo concert.