Pearl Jam Twenty – USA Today

Eddie Vedder Tours Pearl Jam’s Past

TORONTO – “It’s so special,” says Eddie Vedder. “It gets harder, but then it gets easier. You think, ‘When they walk, it’ll be so much easier.’ Then they start running off cliffs everywhere.”

He’s talking about raising his two daughters, Olivia, 7, and Harper, almost 3, but Vedder’s description could also apply to being in a band. The first heady, exhilarating taste of success, followed by the almost inevitable squabbles. The foreseeable, predictable eroding of ingenuity and passion, until music is being released only to feed the lavish MTV Cribs lifestyles of its halfhearted creators.

And then there’s Pearl Jam, the Seattle rock band that has defied the musical odds by staying together and somehow retaining its passion and vision.

The group’s genesis and evolution is chronicled in Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty, part rock documentary, part less-scripted Behind the Music, part confessional.

The title of the doc refers to Pearl Jam’s first album,Ten, which arrived in August 1991 and helped make grunge-rock more mainstream. And in clips personal and intensely intimate, you see how songs are written, what being famous feels like, and the band’s unfettered joy at performing live in front of thousands of electrified fans.

The film plays for one night tonight in cities including Denver, Little Rock and Houston, and it runs for a week in other markets. A companion book, also called Pearl Jam Twenty, hit shelves Sept. 13, and a DVD of the documentary will be released Oct. 25.

What inspired Crowe? The sound of music.

“I was lucky enough to meet them early on, after I came to Seattle. I felt such a connection with the guys,” says Crowe, a former Rolling Stone music scribe and film director of December’s We Bought a Zoo. “I felt this kinship of people that loved rock as much as I did, or more.”

The band gave Crowe full access to its archives — and carte blanche to use what he found.

“They were very generous with me, and trusting. As fans, we made the movie,” he says. “I hope young bands can see the movie and see that following your instincts is a super-positive thing, even if it doesn’t seem that way.”

During a laid-back chat in the midst of the Toronto film festival, where the documentary premiered, Vedder, Crowe and lead guitarist Mike McCready were alternately impassioned, droll and reflective.

“I’m still digesting certain areas that Cameron captured. I was thinking of the song Alive. There’s different excerpts of us playing it,” McCready says. “Yeah, we still are (alive), and that song has … a personal meaning. It’s very heavy and amazing to still be playing music with these guys.”

After watching the film, Vedder says, he was sucker-punched emotionally by the band’s progression from scrappy upstarts to global superstars. “I was a little misty-eyed,” he says, admitting that being sucked into the past “felt scary” but ultimately worthwhile.

“In my mind, I can live and say I don’t have any regrets. If you do have regrets, you learn from what those mistakes might be. It’s hard being graceful with some of that stuff and going through that at the time. A lot of people didn’t know. You didn’t want to be talking about stalkers. You didn’t want to tell the story of some woman trying to kill herself by driving a car into a wall in the front of your house — while you had security there because it had been an issue for seven months.”

Interjects McCready: “Scary time.”

Today, Pearl Jam prefers to let its music do the talking. So Vedder was admittedly reluctant to be so visible at a major film festival.

“One of the reasons we were able to survive is that we stopped doing press and really pulled back from being visible. And here we are now taking pictures,” Vedder says with a smile. “But we’re going to go back into hiding. So I think we should stop this interview now.”

Courtesy of the USA Today – Donna Freydkin – September 19, 2011