Here are some excerpts from Cameron Crowe’s press tour for Pearl Jam’s new film from HitFlix.com:
11:14: Crowe talks about the battle against Ticketmaster, which didn’t quite work out at the time but helped build a new fanbase for the band because of the small towns and odd venues they went to while fighting Ticketmaster. “They redefined what the fan experience was.”
11:15: Crowe showed the band the movie in October, “And you could more than hear a pin drop. It was like the oxygen disappeared from the room.” At the end of the film, one of the band wives said, “It’s fucking great! I wouldn’t touch a frame of it!” He wanted to get under the band’s skin a little bit, or else it would have felt like a publicity tool. Wishes he’d filmed them watching the film, but they talked about the movie after, and it was cathartic; they thanked him for putting a mirror up to the band.
11:16: Matt Cameron is the only drummer whose interview appears in the film. Crowe said there was so much to say about the band’s many drummers that he wanted to take “a comic approach,” which rifles through the shifts very quickly. “I sort of didn’t want to get waylaid into a lot of the well-established avenues that a rock documentary gets into. If you’re a fan, you know what’s being said.” But it’s an issue they wrestled with.
11:18: What would Crowe say to people who think he should have profiled Nirvana ahead of Pearl Jam? “I would say go to Charlie Cross’s writing about Nirvana. Maybe Charlie or a filmmaker who was close to that epicenter would be the person to make that film. I would be first in line to see a Nirvana film. But my experience was seeing Pearl Jam from the beginning. If I can get that on film, then that’s the film I should be making.” To Pearl Jam, Nirvana “was both an inspiration, an obstacle, a source of discontent and jubilation and ultimately shock and pain when Kurt died.” He tries to show what it was like to be close to Nirvana, but he’d love to see someone really dig into Nirvana.
11:26: “They never stopped caring, even if you weren’t there,” Crowe says of the band’s efforts during their less commercially-successful periods.
11:27: Was there anything that struck him about the early ’90s music scene that we’ve forgotten in the last 20 years? He says when Cobain wrote “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Something shifted in the world of rock. As powerful as Lennon’s greatest work. This was something that said, ‘There’s a new ground here.’ I don’t know that that’s happened since in the same way.” What comes through is how different rock was “a minute before ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,'” with Bon Jovi and the other hair bands. Cobain said, “‘That’s bullshit,’ and a lot of people were feeling inwardly that way.”
11:29: In the film, the band is dismayed to be on the cover of Time, but they were excited to be on “American Masters” because they’re older and more interested in their legacy. Like being part of a series that has profiled Neil Young, Bob Dylan, etc. Eddie watched footage of himself as a young man diving into the crowds and wondered, “What am I trying to prove?” He was a little embarrassed about himself back then, but also wanted that version of him to be on display.
11:31: What was the band like in its very earliest days, from his point of view? Crowe always had access to them and knew them very well at that time. He was a big fan of Mother Love Bone, the band featuring Stone and Jeff, “And I knew them when they were lost” after Andy Wood’s death. He says “lightning struck twice.” first with Wood, then when they got a demo recording from Eddie. “The guys were in shock, suspicious, inspired and tentative about moving forward… and this magic started to happen. But I don’t think any of them knew that it would turn into the success that it did.” Crowe says Jeff in particular is such a fan of music that he said the band couldn’t make the same mistakes the other bands made. “They were so personally invested in doing it right that they never flew off the rails.”
11:44: Why didn’t other bands follow Pearl Jam in the fight against Ticketmaster, and was the fight doomed to failure? Crowe says a lot of bands promised to follow them at first, “And tumbleweeds were blowing across the street when the time finally came.” Thinks years later, some bands are sorry they didn’t, “but at the time, people were laughing behind Pearl Jam’s back!” And though they lost the fight, they did create that new generation of fans. “A lot of people have scoffed at their business decisions every step of the way,” he notes, quoting a derisive interview Bono gave. But because they didn’t chase the traditional format, “They’re still here with a different audience, playing their shows in their own way… They were right. They did it their own way.”