Brandon O'Brien on Pearl Jam's 'Lightning Bolt': 'I Don't Think They Were Ready to Do All of That'

The band's long-time collaborator reveals details of the new record's making process.

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Brendan O'Brien produced the forthcoming Pearl Jam album, "Lightning Bolt," and spoke with Rolling Stone about how the project came together (via Hennemusic).

"We started working about a year and a half ago, maybe even longer," he said. "We did about six or seven songs that were ready. My idea was, 'Let's do these songs, make them great and be all excited about them, and then that will propel the band into writing the rest of the songs. We'll get right back and do the rest of them.' Well, that didn't happen. I was not able to get them into the studio for another year and a half.

"They had a lot of things going on," continued O'Brien. "I just don't think they were quite ready just yet to do the whole ... Once they finish a record, I think they know they've gotta crank the whole thing up. If they're happy with the record, it sort of means they're going to get the whole thing rolling. I just don't think they were quite ready to do all of that. They all had various solo things going on. That's the best I can figure. You'll have to ask them. Whatever happened, we got together about five months ago and started back up.

"We had a group of songs, and we picked from those. The good news is that we had sort of a template of songs that we started in the first session, and we knew we had to do something at least that good, or better. If they weren't rising to that kind of level, we would just move on from there.

The producer detailed how the songwriting process works within the group.

"At this point, most of the guys kind of work on their own thing separately and then bring them in, and they finish them as a group. That's how most of the stuff has worked out on the last few records I've worked on," OBrien explained. "I think it works out best for them when they do that. Everyone has their own sort of recording gear and their own little studios. I mean, Stone [Gossard] has a full-blown, actual studio. They all have their own recording rigs at home, so they're able to do their own demos.

"In the early days of 'Vs.' and 'Vitalogy' there was a certain amount of everybody getting in a room and kind of jamming out. Now, it's pretty much everyone puts together songs, and they finish them together as a band."

"Lightning Bolt" will be released October 15; the lead single, "Mind Your Manners," is out now.

Pearl Jam will kick off a fall North American tour October 11 in Pittsburgh.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    All I know is that I'm stoked for the new album AND the tour. I don't care it took them this long to do it, I'm just happy it's finally happening.
    sounds like they need to get in a room and jam then
    I agree completely. I love all PJ tunage, but I think you can also tell they haven't written like that in a while.
    Nero Galon
    Yeah like put the JAM in Pearl JAM you could say. Oh god i'm so bad at trying to be funny -_-
    Pearl Jam has several bad albums. They have even more UnPearl Jam albums.
    no they are all Pearl Jam albums. Each one is different in its own right and thats the mark of a great band.