Saturday, May 5, 2012

What We Talk About When We Talk About Pearl Jam





I've retired this post, at least temporarily.  It gets so much traffic that it turns up high in search results, and  this blog wasn't meant for Pearl Jam fans who stumble across it.

Apologies to anyone who's here solely because he/she is a Pearl Jam fan.  As for the rest of you,  welcome, and thanks for coming.

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27 comments:

  1. Thank you for the time travel Jules!!! You created yet another you are there moment! Oh wait I was there!!! Lol. But seriously I love your writing, your truth and your humor! More, more more!!!!

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  2. I believe this is the very best blog post you’ve written to date. I also believe it probably took a lot of balls to write it. I commend you Julie for telling the truth. I would love to read a blog on how you and Ellyn finally became the great friends you are today. In any case, as an A&R person I experienced some of what you wrote about. And, in my own blog, Little Debbie Cakes, I will get into some of that. I feel I always had men getting in my way. I don’t understand why those of us who were truly SAVED by rock & roll, were the most misunderstood in manners of management and admin. My little 14-year-old self, saved by living with her head in her headphones, seems to be an anomaly in the business we lived. Yet, the reason I could CLOSE my deals (while others who, will not be named yet, could not), is because rock & roll artists can smell that on us. So they trust us, until they get paranoid (I’ve had that problem), get entrenched in what the BIG BOYS are telling them, or need their own denial system to survive (and unfortunately that can hurt us, but I don’t think it’s intentional). I am talking about MY experiences not yours. Perhaps, you, Ellyn and I should write that book together. I’m still a Penny Lane and proud of it!
    Love you madly,
    Debbie aka http://dssgirl-littledebbiecakes.blogspot.com
    P.s.- hope you don’t mind the shameless promotion!
    P.P.s- this lead me to Ellyn’s blog which is also incredible.

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  4. Ellen Zoe GoldenMay 8, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    I'm a HUGE fan of your writing and I remember some of your Pearl Jam days. I've got my own music biz shit, maybe I could join the group purge?

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    1. I just heard "I Get Knocked Down" and thought of you. You're definitely welcome to join the group. Welcome and qualified! xoxox

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  6. Anonymous just left a comment that said "Dumb C**t." I deleted it not because of the sentiment, but because of the language. I'm all proper when it comes to these things. Anonymous! Feel free to express yourself. Just do it with some class.

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  7. Pearl Jam fans are rather ridiculous! They can't handle the fact that Pearl Jam are just dudes - and not always very nice dudes.
    I totally understand where this comes from Julie. You worked hard and treated your bands like they really truly mattered and they treated you in turn like chattel.
    That said I hope you find something great working for more A-Holes soon.

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    1. Faith! Bwah hah hah hah! I miss you. (Chattel n' A-Holes.) xo

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  8. Just found your blog. Reading this post brings back fond (for the most part) memories of the Epic days and reminds me of a lesson I learned which has served me well.

    Although I was in promotion, you needed extra help in Media Relations during the Pearl Jam tour(in the midst of their fight with Ticketmaster)so I would come over and answer phones and help organize the massive lists of ticket holders. Here comes the lesson: Never say no. Say I'll work on it and get back to you. You, Julie Farman, taught me that. Everybody wanted a piece of Pearl Jam and we knew it was all impossible but telling people you would try, instead of "are you insane?" made them happy. That simple philosophy has permeated everything I do and it's huge.

    Eddie might not see it but I think you are awesome :)

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    1. Wow, Suzy, I don't even know what to say. I look back at that particular time and think my behavior was atrocious. I'm so glad you didn't. (I learned how to stay calm from you; I remember freaking out amongst those piles of tickets and passes and envelopes and wanting to jump out the window, while you'd focus, drill down, and get the impossible done.)

      Thank you, Ms. Peters! I think you're awesome too. xoxo

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  9. Hello there,

    I have a hard time determining if you were being sarcastic about Dave Abbruzzese's attitude toward success. Were you being serious? And if so, why was it such a big deal that he was punished for it?

    Cheers from New Zealand.

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    1. Hello!

      I was being serious. Dave was delighted and ecstatic about Pearl Jam's success, and that was *not* ok with the rest of the band. They couldn't have him executed, so they fired him. (Dave is a great guy - he was a blast to work with -- and we're still friends.)

      Cheers back!

      Julie

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    2. In your personal opinion, do you think he was unfairly treated because he enjoyed his job? I mean I can understand if celebrity bothered the others but was it really necessary to punish the guy for being different and the fact that he was okay with it? Why hang someone because they do not have a problem with it? I'm sure Jeff, Stone and Mike wanted to be in a successful band before Eddie came along... I thought PJ were supposed to embody the principles of democracy, when (at the time of Dave's firing) it seemed to be Eddie who was pulling all of the strings (dictatorship)... Jeff, Stone and Mike were featuring in Guitar magazines left right and centre but Kelly Curtis warned Dave not to do a modern drummer interview of which he appeared in the December 1993 issue, then Eddie screwed up the magazine and drew moustaches all over Dave's face when Dave showed them a copy. I just wonder why the rules were different for him when the other members were at liberty to go about what they did...

      Sorry, I know its been about 19 years since he was in the band but he was the reason why I got into them in the first place and also why I refuse to listen to anything after Vitalogy - because of how he was treated.

      Also, how has Dave thought about his very brief mention in PJ20 when he was around at the peak of their career and that his side of the story was never explored. It was a great opportunity to get a complete picture...

      Kind regards.

      Bitter

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    3. Hello again!

      I'd completely forgotten about the Modern Drummer episode, which was ugly and hideous. If Kelly told Dave not to do the interview, and Dave did it anyway, I have even more respect for him than I did previously. (How do you know about it? Was it ever written about?)

      I wish I had more insight, but I don't -- I was so far up Eddie's ass that I didn't pay that much attention to what was going on with the rest of the band. Or the rest of the world.

      But, yeah, I do think he was unfairly treated; he got fired, and as far as I know, it was because he had the audacity to be kind and cheerful.

      I haven't spoken to Dave since PJ20 came out, but I doubt he'd expect more than a cursory mention.

      It's great to hear from you again. Is your name really Bitter?







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    4. Apologies for the use of swear words also. I hope you do not remove my post but understand if you indeed do. I could repost it if you wish - sans the foul language?

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  10. Thanks for your reply, it is sincerely appreciated.

    No, my name is Benjamin but I do feel bitter toward PJ all because of the Dave Abbruzzese saga.

    The information I obtained was from a book called "Five Against One" by Kim Neely whom I think you may have had some association with as you mentioned her in the PJ "thanks". Parts of it I took with a grain of salt but I completely gobbled up what Dave had to say about his time in the band and his views about Eddie and the fame ducking etc. I have a bit of information but its sourced entirely from that book so it is a rather limited view, however, it is the most detailed account I can find anywhere.

    Dave was my hero – still is actually. I wanted to be him when I grew up. The funny thing was I did not actually get into PJ until 1996, two years after Dave was fired. I was at a friend’s place and they played VS and I had just started learning the drums. Opening with "Go" – it’s a Dave Abbruzzese drum dominated track and it resonated something with me. I later found out that he was responsible for bringing that song to the table, when I found an old copy of the modern drummer mag that Dave featured in. It was really warming to hear that he was not just a drummer, but an important facet of that band. Finding out he wrote songs made me have more amounts of respect for him as a musician. I moved on to Vitalogy but then I found out he had been fired. It was really sad. I had the privilege to watch him play on SNL a week after Kurt Cobain's passing. He just owned that band. He really kicked that band in the ass. I was so impressed and equally devastated that my hero was no longer part of that band. It really cut me deep. I'm not sure why but... I don't know... Then finding out about how he was treated and why he was fired - I just thought it was so fucking stupid. I thought: here is a band that sings about bullying and suicide and a whole bunch of issues that plague society, and yet they treated their gregarious drummer as the fucking anti-christ, then proceed to vilify him saying he was a "rockstar" when at the time - that tag of being a rockstar was essentially referring to someone as Satan - particularly in the grunge circle. Y’know, all he wanted to do was enjoy himself and make the fans happy. He bought burger king for all the customers in the diner when he was recognised by some fans as he was getting his feed on. Shit like that which is so warming to hear and yet he is hung, drawn and quartered for it.

    I mean, I feel so aggrieved 19 years after it all went down... How the fuck did Dave deal with it and move on?

    I'd really like to meet him one day. Its just really fucking sad and I have a bad habit of bearing grudges... I want to like PJ and I want to explore their music post Vitalogy but I just feel that I owe it to my inner 16 year old who effectively took an oath to renounce listening to PJ without Dave. I think its OCD on my end... Whatever it is, it made me find this website and write to you so it can't be all bad now can it?

    Again, I appreciate the time you taken to read my posts and respond accordingly.

    Kind Regards,

    Benjamin :)

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    1. Hey Benjamin, I just happened to be listening to some Dave-era PJ tracks today and looked him up on the web (like I almost always do). I was really happy to stumble upon your comments here, because it translates perfectly, word by word, to what I've always felt about it - except the fact that I had been listening to him since 1992. Being a developing drummer at 17, in Brazil, I was enormously inspired by him. The band simply can't compare between before and after he was fired. Even though Matt Cameron is a tremendous drummer, he's certainly not the best choice for Pearl Jam, which style requires a subtler drummer like Dave. It was clear that the band lost a lot without him, and in hindsight we can all tell how the best songs were written while he was in the band.

      I was really shocked to learn the details of the episode as well, still in the 90's. I remember the band went public about it, portraying it as a part of the lame-assed stoic crusade they waged in order to prove that they were worthy of some punk, Fugazi-like cred. It was just plain sad that they did that.

      I have the same concerns about you regarding him, and I read an interview with Dave in the early 2000's where he said that he was still traumatized about it.

      Well, at least there's always some comfort in knowing that other people share the same opinion with you in cases like this.

      Thanks a lot for sharing this.


      M.

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  11. Take a look at this clip. Dave totally calls Eddie out on his BS. Superb.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kb5oJgIj6nw

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  12. Hey Benjamin! Sorry for the delay. I watched the clip, and it took me a couple of days to recover. I try to avoid everything Pearl Jam; I'm not joking when I say I have Post Pearl Jam Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    I didn't read Kim's book -- although I still may -- and I haven't seen PJ20 (which I never will). Love to talk to you more about all of this, but not sure I want to do it here. My email's easy to find online -- get in touch!

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    1. The whole post is about how Eddie isn't - and never was -- my friend.

      Apologies in advance for deleting your comments -- I'm all about a conversation, but not into being attacked.

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  15. I stumbled across this post while reminiscing about Pearl Jam and how much I used to like them. The first three albums were awesome, Dave Abbruzesse, while not on the first album, was the best Pearl Jam drummer in my opinion. He infused the band with incredible energy and he drummed with a flair that really hasn't been replicated since (this includes Matt Cameron's, while I absolutely love MC's drumming in Soundgarden - and he's one of my all time favorites drummers - for some reason he just doesn't have the same effect on me that Dave did with the Pearl Jam material. I think he's at his best when playing unusual time signatures and rhythms like S'garden requires). Now days If I listen to anything Pearl Jam, recording or live concert, it's pre-95. I saw them play three times in Melbourne, Australia - 96, 98 and 2000. The 96 tour was the first visit down under after Vitalogy and so we were pumped to see them, but I as a drummer, was disappointed that Dave was not part of the band, I understand exactly what Dave meant when he commented that he hoped Jack would record some new music with the band, Jack just couldn't emulate Dave, it was like a cajun omlette vs. plain oatmeal in terms of flavour. Somewhere around the Mirror Ball/No Code period the band starting sounding to me, frankly, like old men. I just don't feel like they've captured that energetic essence ever since. There's the occasional bright spark on an album here or there, but if I want to hear exciting energy and consistency, I go straight for the old stuff. Dave was a big, big part of that and I am convinced to this day that Pearl Jam would have taken a different direction if Dave was still part of the group. I'm kinda sad he's disappeared from the spotlight a little because his talents should have sen him snapped up by another band, God knows there's tons of bands around that lose drummers that could benefit from an artist the caliber of DA.
    I don't begrudge anyone's right to like Pearl Jam and if you do like them, that's great. However I haven't found the same enjoyment listening to them in a long, long time that I get from many other groups.

    BTW - Recently saw Soundgarden twice on their US tour and they were frickin awesome and made me realize just how much better a fit I think Matt Cameron is when he plays with Soundgarden. He's an amazing drummer.

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    1. Hello Eric! Sorry for the delay - I only just saw your comment. I agree with you on all fronts re Dave and Matt. This is so perfect: "it was like a cajun omlette vs. plain oatmeal in terms of flavour" - I may have to steal it. Thank you for reading/writing/being smart. xx!

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  16. Hello,

    I am Erkut Evirgen - Software Engineer from Istanbul, Turkey,

    First of all, I would like to thank for this great time travel you provided. I read your post over and over.

    I believe don't need to say how great is Vitalogy since its release and the ones before that.

    As you already know, it is quite difficult that such talented people come together and stay that long time on this earth -like Pearl Jam-. Anyhow, I want to say a fact of which I am pretty more sure nowadays.

    We all well know that the role of other members of the group (esp. Stone Gossard) is big in those extraordinary first three albums. When these incredible harmonies are sung in voice of Vedder it took us to another worlds. But after the year of 94 a problem popped up in the group: "Eddie Vedder"

    Eddie is uneducated and he developed it into a serious complex. He has a divine voice and the whole group has to bear with him just because of it. It was made difficult that Stone Gossard and others weigh in making of songs. He then (for me it is the stupidest thing ever done in Rock and Roll history) fired Dave. His being uneducated and ignorance could not handle "World of Art" (<-- it is bold). Only beauty of his voice saves him despite his dishonestness and ignorence. How deep are his lyrics for God's sake? God has been genorous while giving voice to him but not character.

    I say it very clear with an example: I listened to Blood from every drummers. (Matt Cameron, Jack Irons and Dave Abbruzese). Everybody can check these old YouTube videos. Difference is "obvious". Although 20 years has passed and I still keep saying the name of Dave from the other end of the world, from Turkey, there's got to be a reason. It is bullshit, stupid reason to fire Dave becasue he did interview with Modern Drummer. I repeat, it is the stupitest thing ever done in Rock and Roll history. If you think the benefits of working with Dave and not working with him.

    It is unacceptable, dishonor, lowness not mentioning Dave -who is one of the biggest reasons that made Pearl Jam what Pearl Jam we know today- "even for one second", not showing his picture "even for two seconds" in the "Twenty Documentary".

    I give the credit to Eddie Vedder (and his being peasant and uneducated) for this mean, cruel act they did.

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    1. Hi Erkut, and sorry for the delay. I have't looked at this post for a while. I'm way too traumatized by the comments I get from Pearl Jam fans who entirely miss the point.

      Thank you so much for reading this and for your kind words!

      Julie

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