Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard Shed Light On Grunge Overtaking Metal


Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard spoke frankly about the accession of grunge music in the early-'90s and how it affected hard rock and heavy metal.

Essentially, Gossard believes it was an organic changing of musical tides, telling,, “I think there’s always renewal in the world, and with that renewal, comes new perspectives. And I think that hard rock was really stagnating at that point in a way that gave an opportunity to what I’ll call 'less musically talented' musicians to say, 'Hey, there’s another way to play rock songs. There’s another way to have songs that are heavy. And there’s another way to create chaos and energy from those songs that would be outside the normal color palette of a heavy metal song.'”

He went on to talk about his key influences upon learning to play: “Coming up, I listened to a lot of heavy metal. I listened to a lot of Motörhead. I listened to a lot of Iron Maiden. I listened to a lot of Merciful Fate. I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin. I listened to all those new wave of British heavy metal bands, and I was into it. This said, as a kid, I didn’t really know how to play like that, so I was just doing what sounded right to me. And I think that in the late-'80s, there was a very free attitude about art and music that was brewing in the wake of hard rock, and a lot of people were experimenting with sounds, and the bands formed from there.”

Gossard touched upon what was so enticing to rock fans about grunge: “There was something about it that was fresh, that really captured people’s ears, and that had a huge effect on it all too. But you know, a lot of those heavy metal bands you’re talking about are still around, so clearly they all didn’t die. Sure, a lot of them had to regroup, and yes, some did die, but that’s part of the life cycle, right? There are still a lot of fans out there who love hard rock, and I’m one of them. I love hard rock, and I always have, but renewal and rebirth are a part of art, I think.”

Pearl Jam has always been comfortable looking back, mainly because they never stopped moving forward and breaking new ground. Bassist Jeff Ament told us how that the band's early success offered them opportunities they never could've dreamed of: “There were a lot of benefits that came out of getting as big as we did early on. We were stoked to play in front of a couple of hundred people at the local bar, y'know, and so to go from that to a couple of years later, Rolling Stones are asking us to open for them and Neil Young's asking us to be his band and all that kind of stuff. . . it was a trip.”

Jeff Ament On Pearl Jam’s Initial Success :