Q&A: Stone Gossard of Brad and Pearl Jam
Formed in 1992, the alternative rock band Brad began as a side project for Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard. But throughout the last 20 years, Brad has evolved into something special for Gossard and his, bandmates vocalist/pianist Shawn Smith (Pigeonhead and Satchel), drummer Regan Hagar (Satchel) and bass player Keith Lowe (Fiona Apple and David Sylvain).
Although the group wrapping up a short U.S. run, Brad hopes to continue playing throughout the States to push "United We Stand," which hit stores April 24.
"Pearl Jam doesn't work that much and neither does Brad," Gossard told SoundSpike. "It's just finding the right balance and hopefully we'll be out for a lot of dates over the next 10 years. I'd like Brad to be a big part of my life, if we can keep it going."
The album is Brad's first for the label Razor and Tie, which has also licensed the band's entire back catalog. The label will re-release Brad's previous studio albums, "Shame," "Interiors," "Welcome to Discovery Park" and "Best Friends?" along with the compilation "Satchel Vs. Brad." The catalog albums will be re-released in multiple deluxe configurations beginning later this year.
Gossard spoke to SoundSpike about "United We Stand," his love of Brad and the status of Pearl Jam's forthcoming album.
How's the new music going over?]
Actually, pretty well. We start out the set with a couple of brand new songs. They've just been going over really well. We're leaning pretty heavily on the brand new record. We're playing at least six or seven from the new record in the set. All the new record, so far, has been really playable, which sometimes is the case and sometimes isn't. That's always a good sign. Really we're just getting our feet wet. We're just kind of going, "This is it. Here we are."
There were eight years between "Welcome to Discovery Park" and "Best Friends?" Yet, you followed up "Best Friends?" with "United We Stand" within two. Tell me about that.
The last record ['Best Friends?'] was a record that was probably done for five years before we put it out. We sort of were in a lull -- you're experiencing a lull -- during that period of time. Once we got done with putting "Best Friends?" out and really got to sort of reconnect with each other and kind of get going, we knew we wanted to keep going because again we've really been a band for 20 years, and it's kind of come as almost to a shock to us that it's the case. We have this cool sound. We have our own style, and it's a rare thing to be able to say that and look back and see four or five records that have their own little thing. We're feeling a lot of gratitude right now just about the fact that we didn't break up. We still have a lot of love for each other. Good friendship. It's a good time.
Describe the songwriting process for "United We Stand."
Shawn and I are the primary songwriters in the band. Everyone writes. Regan wrote a song called "Tea Bag" that's on it. Actually it was a track from the "Best Friends?" session that we ended up falling in love with and wanting it for this record. I have a studio we just started going to. Over a six- to nine-month period, we'd show up every week or a couple days a week, or whenever anyone wanted to, to just throw down rough demos. We ended up doing 50 or 60 sketches of songs during that time. When I say "sketches," it's just like you have an idea: "Here's how it goes." You play it once or twice with everybody and you record it. It's not necessarily finished, but you get the gist of what it could be or how it could be different. The last couple months was going through everything and figuring out what was great and what we all loved. That was a fun process. It was kind of an editing process and really falling in love with tracks and explaining your love of tracks to your fellow bandmates. "This is how it's gotta be on there." That's a cool process. You get everybody's style sort of represented in one place. It's a really creative group. There's a unique aesthetic in the band. Everybody likes a lot of different kinds of music. We like to hit on a lot of different territory, in terms of styles. We like the ballads, but we like Black Sabbath too.
Do you anticipate more tour dates?
[Our current East Coast] dates are the first kind of round of saying, "Hey, the record's out." Then it will be as opportunities arise. We're tour-ready. We'll play on anyone's gear. We're just looking for opportunities to open up for people or play more shows. Pearl Jam has some dates in June and July.
How do you manage to balance Brad and Pearl Jam?
It's hard to be in a polygamous relationship. I think there's a lot more of it these days -- there are a lot of people that are in multiple bands. It's always been a little bit of a journey. The reasons why bands usually succeed is because everyone in the band is 100-percent focused on that band and every ounce of energy every relationship, every opportunity is going toward that band. I took on a lot by trying to have another band outside of Pearl Jam that I care about. The friendships that I've had even previous to Pearl Jam -- with Regan Hagar who I've known since 1983 or 4, and who introduced me to Andy Wood from Malfunkshun and who was a big, huge influence in my life in terms of art and creativity. We just have this long, long journey that we've been on together. We love hanging out and spending time together. With Keith Lowe in the band, who's a fantastic bass player, who's a Seattle legend, and Shawn Smith who moved to Seattle in '88 or something like that, you're talking about relationships that have been going 20-plus years. It's pretty cool as 40-year-olds, we get to go out and play shows and play rock songs. That's kind of a rarity.
Is Pearl Jam working on a new album?
Yeah. We're in the midst of one right now. It's half baked. It's sounding good, but I don't want to say too much about it. We've got some more recording to do before it's done. You never know what it's going to be. But it's been a fun process.
How's Eddie Vedder doing since he had to postpone his solo tour?
I think he's doing fine. I think he's doing OK.