The Washington Post

Be specific: Jeff Ament talks about Pearl Jam at 20

Bassist Jeff Ament figures he'll spend the rest of 2011 trying to juggle his new band, the garage-meets-Stax outfit Tres Mts, with his regular gig in Pearl Jam, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with several reissues, a Cameron Crowe documentary film, a music festival and a new album. In the second part of a two part interview (part one can be found here), Ament talked about life in Pearl Jam, and why opening for yourself is usually a bad idea.

Has it sunk in yet that Pearl Jam has been around for 20 years?

Yeah. The last couple years we put out the "Ten" reissue and we just finished working on the "Vs." and "Vitalogy" reissues, so there's been a little bit of looking back. It's always a shock when you go back and look at photos from 20 years ago, and you look at footage from 20 years ago and you just start to look back at all the things you've done. All the bands you've played with, all the traveling, all the incredible shows that we've witnessed and just the conversations we've had with those artists, our peers and our heroes, it's overwhelming.

Not a bad life.

No! It's crazy! I think it's that way for everybody, but when I think about where I come from, a little town in Montana, it's insane that this is the life I have.

Do you guys socialize? Call each other up and go to dinner? Or do bands that have been together for 20 years not do that?

Yeah, occasionally we do. I was in Hawaii this winter and hung out with Ed for a few days. He and I went out and paddled around. Stone and I went on a snowboarding trip, had fun with a bunch of our friends for a few days in the mountains. There's as much socializing as you can do for being in a band together and spending half the year together, anyway.

Have you thought about taking Tres Mts. out on the road as Pearl Jam's opening act? Or would that be exhausting and strange?

I've been asked that by the other guys in the band. I don't know if I can do it, mainly because Pearl Jam does two, two and a half hours a night and typically there's a handful of songs that we haven't played very much, so there's homework for that. It's even less of a physical thing than it is a mental thing, like trying to get yourself psyched up to play two and a half hours….There's just a process that I've gotten used to, and that process doesn't include being the opening band, also [laughs].

It's interesting that you called it homework.

Yeah, it sort of is. If you haven't played a song in a couple of months or a year or five years, you gotta go back and play it, learn the groove and learn the parts and make sure you learn the bridge and all that stuff. That's the fun part of switching things up — there's not too many nights where you can just completely lose yourself. There's these little items in the set you need to focus on, to make sure that you don't screw it up.


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