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(Credit: Danny Clinch)

Music

The one genre that Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder hates

@josephtaysom

Eddie Vedder was involved in the music industry before he joined Pearl Jam, albeit stranded on the sidelines. He worked at a local venue in San Diego which allowed him to be in spitting distance of the action, yet, simultaneously so far away.

In some ways, this job was magical for Vedder because it allowed him to have a front-row seat to watch some of the hottest artists in the country, and it was an apprenticeship on how to perform. However, it also opened his eyes up to more unsavoury sights, including one genre that the Pearl Jam frontman passionately despises.

This was the late 1980s, and before the grunge scene revitalised the music industry. In Vedder’s eyes, rock music was in the doldrums, and the wave of hair metal bands who rose to popularity was a source of frustration for the singer.

At this time, Vedder was working countless jobs while balancing his music career, which was going nowhere fast. He played in various bands during this period, but none of them successfully fought their way out of the local circuit, and the state of the mainstream rock scene enraged him.

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Opening up on this chapter of his life with the New York Times, Vedder reminisced: “You know, I used to work in San Diego loading gear at a club. I’d end up being at shows that I wouldn’t have chosen to go to — bands that monopolized late-80s MTV. The metal bands that — I’m trying to be nice — I despised. ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ and Mötley Crüe: Fuck you.”

Although Vedder would have never paid to have attended these shows, they still taught him a powerful lesson about the tropes he wanted to avoid on stage, and as a musician. He continued: “I hated it. I hated how it made the fellas look. I hated how it made the women look. It felt so vacuous. Guns N’ Roses came out and, thank God, at least had some teeth.”

It also made him more appreciative of the magical thing they later had going in Seattle which was a safe space that everybody could participate in, and people were free to be whoever they wanted rather than follow gender conformities.

Vedder added: “But I’m circling back to say that one thing that I appreciated was that in Seattle and the alternative crowd, the girls could wear their combat boots and sweaters, and their hair looked like Cat Power’s and not Heather Locklear’s — nothing against her”.

“They weren’t selling themselves short. They could have an opinion and be respected. I think that’s a change that lasted. It sounds so trite, but before then it was bustiers. The only person who wore a bustier in the ’90s that I could appreciate was Perry Farrell.”

From Vedder’s perspective, hair metal was a cancerous stain on music and also caused a wider societal damage. Thankfully, grunge soon arrived and gave rock a much-needed facelift that not only birthed great music but also championed inclusivity.

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