Stone Gossard, one half of Pearl Jam’s dynamic guitar duo (completed by Mike McCready), has added his two cents on the grunge vs. hard rock debate, saying grunge isn’t responsible for the demise of its hard rock predecessors. .
Talk to VWMusic (opens in a new tab)Instead, Gossard argues for transition as part of a larger “life cycle”.
“There is always renewal in the world,” Goassard told Andrew Daly. “And with that renewal comes new insights. And I think hard rock was really stagnating at that point in a way that gave what I would call “less musically talented” musicians the opportunity to say, “Hey, there’s another way to to play rock songs…to have songs that are heavy…outside the normal color scheme of a heavy metal song.
In the piece, Gossard talks about his early love of bands like Iron Maiden and the NWOBHM movement, alongside Motörhead, Led Zeppelin and Merciful Fate – bands that aren’t usually seen as influences by the gamer archetype. grungy. Instead, the guitarist explains, his contrasting playing style came about more by accident than by design.
“I was in it,” he says. “[But] I didn’t really know how to play like that, so I just did what felt right. And I think 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 bands formed from there. There was something new in there that really caught people’s ears, and had a huge effect on the whole thing too.
Gossard’s case for the evolution of rock in the early 90s is more nuanced than the narrative we’re used to hearing. History is painted by the victors, and usually with broad brushstrokes, but the classic accounts of rock’s various slash ‘n’ burn moments are highly simplified.
Contrary to popular opinion, punk – the spiritual predecessor of grunge – was populated by many musicians who (especially privately) respected the experimental tendencies of the prog musicians they were meant to “destroy”.
Likewise, Gossard’s opinion is that grunge’s mission statement was not as simple as obliterating the hard rock scene. It’s something fans and listening habits have taken care of, and not completely…
“You know, a lot of those heavy metal bands you talk about are still around,” Gossard says. “So it is clear that they are not all dead. Sure, a lot of them had to band together, and yes, some died, but that’s part of the cycle of life, right? There are still a lot of fans who love hard rock, and I’m one of them. I love hard rock, and always have, but revival and rebirth is part of the art.
Thankfully, Pearl Jam has often taken care of its own revival and rebirth – one of the reasons they’re still with us – for example, their recent move to digital amps.