Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard on survival, his love of IDLES and the chances of Glastonbury

"We're just stubbornly loyal"

Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard has spoken to NME about the band’s upcoming London shows, his side project Painted Shield, his love of IDLES, and the band’s plans for this year’s US Presidential election.

Currently touring to support their 12th album ‘Dark Matter’, the Seattle legends play two shows at the stadium this weekend (June 29 and 30), which Gossard promised us would bring mixture of favourites and surprises.

“We’ll probably try to sprinkle in some new stuff every night, and we’re playing some of the hits as well,” he said. “It’s a good show. The band’s playing pretty well right now. Everyone’s in good spirits.”

Gossard is also cueing up the release of ‘Painted Shield 3’ on July 26, the third album from the eclectic band featuring himself, singer-songwriter Mason Jennings, keyboardist Brittany Davis and drummer Matt Chamberlain.


He also spoke about Pearl Jam’s plans for the November US election, after their shows to encourage voter registration in key marginal areas reportedly proved helpful in Joe Biden’s election win.

“We’ll be involved,” he says of this year’s contest. “I don’t know the exact scope of it, but whether it’s funding or communicating and targeting very specific places that we want to make an impact and we feel like we can help.”

Check out our full interview below, where the guitarist tells us if they’d ever headline Glastonbury, three-hour gigs and the secret to the band’s longevity as a stadium-level act.


osh Klinghoffer, Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, Eddie Vedder, Matt Cameron, Stone Gossard and Boom Gaspar of Pearl Jam at Climate Pledge Arena on May 28, 2024 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)
osh Klinghoffer, Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, Eddie Vedder, Matt Cameron, Stone Gossard and Boom Gaspar of Pearl Jam at Climate Pledge Arena on May 28, 2024 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)

NME: Hello Stone. What’s the secret to still be playing huge stadiums after all these years?

Stone Gossard: “Probably the biggest thing is that we haven’t broken up. Our favourite rock bands: they shared, they wrote songs together, they had highs and lows. So we went into it thinking it’s gonna be some work but there’s something worth that effort. There’s been a lot of compromise and a lot of collaboration and a lot of blind faith and just believing that you’ve got a good group around you and you’re better off working with the people you’ve been working with rather than trying to make it all up again and having to go through it all with a new set of personalities. I think we’re just stubbornly loyal.”

Bands like The Black Keys are downgrading from arenas for more intimate venues – does live music have a problem?


“We’re in a certain bubble of people that have been with the band for a long time and it’s its own little universe in a way. We are just hoping and trying to nurture that universe as well as we can and are mainly just appreciative that we’ve got it.”

Billie Eilish recently said that three-hour gigs are “psychotic”. Would you agree?

“Well we’ve started to play a lot shorter gigs these days for our own well-being and longevity. We’ve done the three-hour gigs many, many times and there is something fun about having accomplished that and there might even be something fun about witnessing it and lasting through it. But I don’t want to go to a three-hour gig in general.

“In two hours we can still create that atmosphere of a Pearl Jam show where there’s gonna be some things you know, there’s gonna be some things you don’t know, it’s gonna have some climaxes that hopefully feel the right shape. We all know what it’s like to go to a movie or read a book that should have been edited. We’re trying to be conscious of that.”

Would you ever headline Glastonbury?

“I don’t know the answer to that question. I know that we’ve never played before. I think maybe there was an offer a long time ago, but I don’t know that for sure. My impression of it is it’s been a very impactful festival for England in particular. I know that there’s been some amazing breakout performances there. But I haven’t kept up with it that much. Dua Lipa, right?”

What’s keeping the huge grunge-era bands such as yourselves and Foo Fighters going?

“I still feel excited about creative endeavours. I still feel excited about not knowing what we’re going to do next. Everyone in the band still has a lot of creative energy about what they want to do.”

is there any fraternity amongst the surviving bands from that era?

“As far as personal relationships and hanging out, not for me personally. But you can’t have come through the same thing – Smashing Pumpkins or Foo Fighters – and not think that it would be interesting to have a conversation or reflect about what are the things that we appreciate about each other or not. That’s interesting to me, but it’s not currently happening.”

Is Pearl Jam’s latest album ‘Dark Matter’ a career high?

“I wouldn’t say that. I think it will end up being an impactful record – looking back at some point this record will be significant. Working with [producer] Andrew Watt was effective for us. In a sense, he was going back in time and saying, ‘You did this so well, just do this’. It makes me think ‘OK, we did that, now what’s the opposite of that? Let’s lean in the other direction’.”

What do you get from Painted Shield that you don’t get from Pearl Jam?

“At every step, it’s really been encouraging this different group of people to share with each other and take chances and have it be a band where this is not your main band, this is a band to do anything. You can be anyone. Really encouraging that state of mind of, ‘Let’s be whimsical and playful, because sometimes in more serious bands the stakes are higher, so it’s harder to be playful. It’s harder to be off the cuff. This is supposed to be kinda of a playground. It’s different people leading the charge on different tracks.”

Are the next generation discovering you?

“I don’t know. I see some young people at the shows and our crowds feel pretty good and excited. I’m thankful for the people that are digging it and it’s always nice to think that some kids are getting turned on to Pearl Jam.”

What do you make of the younger generation of rock bands?

“IDLES are just amazing. We played a couple of shows with them and the abandonment that they have, it’s shamanistic, it’s ecstatic dancing. And the simplicity of it, the fundamentals of it, you get your fucking old blokes and everybody grabs something and you hammer on it in a thoughtful way. And then the lyric and the way the singer approaches music, it’s spoken word and singing in a way that shows you – just like all those unconventional singers show you – new ways of how it can still be a song. That shows you the democracy of music. And people just go fucking crazy.”

It’s election year – can Trump happen again?

“I guess it’s possible. In a sense, Trump is a performance artist and there’s people that play along with his performance because it suits them in certain ways. I think in the end, I hope that they’re going to realise that it’s more serious than performance art.”

What do you think the consequences would be if he does get in?

“I always feel like equal and opposite energies bump up against each other and when something goes too far one way you unleash another energy that will take it back in a different direction, but you don’t know exactly how that’s gonna happen. I still think that’s going to be part of the equation, that if somehow he gets everything he wants he’s also going to be met with some force that he’s not expecting and it’s gonna shift it into some other direction. That’s the best I can hope for I guess.”

Do you think Biden has delivered?

“I’m not an expert. I’m an armchair analyst. My guess is that when people look back on it, they’re gonna say that there’s some things that he did that weren’t being celebrated. I think there’s some subtlety to what he’s doing.”

Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam perform at Marlay Park on June 22, 2024 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Kieran Frost/Redferns)
Eddie Vedder and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam perform at Marlay Park on June 22, 2024 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Kieran Frost/Redferns)

What are your fondest memories of the ‘90s grunge scene?

“Playing music with Andy Wood, working on Temple Of The Dog with Chris Cornell. Making our first record ‘Versus’ with Brendan O’Brien, and how much he impacted us and how appreciative I was of his musicality and his generosity with us. At Lollapalooza, there really was a sense of community in that group of people.

“Watching Ice Cube play every night and just thinking this is the best, that Ice Cube and the band I’m in are playing on the same day. There was a really fun time at the beginning where we were just all drunk all the time and that was part of the unhinged joy of being onstage. We’re crappy and we’re just fucking drunk and this is great and everybody’s having a good time and isn’t that great? That Mudhoney era was a lot of fun. People were sloppy.”

‘Painted Shield 3’ will be released on July 26.

Pearl Jam’s remaining UK, European and US tour dates are below. Visit here for tickets and more information.


29 – London, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 


2 – Berlin, Germany, Waldbuhne 
3 – Berlin, Germany, Waldbuhne 
6 – Barcelona, Spain, Palau Sant Jordi 
8 – Barcelona, Spain, Palau Sant Jordi 
11 – Madrid, Spain, Mad Cool Festival 
13 – Lisbon, Portugal, NOS Alive Festival 


22 – Missoula, Montana, Washington-Grizzly Stadium 
26 – Indianapolis, Indiana, Ruoff Music Center 
29 – Chicago, Illinois, Wrigley Field 
31 – Chicago, Illinois, Wrigley Field 


3 – New York, New York, Madison Square Garden 
4 – New York, New York, Madison Square Garden 
7 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wells Fargo Center 
9 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wells Fargo Center 
12 – Baltimore, Maryland, CFG Bank Arena 
15 – Boston, Massachusetts, Fenway Park 
17 – Boston, Massachusetts, Fenway Park 


8 – Auckland, New Zealand, Go Media Stadium Mt Smart 
13 – Gold Coast, Australia, Heritage Bank Stadium 
16 – Melbourne, Australia, Marvel Stadium 
21 – Sydney, Australia, Giants Stadium 

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