Friends and rivals: the paths that unite and separate Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden – La Tercera

They were gathered, but it’s not a stage. A skit for Almost Live in 1994 brought together Nirvana’s Dave Grohl, Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil, and Soundgarden’s Mike McCready., who joked like unlikely rock and roll camp monitors while laughing at themselves as music stars of the day. Hi, I’m Dave Grohl from Nirvana. Come to Rock Star Fantasy Camp and you too can learn the tricks of the rock ‘n’ roll trade,” said the musician.

They were days when grunge had revitalized youth interest in rock, beginning with the critical and commercial success of records like never mind, badmotorfinger Y have. But the combination of fame and youth does not always work out well. Although Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic are today regrouped in a new band, 3rd Secret, alongside Thayil, during the glory years, rumors of tensions between the two bands First, they were frequent.


Yes ok, This is not uncommon in the world of rock and roll (for example, the rivalry between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones that is more media than real, or the noisy one between Oasis and Blur), usually it is about old local quarrels which then come to light with a different attention. In this case, it is about a generation of bands that emerged in Seattle that suddenly found themselves with a blow of recognition that was difficult to handle.

In his style, Kurt Cobain faced the inevitable questions about the figure of Eddie Vedder, in an interest in generating unfriendly interactions between the two. “We never had a fight. I’ve always hated his band.”the southpaw told MTV in 1993, making it clear that while they weren’t friends, there was no particular rancor. “We have had some conversations on the phone, I like it a lot. I think she is a very nice person.”

Vedder himself addressed the matter in a chat with Howard Stern in November 2020. “The only thing that bothered me about that [la supuesta rivalidad] it was because it was public and people were reacting: It wasn’t like between us. There was a certain writer who took a quote from Jeff Ament, and he took a quote from Kurt, and that made it interesting for the press. But really, I always felt like it’s us against the world, our people against the world, not our gang against another gang.”

For him, the explanation for the whole mess was precisely in the fact that the bands came out of a very particular scene in which varied readings of rock were developed, although with a shared moral do it yourself “We had a good scene here and it changed a bit -detailed the singer- Some of my audience in the past had our band with great disdain: some people in the world liked you, but some people bothered you or just hated your music or whatever. …and I agreed with them on all points!”

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pearl jam

In the same talk, the voice of Pearl Jam recalled the formative years as rowdy rock bands in clubs and parties scattered around the city. “After a show at the Crocodile [Café] when three or four bands played, Girl Trouble or Melvins… there was an after party in someone’s basement in this cool old house in Seattle that was kind of shabby and then all of a sudden Krist Novoselic from Nirvana would play bass, and I’d play drums, And we’d play Beatles songs, with these Fastbacks guys, Kurt Bloch playing… it was a great moment.”

Plus there were connections; Before joining Pearl Jam, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, as well as Mark Arm and Steve Turner of Mudhoney, went through Green River, one of the pioneering bands on the scene that failed to achieve commercial success. “One of my favorite bands from Seattle was Mudhoney, and there was a bit of a factionwith a side of Seattle music here, and ours didn’t fit that well into that…which was fine,” Vedder recalled.

When speaking of crosses, an inescapable name is that of matt cameronwho alternated the saddle in Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and the Temple of the Dog project, in which, in addition to Ament, Gossard, Vedder and Mike McCready, Chris Cornell also participated -a close friend of Vedder from Seattle-. “There were exciting times when Nirvana and Pearl Jam became popular, and we finally got the popularity and record sales that we deserved.”detailed the musician in a chat with Norway Rock Magazine.

He himself has celebrated the success achieved by his fellow generation and more importantly, he stressed that everyone had their identity. “When did Nirvana’s album come out? [Nevermind, 1991]you know, it was a very exciting time and they made the record they wanted to make, they didn’t change a thing, they… that was a really honest statement – he commented in 2015 to The 13th Floor portal -. So that’s how all bands operated in the late ’80s and early ’90s. We were trying to stand out, but we weren’t necessarily interested in sounding the same.”

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An interest that seemed to be shared by Kurt Cobain, who had a good opinion of men of Black Hole Sun. “I know I had a lot of admiration for Chris [Cornell] and admiration for Soundgarden Cornell biographer Corbin Reiff commented in 2021. Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd toured with Nirvana. He was supposed to be the second guitarist, but he ended up working the merch desk for a while, and he was really good friends with them.”

But that generation, in addition to the glories, shared the costs of fame; these ended up burying a generation of musicians, beyond Cobain’s death. “When never mind took off like a rocket in 1991/92, and Pearl Jam followed with haveit was already a feeling that things had started to go downhill Kim Thayil explained in the same interview with Cameron. Don’t get me wrong, I love them so much never mind What haveand I think Soundgarden still delivers products [en referencia a King Animal, de 2012], but the imitation bands had already started to appear on MTV. I won’t say too much shit about other bands, they had good musicians and good songs, but they were more geared towards MTV and radio than us.

Although the years brought some positions closer. A sample; in July 2014, Novoselic blogged a heartfelt entry supporting Vedder, who during a Pearl Jam show in England, launched a long statement against the wars, in response, according to the press at the time, to recent Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip. “Thank you Eddie Vedder for standing up for peace in our world,” he wrote. Time and rock mended everything.

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Friends and rivals: the paths that unite and separate Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden – La Tercera

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