Eddie Vedder looks awfully relaxed for someone who’s just been told that the lead singer of the opening act didn’t make it across the border. Instead of making the crowd wait, Pearl Jam has decided to quickly pull together an acoustic set. Pearl Jam will open for themselves tonight.

Up on the second floor of the venue, we can hear songs like Alive and Corduroy blaring from cars in the parking lot. He pays this no notice. A decade ago, Eddie had a rep as an introverted loner, someone whose relationship with fame was complicated. Today, though, he’s about as outgoing and congenial as a human can be.

“We’ve been through enough with this band that this could be one of the better times,” he says, “It was well earned. And I guess that’s why you want to keep it together because this is the good stuff.”

I mention that Pearl Jam is one of the few surviving bands from the original Seattle days.

“A lot of the musicians, they still play. We definitely lost a few. You think, ‘Wow, it must be hard to keep a band together.’ It hasn’t been easy for us. But if it can’t be easy to be in a rock band, what’s the point of life?”

Due on Sept. 20, the new Pearl Jam album is called Backspacer, a word that’s been floating around the Pearl Jam world for a while. Fans first heard it when Pearl Jam sponsored a leatherback turtle race. National Geographic tagged a series of turtles with GPS devices to see which one reached their winter homes in the southern Caribbean first. Pearl Jam’s turtle smoked ’em all.

So what came first? The album or the turtle?

“The typewriter key,” he says, lighting up another smoke. “I was doing a bit of sculpture with typewriter keys, making a mosaic. And as I was putting these words together, I realized that I had written ‘The Who.’ Great! And then I wrote the name of our band and it looked really great. And then I saw a key that said ‘backspacer.’ And that key must have come off a typewriter from the late ’20s.”

“We don’t have ‘backspace’ keys anymore,” I point out. “We have ‘delete’ keys.”

Eddie laughs. “Yes, but backspace keys mean you have to go back and look at your mistakes.”

More Vedder

• Hear Alan’s whole interview with Eddie Vedder at www.exploremusic.com.

– The Ongoing History Of New Music can be heard on stations across Canada. Read more at www.ongoinghistory.com and www.exploremusic.com

Latest From ...