Acouple of rock songs, a couple of ballads – it's not rocket science," says Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard about the band's new disc. Not that he wants to undersell the hard work the band put into its eighth studio album, and its first studio record for Clive Davis' J Records. Pearl Jam entered Seattle's Studio X in November 2004, each member armed with ideas. After whittling about thirty songs to sixteen working tracks, singer Eddie Vedder took the rough sketches and wrote lyrics for them. "That took a while," says Gossard, "but it was worth the wait: He wrote some beautiful lyrics for this record." The title, Pearl Jam, reflects the group's most collaborative effort yet: It produced the album together, along with Adam Kasper; each member will receive writing credits; and for the first time ever, guitarist Mike McCready contributes lyrics, to the album closer, "Inside Job." Gossard's two musical pieces, "Parachutes," an island-flavored beauty with acoustic guitars, a Wurlitzer and shifting time signatures, and "Life Wasted," which features a bridge reminiscent of Pink Floyd, are among the twelve or thirteen tracks that will make the final cut. "It feels like a new opportunity for us," says Gossard. "We're proud of the songs, and we think they have a chance to do a little better commercially." The boys are also bracing for a yearlong world tour, to kick off in late spring. "All of our new stuff is so much fun to play." says Gossard, on a break from rehearsing the album's first single, "Worldwide Suicide." "I can't wait."
This story is from the March 23rd, 2006 issue of Rolling Stone.