Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready Talks Prince, North Carolina Boycott
It must have been an agonizing decision since there’s nothing but bad options.
It was a long, drawn-out meeting that we had over a period of days. “Should we do it? Should we not do it?” It turns out that [Bruce] Springsteen had kind of set the mark there. We felt these transgendered people are being discriminated against under this law, and there’s just no room for that in my mind. We felt very, very sad that we had to not play. We wanted to play. But at the end of the day, we felt like we couldn’t do it. It was a moral belief. We had to boycott the state.
How much rehearsal did you guys get in before the tour began?
Not enough [laughs]. I’d say we did about a week. In my mind, we should have done a little more. I was talking to Duff [McKagan], and they [Guns N’ Roses] rehearsed for a month and a half straight, though they hadn’t played together in a long time. I thought, “Wow, we should try that!” Stone [Gossard] has always been of that mindset, but I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen. We kind of fly by the seat of our pants. We do rehearse when we get to the show and in the hotel and stuff like that, but we did about a week at our place in Seattle before the tour. I’m over-answering your question.
Who makes the set list? Is it all Ed, or do you guys chime in too?
I would say that 99 percent, 98 percent of it is Ed. He’s very meticulous about what we played and where we played it. If we’re in South Carolina, he’ll look at every set list we’ve ever played in South Carolina, and figure out which songs we’ve opened and closed with and try not to repeat them.
Tonight we’re doing a whole bunch of new stuff that I’m going to go woodshed as soon as we get off the phone since we had kind of a spotty soundcheck. But, again, it’s mostly Ed. But we’ll chime in and go, “Well, maybe don’t put that there since that’s in the same key. We did that last night.” So I’ll throw an idea here and there, or Stone or Jeff [Ament] will, or sometimes Matt [Cameron]. But it’s generally Ed’s vision.
But there are lots of moments when you deviate from the set list and do something totally spontaneous. Are you able to play any song in the Pearl Jam catalog at the drop of a hat?
Um … It depends on how far you drop the hat [laughs]. If you drop the hat and it lands on our feet, no. But yeah, hopefully we could play anything that was called out. We did that the other night. I think we took out “Rival” and put “Ghost” in there. We didn’t go over it. Sometimes Ed will look at the crowd and go, “Oh, that guy wants to hear ‘Present Tense’ or ‘Inside Job.'” I think we just did “Rats” without any rehearsal. But there’s certain songs you want to rehearse that are more meticulous, and there’s some we can do at the drop of a hat.
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