Earlier this year, conductor Keith Levenson called the shutdown of the live music industry “a clusterfuck of enormous proportions” in an interview with Rolling Stone. That off-the-cuff statement inspired him to create the charitable organization Fustercluck as a means to help people in the industry that have seen their livelihoods take away from them.
Fustercluck is raising money through music parody videos, T-shirts, and a new In the Coop Zoom interview series where Levenson interviews prominent musicians. First up is Eddie Vedder, who worked with Levenson back in 1994 when Levenson served as the musical director for Roger Daltrey’s 50th birthday celebration concert at Carnegie Hall. They reconnected last year when Vedder guested on the Who’s tour, where Levenson is again serving as musical director.
They begin by talking about Pearl Jam’s decision to postpone their Gigaton tour during the early days of the pandemic back in March. “It’s a nightmare,” Vedder says. “That’s why we’re here today, to talk about these crew people and musicians on a smaller level. We’re very fortunate. Our group, without saying too much, we’ve done everything we’ve had the power to do to make sure that our people are still getting paid.”
The duo then swap stories about hanging out with John Entwistle in the Nineties. Levenson was actually arrested alongside the late Who bassist for public urination on the 1994 Daltrey symphonic tour; management had to bail them out of jail shortly before a gig. Vedder didn’t have anything quite that salacious to share, but he was sitting near his shrine to Entwistle that he showed off to the camera. It includes many priceless original drawings by the bassist.
Inevitably, the conversation got around to politics and Donald Trump. “He’s never had any redeeming qualities,” Vedder says. “But even a few months ago, I was hoping he would do something right. I don’t want him to fail the country. I don’t want him to fail our livelihoods. I was really rooting for him. ‘Come on. Get this shit together and you have a chance to change my mind and to rescue the country from really where we’ve ended up now.’ I was rooting for the guy. But that didn’t help.”