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Pearl Jam Producer Brendan O’Brien Says Album Was Not A ‘Lightning Bolt’ Journey

Samir Hussein, Getty Images

Acclaimed producer Brendan O’Brien continues his successful collaboration with Pearl Jam for their upcoming album ‘Lightning Bolt,’ which comes out Oct. 14. During an insightful Rolling Stone interview, O’Brien detailed the creative maturation of the band and recounted the challenges of putting the new project together.

‘Lightning Bolt’ was expected by many to arrive earlier than this fall, as the crew started working together over a year and a half ago. The band recorded six or seven songs right off the bat, and O’Brien expected this momentum would lead to a rapid completion. Unfortunately, the members, all of whom are songwriters, did not get back in the studio until five months ago.

“They had a lot of things going on,” said O’Brien. “I just don’t think they were quite ready just yet to do the whole … Once they finish a record, I think they know they’ve gotta crank the whole thing up. If they’re happy with the record, it sort of means they’re going to get the whole thing rolling. I just don’t think they were quite ready to do all of that. They all had various solo things going on.”

Since Pearl Jam has been up and running for over 20 years, each musician has grown as artists, and now with each album they go off and create their own music and combine these disparate elements into a batch of new songs. It’s O’Brien’s job to make sure that he balances all the voices to create a coherent and intriguing album.

“For some records, someone gets a lot of songs, and the next one … It’s just how the songs work out as a team,” added the producer. “Again, it can be a challenge from a producer’s perspective, because you’re trying to keep everybody involved. This is very much a band, as much as any band I’ve ever worked with. They do have a leader — Eddie (Vedder) is their leader. But they all kind of lead different spots in different ways, and they do all have their moments. They’re all very capable guys, songwriting-wise.”

Pearl Jam, will also be traveling to Australia and New Zealand early next year, as they were just announced as headliners for the annual Big Day Out rock festival. Starting Jan. 17 with a stop in Auckland, the fest will travel through the Queensland Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth.

Next: Brendan O'Brien & Incubus' Brandon Boyd Team Up For 'Sons of the Sea' Project

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