Interview with Dave Abbruzzese
MA: When you took over the drummer’s seat in Pearl Jam you put your own spin on the songs. How did you go about making them your own?
DA: I was co-hosting a radio station when I made that call to Eddie and Jeff that would be the deciding factor for me. I asked them what they wanted sonically and scientifically…a mirror image of what had been put together on the Tenrecord, or what? Jeff said to not worry about it, just come up and we will jam and see how it feels. So, I stopped forcing myself to learn Dave Krusen’s parts and just approached them as I would have if they were my own. I would try to stay true to the notion of what the songs were on the Ten record, but the guys were quick to allow me to do my thing. When we rerecorded the song “Evenflow” and it became the version that was released as the single, I knew that the band approved.
I mean the guys were looking for their new drummer, not a temporary stand in. Back then, Stone had a very strong sense of the musical direction and brought a prolific amount of ideas into the fold. He and I worked a lot together. We would spend a lot of time working on music together before the rest of the band would arrive. His guitar style was uncompromisingly original and very rhythmic. Almost percussive at times. After the initial week of getting to know what I brought to their style, it became clear to me that I was going to have a more stylistic influence upon the music. The songs we were creating as well as the approach I took to playing the songs off the Ten album straddled a fine line and I knew that ghosting notes on the snare and punctuating the rhythms with percussive elements such as splash and Chinese cymbals were going to allow for a more flamboyant style of drummer to fit in without ruining the melodic sensibilities of the Pearl Jam sound. As the band started growing on tour, this new style became apparent.
MA: What songs that you played with Pearl Jam personify your playing?
DA: In every way, I would have to say they all do in that they represent my opinions of what the songs needed me to do as a drummer, to achieve the best version of what my thoughts as a musician, performer, listener and band mate beckoned of me. There are some notable, moments of self-realized pride in the compositional choices that I made. “Immortality” from the Vitalogy record still resonates as one of the most soulful and melodically expressive drum compositions that I have ever heard. The song “Tremor Christ” was essentially a reactive drum composition. Stone Gossard intro riff inspired a reaction that Eddie Vedder’s vocal approach sat perfectly upon, in my humble opinion. I also have a great deal of pride and a sense of accomplishment in the songs that I had no time or desire to overthink. The rockers, “Spin the Black Circle,” “Go,” “Animal,” etc. Hell, even my re-approach to the songs from the Ten album were approached in such a manner: drive the songs, myself, the band, the crowd, etc. I love my job!
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