Pearl Jam Goes Through The Camera Eye
Photographer Lance Mercer has put the finishing touches on his second Pearl Jam photo book, "5x1: Pearl Jam Through the Eye of Lance Mercer," which will appear this spring.In tandem with fellow renowned Seattle photographer Charles Peterson, Lance Mercer in 1998 issued the first Pearl Jam photo book, "Place/Date." But there were plenty of shots that slipped through the cracks, a number of which will be seen this spring in the new volume "5x1: Pearl Jam Through the Eye of Lance Mercer." The book will be sold via Pearl Jam's Web site.
"I've been sitting on an archive of images for quite a long time, and was having coffee with [Pearl Jam bassist] Jeff [Ament]," Mercer tells Billboard.com. "We were talking about [how] I have all these Pearl Jam images that nobody's ever seen, like all this behind-the-scenes stuff. And Regan [Hagar, member of Pearl Jam side band Brad] is pretty instrumental in pushing me forward. I was kind of in this space where I wasn't sure what I was going to do photographically. So between the two of them and me, we came up with this idea of putting this book together."
"The nice thing about it was that Regan and I pretty much had free reign to put it together before we even showed it to them," Mercer continues. "We did a mock-up, but we waited for a long time -- we went through thousands of images and various different sequences of photos, and came up with one. We've been working on it over a year. I'm friends with those guys, and I'm in the mix, so it wasn't too hard to approach them on it."
Asked how the new book differs from the previous one, Mercer offers, "It's a lot more personal -- that's a big part of it. Some live stuff, but not really as much as the last one. The other thing is it's a lot more hands-on, and I think it's a lot more of a collaboration between Regan and I. Personal is the key, even down to the size we made it. It's going to be an 8x10 size book, so people can just carry it with them in their bag." The images span from the early to the mid '90s ("There's nothing super recent in it," Mercer notes).
Two photos in particular are among Mercer's favorites. "There's one where [guitarist] Mike [McCready] is dancing around in his hotel room," Mercer says.
"For me, it was one of those days where I think it was a turning point for me, because they were comfortable enough with me that I was able to just hang out in their hotel room and take pictures of them doing their everyday tour thing. There's another one where [singer] Eddie [Vedder] is playing around with the manager's daughter, and it's just really an innocent moment. I really love that shot -- they're in this hallway. Their guard was down and I was able to get some pretty spontaneous moments."
With "5x1" ready for release, Mercer already has plans for another book. "I'm actually going to jump right away into another book of the overall music scene," he says. "I'm just going to give Regan all my photos and let him pick through them. I have thousands of images. It could be from Malfunkshun to Soundgarden, maybe some of the punk bands, like the U-Men. A really eclectic mix of different things. I shot a lot of bands that weren't Seattle too -- there's tons."
As previously reported, Pearl Jam is eyeing a late spring release for its next studio album, which will be its first for J Records.