Pearl Jam Crashes Back: 'Mind Your Manners' Storms Rock Radio

Pearl Jam
(photo: Danny Clinch)

Pearl Jam, 2013.

The appetite for new Pearl Jam music appears to be as ferocious as new single "Mind Your Manners" itself-the track this week stormed onto several rock charts even though it arrived three-and-half-days into the chart week.

The fierce thrash-rocker, which entered worldwide digital and radio release on July 11 at 3 p.m. EDT alongside the announcement of October's "Lightning Bolt" -- the band's first studio album in four years -- starts at No. 12 on Rock Airplay with 4.7 million in first-week audience, according to Nielsen BDS. It's the second-highest debut on that chart this year. The song also debuts at No. 14 on Rock Digital Songs on the strength of 17,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. On Hot Rock Songs, it bows at No. 17.

Instead of a conventional announcement, Pearl Jam stoked anticipation for the single and album via a mysterious countdown clock at that began by first ticking down to word of a major fall tour and then resetting to the July 11 zero hour that revealed "Manners" and news of "Lightning Bolt." Rock radio adds and fan downloads began the moment "Manners" was uncovered as the clock hit 00:00, and the band then posted an audio-only YouTube video of the song. The clock has now been reset to count down to the release of "Lightning Bolt," which is due Oct. 15 on Monkeywrench/Republic in the United States and Oct. 14 overseas through Universal Music Group International. Pearl Jam's previous album, 2009's "Backspacer," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 635,000 to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

For Bill Weston, PD at active rock WMMR Philadelphia, "Manners" was automatically added directly into heavy rotation (20 plays through July 14), because "when Pearl Jam releases something we make a big deal about it and we were really happy to hear the single, that it rocked, that it was a little punky," he says. "Talk about an event record. This certainly is that, but it delivers the goods too. It's just got a lot of energy."

It's a sentiment shared by Ken West, PD at alternative WBOS Boston, which played "Manners" 35 times in its first three-and-a-half days. Calling the Seattle group a "pillar of the format," he says reaction has been swift and strong. "We got great feedback on it on our Facebook page and Twitter-people were just as excited as we were."

"It's such an important band for this radio station and this community," says Garett Michaels, PD of alternative KNDD Seattle (26 plays). He feels that the song is "a blazing fastball down the middle and it's just infectious," and has it "coming up about every four hours" as of press time.

Pearl Jam Announces New Album 'Lightning Bolt'

All three PDs also cite the single as a solid indication of the potential strength of Lightning Bolt. "As the first release from a new album, I think it bodes well," Weston says. "We hear that the album is super-strong. We're really excited."

As an abundance of dance, pop and folk-oriented rock tracks fill playlists at alternative this year with the success of Capital Cities and Daft Punk, as well as the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, "Mind Your Manners" has a hard rock sound that has been far less prominent on the format recently. "You have a lot of banjos and keyboards in alternative music," West says. "But there's nothing wrong with guitar. It's classic alternative."

Airplay gains are also expected next week, after "Manners" has a full week of airplay.

The song had its live debut at Pearl Jam's July 16 show in London, Ontario. Looking forward, the band long known for its live prowess will bring that to bear in support of "Lightning Bolt." Michaels says there's "a lot of buzz about the tour" that begins in Pittsburgh a few days before the album's release, and wraps with the band's first hometown Seattle show in four years.