After Pearl Jam reassembles in early October for its first live shows in nearly a year, the Seattle rock outfit will get busy on its eighth studio album. “I think they’re planning on going back to the studio this winter,” manager Kelly Curtis tells Billboard.com. As for a possible release date, Curtis would only say, “When they’re done, they give it to us and we go.”
The group will play six shows in October as part of the Vote for Change tour, which Curtis helped organize with the managers of Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, R.E.M. and the Dixie Chicks. The trek kicks off Oct. 1 in Pennsylvania and will proceed to eight additional presidential election battleground states.
“We were getting bombarded with requests to play around the election, and I thought I would seek out some advice,” he says of the tour’s genesis. “So I called [Sprinsgteen manager] Jon Landau to see how they were dealing with all the stuff coming in. The more we talked, the more we thought it would be a good idea to get a bunch of managers together and try to get educated.”
“What came out of there was five managers connecting and deciding that we should try to pull off some kind of swing-state tour. Then, it became a logistical nightmare,” he adds with a laugh. Curtis declined to comment on the possibility of additional acts being added to the tour or rumors of an Oct. 10 all-star finale show in Florida.
As for Pearl Jam’s specific concerts with Death Cab For Cutie, on-sale dates are still being finalized. Curtis doesn’t expect the shows to be made available as part of Pearl Jam’s ongoing authorized bootleg series, because “it might be a little shorter set from Pearl Jam [than usual], or a lot of collaboration. But then you’re dealing with other people’s record companies and it gets too complicated.”
Curtis hinted at additional Pearl Jam shows in 2004 but declined to reveal specifics. Asked if the band would unveil some new material at Vote for Change appearances, he said, “I’m sure that will be the case.”
Having left longtime label Epic last year, Pearl Jam crowned its free agent status with the July 27 release of “Live at Benaroya Hall” via its own Ten Club fan organization and a distribution deal with BMG. The set debuted last week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Internet Album Sales tally and No. 18 on The Billboard 200 thanks to first-week sales of 52,000 copies.
“This was a perfect record to try something new with some different folks,” he says. “Luckily, we don’t have to decide [about potentially signing with a new label] right now. We want to do as much as we can ourselves, and for what we can’t do or don’t want to do, we’ll rely on someone else.”