CARRIE BROWNSTEIN: For how many years after you started did you guys do interviews with the media?
EDDIE VEDDER: Well, I think everything changed when we started the second record. I think we still kind of cut down, but we did some then. That’s when everything started feeling really strange. Because that’s when you get the process, at least in our kind of journey, that had that really sharp spike upwards at the beginning. It was kind of a strange feeling of being co-opted, and you were kind of just a product. You’re finding yourself on the cover of “The All-Grunge Special Issue” of something or other, with pullout posters and the whole deal. And you’re thinking, “Well, who are these people? Do I know them?” And not that you’re concerned but, “Do we even get paid for this?” It’s just out there. And the only frightening thing is even to myself this is overexposed. I’m overexposed.
CB: And probably don’t know who you are anymore. Do you ever look at a magazine with yourself in it and just think, “That’s not even me”?
EV: Well, back then, it felt like that. Or going to a Halloween party, and having someone with the pullout poster, he’s cut it out and made it into a mask.
CB: Did that happen?
EV: Yeah, yeah. He thought it was going to be funny. But I was way too sensitive at the time. It’s just like, ordinarily it might be funny, but it’s not right now. And it was hard to keep a sense of humor about it. It felt like, I think there’s a line in Death of a Salesman, “You just can’t eat the orange and leave me the peel.” And there were also just ideological issues that came up with either the music-television station or something else, where they had plans and they did things a certain way, and I just kind of didn’t want to do them that way. So in order to say no to a few people, you kind of had to say no to everybody.
CB: Did you guys have a sense of what kind of music you were playing before it was labeled “grunge”? I feel like right now there are so many genres of music; it’s become even more compartmentalized. And then this label “grunge” was placed on this certain sound coming out of Seattle. How did that feel to have a genre created for you by outsiders, instead of naming your own?
EV: I think that I felt secure, because I felt that we had our own musical language that we were kind of working with. And Stone [Gossard] and Jeff had played together for so long, and we were all integrating in this new relationship, and doing it in a way that I felt was different. I felt like it was our kind of thing. And then, as far as being put in with all the other bands at the time who happened to be from the same geographical location, I used to look and listen and read about the Who and the early days of the mod scene. This was when I was like fifteen, and I would just think, “Oh, you know, God, if I could have just could have been involved!” How great it would be to have been a band that grew up in that kind of a community thing? At this point I was in San Diego, and there were a couple of things going on, but it wasn’t an intertwined kind of community. It was too close to Los Angeles. The community’s kind of laid-back and wouldn’t come out and give themselves up at a rock show. So, to just kind of end up in a situation where there was a community, and there was all of a sudden a little bit of a movement, a musical movement, anyway. There were some really strong bands, at this point, when the attention was still kind of healthy, it was really kind of exciting. And because I was always kind of an implant, I felt like once I started to feel kind of accepted, I was always just so proud of being from here. And I still love Seattle and this area and the people. I really love Seattle and the Northwest. I’ve always been thankful that I was let in and accepted and really proud. I remember, at one point, thinking, “God, OK,” I used to read about the Who, and I used to think about this time of music and that time of music and think, “Wow, we’re in one of those right now—this is pretty exciting.”
An excerpt from Carrie Brownstein’s interview with Eddie Vedder from June 2004.