Pearl Jam VS 26th anniversary

October 18, 2019
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October 19, 1993 - Pearl Jam was at a point where the appetite for the band and the anticipation for their follow-up to their multi-platinum debut was so great that many of us at KISW didn't know whether to celebrate or cover our eyes. In hindsight, Vs was exactly as it was supposed to be...with epic moments up to, day of release, and in the years that followed.


From Cathy Faulkner's personal collection, written for a radio trade publication.


The pressures were bountiful in recording a follow up to "Ten". New blood in the recording process with Dave Abbruzzese on drums and producer Brendan O'Brien. Recorded at Potatohead in Seattle and The Site in California. The album was recorded one song at a time. Tensions were high, conflicts existed throughout the process, and Eddie was known to head out to other locales sleeping in his truck... but it was the daily softball games at Brendan's invitation helped solidify the team and have some fun. Solid team indeed...

Prior to the release of Vs, Pearl Jam band and crew (The Rats), took on KISW (The Flys) in a friendly game of softball. Their time playing softball during Vs. recording paid off - as KISW was handed a solid defeat... The prize? KISW's airwaves. More on that in a bit.

Seattle was all abuzz so KISW hosted "Screenings" at the UA150 theater. KISW listeners got a booklet w/ lyrics, artwork and a raffle ticket for prizes then proceed into the theater to listen to the new album from beginning to end. A slideshow played across the movie screen while the (upgraded) sound system played cuts from Vs only for the ears in the room. You could feel the energy in the room... and...no mosh pit.

On the eve of Vs hitting the stores the nationally syndicated radio interview show Rockline headed to Seattle and affiliate KISW to interview Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament. "It was a tough but beautiful night... " says Jim Villanueva, Rockline producer '92-97 "The thing that comes to mind of that show was literally the beginning of that show. Eddie had not come into the room and there was 90 seconds before the national broadcast goes live and going "I'm skrewed" where is Eddie?"

As Jim's assistant that night, it was MY job to get Eddie into the studio. However, Eddie was sitting on the street curb outside with his bottle of wine, his suitcase (open) and talking to a young boy of maybe 11 years. As much as the broadcast was on the line, I was witnessing a most sacred moment that was not to be disturbed.

Host Steve Downes added " I remember, we were sweating bullets there. What are we gonna do?!"

Jeff was sitting in his seat, radio stations across the country hearing the opening music and intro, Eddie (I still don't know how) sat down just in time for the introductions to take place...and the show was underway.

Jim continues, "It was a big big show for us..for Rockline, for me personally, for Steve, Seattle, for KISW. It was one of Steve's first shows on Rockline"


Jim recalls "We were giving away Sketcher shoes to callers who got on the show and Eddie starting giving away his own stuff. At the very endof the show - the theme music was rolling - 'Rockline is brought to you by' ....just before it was done, Eddie cuts in, 'Hey ....for those of you who didn't get through my home number is...... and the show was out. And Steve Downes signature sign off 'I'm steve downes - see ya" and Eddie echoed 'see ya' .. and we were out." Recalls host Steve Downes,"That was a mic drop moment".

Another debut on Rockline that night was the first performance of "Bee Girl", Eddie Vedder's ode to Heather DeLoach in a bee costume on the music video for No Rain from Blind Melon.

Remember that Pearl Jam "Rats" Vs KISW Flys game I talked about earlier? After Rockline, Eddie and Jeff took over the airwaves of KISW (with me "hosting" the broadcast) so they could play what they wanted and share their thoughts. And did they. Eddie, with the infamous Time magazine in his hand had plenty to share.

Eddie would get "lost" in the walls of vinyl in our music vault, sometimes not returning for what seemed like ages while Jeff and I were improvising in the studio. Months later, I found this in my office - not exactly sure how it got there...but put a big smile on my face...

To go through these memories I feel the same conflicted feelings as I did 26 years ago. There was no question that Vs was (and is) a masterpiece from beginning to end. But the frenzy that surrounded it was an example of how something can be loved to death. The very magic that exploded out of Seattle just a few years prior was at risk of being chewed up and spit out by our passionate adoration and the money machine in the music business. What stood true from the beginning is the unconditional love and respect the band has for their fans. Hindsight 26 years later - The conflicts that took place in recording and releasing Vs while navigating superstardom in 1993 seemed to be the genesis for going forward on their terms. I couldn't be more proud as a fan (and dare I say friend).

--"The Late" Cathy Faulkner filling in for Taryn Daly, KISW