Pearl Jam's New Album Is Almost Finished — but Mike McCready Is Also Working on a Rock Opera Honouring Chris Cornell

"I look at him as one of the greatest singers and songwriters of all time, aside from being a friend"

Photo: David Lee

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Sep 13, 2023

While some may think they're "one of the most boring bands in history," a lot of people like Pearl Jam. And we might be closer than you think to a new album from the Seattle grunge staples, with founding guitarist Mike McCready revealing that the follow-up to 2020's Gigaton is "just about finished."

In a new interview with Guitar World magazine, the musician also divulged that he's working on a very special project about the fertile '90s scene that birthed the band — as well as acts like Soundgarden. The late legend Chris Cornell was McCready's bandmate in supergroup Temple of the Dog, and he plans on honouring the singer-songwriter with a rock opera.

"I look at him as one of the greatest singers and songwriters of all time, aside from being a friend," McCready told journalist Michael Astley-Brown. "I love Chris, and I'm working on a little project about the Seattle scene and a musical kind of rock opera thing. He's part of it."

According to the guitarist, he's about 18 songs deep into the musical, having shared a live performance of Cornell tribute "Crying Moon" earlier this month. However, he's still "in the middle" of working on it, writing and rewriting both the music and a script and figuring out what form the project will take; it could be "a record and maybe some sort of stage/play thing."

It sounds like the new Pearl Jam record might be closer to coming to fruition, although McCready admitted that the band were "probably not going to have anything out this year."

"It's just about finished," he said. "I think there's a few tweaks here and there that have to happen," adding that working with producer Andrew Watt — who produced Eddie Vedder's 2022 solo album Earthling — brought "an energy and a youthfulness and a great ear to us that I think we needed." 

McCready explained, "He got us into a room and just pushed us as hard as we could be pushed. You know, it's hard for a quote-unquote outsider to come into our world because we've done things a certain way. We're open to new things, but we are also in our own world. We've done things for 30 years. So we know the dynamics of our band very well. But sometimes we need to get pushed and questioned, and Andrew did a great job of that."

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