Earlier this month, Eddie Vedder embarked on a tour – in support of his new solo album Earthlings – that saw him hit the road with an A-list band comprised of Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Pearl Jam touring guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney and guitarist Glen Hansard.
Also part of the band is Andrew Watt – a self-proclaimed “biggest Pearl Jam fan of all time” whose resume includes production duties on Ozzy Osbourne’s Ordinary Man and a host of other high-profile albums.
In a recent conversation with Zane Lowe on Apple Music, Vedder recalled the very first time he and Watt crossed paths, and revealed how their friendship initially stemmed from a hand-written note and an electric guitar, gifted to the Pearl Jam icon by Watt himself.
“The first I knew of him was [when] someone left me a letter and a guitar at the Shoreline Amphitheater in San Francisco, which is where we would do the Bridge School [benefit] shows,” Vedder began. “I think it was at the last Bridge School that somebody said, ‘This guy left a guitar and this note for you,’ and it was from somebody that had played that venue a [few] weeks before.”
He continued, “[He] asked that this guitar get delivered to me, and it seemed like it was a really nice letter. I gave him a call back, thanked him and when I gave him the call back, he had my number. That's how that worked, which was great because then every once in a while I'd get a nice little message.”
Unfortunately, Vedder didn’t reveal what guitar Watt had gifted to him, nor did he divulge what was written on the note – whatever it was, though, it was powerful enough to spark a friendship between the pair that culminated in their recent team-up.
As for how their professional relationship developed, Vedder added, “I was just feeling so grateful. He handled it great and every once in a while I'd get a little text from him, and it was cool. I knew he was working, but didn't really know what he was working on or anything like that. I'm just really proud of the guy.”
Vedder later went on to credit Watt’s musicianship, saying “he’s as passionate about music as anybody I’ve ever met in my whole life” – high praise, given Vedder’s career – before lauding his technical production prowess.
“He’s good because he's quick,” he praised, “and as far as just the technical side of things [go], microphones and signal paths that you're running stuff through and the mix board… It's a real fast moving experience.”
Earthlings, which was produced by Watt, was released last Friday (February 11). During the first night of its supporting tour, Vedder and co covered a range of rock's greatest hits, such as the Beatles' Here Comes the Sun and Prince's Purple Rain.
The tour has since been postponed due to positive Covid cases in the Earthlings' camp, meaning the shows scheduled for February 15 and 17 at San Diego and Los Angeles will now take place later this month.