Stone Gossard may be playing his first shows with new Mason Jennings-fronted side-project Painted Shield, but he’s taking his Pearl Jam bandmate Mike McCready along in spirit, as he’s been sighted playing the lead man’s Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster.
Footage taken from the third night of Painted Shield’s debut gigs at Seattle’s Clock-Out Lounge shows Gossard giving the Fender Custom Shop Limited Edition Mike McCready 1960 Stratocaster a runout on eerie electro-rocker I Am Your Country, its bridge single coil accentuating his edgy fingerpicking.
Launched in 2021, McCready’s Custom Shop model recreates the PJ soloist’s iconic ’60 Stratocaster, right down to custom hand-wound pickups, a Callaham bridge block and, of course, every scratch and ding it has endured throughout Pearl Jam’s career. A more affordable version is apparently in the works.
It’s likely McCready – who tracked a number of solos on Painted Shield’s debut album – hooked his longtime rhythm partner up with the guitar, as he did St. Vincent, who brought the Strat into the studio with Willow earlier this year.
Gossard, who was running through a Deluxe Reverb guitar amp for the show, employed a few other surprise guitars throughout the set, including his rarely seen Bigsby-equipped Strat, which got an outing for Aerosmith-vibed riff rocker Evil Winds, while he switched over to Hofner Club-style bass on Knife Fight.
It’s not the first time Gossard has been sighted with an unlikely guitar choice. On Pearl Jam’s US tour last year, his go-to model was a Gibson Les Paul Signature Semi Hollow Gold Top – notable for its ES cutaway up top and Les Paul cutaway on the lower bout.
A mashup of ’70s glam, new wave, punk and trip-hop, Painted Shield has been an active concern since the release of their self-titled debut in 2020.
Besides Gossard and singer-songwriter Jennings, the band’s lineup also includes drummer Matt Chamberlain and keyboard player/vocalist Brittany Davis, while Seattle session vet Jeff Fielder handles the lion’s share of bass duties during live performances. Their second record, Painted Shield 2, landed in May 2022.
“I write a lot of songs, so there’s only so much real estate on a Pearl Jam record for my indulgences,” Gossard told us of the band’s origins back in 2020. “Luckily, Mason is still appreciative of some of my songwriting efforts! It’s so easy to do, because we just send songs back to each other.”