Eddie Vedder on the legacy of grunge: "Girls, Girls, Girls and Mötley Crüe… I hated it"

Eddie Vedder
(Image credit: Michel Linssen/Redferns)

In a rare and candid interview with the New York Times ahead of the realise of his third solo album Earthling, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder spoke on a range of subjects, including what 'ripples' of change he believes the Generation X / alternative rock culture of the early '90s may have caused. 

"You know, I used to work in San Diego loading gear at a club," Vedder begins. "I’d end up being at shows that I wouldn’t have chosen to go to — bands that monopolised late-’80s MTV. The metal bands that — I’m trying to be nice — I despised. Girls, Girls, Girls and Mötley Crüe: [expletive] you. I hated it. I hated how it made the fellas look. I hated how it made the women look. It felt so vacuous. 

But it wasn't all bad, Vedder conceded. 

"Guns N’ Roses came out and, thank God, at least had some teeth. But I’m circling back to say that one thing that I appreciated was that in Seattle and the alternative crowd, the girls could wear their combat boots and sweaters, and their hair looked like Cat Power’s and not Heather Locklear’s — nothing against her. They weren’t selling themselves short. They could have an opinion and be respected. I think that’s a change that lasted. It sounds so trite, but before then it was bustiers. The only person who wore a bustier in the ’90s that I could appreciate was Perry Farrell."

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Mötley Crüe's bassist Nikki Sixx has since responded to Vedder voicing his opinion on the band in the interview. "Made me laugh today reading how much the singer in Pearl Jam hated Mötley Crüe. Now considering that they’re one of the most boring bands in history it’s kind of a compliment isn’t it?"

I think that [Kurt's] attitude made it OK to feel that way because he was the guy in the biggest spotlight

Elsewhere in the interview Vedder was asked by journalist David Marchese about the influence Kurt Cobain had on him, and Pearl Jam.

"I didn’t know Kurt that well. We had a few hangs," admits Vedder. "I’m grateful for those or those phone messages or being in the same room every once in a while, but it would be offensive to claim that I knew him more than I did." But Marchese suggests that Cobain's sceptical attitude to the music business could have been influential on Vedder and Pearl Jam's own attitude to fame. 

"To hit it as close as I can: that was naturally how we felt," Vedder responded. "I know it’s how I felt. But I think that his attitude made it OK to feel that way because he was the guy in the biggest spotlight. If he would’ve totally embraced all that stuff, it might have made me think, like, you better embrace this [expletive], too. 

"You couldn’t argue that he wasn’t the figurehead of that whole thing. That’s probably one of the things that bummed him out the most. That was a good question. I hadn’t thought about the attitudinal side."

Read the full interview at The New York Times. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.