Did Grunge Really Kill '80s Heavy Metal? Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard Weighs In | Revolver

Did Grunge Really Kill '80s Heavy Metal? Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard Weighs In

Guitarist addresses long-running rock narrative
stonegossard-2016-kevinmazur-wireimage-getty-web-crop.jpg, Kevin Mazur / Wireimage / Getty
Stone Gossard performing with Pearl Jam
photograph by Kevin Mazur / Wireimage / Getty

Most metal and rock fans have heard the pervasive narrative that Nirvana and the grunge explosion of the Nineties killed off the heavy metal that ruled the preceding decade. In a new interview with Andrew Daly of VWMusic, Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard — whose band was, of course, part of the wave often blamed for the "death" of Eighties metal — was asked for his opinion on the long-running narrative.

"I think there's always renewal in the world, and with that renewal, comes new perspectives," said Gossard, who also co-founded the label Loosegroove Records and plays in the group Painted Shield. "And I think that hard rock was really stagnating at that point in a way that gave an opportunity to what I'll call 'less musically talented' musicians to say, 'Hey, there's another way to play rock songs.' There's another way to have songs that are heavy. And there's another way to create chaos and energy from those songs that would be outside the normal color palette of a heavy-metal song.'

"I mean, coming up, I listened to a lot of heavy metal," he continued, as transcribed by Blabbermouth. "I listened to a lot of Motörhead. I listened to a lot of Iron Maiden. I listened to a lot of Mercyful Fate. I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin. I listened to all those New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands, and I was into it. This said, as a kid, I didn't really know how to play like that, so I was just doing what sounded right to me. And I think that in the late Eighties, there was a very free attitude about art and music that was brewing in the wake of hard rock, and a lot of people were experimenting with sounds, and the bands formed from there. There was something about it that was fresh, that really captured people's ears, and that had a huge effect on it all, too. But you know, a lot of those heavy-metal bands you're talking about are still around, so clearly they all didn't die. Sure, a lot of them had to regroup, and yes, some did die, but that's part of the life cycle, right? There are still a lot of fans out there who love hard rock, and I'm one of them. I love hard rock, and I always have, but renewal and rebirth are a part of art, I think."

Speaking to his metal fandom, in February on Revolver's "Fan First" podcast, Gossard chimed in on the Eddie Vedder vs. Mötley Crüe beef by pointing out that he actually bought and enjoyed Crüe's early albums. You can watch the full interview below.