Mike McCready hinted that Pearl Jam’s next album might contain a few surprises for fans.

The follow-up to 2020’s Gigaton is being produced by Andrew Watt, after he worked with Eddie Vedder on the frontman's 2022 solo record Earthling. In a new interview with Classic Rock, McCready explained how Ozzy Osbourne and Rolling Stones collaborator Watt had changed about Pearl Jam’s approach.

“When we were in the studio with him this past year, he really kicked our asses, got us focused and playing, song after song,” McCready said. “It took a long time to make Gigaton, but this new one didn’t take long. Andrew was like: ‘You guys take forever to make records. Let’s do this, right now.’”

He said of the new material: “It’s a lot heavier than you’d expect. There’s the melody and energy of the first couple of records. Andrew pushed us to play as hard and melodic and thoughtful as we’ve done in a long time. I feel like Matt Cameron’s drumming has elements of what he did in Soundgarden.”

He added that “for better or worse, you’re gonna hear a lot more lead guitar from me – stuff I haven’t done in a long time.” Explaining that he “went crazy” like he’d done with Temple of the Dog in 1991, he noted: “Usually the first or second takes are best. After that I start thinking about it and it doesn’t have the feel. But Andrew caught the lightning in a bottle, as they say.”

McCready didn’t provide a title or release date, but said he hoped the album would arrive in 2024. He also agreed with the suggestion that the current socio-political state of America was “killing” bandmate Vedder.

“Oh yeah. I think Ed has always been very aware of everything that’s going on and always fighting for the underdog,” the guitarist said. “Certainly America has got so many fucked-up issues. Guns. Racism. That idiot Trump."

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Mike McCready’s Hopes for 2024

“All that stuff has always been there, but you have to be aware of it and consciously fight it, because you want this to be a better world, if you’re a good human. And I see Ed as that, and hopefully we are. We try to be proactive and solution-oriented, and not sit back and do nothing.”

Asked about how well or badly the coming year could go, McCready replied: “Well, if Trump got elected, that’d be the worst thing in the world to me. I’d rather think about the best things that can happen."

“We have to come together. We have to be compassionate. We have to take care of the environment. We have to not be racist. We have to not be idiots. There’s all these things we can do. But we have to choose to think that way.”

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Gallery Credit: Joe DiVita

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