Guess who's still alive?
After a nearly four-year break from recording, Pearl Jam has announced plans to release its eighth official studio album on May 2, followed by a major tour.
The self-titled disc contains 13 tracks, many of which, Eddie Vedder tells Billboard, were written by the grunge rock stalwarts out of anger and frustration at the reelection of President George W. Bush and the ongoing war in Iraq.
"It's understandable why someone would like their entertainment to provide an escape from modern-day worries and the reality of war," Vedder told the trade paper. "We feel this record creates a healthy opportunity to process some of these emotions rather than deny them."
Pearl Jam, of course, made headlines in 2002 with the anti-Bush screed "Bushleaguer." During concerts that year, Vedder impaled a Bush mask on a microphone stand, drawing some criticism from conservative quarters that the musicians went too far.
The new set, produced by Adam Kasper and Pearl Jam at Studio X in Seattle, is the group's first for J Records. The band left its longtime label, Epic, in 2003 after fulfilling the terms of its contract.
"It's a very special opportunity for us to work with a band that possesses such an historic legacy," J Records founder Clive Davis says in a statement.
To hype the release, Pearl Jam's making an MP3 of the lead single, "World Wide Suicide," available for free download for two days via the newly redesigned pearljam.com starting Wednesday, the same day the song goes out to radio stations across the country.
According to Vedder, the record has the usual barrage of "hard-driving" rockers the group is famous for along with two quieter cuts, "Parachutes" and "Come Back," which he said could represent the quintet's "best attempts yet at pulling the disguises off of loss of life, and even love." Two other tracks, "Comatose" and "Gone" have already been performed live.
An announcement regarding tour dates is expected within the coming days. While Pearl Jam hasn't issued any new material since 2002's Riot Act, which debuted on the Billboard charts at number five, Vedder & Co. have kept up appearances on the road, playing 37 dates in Europe and North America in 2005, including a benefit with Robert Plant at Chicago's House of Blues to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.