On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast, we’ve got two guys who’ve been friends a long time, but recently formed a new project together. Oh, and one of them happens to be the bassist in a little band called Pearl Jam: It’s Jeff Ament and John Wicks.
Now Jeff Ament you’ve surely heard of, since he’s a founding member of one of rock’s biggest and most reliable acts, Pearl Jam, who’ve been going strong and steady since the early 1990s. That band released their latest album, Gigaton, right when the pandemic first hit us, so it scuttled some touring plans, but Pearl Jam is back out on the road this fall. Ament has always been a musical seeker beyond his main gig, though, experimenting both with solo records and side projects over the years. He’s also an accomplished visual artist. Not only is Ament the hand behind Pearl Jam’s iconic stickman logo, but he’s also an incredible painter and poster artist.
John Wicks is an accomplished drummer probably best known as a founding member of the band Fitz & The Tantrums, though he’s also loaned his skills to the likes of Bruno Mars and Cee Lo Green. He teamed up with his old friend Ament to make the music for a TV series called Under the Banner of Heaven, and then the pandemic allowed them time to start an entirely new project that they’ve dubbed Deaf Charlie. Their debut album under the name is called Catastrophic Metamorphic, and it’s a weird, fun, occasionally dark set of psychedelic pop that’s also fully engaging. Ament sings lead on most of the songs, which is new for him. Check out “We are Doing It” right here.
The chat you’re about to hear took place the day after Deaf Charlie’s first rehearsal as a full band; even though Wicks and Ament never really intended to play these songs live, plans changed and they’ll be making their live debut at the Ohana Festival in early October. Both of these guys live in Montana now, and they chat about Ament’s upbringing in small town Big Sandy, Wicks’ recent job as a professor at the University of Montana, how originality is often discovered through mistakes, and the unparalleled joy of finding yourself inside the music—or other art—that you’re making. Enjoy.
Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Jeff Ament and John Wicks for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform, and check out all the goodness at Talkhouse.com. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!