Luca from pearljamonline.it talks to Keith Lowe about the upcoming Brad’s new album, the tour played by the band in Europe almost 10 years ago, the tragic loss of Shawn Smith, and much more.
Hi Keith, it’s been almost ten years since Brad’s last tour. What an amazing tour. What memories do you have of the two Italian dates in 2013?
I remember we were playing really well together and the energy was great. One of the joys of touring is being able to play a lot of shows together and by the end of the tour you’re on a whole other level of connection. One specific memory I have of the last show was Shawns keyboard had problems in the song 20th Century so I stepped up and did a little solo bass moment to give them time to fix it. It was really fun!
I read you almost finished working on Brad’s latest studio record. When did you start recording it?
Some of these songs go pretty far back, maybe 10 years. Over the years we’d go into the studio and get some basic ideas down and then move on to something else. Because of that we had a bunch of songs stored up and would occasionally get together and work on them and then put them back in the vault till the next time we got together. It’s really beautiful to see how these songs developed over so much time. If I do say so myself, this is a very special record in a lot of ways. I’m really proud of what we have accomplished and I think the songs sound great.
Then Shawn left. It was something painful and unexpected. After this tragic event, did you immediately took a break from working on this album?
Brad could have long stretches of inactivity, so when we booked some studio time to work on these tunes we were excited to get back at it. Stone, Regan, and myself all showed up the first day ready to work and Shawn didn’t show up. This was not that unusual because Shawn sometimes liked to work by himself late at night, so we just worked on stuff without him. The following day still no Shawn. It was a little odd because he was excited to get back in the studio, but again, not too unusual for him to be absent. We just thought he was dealing with some stuff and would come in later to work on the material by himself. The following day we learned he had passed in his sleep the night before our first recording day. Very painful, very unexpected, and very sad. We were in shock and couldn’t think of the future and needed time to work through our grief so we took a break. Later we started talking about what happens next. We knew we had enough songs for another record and decided just recently to get back to work on them. It’s been very emotional and yet also very healing.
Have you already decided the title? Will it be released by Loosegroove Records in 2022?
Loosegroove is the plan. No title just yet.
Can you give us some anticipation on what we will hear on the album or the possible tracklist? Will they all be unreleased songs? I remember Brad released two unreleased tracks three years ago…
The two we released a few years ago will be on there, along with unreleased songs from the sessions those came from. That’s all I can say at the moment.
It will also be a beautiful tribute to Shawn, one of Seattle’s best voices. Have you thought about reforming the band as a tribute to Shawn?
That’s a tricky one. We’ll have to see how everyone feels. As much as I would love to play with the band again, Brad can’t really exist without Shawn. We all have our roles in the band and Shawn was not only its voice, but also its soul. This album will certainly be a tribute to him and it remains to be seen if anything else will happen. One step at a time.
What are your next projects?
I’ll be releasing an album of my own soon on Loosegroove Records. It’s an ambient record mostly made with acoustic bass. The bulk of it was recorded at Stones cabin on the coast a few months ago. It was a beautiful, calming and inspiring environment and I’m really pleased with how it’s sounding. I have a special guest that I’m very excited about collaborating with on one or two tracks. It should be ready for release fairly soon.
I also recently worked on an album for Mason Jennings called Real Heart which was released recently. It’s a really special album and the recording process was very invigorating and nourishing for the soul. It was produced by Stone Gossard and Regan Hagar and it’s really a beautiful record. Other than that I just keep plugging away and trying to stay creative…. Ever onward!
Thanks for this interview, I hope we’ll see you soon.
Thank you for reaching out to me with these questions Luca. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you.