May 21, 2003
Ten years ago Pearl Jam ended their relationship with long-time record label, Epic, a relationship that had started in 1991 prior to the release of the group’s debut album, Ten.
Before Pearl Jam, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard had been members of the group Mother Love Bone, who was signed to PolyGram records. When Mother Love Bone ended, PolyGram wanted to hold onto the two musicians but they no longer knew anyone at the company. The man who had signed MLB had moved to Epic and Ament and Gossard had to fight to get out of their contract. And it was expensive. Once free, they signed their new group with Epic.
Ten years ago on this day, Pearl Jam’s 12-year relationship with Epic Records ended but the band was not ready to release an album without label backing. Independent label Epitaph Records was considered but the band wanted a company that would guarantee a wide release. PJ’s manager, Kelly Curtis, signed then to a one record deal with J Records founded by industry veteran Clive Davis. Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder said J was picked as they searched for "somebody who'll allow us to be who we are and respects how we do things".
The band and the label tested the waters by issuing the live album, Live at Benaroya Hall, followed then by the self-titled studio Pearl Jam album, also referred to as the "Avacado" album. For the first time since 1993's Ten follow-up Vs the band members did not go into the recording sessions with any completed songs, only guitar riffs. It was the beginning of their post Epic decade.