Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready recently sat down with Artist Direct editor in chief Rick Florino to talk about the bands highly anticipated follow up album to 2009s ‘Backspacer,’ his current seven-date 10th anniversary tour with Flight to Mars, as well as his favorite songs to play. A couple of excerpts from the chat can be read below.
The highly respected and sought-after axeman is currently making his way around the U.S. with his UFO tribute band Flight To Mars. All proceeds from the shows are being donated towards finding a cure for kids with Crohn’s and Colitis disease, something which McCready feels very passionate about. “I was trying to figure out a fun way to raise more money for kids who have Crohn’s Disease or Colitis,” he explained. “For me, fun entails getting together and playing with friends of mine in a cover band. That’s came to mind. UFO is a band no one had really done which I knew about.”
McCready added that the tribute show enables him to put on a spectacular live performance, while at the same time raise awareness for an important cause. “We’re serious about it, but we want to make it a fun atmosphere for people to come out to the concert and know they’re going to get a good rock show with a lot of great leads. Some people still want to see that. We hope they’ll come out to the show and know they’re doing a good thing at the same time.”
In order to play UFO songs, McCready has the daunting task of imitating UFO guitarist Michael Schenker’s world renowned playing style. The Pearl Jam guitarist said that accomplishing this was no easy feat, considering the two players vastly different styles. “He’s so good it’s hard for me to play him note for note. He’s the kind of guitar player who can hit every single note. He probably practiced a whole bunch. I’m not a guy who’s practiced a whole bunch. I’ve just played in bands since I was eleven-years-old. That was my upbringing. I practiced a bit but never my scales. My flare, as you say—which I appreciate—is me not knowing how to play as well as Michael Schenker [Laughs].”
McCready continued by explaining how he approaches Schenker’s solos. “There are parts I have to remember. You have to remember it, practice it, and forget it. Then, it comes out as you’re enjoying and playing it. For the solo on ‘Rock Bottom,’ I’ll just go for it. I’m not going to figure out his whole solo. I’ll follow parts of it. Tim DiJulio [guitarist] really knows how to do all of the other stuff [Laughs].”
Pearl Jam are currently in the midst of recording their next album, which McCready said would be out by next year. “Right now, we’re in the middle of it. We’ve got eleven or twelve songs in their infant stages. We’re working on making them a little bit tighter and making them the best they can possibly be. We’re all doing our different things this year. Matt is doing some touring with Soundgarden. Ed is doing some of his solo touring. Stone’s doing BRAD, and I’m doing a little Flight to Mars. It’s not going to be out this year. We’re about halfway done, so it’ll probably be out next year.”
As for what fans can expect from the album, “I think you’ll be excited about this. It’s moving to a progression. It’s different. I’m pretty stoked about this record,” McCready explained.
Click here to read the full interview.
Mike McCready’s five favorite songs to play on guitar.
Pearl Jam – ‘Alive’
Pearl Jam – ‘Black’
Pearl Jam – ‘Off He Goes’
Pearl Jam – ‘Inside Job’
The Who – ‘Baba O’Reilly’