Pearl Jam engineer Dave Hillis told the Cobras & Fire podcast about the recording of “Alive” in a new interview.
The interviewer said, “The track ‘Alive’ – as far as the bass recording track, that’s the original demo, is that accurate?”
Hillis responded, “From what I know, once it gets to labels, who knows? It’s hard to know what was what. I thought there was a different version that was from the video. The record, as far as I know, is the one we recorded, I don’t remember that.”
The interviewer chimed in, “The story was they just couldn’t recapture the vibe of that track, so they went with the bass tracks.”
Dave shot back, “I don’t remember, I don’t know 100%, but I don’t believe that’s true, and the reason why I’m saying this is when we were tracking, no other record I’ve worked on since, the whole thing that made that record special and different is that it was very much they wanted to get things live in a take as a band.
We spent so much time and the amount of tapes that we would use, most people’s budget today, no, for a record wouldn’t even meet the tape budget, was a mess, we had so much tapes, there’s a window from the control room up to the lounge.
And you couldn’t see through it because it was just stacks up high of two-inch tapes, and I remember just the amount of time we spent going through takes of different reels, just listening back to all those, there’s so much material, takes and notes that we had, we spent so much time.
We could crunch in places, these days you just edit everything in Pro Tools, but there might have been some songs where you said, ‘Well, that outro or that bridge, this take is just great, we might edit that part and put it into another whole reel.’ But that would’ve been about it, they really wanted to get a whole live take, and nobody would really know, but that was like a big deal for them.” Ultimate-Guitar transcribed his comments.