Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard recently reflected on the long-running narrative that grunge killed the career of many hard rock and heavy metal musicians. It was noted that upon the release in September 1991, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” wreaked confusion upon the hair metal scene, putting an end to an era dominated by glamorous, androgynous and sparkly rock stars who absolutely saturated the radio waves and were almost exclusively what aired on MTV.
Stone Gossard shares his thoughts on the matter
In a new interview with Andrew Daly of VWMusic, Stone Gossard was asked about the long-running debate. He acknowledged the commercial success grunge had and shared his take on why that happened.
He replied: “I think there’s always renewal in the world, and with that renewal, comes new perspectives. And I think that hard rock was really stagnating at that point in a way that gave an opportunity to what I’ll call ‘less musically talented’ musicians to say, ‘Hey, there’s another way to play rock songs. There’s another way to have songs that are heavy. And there’s another way to create chaos and energy from those songs that would be outside the normal color palette of a heavy metal song.’
“I mean, coming up, I listened to a lot of heavy metal,” he continued. “I listened to a lot of Motorhead. I listened to a lot of Iron Maiden. I listened to a lot of Mercyful Fate. I listened to a lot of Led Zeppelin. I listened to all those New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands, and I was into it. This said, as a kid, I didn’t really know how to play like that, so I was just doing what sounded right to me. And I think that in the late ’80s, there was a very free attitude about art and music that was brewing in the wake of hard rock, and a lot of people were experimenting with sounds, and the bands formed from there.
There was something about it that was fresh, that really captured people’s ears, and that had a huge effect on it all too. But you know, a lot of those heavy metal bands you’re talking about are still around, so clearly they all didn’t die. Sure, a lot of them had to regroup, and yes, some did die, but that’s part of the life cycle, right? There are still a lot of fans out there who love hard rock, and I’m one of them. I love hard rock, and I always have, but renewal and rebirth are a part of art, I think.”