‘Some did die’: Pearl Jam Guitarist Speaks To Whether Grunge ‘Killed’ The Careers Of Heavy Metal Artists

Bruce Dickinson: adels, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons / Stone Gossard: Lugnuts, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons
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Depending on who you ask, some folks will tell you that grunge absolutely overwhelmed heavy metal in terms of popularity back in the ’90s. Frankly, both grunge and nu metal were super popular genres of music at the time – but what about heavy metal? How much did grunge impact heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Motörhead?

During a recent interview with VWMusic, Pearl Jam‘s Stone Gossard was asked this question. Pearl Jam rose to fame in the early ’90s, alongside other major grunge acts. In answering this question, this is everything Gossard had to say about grunge’s impact on heavy metal and hard rock:

“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. I listened to a lot of Motörhead. 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.”

What are your thoughts on grunge’s impact on heavy metal? Earlier this month, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford commented on the metal scene of the ’90s, and personally, he thinks it was a great time for the genre.

‘What a great time for metal’: Rob Halford Speaks To Iron Maiden’s Rise In Popularity And ’90s Heavy Metal