Here’s How You Can Score a Piece of Pearl Jam History
Collectionzz is offering Pearl Jam fans a chance to get their hands on rare original cell and storyboard materials from the band's 1998 animated video for "Do the Evolution." This sale, to be held on March 28, represents another holy-grail moment for Ian Linde.
A lifelong Pearl Jam fan, Linde originally co-founded Collectionzz as a forum site to show off treasured memorabilia – citing a need to create a gathering place for like-minded collectors. “Where do all of these people display their posters or their guitars or their signed baseballs? People love this stuff,” Linde says in an exclusive interview with Ultimate Classic Rock. "They spend time and energy and money."
Collectionzz has since become a popular hub for selling items like these video materials, which trace back to a celebrated period in Pearl Jam's history. Directed by Todd McFarlane (Spawn) and Kevin Altieri (Batman: The Animated Series), "Do the Evolution" was nominated for a Grammy Award and was later named one of the greatest animated video music videos ever by Rolling Stone.
Expectations ran high from the beginning, since "Do the Evolution" arrived following a seven-year drought between Pearl Jam videos. Yet, co-producer Joe Pearson tells us the creative team was given a surprising amount of creative latitude.
“The only mandate from Eddie [Vedder] in a phone call that he had with Todd McFarlane and Kevin [Altieri] and I was that he just kind of wanted to do something really dark and edgy – kind of like the ‘ultimate stoner video,’” Pearson tells UCR, in a separate interview. "That was a very memorable quote from Eddie. But beyond that, there was no real mandate in terms of images or approach. Which is exhilarating as a creative, but it’s terrifying if you only have 12 weeks to do something. My fears – and all of this went through my head pretty much in, like, three or four seconds – were, okay, it’s a decent amount of money and it’s just enough time to do it right, but if we make any wrong turns or go down any dead ends, we’re fucked. We’re going to crash and burn. That was a big concern.”
Watch Pearl Jam's Video for 'Do the Evolution'
These turned out to be baseless worries for Pearson, who is at work on a book about this experience that's due later in the year. Fans like Linde were, in fact, immediately struck by the ground-breaking visual inventiveness of "Do the Evolution." Linde says he has since come to appreciate the clip's forward-looking narrative, as well.
“When I saw that for the first time, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ It was different. I knew it was lasting,” Linde tells us. “Politically, I didn’t realize some of the parallels, even to now, how you can draw [comparisons to the current conditions with] some of the stuff. I just felt like it was different, it was lasting and it was kind of pushing the envelope. I think I appreciate it more now than then. You know, then you’re living in the moment and you’re like, ‘Oh cool, ‘Do the Evolution,’ whatever!’ And now, when I look at the art and I go through it and I look at it with the whole election and different things, you say, 'Wow, there’s some foreshadowing of the life and the world and these political and social dynamics.' When I saw it then, I guess I didn’t appreciate it as much. I knew it was different and powerful, but now I say, ‘Shit, this is special.' It was Grammy-nominated and I can understand why.’”
When they completed the shoot, Pearson says the Epoch Ink animation team kept about 10 percent of the cells as souvenirs. The rest went to Todd McFarlane Entertainment, he adds. Pearson kept the storyboards and pre-production art, putting a select few items up for display at the studio. "The rest sat in a very nice sealed container in my home office," Pearson says. "Unfortunately, Todd and his team, they stored their cells in an unheated warehouse space in Phoenix, Arizona, [in] 110 and 120 degree heat. Basically, they melted into a giant mass of cardboard and plastic. Terry Fitzgerald [who also helped to produce 'Do the Evolution'] pulled out about 30 or 40 cell setups before that happened, but the rest are gone.”
This sale connects back to the roots of Collectionzz, which was principally focused on Pearl Jam at first. Linde says it grew quickly from there.
“Pearl Jam has a very rabid, engaged collector base and music base,” he notes. “I mean, the fans travel the world; they stay online. It’s as engaged as it gets, as far as this band. We definitely have a love for this segment [of fans]. In our outreach initially, it took root there. People spoke the same language as us. They were very engaged. They collected posters; they collected autographs. They also, as collectors, felt under-served – like I had. As far as, 'where's a great place for me to display my stuff? Where’s a great place to find stuff? You know, where do other like-minded folks go where they could connect and discover?'"
Watch Mike McCready Play Collectible Guitar With Temple of the Dog
Since then, Collectionzz has expanded to include a vast array of other collectibles, offering many other opportunities for fans to appreciate and purchase one-of-a-kind items. Linde specifically highlighted memorabilia from Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Bruce Springsteen, Grateful Dead, Foo Fighters, Phish and Nirvana, among others. “It’s not just about Pearl Jam,” Linde says. “We have a plethora of incredible rock and roll artifacts. You know, that’s part of it, breathing life into some of these things that would otherwise be lost with history. That’s what we want to do.”
As a collector himself, Linde shares a unique perspective – and that's also part of the vibe surrounding Collectionzz. “We convey a message that they like and we’re one of them," he says. "I think that’s the beauty, is that they’re like, 'these guys, they’re like us.'"
Amongst Linde's massive trove of personal treasures is the guitar that Mike McCready used to record the Temple of the Dog album. It was also a familiar presence on stage as Pearl Jam heavily toured during their initial years. Decorated by hand, this 1962 Fender Telecaster reissue is so distinctive that it’s hard to believe McCready would ever part with it. Linde procured the instrument from someone who worked for the band.
Nearly 25 years later when McCready reunited with Temple of the Dog, he also reunited with that same guitar. “I lent it to him for the reunion tour,” Linde says. “I had the guitar and some of the folks in the organization reached out to me. I shipped it to him and he used it on tour, and I got to see it being played again. That to me was the ultimate full-circle experience for a collector.”
Collectionzz donates a portion of the proceeds from each sale to a good cause, something which Linde says is an important part of their “fabric,” both as people and a company. “Look, for us, we’re trying to balance," he adds. "We have a business, but we’re also trying to do it better and differently with more soul than anybody else."