Pete Townshend Shares What Makes Pearl Jam And Nirvana Different Than Other Grunge Bands

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend recently opened up about the relationship between music generations during an interview with Mojo. According to the rocker, Britpop and the punk movement in the UK including bands like the Jam and Oasis was focused on looking down on the past generations whereas Nirvana and Pearl Jam respected their influences.

For those of you who may not know, Britpop is a music and culture movement that emphasized Britishness that produced alternative rock partly as a reaction to the popularity of the darker lyrical themes of the US-led grunge music in the mid-1990s.

While this movement was best represented with the successful bands including Blur, Oasis, Suede, and Pulp, also known as the ‘big four’ of Britpop, there were bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains in the United States all of which were making the music that was opposite of Britpop.

During a recent interview, Pete Townshend reflected on one of the biggest differences between the Britpop and the grunge scene as well as its representatives. According to the guitarist, the movement in the UK changed things between the generations of music.

Bands like the Jam and Oasis acted as if the musicians that came before them should’ve been dead by now. Whereas bands in the United States like Nirvana and Pearl Jam candidly talked about their admiration to the bands that influenced them including the Who.

Pete Townshend’s statement follows:

“When you have fans who are working musicians, and if there’s at least a 10 to a 15-year gap, the relationship becomes respectful and even exalting. I’ve been through it myself on occasions when I’ve finally got to meet people like Little Richard or The Everly Brothers or Brian Wilson. But the punk movement in the UK changed things.

It created a particularly British mechanism, which is: ‘We love you, but you’re a complete and utter c**t! And we think everything that you did up until the point that we were born was really really great. But since we’ve been born, you’ve just turned into a big pile of rubbish.’ And this is you know, Britpop, it’s The Jam and it’s Oasis…”

He continued:

“The difference with Pearl Jam and I think also with Nirvana, who were also Who fans, is that they were able to kind of roll with it, I suppose and live with it. You see it in a huge way in country & western music, in particular in America, and maybe in folk music, where the older artists are not just respected and lauded but also allowed to continue, not to just roll over and die.

A lot of my midlife shit was about the idea that I too felt that I should roll over and die. And I think that is very much a British thing. That you mustn’t outstay your welcome. And you must also embrace new ideas. They call it neoterism. It’s when you value the new more than the old, whether or not the new or the old is better. With Eddie, there’s no question. He doesn’t feel he has to be embarrassed for being a Who fan.

While it sounds surprising to hear that even a musician like Pete Townshend had a time when he felt like his time as an artist has passed, he has a point in the power of new musicians and the changes within the music industry as countless bands and musicians had been wiped out due to these changes in the past.