Jeff Ament/John Wicks Project Deaf Charlie Readies Debut Album

Pearl Jam Returning to the Road This Fall
Pearl Jam Returning to the Road This Fall

After collaborating as Deaf Charlie for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament and former Fitz and the Tantrums drummer John Wicks have announced the project’s debut album. Catastrophic Metamorphic is due June 30 and is led by first single “Losing My Mind.” In support, Deaf Charlie will play live for the first time at Eddie Vedder’s  Ohana Festival on Oct. 1.

Both Montana natives, Ament and Wicks initially bonded over the loss of mutual friend and Seattle café owner Dow Lucurell, who died unexpectedly in 2018. “In the summer of 2018, I wrote a song called ‘Comeback Player of the Year’ in my memory of [Dow]. John Wicks, who lives in Missoula, had worked with Dow in the late ’90s and wanted to contribute so he came up and filled out the tune with some incredible drums and percussion,” Ament recalls. “We made a few singles and passed them out to friends who knew Dow. That was the beginning of Deaf Charlie.”

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During the pandemic, the musicians began working together more frequently in their home studios. Under the name Ament/Wicks, they released a cover of the Buzzcocks’ “Sittin’ Round at Home” but changed their moniker to Deaf Charlie in a nod to a real-life train robber that was part of Butch Cassidy’s gang and was jailed for some time in Deer Lodge, Mt. The first Deaf Charlie song was 2020’s “Something Real,” which will appear again on Catastrophic Metamorphic.

“Over the next two years, we sent songs back and forth. In between our respective bands’ schedules, we got together and soon we had a group of songs that felt like a record,” Ament says, calling the 12-track Catastrophic Metamorphic “one of the most fun and creative records I’ve ever been a part of.” He adds, “There’s a real optimism in this batch of mostly dystopian themes, and that comes from John’s upbeat production and playing. He infused a lot of pop and reggae elements into the songs, pushing my arrangements and rhythms into new territory. Most of these tunes had real journeys between our two visions.”

Among the guest contributors are MC Marlon Grace, who appears on “Losing My Mind,” “Something Real,” and “Preamble,” some local Montana horn players, and Wicks’ own daughters, who provide background vocals on the self-described summertime ditty “The Orange Flag.” Prior to finishing the album, Ament and Wicks also worked on the score for the FX series Under the Banner of Heaven alongside Pearl Jam touring member Josh Klinghoffer.

Catastrophic Metamorphic will be available in limited-edition vinyl LP form via Pearl Jam’s website. The album art was created by Edgar Smith, a fellow Missoula-based artist who also worked on the imagery for Pearl Jam’s early 2000s single “Save You.”

As previously reported, Pearl Jam is deep into work on its next studio album with producer Andrew Watt and will set out on a short tour this fall, beginning Aug. 31 in St. Paul, Minn.

Here is the track list for Catastrophic Metamorphic:

“Too Great”
“Losing My Mind”
“Ched Man”
“Something Real”
“Preamble”
“We Are Doing It”
“The Orange Flag”
“Not the Same”
“Sittin’ Round at Home”
“Comeback Player of the Year”
“Born To Win”
“Watching the Sun”

To see our running list of the top 100 greatest rock stars of all time, click here.

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