Behind The Video with Pearl Jam 'Retrograde' Director Josh Wakely

Breaking down the latest from 'Gigaton'

May 29, 2020

It may be “Black” from their debut album Ten. “Rearviewmirror,” perhaps, from 1993’s Vs. Or maybe it's a later track like 2013's "Getaway." Either way, everyone has a favorite.

For Emmy-winning writer, director, and entrepreneur Josh Wakely, "Retrograde" is one of the great Pearl Jam songs. “There is an urgency and craft to the song and the entire 'Gigaton' album," he says. “I loved bringing it to life through sight and motion.”

It's the latest single from the iconic Seattle band’s eleventh studio album and the song's video treatment both figuratively and literally paints a disturbing picture of a future ravaged by climate change. Activist Greta Thunberg acts as our (mis)fortune teller in the video, showing the devastating effects that ignoring and exacerbating environmental problems can have on the planet. Now, the video's director has offered an inside look at how the clip was made.

"Retrograde" wasn’t the first time Wakely worked with the band in an animated setting. “Pearl Jam have long been one of my favorite bands because of the sheer force, passion and craft that they bring to their music," Josh tells RADIO.COM. “I first became involved with the band when Eddie did a song for my previous Netflix series ’Beat Bugs.’ Not only did he bring his level of electric talent, he brought great care and concern for my work. He was a generous and empathetic collaborator and that set us up for future partnerships.”

That future partnership came when the band found itself in the market for a visual to accompany the track “Retrograde.”

“The vision that I present - of a world ruined by climate change - is my way of sounding the alarm about the consequences of inaction,” says Josh. “I sincerely hope this video serves as a reminder that it’s gonna take much more than ordinary love to lift this up.”

“At some level the video is exactly what I set out to make. One of the things that I do as a director is intuit how to get the best out of my fellow artists in a room,” says Wakely. "When that physical room disappeared and it became a virtual room, we had to bring a new skillset to the table on the fly. The natural tendency would have been to make a less complex video: fewer shots, remove the live action component, strip it back. But instead we picked up, we surged on and we made it even more ambitious.”

Finally, Josh confirmed what you’ve probably heard about the members of the band being absolute gentlemen, saying “they are kind and considerate people despite their level of success. In every interaction, they have always been a pleasure - both personally and professionally. I hope this will be the first of many other collaborations because their music lends itself to great storytelling.”

“Storytelling must be more compassionate, more epic and more groundbreaking at this time," admits Wakely. "The end result truly speaks to the power of the music and dedication of all my collaborators.”

Watch the official video below.

Most recently, singer Eddie Vedder participated in the All In Challenge to help provide food to those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. The online auction, a "birthday package" of backstage, behind-the-scenes, and unforgettable Pearl Jam experiences concluded at the end of May.

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