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Pearl Jam Exits Epic

Pearl Jam is walking the long road…away from their longtime label.

The grunge-rock survivors have served notice that they’re exiting the Sony-owned Epic Records after fulfilling the terms of its contract.

The Seattle quintet quietly announced the split in the Q&A section of its Sony-run Rumour Pit Website. Sandwiched between questions about where the band is playing concerts and whether it will ever play the controversial anti-White House song “Bu$hleaguer” (answer: “Ya never know…”) is the query: “Have Pearl Jam left their record company yet?” The answer is simply “yes.”

Pearl Jam has been in the Epic fold since the release of their ground-breaking, career-launching, mega-selling Ten in 1992, but the members have expressed disappointment over the company’s current management. Since Tommy Mottola departure as Sony Music boss in January, other high-profile artists have defected, most notably Ozzy and daughter Kelly Osbourne.

Before the start of the band’s first North American tour in three years, which kicked off in Denver in April, bassist Jeff Ament revealed that the band was looking forward to freeing itself from Epic and Sony.

“Our record company’s in shambles right now, so we’re, we’re gonna wait for the label to get their shit together before we put anything else out,” Ament told Launch.com. “It might be the sort of thing where, 10 or 12 years, it’s kind of run its course a little bit. I mean, the good thing is that we have nothing but time right now, so we can enjoy our free agency.”

Pearl Jam is putting out feelers with several other record companies, among them Clive Davis’ J Records. However, Ament said he and his fellow rockers plan to go slow in an effort to yield the best deal.

“We want to be somewhere where people are really excited about us being at their label, and we have tons of ideas about how we want to do things, but we also want to hear somebody who has equally as many ideas about how we can do things,” Ament said.

While no longer as massively popular as they used to be, at least in terms of record sales, Eddie Vedder & Co., have a large, loyal following. The band has proved incredibly durable, rocking on as most of its grunge contemporaries floundered and even outlasting the recent teen-popster infatuation.

Pearl Jam’s most recent disc, Riot Act, debuted at number five on the album charts last November, selling 166,000 copies. The spring leg of the boys’ current U.S. trek sold out arenas across the country.

Their upcoming summer jaunt gets underway in Missoula, Montana on May 28. They just extended the tour, too, adding two more dates in Mexico City.

Sony did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday, but a spokesperson told Billboard that it’s enjoyed a fruitful partnership with the band and will continue to do so, especially since it controls the Pearl Jam catalog.

“We have nothing but admiration for the members of Pearl Jam, and we are extremely proud of all that we’ve accomplished together over the many years. We look forward to a continuing relationship,” said the rep.

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