He imagined having to shout out chords to bandmates Mike McCready and Stone Gossard instead of playing along beside them.
Vedder tells Rolling Stone: “It was a major inconvenience that, when I look back, was really minor. But, you know, in the middle of it, I didn’t know if I would play guitar again.
“I could picture sitting there with Mike or Stone, calling out chords. ‘No, go to a B-minor! Go to a B-minor-7!’”
It’s one of the experiences that contributed to the vibe on Pearl Jam’s new album Lightning Bolt, their first since 2009′s Backspacer – view a short documentary below. But although some of the lyrics appear to be downbeat, Vedder insists that’s not the case.
“They say to write what you know,” he reflects. “I think that’s maybe one thing that we all know – it’s living while you’re alive, and living to the day you die, and being cognisant of the end. You might lead a more appreciative life, if that’s part of your approach.
“I’m probably in better shape than in many, many years. It’s watching other people get old, dealing with other people’s mortality. A lot of us live in denial, given how we treat our bodies. So to extend it, you start treating yourself a little better.”
And he suggests fans might not have to wait so long for the next Pearl Jam album. “Actually putting out the record is a little bit of a shock to the system. That’s what we remember as being traumatic. Probably, when you take longer between records, there’s more importance placed on the records.
“Maybe the next thing you do is put out another one in the next year – just put it out, and not have a build-up.”
Lightning Bolt is released on October 14.