Listen to Interview Here: https://youtu.be/ylLxrgEv3Pg
Hello Pearl Jam Community! Today, I have the great pleasure of interviewing author, designer, filmmaker and blogger, Jason Leung.
In 2010, Jason published a book, titled This All Encompassing Trip (Chasing Pearl Jam Around the World). This book chronicles Jason’s quest to follow Pearl Jam in 2005 across Canada. His journey then continued across America and all over Europe and around Australia during the entire 2006 Pearl Jam tour.
CHRISSIE: I am so excited to talk to Jason today about this book because I feel that this book is the perfect read—even if you’ve already read it before—to start this new tour and to get us excited about what’s coming up. Jason, thank you so much for being with us today and for talking to me.
JASON: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to talk about my old adventures.
CHRISSIE: Those of you who have read the book, you probably understand a bit about how Jason was about to start this journey. But for those who haven’t read this yet—how did this all come to be? How did you decide that you were going to do this? How did you book those tickets, which could not have been cheap, for an entire tour—or more than an entire tour. How did it all start?
JASON: Well, I’ve always been an adventure type of guy. So driving across the country—I’m from Canada—has always been a dream of mine. So when those dates came up from Pearl Jam to go cross country, west coast to east coast—that’s really unheard of for a big American band coming to Canada—I thought that was the perfect way for me to drive across and do a nice little road trip and meet some friends and catch as many Pearl Jam shows as I could. And back then the tickets were not that expensive so we could afford to buy all the tickets at once.
CHRISSIE: Tell us about the van. How did you decide that you were going to take this old van and travel with people across Canada?
JASON: It started up in the old Pearl Jam message pit. We were trying to find a few other people that wanted to do the same thing. Lucky enough, there were two other guys from Vancouver, who weren’t far from where I live that were also interested in doing this. We had a couple of meetings in person. We decided we would take a bus or a train, but because they weren’t really logistically possible in Canada, we felt the best way was to share rides. And a van was the best option for a vehicle. So we started posting on the old message pit to see if people were doing different legs of the trip. And through that, within a couple weeks, we found an organized trip of a rotating cast of people joining our ride as well.
CHRISSIE: I loved how you decided to do the check marks on the side of the van as you went along and saw each show and how people participated in checking them off. And you used hockey tape, right, because you are a hockey player?
JASON: Yes, well that’s the very Canadian part of the van. We didn’t actually come up with the idea. It was the very first show at the Gorge, when our friend Brad thought of the idea to put yield signs next to the city that mapped out the route of the van. It would be a great idea if you put a checkmark after each show. So we kind of made a big deal of it and picked someone to do a little ceremony after each show to check off the city.
CHRISSIE: I love that idea! And I remember seeing your van along the way, so it’s so much fun to connect this story with probably so many of us who saw your van or met you along the way. That’s the other thing, too… if you interacted with people and had a conversation with people in 2005/2006, they might just be in this book, right?
JASON: Yeah, we met a lot of people along the way. Most of them are quite memorable. I kept note of everything. That was a way of keeping track, and I made sure to make note of it in the book.
CHRISSIE: That leads me into how did you keep track of all these thoughts. You kept a journal, correct?
JASON: Yeah, it was more of a video journal to start with because I brought a video camera along for the trip. It was filming the adventure and filming the people that we met and doing some interviews with fans and finding out more about other Pearl Jam fans. From that I had a visual record of stuff after the tour. And after each of the legs, I would write things down in a journal. And over time I would accumulate a lot of notes and stories. I figured that would be good in a book format. I had so much material and so many things to draw from so that was quite easy at that point.
CHRISSIE: It’s such a great idea. So many of us—at least I know I was thinking through this whole thing—I have so many stories I can tell, but I don’t remember every little detail. It’s such a great idea to journal.
JASON: And this is before social media so you couldn’t just post your journey online. So we took photos of course as well. After the fact, we would go through them.
CHRISSIE: I know you met so many people along the way, and there were so many interesting characters. But if you had to pick right now, who is the most memorable person you met?
JASON: Yes, there are so many, but the one guy that kept popping up throughout the entire journey was Newfie Joe. He’s the guy that hitchhiked throughout the whole Canadian tour and we kept seeing him at every single show. And we finally saw him on the side of the road after the Winnipeg show, and we just had to pick him up. And we saw him again at the next show, and we picked him up again. And he became a staple in the van. And then he came along for the ride in the U.S. and he followed me to Australia. To this day, he’s one of my best friends and we keep in touch. He has a lot of stories and has a lot of good insight, and he’s a big Pearl Jam fan.
CHRISSIE: It is amazing how the people you meet along this journey become some of your greatest friends.
JASON: Yeah, some of the friends from Vancouver…we joined our own hockey team after this. So we continued on…not just at the shows, but we were hanging out outside of Pearl Jam shows as well.
CHRISSIE: So what about your most memorable moment along the way? Memorable moment? Memorable show? You had so many things that you wrote about, but if you had to pick one moment right now…
JASON: We ran out of gas in the prairies one time after a show, and then we got a flat tire right after that. So that was memorable; it wasn’t a great memory, but it was fun. All the shows have a different memory of their own. The very first show at the Gorge was very special because that was something that was leading up to the tour as a warm up show. And they just played a lot of rarities and stuff that we had never heard of. And even the two Gorge shows at the end of the U.S. tour were very memorable with the camping and everything and the heat. I would say the tour—as a whole—were the big highlights.
CHRISSIE: You actually took the time to make a sign to tell Eddie when you ran out of gas and had a flat tire. That whole story about holding up the sign and he couldn’t quite read it, but he finally got close enough to read it…I thought that was so cool.
JASON: I think that was at the very last show. We took some photos and developed them at the photo lab and wrote a note on the back of one of the photos. And we handed it to security that gave it to one of the band members. And they made a comment at the show and it made us smile for sure.
CHRISSIE: Tell me about the exhaustion. Reading this made me think of the movie, Almost Famous. Not that you were groupies or “bandaids,” but it just seemed so exhausting. Did you ever think that you were not going to make it through this? I know you wrote about being sick and you were tired, but was there ever a moment when you didn’t think you could do it?
JASON: I don’t think there was ever a point when we couldn’t think we could do it, but at the beginning—because Canada was so large—at the beginning, there was a lot of driving involved—some of them nine to ten hours, in between shows. Some of them back to back, too. So in the beginning it was toughh to get adjusted, and we had to make it to the shows on time. There were a few of us driving in the beginning. The van wasn’t full; there were just three or four of us driving, so we couldn’t have that much rest. And we were sleeping in the van to save cost. To start up, it was kind of hard. But once we got to the east coast, and the shows were a little closer, we could enjoy the cities more and see some of the sights. I think at that point, we knew we could get through it. And we had already met so many people, and the camaraderie is what kept us going near the end of it.
CHRISSIE: One of the things I loved about the book—for anyone who isn’t a big reader—is the way that you wrote it into these smaller chapters. One of the things you did was take a Pearl Jam lyric and put it underneath the chapter title and it kind of gave us a teaser of what was to come. I am sure you weren’t thinking about lyrics as you thought about each chapter of your journey, but was that something you were thinking about as you wrote the book?
Jason: It was after the fact for sure. Each chapter is divided by the show or the city. So basically what song, what lyric related to that chapter the most was how I came up with that lyric. And I don’t think I repeated a song once throughout the book.
CHRISSIE: It was very well-written…Here is the big question. I know that you are happily married, you have an adorable son and a great career, but if you were given the opportunity to travel (and follow) an entire Pearl Jam tour, would you do it again?
JASON: Without a doubt. We just need more shows to be announced…for ticket prices to be a little bit cheaper and more accessible, I guess. If that’s all possible, then yes. Sign me up tomorrow. I have a little five-year-old; he wears a little camper van shirt all the time and sees my picture, and he dreams about doing this road trip also.
CHRISSIE: Yes, maybe you can get a more up-to-date van this time.
JASON: This one is running quite well; it just hasn’t been driven in a while.
CHRISSIE: That’s great news! Well, I just wanted to reiterate to the community that if you haven’t read this book, you have to read this book now. It will not only get you excited about this upcoming tour, but it will bring you back to your own personal adventures with the band and reconnecting with old friends. It’s such a fun read. And again, if you’ve already read the book, I highly suggest reading it again now because this is the perfect time to read it. It personally made me more excited about the upcoming tour. Jason, where can we find this book?
I know thisallencompassingtrip.com is your website, but we can also find this Amazon?
JASON: It’s on Amazon only.
Chrissie: Thank you so much for sharing your time with us. I am really excited for people to revisit this book or to read it for the first time. Thanks again.
JASON: Thanks for having me on.
Watch Video Recorded Interview Below:
I apologize for the quality of the recording on my end. I was in the mountains—with little reception, in the middle of a storm.
Watch the “Book Trailer for This All Encompassing Trip” Below: