Abbruzzese, Dave

  • Birth name: David James Abbruzzese
  • AKA: Dave
  • Born: May 17, 1968 Stamford, CT USA
  • Genres: Grunge, alternative rock, rock
  • Occupation: Musician, songwriter
  • Instruments: Drums, guitar
  • Labels: Tzadik
  • Associated Acts: Course of Empire, Pearl Jam, Hairy Apes BMX
  • Influences: Dave has cited John Bonham, Sly & the Family Stone, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
  • On the Web: Twitter

Dave grew up in Mesquite, Texas, where he drummed on his dad’s tackle boxes. He dropped out of high school to focus on playing drums in the Texas music scene, performing in such bands as Segueway, Flaming Hemorrhoids, and Course of Empire. Along the way, he formed a band called Dr. Tongue, a three-piece  funk -influenced band that gigged in the Dallas and Denton area.

Pearl Jam

In 1991, Dave got a call from drummer friend Matt Chamberlain, who Dave met through the Texas music scene. Chamberlain, who temporarily filling the drum seat, wanted to know if Dave was interested in working with Pearl Jam when he left, as he was interested in joining G. E. Smith‘s band on Saturday Night Live. Although Dave’s musical tastes differed quite a bit from the Pearl Jam members, he took the drum seat and played his first show on August 23, 1991. Initially, he was reluctant to join the band full-time but after his second show with Pearl Jam, Dave had bassist Jeff Ament‘s stick figure drawing from the sleeve of the “Alive” single tattooed onto his left shoulder.

Dave joined the group and played the rest of Pearl Jam’s live shows supporting the Ten album. He toured extensively for Ten and performed on MTV Unplugged and a Saturday Night Live appearance. Suddenly, the band found itself at the forefront of the Seattle music scene in the genre known as grunge.

Dave recorded Pearl Jam’s  second studio album, Vs., released in 1993, which set a record for most copies of an album sold in a week, and spent five weeks at number one on the Billboard 200. Vs. was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 1995. From Vs., the song “Daughter” received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and the song “Go” received a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Dave toured extensively for Vs. and performed on a Saturday Night Live appearance. He also wrote the music for the Pearl Jam songs “Go”, “Last Exit” and “Angel” (from the 1993 fan club Christmas single). He played with Pearl Jam through April 17, 1994. Then, the band began the much-publicized boycott of Ticketmaster. Although Dave performed on the band’s third studio album, Vitalogy, he was fired in August 1994 due to personality conflicts with the band members, four months before the album was released. Bassist Ament said, “Dave was a different egg for sure. There were a lot of things, personality wise, where I didn’t see eye to eye with him. He was more comfortable being a rock star than the rest of us. Partying, girls, cars. I don’t know if anyone was in the same space.” Guitarist Stone Gossard said, “It was the nature of how the politics worked in our band: It was up to me to say, ‘Hey, we tried, it’s not working; time to move on.’ On a superficial level, it was a political struggle: For whatever reason his ability to communicate with Ed and Jeff was very stifled. I certainly don’t think it was all Dave’s fault that it was stifled.” Dave said, “I didn’t really agree with what was going on. I didn’t agree with the Ticketmaster stuff at all. But I don’t blame anyone or harbor any hard feelings. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t furious and hurt for a long time. But now I just wish there was more music from the band I was a part of.”

On October 18, 2016 Pearl Jam was named among the 2017 class of nominees for induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In a departure from the protocol of previous years, the Hall named which specific former members would be inducted from each nominated band. The only former member of Pearl Jam to be included was Dave Krusen (whom Abbruzzese replaced in 1991 just before the release of the band’s debut album, Ten). Reacting to the snub, Dave stated “The members of Pearl Jam have got to know what’s the right thing to do. They can’t justify ignoring my contributions. Like me or not. If there is still a part of that band that remembers how hard we worked, how much blood and how much sweat … They will do the right thing.” He further stated “It’s just a fine opportunity to see what Pearl Jam has to say in response. Let’s see if they do the right thing. It’ll be interesting to see the spin that is put on it. That band and its management have never been ones to shy away when an injustice is done. Let’s see if they still have the courage to fight the good fight!”

On December 29, 2016 shared the following Facebook post written by Abbruzzese: “To all of you: I saw that my friend, Joe Gastwirt posted the following; “Leaving Dave Abbruzzese out of this award, discredits every member of Pearl Jam that receives it, as well as every other artist that has received an award from the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.” This tops the heap of countless heartfelt reminders of moments, well wishes, and folks showing me some serious love and consideration. The outpouring of support and the show of appreciation that has been given to me from friends, fans and my peers has been just tremendous. …overwhelming even. I do agree with Joe’s post. Pearl Jam has always seemingly had a perceived level of integrity and has been known to stand their ground & fight the good fight, but it seems the allure of being given this trophy is just to important for them to take a stand. I want to let you all know that ultimately, it’s gonna be okay. We still have the music and no amount of corporate conglomerate or ticky-tack bullshit can keep us from enjoying the power of the music we love. The fact that we find ourselves fighting for the integrity of the validity of a segment of Pearl Jam history to be acknowledged is straight up beautiful. The reason we have to is what the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is supposed to have been built to celebrate; The love of the music. I have always thought that every award given to a band that celebrates the bands lifetime achievements should be awarded to every person that was ever a debt incurring, life sacrificing, blood spilling, member of that band. Maybe the Hall should reevaluate the need to put all the monkeys in the same cage in order to boost revenue, and instead let the history of the band be fully and completely represented as they were and as they are. …leave it up to the group to show their true colors as they celebrate their own history in a manner of their choosing. I don’t know. But whoever is ultimately responsible for the decision that deemed my work with Pearl Jam as an effort that was not important enough to grant me induction knows nothing of what we accomplished, and I am personally at a loss for words for how Stone, Mike, Jeff, Matt, Edward and Kelly Curtis are accepting of such an injustice. I will admit to wanting to look out over my drum kit at the faces of Jeff, Stone, Mike and Eddie. Looking to my left at my drum tech, the mainest of mellow, Mr. Jimmy Shoaf and seeing him give me that look that dares me to destroy my cymbals and kick the songs ass, the bands ass and the crowds ass… The idea of counting it off and giving the band, the music & the people all that I have to give, as I always have without compromise or hesitation… The sound of the people singing along… Making eye contact with the person air drumming their ass off right before the big drum fill, so we can do it together…I loved it. I loved it every single time. If you were there, then you know what this band Pearl Jam was like when it had something to prove. Well, we proved it every single time. Show after show. I was there and I am still proud to be a part of what Pearl Jam was. My point in all of this is to share the fact that what Pearl Jam once was, is what is still, and will always be Pearl Jam. I know things are tough. We need music, each other and the spirit of Rock & Roll now, more than ever before. Thanks for everything, everyone. I for one have not and will not ever forget the incredible power of the times we shared together. Be all. David Abbruzzese”

Other Projects

Dave formed a new band, the Green Romance Orchestra, and on September 30, 1997, released Play Parts I & V. The album not only featured Dave’s own songs but Dave in the role of producer as well. The album was released on Free Association Records, which was formed by Dave in 1996.

In 1997, Dave rehearsed with Axl Rose during the making of Guns N’ Roses‘ 2008 album, Chinese Democracy. But none of the material from those sessions ended up on the album.

Later, he worked with HairyApesBMX. He mixed, produced, and engineered the band’s 2000 album, Out Demons and also manned the drumset for their Midwestern tour.

Dave collaborated with Shawn Smith of Brad and Satchel and their song “Like The Child Of The Water I Am” was released for online download on December 26, 2015.

He also drummed on the IMF tour with Jara Harris, Stevie Salas, and Bernard Fowler in early 2016.