The band’s website features an interactive map with coordinates to cities around the world, and fans who’ve visited those locations discovered massive billboards that feature the group’s name within a heart rate monitor pulse, the word “Gigaton” (the measurement for the melting of polar ice caps) and a vivid nature image that many assume to be an album cover. Viewing the billboards through the Gigaton Instagram filter plays a brief, ambient audio clip and shows animation of melting ice caps.
Photographer Paul Nicklen, known for his arctic wildlife photography, appears to be responsible for the image. He commented on the inspiration behind the photo on Instagram, writing, “To me, my work is timeless because what I photograph is not timeless at all. When I am shooting, I am looking to capture a unique moment that will never occur again.”
The scavenger hunt follows a flurry of social media activity, with the band recently posting a series of abstract images. Despite these teases, the quintet have yet to officially confirm any details of an album title, track list or release date.
The timing for their 11th studio album, which follows 2013’s Lightning Bolt, would make sense: Pearl Jam recently announced a European tour for June and July, and guitarist Stone Gossard told Rolling Stone in January 2019 that the band were “in the middle” of crafting their latest LP. “We’re just going to keep plugging away until we get one done,” he said.
Bassist Jeff Ament added that the group lined up “probably four or five” studio sessions in the “last couple of years,” resulting in a “whole ton” of unfinished songs. “We’re just sort of in a little bit of limbo,” he said. “I’m sure everybody’s got a bunch more riffs, and I’m sure [Eddie Vedder]’s got a handful of journal lyrics. It’s just going to take us all getting into a room together for six weeks and just knocking something out.”