Cameron is one of the most influential drummers that came out from the Seattle Grunge scene
Soundgarden and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron turns 56 today
One of the most influential drummers over the last 30 years Matt Cameron was born Matthew David Cameron on November 28, 1962 in San Diego, California. In 1983, Cameron moved to Seattle, Washington, where he got a job working at a Kinko’s. His first professional work as drummer was for Bam Bam, He next played in the local instrumental band feeDBack and later Skin Yard, a band formed by famed Seattle producer Jack Endino in 1985. Cameron stayed with the group for almost a year and in 1986, Skin Yard contributed two songs to the now-legendary “Deep Six compilation. This album was the first to showcase the early grunge sound. The band released its first album in 1986, the eponymous “Skin Yard”. Cameron wrote the song “Reptile” for the band which appears on its first record. By September 1986, Cameron had gained so much notoriety in the local music scene that he was chosen to play for Soundgarden, replacing original drummer Scott Sundquist. Chris Cornell reportedly was so impressed with Cameron’s skills that he wanted him to join the band immediately. The band signed with the independent label Sub Pop and released the “Screaming Life” EP in 1987 and the “Fopp” EP in 1988. In 1988, the band signed with legendary punk record label SST Records and released its debut full-length album “Ultramega OK”. The album earned the band its first major award nomination, a Grammy Award, in 1990. The band subsequently signed with A&M Records, becoming the first grunge band to sign to a major label. In 1989, the band released its first album for a major label, “Louder Than Love”. Following the release of “Louder Than Love”, bassist Hiro Yamamoto left the band to finish his master’s degree in Physical Chemistry at Western Washington University. He was replaced by former Nirvana guitarist Jason Everman. Everman was fired following Soundgarden’s tour supporting “Louder Than Love”. In 1990, the band was joined by a new bassist, Ben Shepherd. The new line-up, which became the most popular, released “Badmotorfinger” in 1991. The album brought the band to a new level of commercial success, and the band found itself amidst the sudden popularity and attention given to the Seattle music scene and the genre known as Grunge. “Badmotorfinger” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1992.The band’s next album was to be its breakthrough. “Superunknown”, released in 1994, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and launched several successful singles, including “Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun”. Cameron’s drumming is showcased throughout the album, as he provides the complex backbeat (and plenty of improvisation) to the unusual time signatures present on many of the tracks. The album was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 1995. Two singles from “Superunknown”, “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman”, won Grammy Awards, and the music video for “Black Hole Sun” won a MTV Video Music Award and a Clio Award. In 1996, the band released their fifth studio album, “Down on the Upside”, while successful, the album could not emulate the precedent set by “Superunknown”. Tensions within the group arose during the “Down on the Upside” sessions, with Thayil and Cornell reportedly clashing over Cornell’s desire to shift away from the heavy guitar riffing that had become the band’s trademark. In 1997, Soundgarden received another Grammy nomination, for the lead single “Pretty Noose”. In 1997, the band broke up due to internal strife over its creative direction. In the summer of 1998, Cameron was invited by rock-colleagues Pearl Jam to drum on their U.S. “Yield Tour” after the band’s drummer Jack Irons left . Cameron had worked with members of the band before on the Temple of the Dog project and had helped them record some early instrumental demos in 1990. Soon during the tour, he was invited to become a full-time Pearl Jam member. Cameron has since become the longest serving drummer of the band; at the same time, on January 1, 2010, Chris Cornell announced on his Twitter that Soundgarden was reuniting. The official website relaunched soon thereafter. The band had begun recording a new album in February 2011, which was later released in November 2012. Cameron played on both bands, recording albums and touring between 2010 and 2017. On May 17, 2017, after a Soundgarden concert in Detroit, lead singer Chris Cornell committed suicide which shut down Soundgarden definitively. Matt Cameron has also collaborated with many artists from several different music ranges over the years, one less known fact is that he worked with electronic punk act The Prodigy on their breakthrough album “The Fat of the Land”, providing beats and fills that were sampled for hits such as “Firestarter” and “Breathe”. He also collaborated with bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins and Queens Of The Stone Age. Cameron also wrote and co-wrote several songs for Soundgarden and Pearl Jam including “Jesus Christ Pose”, “Birth Ritual”, “The Fixer” and “Save You”. Today Matt Cameron turns 56.
Watch Matt Cameron playing “Jesus Christ Pose” live with Soundgarden at the Hyde Park, London, 2012
Watch Matt Cameron performing “Even Flow” live with Pearl Jam at Fenway Park in Boston, 2016 (exclusive Matt Cameron angle)
Listen to a selection of Soundgarden songs compiled by Pop Expresso on Spotify
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