Reprinted without permission from Hard Music, February
SOUND AS EVER
Soundgarden feed the cranium with soulful sustenance as well as delivering the body blows that make great rock music. Daniel Feiler spoke to drummer Matt Cameron.
HM: Being from Seattle what's your take on the media hype that surrounds the city?
Matt: It's just hype, that's basically what it is. It's become a fad to say you're from Seattle and it's not that healthy. There's a lot of bands from around the country moving to Seattle just so they can say they're from Seattle, in the hope of getting a record deal. The focus has shifted to getting signed rather than writing good songs. The bands that have proven themselves by lasting more than a couple of records are the ones that are making it.
The music scene in Seattle has always been diverse. In the 20s and 30s there were cool jazz musicians who lived up here, and there's always been a happening underground scene. People from all over the country eventually got to Seattle and cross-pollinated.
HM: In your opinion what's your strongest recorded effort?
Matt: I like the stuff we're doing right now, on the Superunknown album. I feel really good about it - the songs, my playing and the way it's recorded. I'm real happy with it.
HM: And it'll be released in Australia before the rest of the world?
Matt: Yeah, you guys are first in line. It'll be out on February 21 Down Under, with the first single, Spoonman, out in the second week. There's a lot of variety on it but it still has some of the ingredients people seem to like about our band. There's a lot of heavy low end and there's good vocals and sexy rhythms and all that crazy shit. It's rock.
HM: You guys have always admitted to being huge Black Sabbath freaks. Does that come out on the new album?
Matt: There's some slow heavy grooves that are indicative of Sabbath, but one thing Sabbath never really did well was write bridges and choruses. I think we're better at that than what they did, but we all listened to that stuff as teenagers and the influence is there.
HM: There's been a lot of bands bashfully admitting to being huge KISS fans lately. Is that the case with you?
Matt: Well, Kim and I were KISS freaks when we were 14 and 15. I was in a KISS cover band!
HM: Did you don KISS paint?
Matt: Oh yeah, definitely! And we had little homemade flash pats and a homemade stage and set.
HM: How about a rising drum platform?
Matt: Nah, we couldn't figure that one out on our shoestring budget, so I just built a plywood platform, put some tin foil around and voila!
HM: Has your approach to rhythm altered with the change in bass players you've had?
Matt: When we had Hiro in the band, he was an extremely strong player rhythmically and melodically, so it was very easy to play with him. With Ben in the band, he's the same way but he's super-creative and he's really into improvisation, so we're able to stretch musically when we play live.
HM: Do you find yourself sitting on the edge live and doing more improvisation?
Matt: We're able to go in a lot of different directions which I don't really hear a lot when I go and see bands these days. Most bands like to play it safe and just play their parts, but when Ben and I play we go all over the place.
HM: What happens when you screw up?
Matt: We try and land on our feet after a train wreck, but sometimes we'll point at Kim and make it look like it's his fault (laughing). Sometimes it is his fault (in hysterics).
HM: How did you get involved with Hater?
Matt: It started when Soundgarden and Monster Magnet toured together two springs ago. We became good friends with the band and Joh McBain (MM Guitarist) in particular. John moved into Seattle last September and we'd just got off the Lollapalooza tour, so Ben and I got together with him and wrote some songs, and decided to record it just for the hell of it.
HM: It seems to have a real 60's-style mix.
Matt: Yeah. There's one song, Who Do I Kill, with ultra stereo panning, and that's how records used to sound. We've always liked that 'cos it's fun when you can go to one channel and hear the drums and a tambourine and then go to the other channel and hear the guitar and vocals. We recorded that album all live in about four days that then mixed it in five. We didn't sit around and analyse things too much.
HM: How does the rest of the band feel about side projects?
Matt: For the Temple Of The Dog thing I was asked to do it and I really didn't have much to say in the writing of the material, though I helped arrange. The only problem I had with it was how the media pushed it when it was promoted as having Pearl Jam members on it. For the most part I feel it's good to go out and meet challenges as a musician, and when I come back I feel a better player. Everyone is into trying to grow and getting better as a band.
HM: How do you go about writing music, like Drawing Flies (from Badmotorfinger)?
Matt: Well I was in my room, I smoked a big bowl, started playing guitar and it just came out. I wrote it in 15 minutes.
HM: How has fame affected the band?
Matt: Kim gets recognised a lot and it bugs him but I don't really get approached that much. If it happens it's not really a burden, but guys like Eddie (Vedder, Pearl Jam), he can't shop for food without someone hassling him. Luckily were not at that level and I don't really want to be.
HM: Do you still hang out with the guys from Pearl Jam?
Matt: Yeah, sure. They're really good friends of ours.
HM: Do you write music together or is it more of a social friendship?
Matt: We've toyed with the idea of writing some more music. Chris and I recorded a track with Mike and Jeff from Pearl Jam for the Hendrix tribute record that's coming out, Stone Free. We did Hey Baby (Land Of The Rising Sun).
HM: You've just played the Big Day Out in Oz - how do you describe your live shows?
Matt: Just a lot of big, hairy, sweaty noise!