Ex-Pearl Jam Member Reveals Why Matt Cameron’s Drumming Is ‘Lackluster’ Compared To Soundgarden

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Former Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese opened up about his firing from the band in a new interview with Michael Aubrecht.

“I left because Stone told me that they were looking for another drummer! Ha! It’s funny because it’s true. Truth be told, I still don’t know for sure why I was fired. I’d never been in that situation before. Looking back at it, as I did for years, it had me miffed. Then one day I came across footage of the band Candlebox with the drummer Dave Krusen playing with them live and a theory formed in my head. All personality questions aside, what I witnessed was just another drummer. No spark. No fire. No rock or roll. That was what they (Pearl Jam) had wanted as their drummer? Then I looked at how, in comparison to his other work, Matt Cameron’s approach with regards to his drumming is very tame and lackluster when he is playing with PJ. It made me realize that perhaps they never intended to be a hard-driven, powerful rock band. I drove that band as a rock drummer drives a rock band. Like Matt Cameron drove Soundgarden. Mind you, I am still guessing, yet this is the only excuse that I have found that makes my firing make sense.

Other excuses I have heard such as my cymbals, political views, gun ownership, or that I enjoyed the success more readily, etc. are all laughable to me. Actually, most of the facts surrounding how that powerful version of that band was destroyed is laughable to me at this point. I still think I am a little angry at the chicken-shit way it was handled twenty plus years ago. At least Stone was man enough to show me some respect and didn’t allow it to be handled by lawyers. I will always be grateful for the day we spent together when he told me I was out of the band. It was a very emotional effort that took a lot of strength on his part. He knew that it was going to destroy a part of me that he valued. It was the beginning of one of the most challenging experiences of my life, having to let go of what could have been and witness what all of that hard work was allowed to become.”

  • Stone Gossardish

    He has somewhat of a point there, assuming he knows and has heard the music Pearl Jam made since Matt Cameron began recording with them. But at the same time, Cameron’s been allowed much more freedom to attack drums in the more recent albums (realizing they’re now not that recent).

    The lead instrument remains the vocal, but the best moments of the band are when all 5 are jamming away. A foundational block of that is Matt Cameron. That wouldn’t have happened if Dave had stayed around, as good as his groove was.

    PS. It was 20+ years ago now

    • Steve

      Agreed. Dave Abbruzzesse is the reason that I picked up drumsticks. When you listen to live tracks with Abbruzzesse, they are the tightest that they have ever been.
      I was initially disappointed when I first heard Jack Irons tracks. He was a weak drummer compared to Abbruzzesse. His playing was not as tight nor as perfect. Once Cameron joined the band, he had to quickly learn all the songs because they were going out on tour a couple weeks later. I think that Irons being a weak drummer, and Cameron not being able to learn every single note, is part of the evolution of them becoming a jam band. And quite frankly, happy with Cameron over Irons.
      I still think they could have evolved with Dave A, but it would have been different. Maybe more new songs like “Out of my Mind.”
      I would have liked to hear what Abbruzzesse would have done with post Vitalogy stuff. After Vitalogy, the band went in a different direction that kept them relevant.

      • Stone Gossardish

        Irons was really the guy with the least amount of pop but at the same time, saved the band. Without Irons, the band ends at No Code.

        Dave A and Stone might have tried to save some funk and different guitar tones that were ejected around the middle, but also if that’s all you did as a band you’d burn out before too long and be done.

        Maybe there’s more to the Dave A story that will come out in decades, or after the band is done. But I’m sure there was a reason he was booted and it’s pretty clear it wasn’t Mike’s choice. If it was Ed and Jeff against, with Stone going either way and realizing Dave had to go to keep the band going, there’s your decision.

        • Steve

          Yeah, I can appreciate Irons now too. But at the time, I was extremely disappointed.

          As far as Mike is concerned, I think he was ready to let Dave go too. I haven’t thought about the individual members thoughts on this in a long time, but I remember when they accepted the grammy in 1996 it was kind of on display. Eddie, said who cares about this. Stone thanked Dave at which point Mike scoffs at him followed by Stone laughing on Mike’s shoulder. https://youtu.be/U16Q77Va4sc

          I doubt the members of PJ are proud of this moment. However, this was a challenging time for all of them. They came out of it Alive.

          • Stone Gossardish

            They’re bad at accepting awards. That was the worst effort at being gracious. It was also odd that he tossed in the line about his Dad. He probably just didn’t know what to say.

            The full RRHOF acceptance speech wasn’t much better from Eddie. It was not good. So no more awards for this band, or at least when Ed has to speak.

          • Trovoid

            I always thought the line about his dad was a bit awkward to say the least.

          • Stone Gossardish

            It was so unlike him. He’s never really brought that up anywhere else. It was bizarre.

            They handled the award very poorly. They know that. Now, the Shammy’s don’t mean a thing, clearly, so Stone does have the award in it’s rightful location.

          • Trovoid

            I agree. He brought up the situation with his father to the band as they got to know each other and he alluded to it in songs and interviews. This however is very uncomfortable to watch. How would he know what his father would’ve thought? And why would he bring it up?

            You can tell Stone is uncomfortable with what Eddie is about to say and he seems very humble and careful with his words. You’re right that the ‘Shammy’s’ mean nothing at all. Stone’s award was in his basement, wasn’t it? I’d probably do the same thing.

          • Steve

            I literally just watched the entire acceptance speech because I thought I missed something. I will give you Eddie gets on his soap box whenever he is in front of the mic.

            When I watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech I was so happy to see them accepting it so graciously. I thought of the original Grammy award, and as a fan, was proud of the speech Eddie gave. I was really happy that Eddie didn’t pass off thanking the drummers, like the quick explanation was done in PJ20. I loved the thanks he gave Dave A.

            The thing that bothered me about the RRHOF was that Dave A wasn’t inducted with PJ. That was an event that would have brought closure for some of us fans. I wanted to see them together one last time.

            Dave K is a great drummer, but seeing him play with them at the RRHOF was an even bigger indicator that Dave A is a big part why they were inducted.

          • Stone Gossardish

            The HBO version cut out so much, including funny stuff like Mike McCready dropping a Stern Show reference to his wife, which the Stern Show hacks missed too bc they don’t work that hard anymore.

            Eddie bungled that speech entirely, and it was too bad. But it fit with the awful job Letterman did too, which was sad and had to hurt Cameron Crowe, who was in attendance. It was bad work by both but especially Eddie. So many of us were 100% with him on his message, but he needed to deliver it so quickly and then get to the point of the evening, or save it for another day or pop it on a t-shirt like Ament so wisely did.

            The band had no control over who was inducted or Jack Irons would’ve been right there. As you know, he was in the building. They may not make it to the HoF, however hokey it is, without Jack bc the band would’ve ended there.

            Dave A didn’t want to pay to go to the RRHoF. I get that. He wanted Pearl Jam to pay. I also get that tables were $ 20,000, and the band decided how many they’d buy. I’m fine with both sides of the equation: Dave being bent a bit, and PJ saying we don’t need or want him here, we want the 2 most important drummers here plus the extra gift the Hall gave to Krusen.

            No doubt Dave A was a HUGE part of why they were inducted. It’s easy to forget that Krusen had to exit for booze, Chamberlin went to SNL, and if they didn’t find a competent drummer and good fit from that point, the records would not have been that good. Good points, mate.

          • Steve

            Maybe I saw the better version, because it looked pretty polished, except for a slight tangent of him getting high.

            Without Jack there is no PJ now and there is no PJ ever. But they could have still been inducted into the RRHoF without Jack’s contributions on drums.

            I don’t blame PJ for not paying for his seat. They shouldn’t have to. The RRHoF should have inducted Dave A and Jack. I don’t think Matt Chamberlain had enough of an impact to warrant a induction for PJ. I get why Dave A was upset. I wouldn’t have wanted to pay for a seat to see that either.

          • Stone Gossardish

            Yes, it was choppy, long winded, disorganized, off topic, then pulled together late. Contrast that with Stone being 100% prepared and nailing the dirty/leg work to thank about 100 people by name that make the organization what they are.

            I agree with you about the Hall. Selling tables for $ 20,000 is rough. The whole thing is kind of a scham, and just a business first that’s trying to survive. They should’ve aired the entire thing uncut, including the finale RITFW, which made many cringe, and invited all the damn Pearl Jam drummers to make it easier.

          • Diana

            Ha is Stone always this sweet? I like PJ‘s music but never really cared to watch their interviews and such.
            Cringe at Ed..

          • Steve

            I think all the PJ guys are good guys. Mike is probably the guy you would consider “sweet.”

          • Corndog

            Do you think perhaps Mike made that noise because he thought they had a cheek to thank him so soon after they dumped him?

            I really hate how they just skipped past the whole drummer thing in PJ20 without even attempting to explain.

          • Steve

            Maybe that is what Mike was thinking. I never thought about it that way. Based off that one moment, I figured that they were all ready to let them go. I never thought anything differently until @Stone Gossardish mentioned he said it was pretty clear it wasn’t Mike’s choice.

          • Olga Stewart

            I remember Seal saying that Eddie shouldn’t have said that he didn’t care about getting the award.

          • Steve

            Yeah, they were just starting to figure out how to deal with fame at that point. Neil Young, I believe, mentored them through the process.

      • Trovoid

        I respect Jack’s contributions to PJ, Eleven, and RHCP. It’s just not an easy task to follow up to a drummer like Dave A. Dave also inspired me to get serious about practicing the drums. Like I said below: The double stroke rolls, groove, precision, power, cymbal accents, fast right foot, creativity.. The guy is a very colorful player.

        • Steve

          100% Without Jack, there is no PJ. I am not sure Jack wanted to be in PJ.

          • Trovoid

            Jack and Eddie are great friends but I think all of the touring and being in the spotlight were too much for him. He was dealing with panic attacks and bipolar disorder. I don’t think he ever got over Hillel’s death.

  • El Ram Originales

    Pearl Jam wasn’t “the Pearl jam” that I knew and grew up listening to since Dave A.’s departure. Their distinctive funky, grungey but somewhat heavy groove was lost with Matt Cameron as the time keeper. It has been painful and intolerable to listen to them live since. So what if he’s an ego maniac or some asshole shit head and big deal if he had different personal views from the rest of them. What is important is the music that is created. This is why I would never see them live without Dave A. I’d rather watch old clips from the 90’s on YouTube to rediscover that magic. It was Eddie Vedder’s biggest mistake to boot him out. Huge loss!

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  • Olga Stewart

    Dave, I am very sorry that you were fired from the band.

    But you need to let your anger go. And then move on.

    I know it’s a lot easier said than done. But if you don’t, it’s going to eat away at you more and more.

    • Corndog

      I can’t really blame him. I don’t think I could have moved on either. Must be hard too when he is constantly being asked about it. Must keep it fresh in his mind.

      He was the guy in the posters on my wall when I was a teenager and he’s still the face that springs to mind when I think of PJ’s drummer. I don’t like Matt ‘metronome’ Cameron at all. I can’t speak for Soundgarden, but his PJ drumming is crap.

      • Olga Stewart

        I understand where you are coming from.

        On a different topic…

        I made the mistake of watching a video on a friend’s Instagram account.

        Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” was playing in the background.

        Now I can’t get the damn song out of my head.

        So I definitely feel (or hear, in this case) your pain about this.

        • Corndog

          I’m sorry to hear that Olga. I’m forced to listen to her current song several times a day in work and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Her music is such vacuous nonsense. Lyrics sound like they were written by a ten year old girl.

          • Olga Stewart

            Sometimes she looks like a ten year old girl.

            And I’m also sorry that you have to listen to that song so many times per day.

            I wonder if there is a way of claiming compensation for having your eardrums tortured with bad music?

          • Corndog

            Unfortunately I’m stuck in an office where every single persons idea of good music is shit like Swift or Katie Perry. Sadly I’m outnumbered, but I get my passive aggressive revenge by playing the heaviest music I can find on my iPod over lunch and break. They often complain that my headphones are louder than the radio;)

          • Olga Stewart

            Serves em’ right. :).

          • Kay B

            She is truly unattractive.

          • Kay B

            Geez I feel for you. Luckily in surgery we get to choose our music because we are the ones operating on the patient. Every now and then this asshole anesthesiologist beats us to the music though and plays some shit pop songs. We have one rule though. You never ever play “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”. No matter who sings it. We have had a couple of people code on the table during that song. No joke.

          • Olga Stewart

            I can see someone in surgery going after the anestesiolgist with a scalpel or something after he puts that particular music on.

            Okay that is not the thing to do.

            But it still strikes me as funny.

            I guess I do have a twisted sense of humour.

          • Kay B

            Sometimes you want to.

          • Corndog

            I genuinely don’t know how you do what you do. I see one drop of blood and i end up on my back with stars orbiting my head.

          • Kay B

            To be honest many medical students do the same their first couple times in surgery. I have no problem taking a limb off or an open fracture where the bone is sticking out. What is hard for me to watch however believe it or not, is needles being used. We do what’s called an ART line. Makes me sick. I can’t stand needles. I have 7 tattoos but that doesn’t bother me. One big needle bothers me for some reason. Also unclean belly buttons. It’s amazing what people are hiding there.

          • Corndog

            See, just reading that second sentence gave me a shudder:)

            I have issues with needles too. I don’t mind them being in, or the brief pain as they enter, but if i actually see the needle going in it makes me queasy. I donated platelets once a month for 5 years and they had to put one of those wee valve looking things in my arm each time (sorry, can’t remember what those things are called but i’m sure you’ll get the gist) and i had to look the other way or i would get light headed and nauseous. Once it was actually in i was absolutely fine looking at it. It’s just that moment where it breaks the skin that bothered me.

          • Kay B

            I know exactly what you mean.

          • Olga Stewart

            I kind of freak out when I have to get a shot.

            It had to do with getting a shot when I was in elementary school.

            The nurse couldn’t find a vein in my arm and so she just kept jabbing at my arm.

            Yet I want to get a couple of tattoos.

            Go figure.

        • Trovoid

          I’ve been in your shoes.. with that exact same song. I’m so sorry. Consult your doctor if the song remains in your head for a month or longer as you may need a lobotomy.

          • Olga Stewart

            Hopefully it won’t be that drastic. :).

            And thank you both, Cordog and Trovoid.

          • Kay B

            Ha! Same with the damn Thunder song from Imagine Dragons.

          • Trovoid

            I’m aware of who they are but I haven’t heard that one. Just looked it up. I better avoid it after this listen before I follow the same fate. That will be the death of me.

          • Kay B

            This band seems to touch everything and it turns to gold. I don’t get it.

  • Henning Habbestad

    Totally agree with Dave here. Pearl Jam lost the POWER that was him behind the kit. Really a shame!

  • Cristiann

    Honestly, it’s been more than 20 years … I think he’s had plenty of time to move on from being fired.

    Although, I have to admit that Matt Cameron is much stronger in Soundgarden than he is in Pearl Jam.

  • Luiz Piovesana

    Dave A was a huge inspiration and motive for me to starting drumming too. His work with PJ was inspirational!

    Matt’s drums really lack groove on PJ – it’s a bit said to compare his live performances to when Dave A. was in the mix. Plus, the latest compositions haven’t been great at all (which was Iron’s strong suit).
    To me it seems that PJ’s Matt is just a vanilla version: doesn’t compose so well, doesn’t groove – been saying that for years =/

    • Trovoid

      It seems a lot of us here were inspired to play drums because of Dave! If he was in PJ for more than 3 years or played in other noteworthy bands I feel he would be in a bunch of top drummer lists.

      • FM KC

        Some people live a life in a minute, he did in three years… And is still influential to young drummers such as yourself, not bad.

      • Steve

        I do find it strange no other band has ever tapped him.

        • Trovoid

          He jammed with GNR during the Chinese Democracy sessions and played with some less famous people like Stevie Salas and Peter Cornell. I’m sure having “Fired from Pearl Jam” on his resume didn’t help matters. Dave Grohl had a bunch of choices after Nirvana.

  • Hwang Sunghyeop

    Pearl Jam try to be Nirvana with Matt. That was the point. For me.

  • Keith Kinkade

    Cry baby cry.

  • Plutarch X

    Form a band with 3 drummers: you, Pete Best and Steven Adler.

    • Steve

      That would be awesome! ANY PROJECT! He has done a couple but they were so low key, I would never get a chance to see him live.

  • Creepy Green Light

    Only PJ album that was any good IMO was Ten. After that, everything was too soft, quiet & lame for my taste. But thank god I had Alice in Chains, Soundgarden & Tad to listen to.

    • astrocreep7

      Really? ‘VS.’ and ‘Vitalogy’ are without a doubt, heavier and faster albums than ‘Ten’

      • Creepy Green Light

        Yeah, I just couldn’t get into it. I liked Ten the best. Still have mad respect for them and my bro Jeff Ament using Mike Lull basses. I just dig the Soundgarden, AIC, Nirvana, TAD vibe better 🙂

        • astrocreep7

          Fair enough. I like all of those bands too.

  • Ahhh yeahhhh

    Dave A. Is by far the best drummer P.J. ever had. He fit perfectly, so of course he had to go.

  • Rob Racalbuto

    You got replaced because you were an average player…..matt Cameron is a legend

    • Trovoid

      I don’t think it’s fair to call Dave an average player. I feel like the guy is a virtuoso and he’s a major reason why I started playing drums. The double stroke rolls, groove, precision, power, cymbal accents, fast right foot, creativity.. Even if he’s not your preference I’m sure you realize it’s not fair to call him “average.” I will agree with you that Matt is a legend, just not in PJ. Matt’s style worked with Temple of the Dog and obviously he was incredible in Soundgarden. He just doesn’t sound right playing old or new Pearl Jam songs and I say this as someone who respects Matt a lot.

  • Rob Racalbuto

    The problem with Matt was in pearl jam on the decline song writing wise…..he is a far superior player than most guys

  • David Abbruzzese

    Thanks everyone. If you’d like to read the full sanctioned interview that Brett got the exerpt from go to:

    https://maubrecht.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/exclusive-interview-david-abbruzzese/

    All the best. D.

    • Trovoid

      Dave, is it really you?

      I love your FreeAssRecords YouTube channel. Thanks for everything.