Soundgarden Reveal How End Felt Like ‘Divorce’

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Matt Cameron has all of the qualifications that most drummers can only dream of. Now, let’s add that he’s been the drummer for both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam and we truly have a dream life for many readers.

Matt recently talked about how his experience of playing with Soundgarden differed from playing with Pearl Jam, and recalled how a phone call with Eddie Vedder in 1998 led to him joining Pearl Jam.

After seeing Soundgarden through its original run, Cameron would find a home in another legendary Seattle band – in 1998, he replaced Jack Irons as the Pearl Jam drummer, a position he’s held ever since.

Speaking with Rick Beato in a new interview, the famous drummer was asked to comment on the differences between playing with these two iconic grunge bands, to which he replied (special thanks and transcribed by UG):

Matt stated: “I think the overall approach to performing, recording, learning songs and songwriting is essentially the same with any band I’m playing with or situation that I’m involved with. I think the difference with Soundgarden was that I helped build it from the ground up. I kind of helped in forging the sound of the band and everything that it’s known for.”

The above statement is a huge testament of just how great he is.

Matt continued: “When I joined Pearl Jam – it was 1998, and they were fully established, legends unto themselves, so I really tried to fit what they needed at that time. Just going straight out on tour, learning a set, just being prepared for the gig. And then, eventually, the creative side kicked in for me, bringing in music and things like that, which they were always wide open to. I think the overall approach is the same for the way that I would approach a gig or just approach a situation where I’m going to be playing shows, recording, show up prepared, try my best and just trust my own instincts.”

Matt then speaks about some turmoil that was shared in Soundgarden in the later half of the 1990’s that would eventually lead to their initial end. Soundgarden would call it quits in April of 1997. About a year later, Eddie Vedder would invite Cameron to stand in for Jack Irons in Pearl Jam without previous notice, and although the gig was meant to be temporary, Cameron would remain with Pearl Jam to this day.

According to the drummer, the call from Eddie Vedder came just before an upcoming Pearl Jam tour, leaving Cameron very little time to learn over 60 of the band’s songs. He went on:

Matt stated: “After I got off the phone with Eddie, and I agreed to do this upcoming tour, I hung up the phone and I was just, ‘My God, what have I just agreed to?’ Just one of those moments of like, ‘Okay, I gotta get to work.’ Not much of it was out of my wheelhouse as far as how I approach playing in rock bands, and I’ve known those guys forever, so it was actually an easy transition, personally and professionally.”

Matt did what he had to do and figured it all out.

He closed: “But, you know, I think the dust hadn’t settled for me with losing Soundgarden. And I think I’ve just been the ‘full throttle’ kind of musician. I’m just always moving forward, you know? And I think that’s how I’ll always be. The transition was tricky, just for me, because it was like going through a divorce, or something like that.”