Born in San Diego, Cameron moved to Seattle in 1983 and quickly became immersed in the local music scene. In 1986 he took over the drum stool in Soundgarden, a position he held until the band broke up in 1997. In 1998, one year after the breakup of Soundgarden, Cameron got a call from Stone and Eddie asking him, “What are you doing this summer?”
What was your first instrument? When and where did you start playing?
My first instrument was a secondhand drum set at the age of eleven. I had been banging on everything in the house since the age of three. Luckily, I had very supportive parents who were both big jazz fans.
What was the inspiration behind why you wanted to play music?
Self-expression, trying to be like my heroes, girls, in that order.
What are some of the earliest/most influential concerts you attended?
In the mid to late seventies, I had the honor to see Queen, Kiss, Bowie, Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy, Shelly Manne, Bobby Hutcherson, and Jaco Pastorius. I had my mind blown wide open at a very early age. I do not miss the M80s people used to bring to big rock concerts back then. It sounded like a war was breaking out between bands. I also remember a lot of kids partying way too hard the day of a big concert and ending up passed out in a pool of vomit during the show. I wanted to soak in every detail, so the idea of being too high to enjoy the concert experience made no sense to me. I guess I was an early straight-edger.
What are some of the best memories you have from playing early shows with your first bands?
Playing my high school graduation party in 1980 with the band Faultline at Fiesta Island in San Diego. We brought a generator, parked two vans in a V behind us, and started rocking. Our classmates (mostly from the smoking section) were rocking out and loving every moment. Two songs into our set, the cops showed up and asked for our permit. Oops. Not a great start to the summer of 1980. My first Soundgarden show in 1986 at the Ditto Tavern was a baptism by fire. I had joined the group one week prior to the gig and I wanted to impress. The drummer I had replaced, Scott Sundquist, was in the front row critiquing my every move. I remember him saying from the front of the stage, “Kick drum too loud!” “Too fast!” et cetera. Opening for Love and Rockets in 1986 was a big Soundgarden moment for me. We had never played a show in a theater before, just local bars and such, so we were a little nervous. Our opening song, “Entering,” sounded a lot like “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” from their previous band Bauhaus. Both songs have a very similar drum intro, so when I got the cue, I laid into the beat, and I remember the first two rows looking at each other with mild confusion. Once Hiro Yamamoto and Kim Thayil hit the first gnarly guitar notes, there was no more confusion. It was the first big stage the band had played on—the Moore Theatre in Seattle—and after the show, I realized we had a sound that could fill any size venue, and we could hold our own with anyone.