Pearl Jam drummer steps up front

Drummer Matt Cameron, fresh off a tour with Pearl Jam after appearing on the band’s Live on Two Legs live CD and more than 70 live albums, has managed to make some studio time of his own. Wellwater Conspiracy, Cameron’s collaboration with Monster Magnet founder John McBain will release its third album, The Scroll and Its Combinations (TVT) later this month.

Cameron nonchalantly said he and McBain are already in the studio recording their next album.

“I think we just have a lot of material,” said Cameron in a recent interview with The Hatchet, “John (McBain) and I write all the time. Its just something we enjoy doing, so its not really like there’s a master plan to any of it, just we should get it down on tape before we forget it.”

The duo first met when Cameron, who once played drums for Soundgarden, worked with Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd in a project called “Hater.” The duo then recorded Wellwater Conspiracy’s first album, Declaration of Conformity in 1997.

Cameron knows that many people buying Wellwater Conspiracy’s albums are fans that have followed him from his work with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. He noted that Wellwater Conspiracy “doesn’t really sound like either band.”

The Scroll and Its Combinations does not try to hide Cameron’s connections to his old bandmates. Guests including ex-Soundgarden members Ben Shepherd and Kim Thayil and Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder. TVT plans to use the guest artists to promote the album, Cameron said.

“Its always a little bit delicate when you have a record like this that does have a lot of guest musicians on it,” Cameron said. “In the record industry world it’s always a good promotion angle and we’re not opposed to that at all. I think that’s just a given”

Cameron’s main hope is that people will “buy the record for what it is.” But he also said that if people “want to buy it because Eddie (Vedder)’s on the record or Ben (Shepherd) or Kim (Thayil) is on the record, that’s cool too.”

Reviews of the band’s past albums compare the band’s sound to the psychedelic rock of the late ’60s, with the rough edges of classic garage rock, a style of music that hardly receives much mainstream radio attention these days – something Cameron said he does not mind.

“(That) wasn’t the reason that we do records, to get on the radio . I think the rock radio climate right now is completely different from the musical angle that we’re coming from,” Cameron said.

Cameron said he is happy with a comparison to ’60s rock.

“It’s a good era of music that we’re trying to bring back, kind of that innocent era of making music for all the right reasons,” Cameron said. “I think we use elements from that era of rock music . we try to capture that type of approach which just a little bit more for fun than trying to get a major label deal.”

John McBain, who left Monster Magnet in the early ’90s, looks upon his former band “with a little bit of amusement,” Cameron said. “They’re going for that big major label rock push right now, and I don’t think he wants to be anywhere near that big promo machine.”

Cameron said he feels sure of Wellwater Conspiracy’s future and his continued collaboration with McBain because of the band’s major-label backing.

“It started out as a side-project, and now it’s turning into my main project,” Cameron said. “I’m definitely going to give this a go.”

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