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The 10 Best Songs With Matt Cameron on Drums

Matt Cameron
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 04: Matt Cameron of Pearl Jam performs at Fenway Park on September 4, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

5. Our Lady Peace – “Right Behind You (Mafia)” 

One of Cameron’s rock drummer friends and contemporaries, Our Lady Peace’s Jeremy Taggart, injured his ankle while recording the band’s 2000 album Spiritual Machines. So Cameron stepped in to play drums on two tracks on the album, bolstering the single “Right Behind You (Mafia)” with his distinctive crash cymbal fills. Taggart was well enough to rejoin the band to shoot the video for the track. And two years later, Taggart once again appeared in the video for a song Cameron played on when the Pearl Jam drummer wasn’t available to appear: Chad Kroeger’s hit “Hero.”

4. Skin Yard – “The Birds” 

Soundgarden’s first released recordings, which appeared on the 1986 compilation Deep Six, featured Scott Sundquist on drums. However, the drummer who’d soon replace Sundquist and become a permanent member of Soundgarden could be found elsewhere on the album, playing on two tracks by Skin Yard. While Deep Six was a defining early moment for the sludgy Seattle sound thanks to songs by Green River and The Melvins, “The Birds” was an offbeat outlier on the compilation, with Skin Yard frontman Ben McMillan blowing on a saxophone and Matt Cameron playing intricate hi-hat patterns.

3. Pearl Jam – “Grievance”

Cameron’s history with Pearl Jam goes back to the very beginning when he played on the first demos of instrumentals that would eventually become “Alive” and “Once.” But he wouldn’t actually become a member of Pearl Jam until 1998, and the band’s first studio album with Cameron on drums was 2000’s Binaural. Produced by Tchad Blake, Binaural centered Pearl Jam’s sound around the metallic ring of Matt Cameron’s tom-toms, particularly on the taut rocker “Grievance.” When Pearl Jam played The Late Show with David Letterman ahead of the release of the album, for their first televised appearance with Cameron, they wisely showcased their new drummer with an animated performance of “Grievance” instead of one of Binaural’s mid-tempo singles. 

2. Temple of the Dog – “Reach Down”

It may sound ridiculous to say that a song starts hits its peak around the nine-minute mark. But while most of Temple of the Dog’s harrowing 11-minute epic “Reach Down” is dedicated to Cornell’s emotional lyric about Andrew Wood, and Mike McCready’s wailing guitar solos, Cameron saves his most intense playing for the song’s final stretch.

1. Soundgarden – “Jesus Christ Pose”

The first single from Soundgarden’s 1991 album Badmotorfinger is perhaps the band’s heaviest song ever, a six-minute hurricane of rapid-fire tom-toms and squealing guitars. “As soon as I played this pattern everyone dove right in, and within an hour we had the guts of the song,” Cameron said in a 1994 interview with Modern Drummer. “The approach we took on this one was a pure assault of the senses.” The crucifixion-themed video was banned by MTV and radio wouldn’t touch the song either. But after Badmotorfinger climbed to platinum sales, “Jesus Christ Pose” became one of Soundgarden’s signature songs, the moment in almost every concert when Cameron’s drums commanded the attention of everyone in the room.