Matt Cameron Looks Back at Temple of the Dog

By Brian Ives

Earlier this year, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell posted a photo of the master tapes to the legendary Temple of the Dog album from 1991.

This was a big deal for fans, because the ownership of those tapes have been in dispute: Rajan Parashar, the co-founder of London Bridge Studios in Seattle, where the album was recorded, was claiming ownership of the tapes, and at one point was refusing to give them to the record company.

His brother, Rick Parashar, was the co-owner of the studio and also produced the album (as well as Pearl Jam’s debut, Ten).

Related: Soundgarden’s Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd Look Back at Hater

Matt Cameron, the drummer for Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, spoke to Radio.com about another of his projects, Hater (whose debut EP is being reissued today, July 15). But the conversation veered to Temple of the Dog.

“It’s the 25th anniversary [of Temple of the Dog], but we had to go through this contentious court battle to get these idiots to give us our master tapes back. And that’s when Chris posted that [to Facebook]. But yeah, we’re figuring that stuff out now, as far as the re-release goes.”

“It was such an emotional record,” he recalls about the group’s self-titled album, which was a tribute to the late Andrew Wood; Wood was the singer of Mother Love Bone, whose guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament went on to form Temple of the Dog and Pearl Jam. Wood was singer Chris Cornell’s roommate (and his brother Brian Wood was in Hater with Cameron). “The music is emotionally jam packed. The lyrics, the music, the performance, it really captured the mood, and the sentiment really well. it was just a one-off record. that record’s always had more gravitas than other ‘side-projects’ like Hater or Wellwater Conspiracy. It was very specifically themed.”

The members of Temple of the Dog — Cornell, Cameron, Gossard, Ament and Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready — have performed together a few times over the years, including at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall last year.

“That album deals with death, so it’s hard not to have some of those feelings when you’re playing it. But I really dug the Benaroya performance, it felt really great.”

Between the upcoming Temple of the Dog reissue, today’s Hater reissue, and recent reissues from Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, Cameron has been part of a number of re-examinations of classic albums. He doesn’t always love the process. “I do not enjoy the current philosophy, where it’s sort of expected that you release all of your outtakes and rehearsals and demos, I really don’t like that aspect of it at all. But the fans really like it, so I’m always talked into having those things in our Soundgarden re-releases. We’re trying to get Badmotorfinger off right now, we’re trying to figure out what to put on that, and there were a lot really cool outtakes and things like that. I personally, as a songwriter and as a performer, don’t really want people to hear that [laughs]. But I guess as a fan, it’s cool to hear the inner workings of how a record gets made.”

What extras might make it onto the Temple of the Dog reissue?

“I think there’s probably alternate takes, and I think Chris made demos. But his demos are pretty freaking cool. Some of his demos are amazing. I think that would be OK. But I guess it depends on the quality. But as a musician, I like people to hear the finished product. It’s not a deal breaker for me, it’s more of a philosophical difference I guess. The process of creating music is fantastic, as an artist, but there’s got to be some privacy there.”

Looking forward, he’s also working on the next Soundgarden record. “I think we’ve got six solid tunes right now, we’re gonna get together in August for about a week, do more writing, and hopefully got five or six more going at that point. we’re off to a very good start.”

As for Pearl Jam’s next record, “Nothing [has been recorded] as of yet, there’s a bunch of gigs to do, after that I’m not really sure what’s going on.”

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