October 6, 2003
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Cameron finds rock in Wellwater
By Aubrey Henretty
Daily Arts Writer
Matt Cameron does not shriek in
terror when asked about Wellwater
Conspiracy's relationship to the
grunge era with which he's been so
long associated. Nor does he feign
ignorance of the term, nor, to his
credit, does he hang up the phone.
"The G-word," he says knowingly.
"I've got no problems with grunge.
I'm proud of my grunge." Best known
as a drummer with late grunge giant
Soundgarden and the still-alive grunge
giant Pearl Jam, Cameron has plenty
of grunge to be proud of. "But," he
adds, "I would say we're more of a
psychedelic band than post-grunge."
Wellwater Conspiracy is a three-
man power-band consisting of
Cameron, former Monster Magnet
guitarist John McBain and Walka-
bouts keyboardist Glenn Slater. The
contents of their latest self-titled
release are quite unlike any of the
music for which their respective
mother bands are known - render-
ing much fan-base overlap unlikely
Courtesy of Megaforce Records
Feel the rhythm with your hands ... steal the rhythm while you can.
- but Cameron, at least, isn't wor-
ried about the potential swapping of
"I think our expectations are realis-
tic, and we are not interested in com-
peting with the present-day,
major-label Hollywood rock bands,"
he says. "It just doesn't concern us
anymore. I think there is an audience
for groups like ours. It's gonna be a
small one, but people do enjoy hearing
stuff that isn't necessarily on MTV"
When asked if writing hit singles to
appease the MTV generation has been
an integral, if frustrating, part of his
musical past, Cameron laughs. "You
know, I don't think it really has been
that much of a concern. When
Soundgarden got really big, our main
concern was just trying to keep the
level of music high. Luckily, we did
have a song that hit. I've never really
been in that scrutinizing position in a
band where, like, I mean, if you're J-
Lo or something, then of course you
have to write a hit single."
But there is, he says, a certain pres-
sure "to keep the success going" that
comes with being in a commercially
successful band. "It doesn't necessari-
ly mean writing hit singles, but it does
mean keeping yourself out there,
doing promotions, touring - you
know, everything that goes with it."
Cameron says Wellwater is hoping
to tour sometime in early 2004, but
planning - which he describes as a
"scheduling nightmare" between Pearl
Jam and Walkabouts gigs - is still in
the early stages.
THE BOYS FROM BOISE FORM A FUTURE
By Alex Wolsky
Daily Arts Writer
For Doug Martsch, the driving force behind Built to
Spill, getting things just right is a feat. For years now, he's
watched as multiple casts of band members come and go
like a spinning wheel in a never-ending rotation; but that's
never gotten him down. He's still creating some of the most
melodic music in recent memory, and he has a solid crew
behind him and a new tour as well.
Over the years, journalists have sputtered over how to
take Built to Spill: Are they a real, cohesive set, or is it ulti-
mately a Doug Martsch project? "The idea behind Built to
Spill was to always have a rotating cast of members, to
keep the music fresh and to let the ideas flourish," Martsch
upholds. And every album stands as a testament to the
notion that every new member who has come in to work on
the albums seemed to bring something new to Built to
Spill; it wasn't solely Martsch's work all the time. And
despite Martsch's claim that "he just needed to settle down
and find some good players," the question still lingers on.
But he also recognizes that this carries its own set of ups
and downs. He claims, "I got burnt out easily. Now when-
ever my own creativity wavers, I always have a static set of
people to throw ideas off of," which helped during the
recording of 1999's indie hit Keep it Like a Secret, an
album in which Martsch was first critical of, yet over time
has gained a certain affection for.
Over the last albums on the Warner label Martsch
finally settled in on two members, which has made a
world of difference to the sound of Built to Spill. "We've
gotten tighter," he claims. "It's making a big difference in
the way I write songs and the tempo with which we
record." Unlike their early discography, when they flipped
band members and record labels as often as the New Year
came around, Built to Spill is now seeing something con-
stant and it's helping the music.
And now, as new material beings to rear its head during
this current tour, such as at the recent Detroit show, this
contingency of core artists that Martsch has brought on has
finally done something early fans of Built to Spill never
thought possible: they sound tenacious. And while Martsch
claims that the goal of every new writing session is to keep
it simple, "Sometimes it just doesn't end up that way."
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