I was born in 1975, a good year for music. I grew up in Camarillo, California, but I spent most of my childhood in Somis, California. It’s the rural area between Camarillo and Moorpark, it’s the 118. So if you drive the 118, you’ve gone through it, you just don’t know it. 

Growing up, my dad sang barber shop, so I had a lot of harmony drilled into my head, whether I wanted it or not. My brother started playing drums in grade school, and of course being the younger brother, I wanted to play also. I was probably about five or six when my mom bought us a drum kit for Christmas. She wanted to make sure that we shared, so one tom got my name, the next tom got his name, he got one cymbal, I got the other cymbal, one of us got the snare, one of us got the kick. I started lessons soon after.

 My mom supported me playing. She went to all my lessons, took me to lessons, yeah. In grade school I started meeting friends who played guitar and stuff, so I started jamming with people. In high school is really when I decided that I liked playing drums, and I really liked this music thing. So that is when I really started seeking out what music is. 

Photograph Scott Tuchman

I was a huge Rush nerd in high school—of course, got to love Neil Pert. After hearing some prog rock, I became a big Jethro Tull fan. Huge, huge old Genesis fan. I love old Genesis with Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins is one of my favorite drummers. I started really searching out all kinds of what’s out there. What is music, you know? 

The more unique and original, the better for me. I got into fusion music, jazz, Return to Forever, Stanley Clarke. I got into some world music, the amazing voice of Youssou N’Dour and Papa Wemba. Latin, Cuban music. Some really out-there stuff. Just different polyrhythms, and what do other people hear music as? Because you know we hear things very kind of straightforward for the most part in American music whereas African music, Indian music, there is almost no time signature to some of their stuff. So yeah, I really soaked a lot of stuff in. 

After high school I started working at a theater in Thousand Oaks, the civic arts plaza. There are two theaters, an 1800 seat and a 400 seat.  So I started going to work and seeing shows and working shows. I was a sound engineer for 27 years and now as of the end of last year, I became technical director of the Scherr Forum theater there, the 400 seater. We do everything from puppet shows to punk shows. It’s a performance arts center.  

The end of high school, I found Phish, which is kind of a conglomeration of a lot of the different music I have been listening to. So that brought me into the improvisational jam band world. And from there I just started finding all these other groups that came along with it.

Photograph Scott Tuchman

Grateful Dead came along with the whole jam band scene, especially living around Ventura. In Ventura you can’t go down the street without hearing it. And going around to festivals and stuff it all came together. 

In fact, the way the two drums in Shaky Feelin’ came about with us is, I had joined the band playing percussion, but I’m not really a percussionist, I have always been taught on a drum kit. So, I was playing percussion just because I liked the band, I thought it was fun. I made this percussion setup, half percussion, half drum kit thing that I made that I started using for Shaky Feeling, which has taken a lot of variations over the years. 

We played this festival, and it was a Grateful Dead festival, Dead on the Mountain is what it was called. I figured, hey, if we are going to do this, maybe now is the time, maybe I will try to do a double drum type of thing. And from there, it’s worked. It’s not the same as just dual drummers, I have more of the percussion kind of Mickey Hart thing, a little bit more percussion-y alternate sounds to play along with, not just playing a beat, you know. 

There were some groups I started that never went anywhere, jammed with a few guys here, jammed with a few guys there. I was in a band called the Mudlers for a few years. It never really panned out. there was a point where I moved out of my parents’ house, living in apartments, I couldn’t really play drums as much. 

About 2010, that’s when I started going to see Mark (Shaky Guitarist) with a friend. So, I actually went to a few shows before there was Shaky Feelin’, it was just as a three piece, and I started watching Mark. I saw where this guy is going. 

And then I basically kind of worked my way into the band. I just started showing up at gigs and playing bongos and conga on the side. Actually, I wrote him a letter, which I think he still has and he jokes about it every now and then, where I sent him an email saying, hey, I should be playing for you. Paul was playing with them for a couple gigs, and then it wasn’t too long where I started jumping in and from there, we just kind of mutated. And like I said, I made my weird I call it the kitcussion, which is half percussion, half drum kit, and we started playing. We have been doing that since about 2010. 2012 we added keys, which was nice. And I would say, yeah, the real Shaky Feelin’ began. 

 When we (Paul, the other drummer, and Cameron) started it was just kind of a hashing out over each other. I like to record, and watch shows, so I would video the shows. From watching those and listening to them I can say this is bad or this is good. Or back off here, play more there. 

Over time I just kind of learned how Paul plays and you just get an intuition of he is going to do a fill here or he is going to switch it up here or he is going to double time here. During rehearsals a lot of times, when we are learning new songs, I actually don’t play, I sit back and just listen to everything going on, not just Paul, and be like, what are the accents I’m hearing? What kind of, you know, am I hearing a cowbell, am I hearing a wood block, or am I hearing an alternate something or a little accent that I can do a little bloop, bloop fill in. That’s basically it. It’s all about listening to what everybody else is doing and then filling in your part and hoping it’s not too much or too little.

Drumming is percussion technically. I mean, for me I mean, as far as like playing hand drums, I guess. I need sticks in my hand. I guess that is the difference for me. Without a drumstick I will play lefthanded on a bongo, while playing a cowbell with a stick or something. I learned drum kit, how to play Latin beats, etc. I learned on the drum kit, the rhythm patterns. so, to me, a drum kit is definitely a more solid foundation, sitting down playing at a traditional kit versus percussion stuff. 

 So I know Phish and then Grateful Dead yeah, I drew towards it because they have songs that I love. I love the jam band scene, but I would never say that I know all the jam bands, I was never necessarily into just jam bands, I just love music.

(Drum lesson for an ignorant publicist): What’s a flam (it’s a type of drum pattern)?  

It’s two hits together but they are slightly off, I guess you would say.

(what’s a paradiddle?)

 A paradiddle is left, right, left, left, right, left, right, right. There is also a flamadiddle  adding the two so instead of doing singles, you do it together— flamadiddle. 

See Cameron Probe with Shaky Feelin at Skull & Roses Festival