A young man with an old soul full of music
Nashville is a bit of a drive from South Florida, and is known as "Music City." That nickname is well-deserved and has earned it's reputation for cultivating the careers of some greats; Gregg Allman, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Jack White and the rock band Paramore, to name a few. Some of the all-time greats were born and raised here. Cameron Osceola, ultra-talented lead guitarist and singer for his band, The Osceola Brothers, although born and raised in South Florida, may well be on his way to becoming one of the next greats who makes his way through the city known for great food, southern hospitality and of-course, great music. Read on and "Think About It!"
FM: Cameron, thank you for taking time from your crazy schedule to allow me to interview you for Fretboard Magazine. You've got a lot going on these days, a lot on your plate.
Cameron: Thank you for the interview. I really appreciate it. Yes, I've got a busy schedule with school, my band, The Osceola Brothers and my other band, the Nightprowlers.
FM: I know The Osceola Brothers are a rock band, what about The Nightprowlers?
Cameron: We're a bit of rock, blues and punk.
FM: School, studying, two bands, writing songs, performing live; you're a busy man.
Cameron: Busy can be good.
FM: Let's talk about you and your family. You are a member of the Seminole Tribe. There is so much incredible history there, spiritually and musically. As a kid growing up in South Florida, were you always interested in music?
Cameron: Yes, our culture is really important to us. Growing up, I was exposed to different kinds of music and was always curious about it. Ha, there’s a video of me as a baby dancing to the movie La Bamba.
FM: La Bamba? Are you a fan of Ritchie Valens and music from the 50's and early 60's?
Cameron: Oh, man, yes! I love Ritchie Valens, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly. The music they put out is great, timeless.
FM: Tell me a bit about your childhood. Where did you grow up?
Cameron: We all grew up on a reservation in Hollywood, Florida. Our dad taught us how to play baseball at a young age and coached our teams growing up. I played baseball and some lacrosse up until 10th grade.
FM: Are you still active in sports?
Cameron: No, I gave up sports for music. I only played lacrosse in 10th grade. I'll play every once in a while for fun.
FM: Tell me a bit about your siblings. I know you come from a large family.
Cameron: Yeah I have 3 younger brothers, 3 older brothers and 1 older sister. Love them to death. The ones in the band are Tyson (bass) and Sheldon (drums).
FM: When did you first become interested in the guitar?
Cameron: Like I said, I was always curious about music. When we were younger, Tyson, Sheldon and I used to joke about what our imaginary band names would be and what instruments we would play. I got my first guitar when I was in 3rd grade going into 4th and taught myself how to play by listening to records on repeat until I got the songs down.
FM: What records or songs were you listening to at that time that you played along to?
Cameron: Patience by GNR was the first song I learned to play. I listened to Shout at the Devil, Too Fast for Love, and then discovered BB King, Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan. I'd go to sleep listening to them.
FM: That is one hell of a compilation. I love it! A lot of musicians I've spoken to said their parents guided them toward the instrument they play or helped get them started with piano lessons or classical guitar. Did your parents guide you toward music?
Cameron: No, not really. But they did listen to bands like Linda Ronstadt, Queen, Guns n’ Roses and classic rock bands, so that seeped into my mind.
FM: Your parents have great musical taste. Did you watch a lot of music videos as a kid?
Cameron: I remember watching Guns n’ Roses music videos on DVD and wondered where these people were from! It was real, it was different and it was exciting! So I guess you can say my parents exposed me to music.
FM: Do you come from a musical family?
Cameron: Not really, although my grandmother sang in church and my mom and aunt can play a little piano. But right now, it is crazy because my younger cousins and nieces are great singers and learned to play the ukulele and guitar. Being the oldest, they all look up to me. I’m really glad to be an inspiration for them. Growing up, I never had an older brother or anyone to really look up to to teach me things and show me different kinds of records and whatnot, so it’s cool that I can help teach the younger ones what I know from life and be there for them.
FM: You sound like a great big cousin and uncle. Was the guitar your first interest?
Cameron: I was interested in a few instruments. At first I wanted to play the drums because I thought they looked cool. I just really wanted to bang on something, haha. Guitar really got my attention when I first heard players like Mick Mars, Jimi Hendrix and Brian May through the radio.
FM: Those are three great players with three completely different styles. As a kid, what style of music did you listen to the most?
Cameron: Growing up, I was introduced to all kinds of music, from Elvis to Motley Crue.
FM: That's quite a contrast. How did you get interested in Elvis? A lot of guys your age probably don't even know who he was.
Cameron: My grandmother is a huge Elvis fan, so I️ have her to thank for getting me hooked. Whenever we would go over to her house, she would play his music and tell me about the King. She also had Elvis memorabilia throughout the house.
FM: Elvis was great and a musical pioneer. Tell your grandmother I think she has great taste in music. What about during your younger years, elementary and middle school, what type of music were you listening to then?
Cameron: Throughout elementary and middle school everyone was into hip hop and rap and what was popular on the radio. I never really fit in anywhere, so when I found blues and rock and roll, I felt like I had something of my own. I would sit in my room, blast my favorite records and pretend I was Stevie Ray Vaughan at the El Mocambo or Joe Perry on the Midnight Special.
FM: It's great to hear you say that. So many kids these days have no idea what they're missing out on with the popularity of rap and electronic music. To see a band live on-stage, playing their own instruments, is incredible. Did you ever tell some of the other kids, "Hey, check out this band, I think you'll like them."
Cameron: I did, but they were too entrenched in their rap and hip hop. They weren't too kind with respect to some of the artists I liked.
FM: Well, that's their loss. What musicians have influenced your young musical career?
Cameron: Oh dude, who hasn’t influenced me. I love the whole glam rock scene with Sweet and T. Rex and the Tubes as well as punk bands like The Slits, Sex Pistols, Dead Boys, and the New York Dolls.
FM: Wow, you've really done your homework. Not many guys your age would even know who those bands are. Go on.
Cameron: Lyrically I really enjoy Charles Bukowski, Edgar Allan Poe, Ian Hunter, Nikki Sixx, Elliot Smith and Jeff Buckley, just to name a few. One of my biggest influences though has to be Nikki Sixx (coincidentally, we have the same birthday). And, Elvis Presley.
FM: Are there any Native American musicians you look up to? Lee Tiger, Rita Coolidge, Redbone, Chuck Billy from Testament?
Cameron: We’ve played some shows with Lee Tiger, he’s pretty cool. Derek Miller is another great musician we look up to. He helped produce our debut EP “Out of Nowhere”. Some other Native musicians we look up to include Redbone, Stevie Salas, Keith Secola, Jesse Ed David, Charlie Patton, as well as drum groups like Northern Cree and Cozad.
FM: Really, for such a young guy, you've got a great encyclopedia of musical knowledge and great taste. What was the first band you played in?
Cameron: Actually, the first official band I played in was the Osceola Brothers. Before that I sat in with other people and played some covers.
FM: Between you, Tyson and Sheldon, who's idea was it to form the Osceola Brothers?
Cameron: Probably me. I taught Tyson his first song on bass, a Stevie Ray Vaughan song and a family friend gave Sheldon the drum kit. We set it up outside and he started banging around on it. We then started jamming for hours and hours. And, a few years later, here we are.
FM: Tell me about your current band, The Osceola Brothers. Who are you guys?
Cameron: We, The Osceola Brothers are a rock and roll disease ready to seep into your brain with no chance of getting out. Our music will make you dance, think, sing, and feel things you haven’t before. We’re just three brothers from Florida who want to share our music with anyone willing to listen. Along the way, we have been fortunate to open for some of our heroes such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jonny Lang, and Creedence Clearwater. It’s amazing because what we strive for is to inspire others with our music, as we have been inspired. We are YOUR band!
FM: Well, I hope there's no cure for the rock and roll disease you are ready to seep into other's brains. What do you feel are your biggest challenges as a band?
Cameron: What I feel our current, biggest challenge is would be touring. Tyson and I are in college in Nashville while Sheldon is still in high school back in Florida, so it’s a little difficult to find the right time to tour.
FM: Time and patience. How do you guys approach your songwriting? Do the three of you write as a unit or does someone bring a riff to the table and you go from there?
Cameron: Every song has a different approach. Sometimes it starts with a riff, a bass line or a lyric idea that may pop into my head. When we’re all together we tend to jam and flush out the idea and let the song sort of write itself. I usually tend to write alone, that’s where I feel I can really let things out. I’ll sit down, figure out a chord progression or melody and let it flow from there, trimming the fat as the creative process starts to reveal itself. I like to get the structure of the song down before I start to write lyrics, although sometimes it’s the other way around and I’ll write a poem over a progression and rhythm I hear in my head. I learned a lot from studying and copying my favorite songwriters, and for a while I was afraid to do so out of fear of being a copycat.
FM: I've learned over the years that every musician builds upon what they hear, their influences, and then add their own originality.
Cameron: Yes. I learned that you can put your own spin on it and really make it your own. You’re just choosing from your own inspirational library. A tip that I recently learned is to JUST WRITE!
FM: That's great advice. Who told you to do that?
Cameron: Through one of Nikki Sixx books. And, a lot of my friends are writers and they tell me all the time, just write. Write anything, a poem, a song, a story, and finish it. You can record it and trash it or just sing it to yourself in the mirror, just do it.
FM: Very solid advice. Your song, “Set Me Free,” I hear a little of the band Jet in there. Are they one of your influences?
Cameron: Thank you! I love Jet, they’re “Get Born” record just kills! At the time that song was written, I hadn't listened to them too much, but I hear what you’re talking about.
FM: As a band, where do you guys want to be a year from now? 5 years from now?
Cameron: In a year’s time, we’d like to be touring and growing our fan-base as well as release more music. I’m really interested to see how our music will evolve over the next couple of years. In about 5 years, we’d like to be the biggest band in the world with hella money, cars, women, (insert other material, cliché examples)... just kidding. In 5 years, being a household name would be cool. We want to make it so we can make our family and people proud and also so we can show kids like us that what you dream is possible if you’re hungry enough!
FM: Cameron, it's been a pleasure. It's great to speak to someone so young who has such a grasp on music and the history too. Congratulations on your career and I expect it to be a long and successful one too.
Cameron: Thank you Fretboard Magazine.
Craig Marks, Publisher
For further information on Cameron Osceola and the Osceola Brothers, please visit the following links: