Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan Performs Acoustic At Opening Of His Madame Zuzu’s Tea House In Highland Park
(Billy Corgan at Madame Zuzu’s Tea House in Highland Park. Photo via CVU.)
Yesterday saw the opening of Billy Corgan‘s Madame Zuzu’s Tea House in Highland Park. The Smashing Pumpkins frontman was on hand to perform acoustic throughout the day, and CVU was on hand for the morning set. Check out Corgan performing Machina cut “With Every Light” below, and watch for a full report from the opening to post soon via Illinois Entertainer.
Video of Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan‘s SXSW Blogger Lounge interview has posted online. The clip features the artist sharing his views on the role of digital in the modern music business, which ties into the artist’s SXSW interview appearance from earlier today. Find that Blogger Lounge clip below, and look for the band’s forthcoming Oceania album to drop in June.
Update: Another official interview with Corgan at SXSW, this time with Google Play. has hit the web. Find that interview, wherein the artist further discusses his views on the current musical climate, below.
In the early ’90s, The Smashing Pumpkins made their mark in the then-young alternative nation with their debut full length Gish and its commercial smash hit follow up, Siamese Dream. The records not only introduced the world to The Pumpkins, but demonstrated both the band’s psychedelia (Gish) and sonic bombast (Siamese Dream) capabilities, elements that would work their way in and out of the Pumpkins’ catalogue across the group’s long career.
Now, two decades later, both Gish and Siamese Dream have gotten the deluxe reissue treatment, complete with a second disc of rarities attached to each album. Additionally, each efforts’ deluxe editions are packaged with era-corresponding live DVDs of the young group performing at the Metro. In the following email interview, frontman Billy Corgan revisits his feelings towards both records then and now, discusses the band dynamic at play in the group’s forthcoming 2012 effort Oceania, and offers his take on the positive response to the band’s recent work. Find reviews of both the Gish and Siamese Dream deluxe editions following the interview below.
CVU: Why now for a series of archive releases? And what is the origin of the Smashing Pumpkins archive project (the SPRC, reissues, etc.) as a whole?
Billy Corgan: Now just feels like a good time to take another look at the old albums, and also to try and put together some of our b-sides and unreleased tracks into one easy-peasy package. There is a bigger musical story on the band in that than the albums alone don’t tell. It’s also important to make sure the music is available in an optimal format.
CVU: What are your views on Gish now vs at the time of its creation and release?
BC: My general feelings are the same, as far as what we were trying to say at the time; power, force, grace, bam! The message is there. Hindsight for me at least affords a perspective where certain musical ideas may now seem naive, but that’s also what I like about the record. It is the band (as was) in a pure state of intention.
CVU: What about Siamese Dream? Same question, then vs now.
BC: At the time of release I thought Siamese was perhaps too polished, but I see now that it is the idealism of the record that has helped it to endure and age well. We could never have known then that records would one day be made mostly by nerds at computers, especially rock and roll records!
CVU: 20 years later, revisiting archive material and the proper records, did you find yourself second-guessing anything on the original releases? For example, wishing you’d gone with a different take, or thinking now you might’ve swapped one song out for another?
BC: Yes, I think that’s a natural artistic process, to look back and second guess. In our case, we spent a lot of time making our records, and because we worked with such great producers always had the benefit of their wisdom in song selection and overall direction. Because the musical vision was at times so sprawling, how all the pieces fit together was an important part of the process. I could easily argue that Gish has one or two songs that could have been swapped out for others. But that’s easy to say now; back then writing songs was a more a strange, mystical journey for me. I couldn’t write a good one unless the moon was in the right spot in the night sky.
CVU: What is it about you as a songwriter and the Smashing Pumpkins as a band that has resulted in such a large body of work? For every record, there seems to be a surplus of b-sides, alternate takes, and vault material.
BC: I’m really a restless musician, and I bore really easily. I was lucky to have had a band that supported me in going in all these different directions at once, It was also a release for us to have a bit of fun, after really long and drawn out album sessions, to just go into a small studio and bang out 3 b-sides in 3 days; to say in a messy way what the albums couldn’t in the pursuit of perfection.
CVU: What, if anything, do you want listeners, new or old, to take away from the Gish and Siamese Dream reissues?
BC: That the band was way more about music than any of the other public dramas and traumas that became part of our lore. As I like to say, people still talk about the past because the music was strong and often inspired. I think producing the equivalent of around 20 albums of music in 10 years is pretty good!
CVU: Between preparing and releasing the reissues and SPRC content, and working on Oceania, it would appear that you’ve been dividing your time between two distinctive eras and incarnations of The Smashing Pumpkins as of late. What was that contrast like?
BC: Not as strange as it would seem. Listening to the roots of my musical life is mostly comforting for me. Some old songs remind me of good times I’ve forgotten, and others also kind of warn me what not to get too caught up into. It’s also helped me to realize that i am still very much in a band called The Smashing Pumpkins, continuing on faithfully with the original mission as it was drawn up.
CVU: Talk about the band dynamic in creating Oceania, as, from reports online, the record sounds very much like a full team effort.
BC: We’re a peaceful band, with a different musical language. What we lack at times in excessive force we make up for in space and a dreamier, more epic space. It is inherent in the way we work that every member carries their weight in the studio, and the beauty is I’m not the only one with that message to share. The expectations within are very high, and even-handed. It’s a good time to be in SP, the best for me since the mid 90′s.
CVU: The reissues have received a strong response from the press, and you’ve talked about the positive feedback from those who have heard Oceania. How does it feel to have such a favorable reaction to your and the band’s work right now?
BC: Well, we are discussing The Smashing Pumpkins here, right? Not a name I generally associate with public support and good press! So i remain cautiously optimistic. History has shown that when I don’t follow the script that others would write for me that there is some weird hell to pay. I’ve had my past hijacked so many times that often I feel as if people are talking about someone else’s life; not mine. Through all of it, I’ve learned to trust ‘the song’, and the heart that goes into singing it. Everything else is just a child’s game in my eyes.
What are your feelings on The Smashing Pumpkins in 2012, with Oceania on deck, as well as additional reissues set for release?
BC: I’m feeling very optimistic about the next few years ahead of us musically. As long as the music is strong in the present, the rest will follow as it should. I’m really blessed to have had such an incredible life in and out of the Pumpkins. It is nice of course to revisit the past in a warm way with the reissues, but my mind is always pointed forward in the worst way. As my grandmother Lillian (who incidentally is about to turn 100!) says, “move or die.”
The Smashing Pumpkins
Gish / Siamese Dream Deluxe Editions
As deluxe editions, Gish and Siamese Dream are well positioned to appeal to both new and old generations of Pumpkins fans. For younger newcomers, remastered editions makes for an even more accessible listening experience for two of the band’s more acclaimed albums. For longtime fans, the real draw of both releases are additional discs of vault cuts and live DVDs. In fact, the bonus material on each album seems primarily aimed at the hardcore fan, comprised of demos, alternate mixes, radio sessions, instrumentals, and the like.
In a wise move, the Gish and Siamese Dream extra discs stay away from previously available deep cuts and b-sidess, opting away from simply attaching previously released Pisces Iscariot songs. Rather, on the Gish collection, tracks like the reverb-heavy “Hippy Trippy (Crush Music Box Demo)” and a Corgan-fronted “Old House Demo” of “My Daydream” offer alternate takes on familiar material. Songs range in tone and tempo, with ”Smiley (Gish Sessions Demo)” standing out in its simplicity, while the 2011 mix of the Reel Time Demos version of ”I Am One” comes across raw and powerful, and ”Pulseczar (Gish Sessions Demo)” is heavily fuzzed out. And while the selections here might not have seen release up until now, tracks like the “Apartment Demo” of “Jesus Is The Sun” demonstrates the strength of vault material.
The second Siamese album, meanwhile, hits with bombast throughout. ”STP” features Corgan’s trademark snarl and the whirling, swirling full throttle Pumpkins guitar sound that has carried throughout the act’s career. Similarly, ”Hello Kitty Kat (Soundworks Demo)” has a brash and bratty quality to it, featuring a quality Pumpkins style freakout at the end. Elsewhere, “Luna (Apartment Demo)” carries an earnest charm, and “Apathy’s Last Kiss (Siamese Sessions Rough Mix)” has a sorrowful and somber mood, keeping with the band’s trademark sad style. And a radically reworked version of “Siamese Dream” is a new take on a track that itself remains a rarely heard b-side. Meanwhile, more familiar fare like the ”Rocket (Rehearsal Demo)” and “Disarm (Acoustic Mix)” stand out, with the former an endearing example of a well known production under construction, and the latter on par with the version that saw commercial release. Though not every track will translate as well to new or casual listeners, the works in progress and alternate versions on both reissues should give longtime die hards plenty to pore over.
The live DVDs included in both albums’ deluxe packaging, meanwhile, provide an experience unavailable in 2011. Namely, watching a live show featuring all four original Pumpkins: frontman Corgan, guitarist James Iha, bassist D’arcy Wretzky, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. Metro owner Joe Shanahan provides intros for both the Gish and Siamese Dream era DVDs, with the former featuring the venue owner recounting details of the personal lives of the band at that time, from Corgan’s time working at a record store to Chamberlin’s Camaro. As a whole, the Gish concert is marked by a heavy coating of psychedelia, from the band’s aesthetic to the blue and violet stage lighting and hazily filmed footage. Notably psychedelic and accessible is the trippy, spacey “Rhinoceros.” ”Tristessa,” meanwhile, showcases the young band’s technical proficiency and power, while “Window Paine” features a full band blitzkrieg.
The real draw with the live show footage, however, is the band’s Siamese Dream-era Metro set. Displaying superior filming quality courtesy of JBTV, the footage features a short haired Corgan looking mischievously cherubic throughout the performance. Such is the case during a ferocious performance of ”Soma,” which features the frontman snarling his way through the emotional number. Similarly energized is the anthemic “Cherub Rock,” while elsewhere, more vulnerable fare like ”Disarm” and “Spaceboy” benefit from greater emotional impact, courtesy of live cellist Eric Remschneider, who also played on Dream. Reaching back to their last record, the rendition of “Rhinoceros” here is slower and more stripped down, but matured, while Pisces cut “Starla” goes heavily psychedelic. In between, Corgan delivers stage banter and audience baiting, while appearing to legitimately enjoy himself.
More than anything, the packed Gish and Siamese Dream reissues are a snapshot of a time long gone from one of Chicago’s seminal alternative rock acts. If you weren’t there when it happened, this is your chance to flip through the scrapbook. If you were, this is your way back in.
Jaime Black wrote for the Smashing Pumpkins official website in 2009, and was provided the Gish and Siamese Dream reissues promotionally.
The new clip for Madina Lake‘s track “Imagineer” has hit the web, featuring the band and friends speeding through the night in a particularly rowdy cab. The cut comes from Madina Lake’s World War III effort, which dropped this past September, and is the end product of a collaboration with Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. For more on “Imagineer,” the band’s time with Corgan, and World War III, check out bassist Matthew Leone’s brand new interview with Jaime Black at Illinois Entertainer. And find the “Imagineer” video, followed by a clip of the band weighing in on the track, below!
(Billy Corgan in center ring during Smashing Pumpkins’ “Owata” video shoot.) (Photo via Jaime Black for CVU)
This past Friday night in the western suburbs, wrestling company AAW took over the Berwyn Eagles Club for a series of pro indie wrestling matches. While that in and of itself was fairly routine, the evening’s special guests were a bit more out of the ordinary. The night saw the hall serve as the filming site for The Smashing Pumpkins‘ latest video, “Owata,” off the band’s current web-release effort, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.
As tickets were limited for the Friday evening’s event, the shoot accommodated less than 100 attendees, with the crowd a mix of wrestling enthusiasts and Pumpkins fans. Though Pumpkins ringleader Billy Corgan was in attendance along with the band’s Mike Byrne and Nicole Fiorentino, Friday night’s shoot was devoid of any performance elements from the group. Instead, the shoot revolved around a fight between wrestlers Alissa Flash (a.k.a Cheerleader Melissa) and Shelly Martinez, who received a bit of help in the ring from longtime wrestler Raven. As the evening went on, the main match between the two female wrestlers was repeated a handful of times in order to ensure the best footage was captured. During downtime between shoots, Corgan took to a small piano alongside the wall of the wrestling venue and quietly performed selections, The Beatles‘ “Nowhere Man” among them. The frontman also took to the ring at one point to voice his support for independent wrestling, in addition to praising the shoot as a whole the next day via his Twitter.
Hear “Owata” in the player below, or download that and the other Teargarden tracks at the official Pumpkins site. And watch for CVU to post the official “Owata” video once it hits the web!
Because no one outlet can cover the entire Chicago music landscape, here’s what the premier tastemakers across the Chicagoverse and beyond have been up to lately.
-On a related note, Buzznet has posted an interview between Mat Devine and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. Find out what the two Chicago artists talked about here.
-And finally, Columbia College Chicago label Aemmp Records has a new web home. Follow along with them on Tumblr, and look for more on Aemmp this week, right here at CVU!
Last night, as part of Local 101 on Q101‘s February Sweeps feature, Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan called into the program to promote his and Matt Walker‘s upcoming Lasalle Power Co. performance benefitting Northshore University Health System’s Integrative Medicine Program. Corgan talked about his current views on the music industry, how it relates to The Pumpkins’ ambitious ambitious 44-song digital distribution album Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, and hinted at potential touring plans. The full interview as it aired on Q101, and led by Chris Payne with contributions from myself, can be streamed from the player below, or downloaded by right-clicking here.
Local 101 02/14: Billy Corgan & Matt Walker, Chevelle, Smoking Popes, Scott Lucas & The Married Men, & Lucky Boys Confusion
This Sunday night, Local 101‘s February Sweeps rolls on: Interviews with Billy Corgan (of The Smashing Pumpkins) & Matt Walker (of TheMDR), Chevelle, Smoking Popes, Scott Lucas & The Married Men, and Lucky Boys Confusion!
AND JUST CONFIRMED: LOCAL 101 ON FEBRUARY 14TH NOW STARTS A HALF HOUR EARLY @ 8:30PM — ONE TIME ONLY! THE EXTRA HALF-HOUR ACCOMMODATES A 26-MINUTE INTERVIEW WITH BILLY CORGAN!
This Sunday, February 14th at 8:30PM on Q101, Local 101‘s February Sweeps feature rolls on with a blockbuster line-up of Chicago’s biggest names: Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins & Matt Walker of The MDR, Chevelle, The Smoking Popes, Scott Lucas & The Married Men, and Lucky Boys Confusion!
In advance of the pair’s February 18th performances at Lasalle Power Co., Billy Corgan and Matt Walker will be discussing the nature of the event, which benefits Northshore University Health System’s Integrative Medicine Program. The concert features Corgan performing alongside Walker’s cover outfit, Zoom. Walker’s TheMDR outfit also plays Metro February 26th, while The Smashing Pumpkins are currently two songs into the group’s ambitious Teargarden by Kaleidyscope 44-song digital distribution album. Corgan will also be discussing his current views on the music industry, how it relates to Teargarden, and potential thoughts on touring, among other topics.
Also this week on Local 101: Chevelle drummer Sam Loeffler comes on the program in advance of his group’s February 20th event at the Riviera. The band will share the stage that night with rising Chicago hard rock group Janus, an act recently featured on Local 101 earlier this year. Himself no stranger to Local 101, Smoking Popes singer/guitarist Josh Caterer calls in to this Sunday’s show in to reveal details of the Popes’ two record release shows February 19th & 20th at Reggie’s Rock House. The group performs in support of its new album, It’s Been A Long Day, dropping this Tuesday, February 16th. Also on the show in support of a record release show, longtime friend of the program and man of many musical hats Scott Lucas comes on Local 101 to shed light on his latest venture, Scott Lucas & The Married Men. The group plays a record release show February 20th at Schuba’s for its debut effort, George Lassos The Moon. The outfit will also conduct an in-store performance earlier in the day at Wicker Park’s Reckless Records. Finally, another Chicago music scene veteran familiar with juggling multiple projects, Stubhy Pandav comes on the show to discuss Lucky Boys Confusion’s upcoming headlining event at Wicker Park’s Subterranean. The band is joined on the bill by The Action Blast, another Chicago outfit recently featured on Local 101.
Local 101 is hosted by Chris Payne and produced/booked by Jaime Black, and airs every Sunday night at 9pm on Chicago’s Alternative, Q101. Local 101 airs this Sunday at 8:30PM and can be streamed live Sunday nights at Q101.com, and can be found online at MySpace and Twitter.