By Spencer. When Billy Corgan announced that the Smashing Pumpkins would be doing a special acoustic tour of small, intimate theater venues called In Plainsong, I was intrigued. When he announced Jimmy Chamberlain would be returning on drums, I was sold. The Pumpkins were my favorite band growing up. They were my very first rock concert (way back in 1994). This would be my fourth time seeing them live, but my first since their initial breakup in 2001. It was a chance to reconnect with all the teenage angst that Billy Corgan so perfectly voiced during the 90s. But just like I have grown in the years since, so have the Pumpkins—and the “acoustic-electro” concept behind this show would be a chance to see them in a newer, more mature light. Continue reading
By The S&N Staff. All things must end. And even though it took almost as long to count down our favorite albums of the 90s as it did to actually make it through the 90s, we’re finally ready to give you our top five. While it should come as no surprise that bands like Nirvana and Radiohead top out our list, you just may be surprised at which order they placed once the final votes were tallied. Continue reading
By Spencer. “Everything ends badly. Or else it wouldn’t end.” — Tom Cruise, Cocktail.
By 1998, the Smashing Pumpkins were already falling apart. Their drummer, Jimmy Chamberlain — whose frenetic style had been a long-underrated X-factor in the band’s success — was gone. The famously frosty relationship between Billy Corgan and his bandmates, James Iha and D’Arcy Wretzky, was only getting worse. And for the first time in their musical career, they seemed spent. With every release bigger than the last, a bubble had been created, and bubbles always burst. It’s a tribute to the Smashing Pumpkins that, in such a time of turmoil, they created their most intimate, their most personal, and their most mature album. Continue reading
By Spencer. If Spinal Tap taught us anything, it’s that rock is all about volume. Looking at the Smashing Pumpkins catalog, though, it’s easy to take a slightly different spin on that lesson. Because to them, volume isn’t just a matter of loudness – it’s a matter of quantity. Their wealth of extra material had already given us the 1994 B-sides collection, Pisces Iscariot, but after a double-album as epic as Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, there couldn’t possibly be leftovers, right? Right?
Just one year later we got our answer. Five discs, thirty-three songs, and a ridiculous Buck Rogers-looking package that put the “box” back in “box set,” The Aeroplane Flies High was a case study in showing off. It was a message to the rest of the music world: the only person who could ever top Billy Corgan was Billy Corgan, so don’t even bother trying. Continue reading
By Spencer. How do you top an album as big as Siamese Dream? By going bigger. Now most rock stars would have just stopped there, but with Billy Corgan, nothing can ever be so simple. He had to make an album so big that nobody could ever top it. What else could explain a double album so overflowing, so all-over-the-map, and so ludicrously named as Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness?
In the fall of 1995, the Smashing Pumpkins reached a crucial turning point from which they could never go back. No, I’m not just talking about Billy shaving his head. Or the unnecessary “the” they added to the front of their name. (Though I’m sure we all slept easier knowing, finally and definitively, that “Smashing” was an adjective and not a gerund). The turning point achieved on Mellon Collie was the completion of Billy Corgan’s lifelong mission to become the biggest rock star in the world. And he did it by simultaneously embracing every caricature of rock stardom – and, whether intentionally or not, every caricature of himself – that he could cram into 28 songs. Continue reading
By Spencer. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to meet Billy Corgan, the man who almost single-handedly provided the soundtrack to my teenage years. The songs that bury themselves inside you at that age – the ones you listened to in your bedroom, over and over and over, until you didn’t even need to hear them anymore because you could play them note-for-note in your mind; the ones you blasted from the stereo of your first car; the ones that made you play air guitar when nobody was looking; the ones that still recall the faces of once-perfect girls and broken hearts and the first desperate fumblings of love – those are the songs that never leave you. Even now, in my early thirties, I can still listen to Smashing Pumpkins (and yes, in my mind, they will always be Smashing Pumpkins; forget the extraneous “the” they added to their name in later years) and instantly feel that sublime twinge of pain and comfort called nostalgia, and know that nothing in my life from here on out will ever mean as much to me as the music of those years. Continue reading