Pumpkins’ Smashing Return
Today is the greatest day for fans of the Smashing Pumpkins.
Taking out full page ads in Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, Billy Corgan announced plans to reform his seminal alt-rock out five years after disbanded the group.
“For a year now, I have walked around with a secret, a secret I chose to keep,” the bald-pated singer-songwriter writes in an open letter to fans. “But now I want you to be among the first to know that I have made plans to renew and revive the Smashing Pumpkins. I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams.
“Rock on and may God bless you! Billy Corgan.”
Corgan makes no mention of whether the other three original Pumpkins–guitarist James Iha (currently with A Perfect Circle), bassist D’Arcy Wretzky or drummer Jimmy Chamberlin–share his enthusiasm, especially considering their acrimonious split. Nor did Corgan indicate exactly when the reunion would take place.
Known for his nasal whine and ’70s-echoing guitar licks, Corgan was the principal songwriter and driving force (some would say taskmaster) behind the Windy City-based quartet. He broke the news of the reunion on the same day his first solo album, The Future Embrace, arrived in stores.
Over an 11-year career, the Smashing Pumpkins released five studio albums and won two Grammy Awards. The band first made noise with the 1991 college-rock fave Gish, followed by the breakout major-label debut, 1993’s Siamese Dream, which rode the grunge wave and catapulted them into alt-rock superstars with radio-friendly songs like “Today” and “Disarm.”
The Pumpkins followed up with 1994’s Pisces Iscariot, before scoring their biggest success with 1995’s double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The band’s magnum opus sold 4.7 million copies on the strength of such hits as “Bullet with Butterfly Wings,” “Tonight, Tonight” and “1979.”
The band nearly imploded in 1996 following the death of touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin from a heroin overdose. Corgan fired Chamberlin for shooting up with Melvoin, using a rotating series of drummers for the next Pumpkins release, 1998’s electronic-infused Adore, and subsequent tour.
In 1999, Chamberlain rejoined the lineup right before Wretzky, who would later battle her own drug problems, called it quits to try her hand at an acting career. She was replaced briefly by former Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur for the band’s final tour and album, 2000’s hard-charging Machina: The Machines of God.
The band gave its final performance at a Dec. 2, 2000, 36-song marathon show at Chitown’s legendary Metro.
Corgan immediately threw himself into various projects. He and Chamberlin formed a new band, Zwan, and released an album, Mary Star of the Sea, in 2003 but disbanded shortly thereafter. He also put out a bestselling book of poetry before getting to work on The Future Embrace, again with Chamberlain backing him up.
In his Tuesday dispatch, Corgan says the new album “represents a new beginning, not an ending” and “picks up the thread of the as-yet-unfinished work and charter of the Smashing Pumpkins.”
He embarks on a solo tour Wednesday in Atlanta.
Pumpkins’ Smashing Return