Pumpkins lay down 20 songs for next album Tuesday, January 13, 1998
By John Sakamoto, Executive Producer of Jam! Showbiz

Never let it be said that James Iha is one to coast between Smashing Pumpkins albums.

While the guitarist is deep into recording sessions for the next Pumpkins album, he's also prepping for the Feb. 10 release of his solo debut, "Let It Come Down", and a possible string of acoustic dates, all while continuing to check out possible signings for his own label, Scratchie Records.

As for the Pumpkins, "We're in the middle of recording now," a relaxed-sounding Iha is saying Monday from Los Angeles. "It's going good, just really slow.

"It's a lot (of songs), it's just that some are kind of sketchy and some are more formed. There's about 20, maybe more." However, unlike the Pumpkins' last opus, the double-CD "Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness", the new album will definitely be a single album.

Iha characterizes the new material as "less rock, but it's not really an acoustic record, and there are some electronic elements on it." Pause. "It's kind of hard to say what it's going to be."

The Pumpkins album, which doesn't yet have a release date, could also conceivably consist entirely of Billy Corgan songs, though the band is working on one Iha composition, titled "Summer".

"I used most of my best songs on my record," Iha says with a good-natured laugh. "I've been writing some new ones lately, but I kind of went from my record right into the Pumpkins record, so I haven't really had time to write much."

Was it hard to shift from a situation in which he was the boss to one in which he's basically the guitarist to frontman Corgan?

"Working on good songs is not hard," he says. "Some songs I just play guitar, some songs I contribute a little more as far as the overall production. We've been playing together for 10 years, so it's not really hard for the three of us to just start playing."

And who's filling the Pumpkins' vacant drum seat these days?

"There's a lot of looping and drum machine, actually," says Iha. "We've had different people playing on it: Matt Walker (who officially split from the Pumpkins last fall), Matt Cameron (ex of Soundgarden). And we want to have some other people come by. But there's no permanent drummer."

Meanwhile, Iha says he'll probably be hitting the road in February and March to do interviews about "Let It Come Down" and, possibly, some playing.

"(The Pumpkins) should be going into mix mode by the time my album comes out, so I think it'll actually work out, timing-wise."

"Right now, I'll probably go out with Neal Casal, who sang most of the harmonies on the record and played some guitar. We'll probably do an acoustic duo thing," though that could take the form of simply playing a few songs at radio stations, rather than full shows.

The first single and video from "Let It Come Down" is the charming "Be Strong Now". In addition, that song will be released in the U.K. as part of an EP, along with three non-album B-sides: "My Advice", "Take Care" and "Falling", which Iha characterizes as "a really old song".

Here's the full track listing for "Let It Come Down":
1. Be Strong Now (first single and video)
2. Sound Of Love
3. Beauty (with Veruca Salt's Nina Gordon)
4. See The Sun
5. Country Girl
6. Jealousy
7. Lover, Lover
8. Silver String
9. Winter
10. One And Two (with D'Arcy on vocals)
11. No One's Gonna Hurt You