"Despite the rumors, I can tell you the next Smashing Pumpkins release is not going to be an electronica album or an acoustic album," says Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. "But it does appear that it'll be more stripped-down than the last album."
According to Iha, the initial work on the band's follow-up to the multi-platinum Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness has been something of a throwback to the Pumpkin's earliest days. With the departure of drummer Matt Walker, who left to concentrate on his band Cupcakes, Iha and band mates, Billy Corgan and D'Arcy, have turned to composing with a drum machine. "It's the way we wrote songs in the very beginning of the band," says Iha. "The three of us worked together for a long time before we got a drummer."
While Iha is enthusiastic about his work with the Pumpkins, he is equally jazzed about his upcoming solo album, Let It Come Down (Virgin), due February 10. Written during the band's last tour, the seductively mellow, acoustic-based project is a reflection of Iha's earliest musical influences. "I grew up listening to a lot of acoustic music - CSN&Y, the Byrds and Gram Parsons. I never really learned to play any of their songs specifically, but that folk-rock influence is part of me."
The Smashing Pumpkins' tumultuous recent history - which saw the death of tour keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin and departure of longtime drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, both due to substance abuse - also had an effect on Iha's solo effort. "I wrote most of the songs on acoustic guitar while we were on the road. The last Smashing Pumpkins tour was so heavy - musically, physically and mentally - that the last thing I wanted to do when I went back to my hotel room was crank up a Marshall. I just wanted to write something warm, intimate and loose."