A quick word...
...with James Iha, quietly spoken guitarist with the much-troubled rock giants the Smashing Pumpkins, on the phone from a hotel room somewhere in America where the band are in promotional mode for new return-to-the-familiar album Machina/ The Machines of God.
What's the mood of the band at the moment?
Tired. Tired but we're happy to be playing right now and we are just getting out there meeting people, like politicians. But it's good playing with our old drummer Jimmy again who is now back. It is always fun to play with him.
Why the return to the trademark big rock after the stylistic sidestep of previous album Adore?
I guess the songs were just different and the guitars weren't on 11 on the adore record. They didn't have all the buzzsaw distortion that people associate us with. But this album just sounds more like the old stuff people are used to, maybe because it was recorded as as a band. But sonically there are things it borrows from the last album and there are new sounds too.
What had to happen for Jimmy Chamberlain to return?
We just called him up, asked him if he wanted to play, see how it feels and see if he wants to do it. It's about that simple.
The band has an ability to make headlines for reasons other than your music. Are you resigned to it or does it still annoy you?
No, I'm sort of tired of drama but I never was a dramatist in the first place. Shit happens.
How do you feel about the departure of Darcy?
Er, very sad to see her go and she's great and she played a big role in the band and it's very hard to fill her shoes.
So is Billy Corgan really impossible to work with?
He is a difficult, complex man but, you know, this record was a lot of hard work but it was fun. There are some great rock moments we achieved on it. I don't know any other way working within the band.
Considering the drama, the heavy touring - Do you still enjoy it? I always like playing guitar in front of people with the band. The repetition can kind of kill you but in general I still like it.