Guitarist Iha looks back at career highlights with Smashing Pumpkins April 2000
Lisa Aichlmayr
Daily Kent Stater
Kent State Universtiy

(U-Wire) Kent, Ohio - James Iha, guitarist for the Smashing Pumpkins, had been looking forward to the concert at Kent State, but it was also another step in his career with the band.

"The only thing I know about Kent is the Crosby, Stills and Nash song," Iha said. "But I think it will be pretty cool. I think Kent has an interesting history."

Iha's own history with the band started when he joined 11 years ago. He said the biggest highlight of his tenure was staying together and the freedom.

"We get to make music and put out records," Iha said. "I'm not at work from 9 to 5, doing something I'm not interested in. It's a hard schedule, but in the time we have off I don't have to answer to anything. I'm kind of used to it, it's what I do."

Iha said, even though he did not write on the most recent album, he has written on others. He said his inspiration can be almost anything that starts him playing. He starts with chord progressions then adds lyrics later. He said the current album, "MACHINA: The machines of god," wasn't meant to be a different style, as some reviewers had commented. "It was just the songs we wrote and the best collection," Iha said. "It wasn't a decision to make a different album, it was just the way it came out."

Iha said the current album took eight months to record. He said he enjoys playing the songs, but the touring can make them somewhat repetitive.

"There's a repetition to playing five nights a week. It's not that we get sick of it, but we add songs and take some out to keep it fresh," he said. "A lot depends on the audience."

Iha also remembers his first live concert with the Pumpkins. "I was scared and nervous," he said. "It was one of those 'putting yourself on the line' things. There's no way to see it, there's lights, sounds, and you're either good, bad or whatever."

Finally, Iha shed little light on the origin of the band's name. "It's one of those names you just come up with," he said.