January, 2001 - I-D Magazine - "Kosmic Kiddies, Gothic Nightmares, and the Lunar Landing, Kosmic Komma" [an interview with James and fashion designer Raf Simons]
If anyone could provide me with better scans, I'd be forever grateful :)
Scan One - Scan Two - Scan Three
Raf: So tell me what's going on?
James: Well, my life is changing at the moment.
Raf: You've just played your last ever concert as The Smashing Pumpkins.
James: Yeah, we did two final shows in Chicago.
Raf: How did they go?
James: There were a lot of old songs in there, which made it more difficult and we had to concentrate more. But it was fun.
Raf: I heard on the radio that the audience was crying...
James: I think I'd left the stage by that time. We waved goodbye and I didn't see what happened after that.
Raf: The decision to split - was it a sudden move?
James: We decided when we started the last record that this would probably be the end. It was the last record that we owed to our record company and I think everyone was tired. Not that it was stale. We were just getting too comfortable with the whole cycle of recording and touring. It was taking a lot of energy from us. I think it will be good for every person in the band to move on and do something different. I'm sure you know all about that. (side note: Raf recently decided to stop showing in Paris & stopped doing fashion design altogether).
Raf: Yeah, tell me about it. That's why I quit for one season.
James: Are you back doing shows again now?
Raf: Yes. I did my last show in January and after that I quit. It was purely a structural situation; I had 15 people employed and just wasn't very comfortable anymore.
James: Was it too big?
Raf: Yes, we took care of the production and closed the company down with the intention of thinking it over for a long time. Now I have a good deal. I'm independent and have my own creative office with two assistants and it's linked with a production house that takes care of financial stuff and everything.
James: Sounds great.
Raf: Yeah, it's much more comfortable and it gives me more possibilities to do other projects away from fashion, which is definitely interesting. Probably what you're looking for in a musical way.
James: Exactly. The band is great, I love the band. But ten months out of every year I'm with them from sun up til sun down and now I need to do something else. I don't want to be middle-aged and have been in a rock band for 25 years.
Raf: For an external person, it's quite hard to understand. But if you're in the situation, it's different. When I took a break, I took a break with no intention of thinking about the next collection at all. I just wanted to stop and pay my assistants to stay around for as long as I needed to think things through. And then things happen that you don't expect and you start missing things, and if the circumstances click together in the right way, then you're there again.
James: Yeah, I'm sure I'll have a better idea about things six months from now.
Raf: Do you still go out with the other band members, as friends?
James: Not really, but we were together all the time so...this last tour, we started in January and finished a week ago.
Raf: Was splitting up a decision that all the group was comfortable with?
James: I think it was actually pretty unified. Billy was okay with it and I'm sure D'arcy was relieved. Being in a rock band was really hard for her, a lot of stress.
Raf: And what about you personally? Do you have any ideas for future projects?
James: Right now, I would like to take a break and maybe travel. But I think I'll probably end up working. I'd like to do another solo record and I'd like to do projects with friends of mine who are in bands and writers too. I'm also starting a commercial music studio in New York with two friends called Stratosphere Sounds. Might do some soundtrackts too, I'm open to whatever.
Raf: Last time we spoke you were telling me that you were doing a lot of photography.
James: I'll always love music, but I'm kind of an amateur photographer as well.
Raf: Can you tell me about the pictures you've sent in to I-D?
James: They're fans who came to our signings at record stores in America. Some of the more colorful people we took pictures of. They just show all the different kinds of fans that the band has. Some of them are insane. Completely great, but insane. On our last tour, I've seen some of the same fans at twenty different shows. They fly, they take buses, they take cars, just to be at every show.
Raf: Is there a certain distance between you and your fans?
James: I think it's quite important to keep a little bit of distance. They're really nice people. I just think they're trying to work through something.