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WalMart Headline: Searching for a Keyboardist and MCIS Review
December 31, 1994, 11:00 pm

Source: WalMart Headline

Simply Smashing

The Smashing Pumpkins Roar Back With a Big Double Album
WalMart Headline. Winter 1995. [No Specific Date]

Not that it's at all like Smashing Pumpkins to do anything the easy way. Last summer, as the Chicago-based quartet was in the midst of crafting a follow-up to their 1993hit album Siamese Dream, they realized that their new songs were a bit different--less emphasis on the guitars, more on keyboards. In other words, to take these songs out on tour would require a keyboard player. What to do? A newspaper ad must have seemed simple enough. In June, the multi-platinum band put notices in Chicago's weekly newspapers reading, "The Smashing Pumpkins are looking for a keyboard player to accompany them for live performances...Please send a five-minute cassette tape of yourself playing whatever you wish (please, no Pumpkins songs)."

As you can well imagine, every owner of a $50 electronic keyboard in the greater Chicago area saw his or her big chance. Two months later, the band was the proud owner of a refrigerator box full of cassettes, none of which were ever even listened to. "We thought it would be a good idea," laughed Pumpkins guitarist James Iha recently. "You know, avoid the attitude that professional musicians sometimes bring with them. But as it turned out, we were too busy to deal with them." That disastrous casting call was typical of the sometimes bizarre route Smashing Pumpkins has taken to its place as one of alternative rock's biggest bands. That status should be official by the time the group's new album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, has had its day on the charts.

The album--a double-CD set, which is unusual for an album of new material--contains 28 new songs, is almost a guaranteed hit, considering that even the group's last album, Pisces Iscariot, sold nearly a million, and consisted only of the kinds of B-sides and unreleased songs that usually appeal only to diehard fans.

Said chief Pumpkin Billy Corgan recently, "This record isn't what anybody would expect from a band that's supposedly going to be big. I just wanted to do the best artistic thing I could do, and if it's successful, it's because of its artistic success, not because it conformed to some preconceived idea of how to make it big."

That uncompromising attitude has propelled Smashing Pumpkins--which include bassist D'Arcy and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin as well as Iha and Corgan--to the pinnacle of the alternative rock scene.

The band was formed in Chicago early in the '90s, and their debut album, Gish, was one of the most highly-praised maiden efforts of 1992. The band came back even harder with their million-selling 1993 follow-up, Siamese Dream. Hits like "Today" and "Disarm," along with an appearance on Saturday Night Live--on Halloween, no less--assured Smashing Pumpkins ascendance to stardom.

Siamese Dream also established the Smashing Pumpkins sound--tight drumming and Corgan's urgent vocals, smothered all around by layers and layers of distorted but tuneful guitars. Smashing Pumpkins are revving up for a winter tour, then will follow workaholic Corgan right back into the studio. And not because they need to generate more songs, either. "We've got about 20 more songs left from when we recorded Mellon Collie," Corgan says. "I don't know where they come from; we're just productive."

Perhaps they come from Corgan's driven perfectionism, which can be a blessing and a curse: he said he can't always even find happiness in his own work. "I've come to terms with the fact that I could never be completely happy with the music we wind up making," says Corgan. "So that's not what I end up focusing on. What I wind up looking at is the emotional commitment on any given record. If that's there, that's all I care about."