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Pumpkins pair throw label party
June 19, 1997, 11:00 pm

Pumpkins pair throw label party
Jae-Ha Kim. Chicago Sun-Times. June 20, 1997.

The Smashing Pumpkins will head to Europe on Wednesday for a two-week tour of festival shows. But before they pack their bags, bassist D'Arcy and guitarist James Iha - half of the Chicago-based group - will co-host a Saturday night showcase for Scratchie Records, the label they helped create.

The lineup at the Metro concert features Scratchie acts the Frogs, Fulflej and Mike Ladd. Catherine, which is signed to TVT, also will perform; drummer Kerry Brown is married to D'Arcy and owns a portion of Scratchie.

At a Scratchie showcase in December, the audience was a mix of fans checking out the relatively unknown groups and curiosity-seekers eager to ogle a Pumpkin.

"Yeah, that happens," said Iha. "But it doesn't matter, because we're a small label and however we can get people interested in these bands is OK. None of these acts are platinum sellers (with sales of more than a million albums), so it's really difficult to get people interested in something they haven't heard of at this point.

"(D'Arcy and I are) in a big rock band, but I'm a little too close to it to be in awe of us, so I can't imagine why other people would."

Iha and D'Arcy aren't scheduled to perform, but it's likely that the pair - either individually or as a duo - will jam with some of the groups as they did in December.

Formed in 1995, Scratchie has 10 artists on its roster. The latest is Ezther Ballent, whose album is expected to be released in January.

"We always try to be as involved as we can for whatever time is available to us (with the label)," D'Arcy said. "But it's sort of like giving input where input is wanted."

Deadpan, she added, "My speciality would be signing bands that sound just like us. That's what people think. I would disagree."

The experience has given the musicians a view of what industry paper pushers have to put up with.

"It's tough to allocate money for different acts and so forth," Iha said. "But at the same time, there are so many horrible bands out there that get signed to big labels . . . that it's kind of gross in a way."

As for their day job, the Pumpkins aren't ready to go back into the studio just yet to record the followup to their 1995 double album "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness." But Iha is writing material for a solo album.

Asked whether he would sign himself to Scratchie, Iha laughed.

"Well, I'm signed to (the Pumpkins' label) Virgin, so I can't really just do that," he said. "But I suppose it'd be too bizarre to sign myself."

Credit: Jae-Ha Kim

Source: Chicago Sun-Times