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INSIDE BILLY'S HEAD ; Corgan says Smashing Pumpkins reunion is 'going to happen'; [RedEye Edition]
June 24, 2005, 3:12 pm

Source: Chicago Tribune

INSIDE BILLY'S HEAD ; Corgan says Smashing Pumpkins reunion is 'going to happen'; [RedEye Edition]
Greg Kot, CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Ill.: Jun 22, 2005. pg. 54


Billy Corgan's surprise announcement of his decision to "renew and revive the Smashing Pumpkins" appears to be more an invitation than a done deal.

Corgan said Tuesday that "the door is clearly open" to reconvene the alternative-rock powerhouse's original lineup but would not say if any of the Pumpkins knew of his plans.

He also insisted that the work of the reconstituted Pumpkins will be the best of his career. "If, four years from now, or two years from now, whenever it's got full colors and it's flying, the music better be better," he said in an interview. "Because if I have not made better music going through what I've been through. ... I have failed. And I should be beaten over the head for it."

Though it's certain that a Pumpkins reunion will be built on singer-guitarist Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who remain close friends and collaborators, Corgan would only say that he'd welcome a return by James Iha and bassist D'Arcy Wretzky, who departed the band on acrimonious terms. The ex-Pumpkins could not be reached for comment.

"What I've done [by going public] is I've set the intention," Corgan said. "It's going to happen."

The Pumpkins, founded by Corgan and Iha in 1987, and joined the next year by Wretzky and Chamberlin, became one of the most acclaimed and commercially successful bands ever out of Chicago and helped provide the soundtrack for the alternative-rock generation. Before concluding their career at a December 2000 concert at Metro, the Pumpkins sold more than 25 million albums.

Corgan then went on to establish Zwan, a new band with Chamberlin and three veteran indie-rock musicians, but the quintet imploded in 2003 after releasing only one album, "Mary Star of the Sea."

Corgan then went to work on numerous solo projects, including a poetry book, a collection of Chicago-inspired songs that he performed in concert last year and an album, "TheFutureEmbrace," that was released Tuesday. But the Pumpkins announcement undercut the usual pomp surrounding a debut solo release by a major rock artist. Corgan defended the timing of the announcement in cryptic, tongue-in-cheek terms: "It's the summer solstice, a full moon, the drama is there."

Corgan said he realized he wanted to bring back the Pumpkins while working on "Embrace." He said that he and Chamberlin were listening to unreleased Pumpkins songs to determine which ones to include as part of an Internet release last year, "and this cloud came over the room."

"I started thinking differently, I started feeling differently," he said. "That guy came back. The soul of that thing is different than this guy here. If you put me into that band, I turn into the Great Pumpkin again."

Corgan insisted he won't be going back for nostalgic reasons, or because his sales as a solo artist don't match the levels he achieved with his old band.

"The work's not done," he said. "I thought it was done. I left [the Pumpkins] for very noble reasons. My loyalty to James [Iha] was really the big splitter in that. And now that I look at it, I know there is more."

"It won't be this rosy reunion, this Pixie-esque concept," he added, referring to the recent reunion of indie-rockers the Pixies, who are touring the country playing their old hits. "It ain't gonna be like that. I am literally going to pick up the thread ... of what it meant to be in [the Pumpkins], which is like lighting things on fire and breaking things." The question remains who besides Chamberlin would want to sign up for such an assignment. Corgan laughed. "That band has a soul," he said. "I don't care who's in it."

In the interim, Corgan has a tour to complete for his solo album, beginning Wednesday in Atlanta and including sold-out concerts July 5-6 at the Vic Theatre.
PHOTOS 2; Caption: PHOTO (color): RETURN OF THE GREAT PUMPKIN Billy Corgan reveals his master plan to renew and reunite his band. ALEX GARCIA/TRIBUNE FILE. (Page 1). PHOTO (color): Billy Corgan. GETTY IMAGES.

Credit: Greg Kot