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Status: On Haitus
November 1, 1995, 12:00 am    [Unedited] Cover Magazine Interview

Source: Cover Magazine

Smashing Pumpkins Guitar Flyer – James Iha
Anthony Bozza. Cover Magazine. November 1995. [No Day]

One Of Chicago's Four Sonic Angels Rattles & Tattles

James Iha speaks in halting monosyllables that, on this particular day, were slowed down by fatigue, concentration, and having to endure 7 hours of phone interviews while trying to complete work on the b-sides for the Smashing Pumpkins' rock saga, Mellon Collie and the Infinite sadness. Friendly yet chilled, James waxed poetic on Reading, samples and, and, uh, Tricky.

Cover Magazine: Hey What’s Up James?
James Iha: Oh, ya know, cold chillin', maxin' and relaxin'.

Cover Magazine: Well, Um, How Was Reading?
James Iha: Reading? um, it was ah, a mischievous debacle. It was like it was like a bunch of...dirty tired English...60,000 English...60,000 dirty tired English people rocking in the mud.

Cover Magazine: Sounds Primal. Did You Guys Bust Out a Lot of the New Tunes?
James Iha: Half old, Half new. It was a pretty good reaction actually. Yeah. It's pretty trying to ask an audience to hear, like, you know, six new songs out of twelve that they've never heard before, but I mean no one left, and it seemed like it kept their attention.

Cover Magazine: There’s a Lot More Orchestration on This Album and Just a Lot of Different Sounds. Did You Strive for That or Did You Just Stay Bare Bones?
James Iha: It was definitely bare bones. We didn't have any other players with us, and basically, before we did the album, I'd say like 85-90% of the album we had played as like a four piece, like, you know,

Cover Magazine: Right.
James Iha: Dumb rock band, so, (mutual chuckle) it was easily reproducible in that sense.

Cover Magazine: How Many Songs Did You Write This Time Out?
James Iha: I wrote two of the songs- the ones that end both sides of the CD. One's called "Take Me Down", one's called "Goodnight." Basically, it was much more of a band effort. That was something that Flood really wanted to get across. From the song writing point of view there was a lot of input from the band members as far as parts, arrangement ideas, you know, actual arrangements. And the recording was, um... Oh, God, I'm starting to reel off answers. Whew, I've been doing this all day. I'm on auto pilot.

Cover Magazine: I’m Sorry.
James Iha: Riiight. So basically the recording process was pretty neat in the fact that we had a lot more time to experiment. We did about half the recording in our practice space so it wasn't like the clock was ticking on us all the time, which was a good, un-self-conscious-conscious thing to do. When we went to a real studio we had two rooms going at the same time so basically everyone could always be putting down ideas or be putting down ideas or be putting down real solid takes of stuff.

Cover Magazine: Did You Use Any Equipment You Hadn’t Used Before?
James Iha: Well, we bought a lot of guitars and of a lot of old pedals. Stuff like that. Um, Flood has a lot of seventies style keyboards. Like Moogs and also sequencers. That's something we've never had access to. And he's very good with sampling, so there were subtle things, and there were real overt things like a drum loop. Like on "Porcelina" ["Porcelina of the Vast Oceans"] there's like, drum loops.

Cover Magazine: Was Jimmy Cool with That? He Wasn’t Like “I’m A Rock and Roll Drummer, Damn It.”
James Iha: After a certain time, you know, you're like "I don't really care. Whatever it takes to get the song done" And I think everyone felt that way.

Cover Magazine: Do You Know What the Singles are Going to Be?
James Iha: "Bullet"["Bullet With Butterfly Wings"] is the first single.

Cover Magazine: What Songs Do You Sing On?

James Iha: I sing on one song, "Take Me Down"

Cover Magazine: And the Rest is All Billy?
James Iha: Actually D'Arcy sings a lot of harmonies and there's a few songs where she doubles the lead vocal. Then the last song on the album, all of us sing a verse.

Cover Magazine: That One’s Really Pretty. I Thought That was a Very Fitting End to Such an Epic Piece.
James Iha: Yeah. I mean it's also slight cheesy, you know, in theory it sounds cheesy, but when you listen to it it's kind of, um, charming, I suppose.

Cover Magazine: I Like That Bridge on “Take Me Down”. I Hope You Don’t Take This the Wrong Way, but It Kind of Reminded Me of a Show Tune. (mutual laughs a plenty)
James Iha: Someone told me it has a Disneyesque sort of feel, in a way.

Cover Magazine: Definitely, It’s Hammy, Like Broadway Stuff. So, When’s the Big Tour?
James Iha: Yeah, I'm sure we're going to do the big rock tour. It'll probably be in January.

Cover Magazine: You Should Go All the Way. Get Big Props and Stuff.
James Iha: Possibly. Lobster suits.

Cover Magazine: Spaceships.
James Iha: Spaceships. What have you?

Cover Magazine: Here’s a Left Field-y Question for You. I Was Wondering if You Guys Let, Tricky, Ah, Sample on the Song “Pumpkin”? He Has a Guitar Line From “Suffer On There.
James Iha: Really?

Cover Magazine: Yeah.
James Iha: Are you sure?

Cover Magazine:I’m Pretty Positive.
James Iha: Really...

Cover Magazine: What is the Guitar Line Like?
James Iha: It's like um...just...do you want me to sing it to you? It's just like the Indian sitar sounding, uh? you know... (sings it)

Cover Magazine: Yeah. And It Actually Sounds Like Jimmy’s Drums too, Just Slower.
James Iha: Right, um

Cover Magazine: It’s Just Scat. It’s Like Doom-Chuk…Doom.
James Iha: Oh, I never heard about that

Cover Magazine: And Yeah, and Cause the Song’s Called “Pumpkin” Too. You Know, I Thought…
James Iha: I don't know...if Billy knows about that, or if anybody knows about that.

Cover Magazine: Uh-Oh, I’m Causing a Lawsuit. So, are You Tired? Ready to Take a Break?
James Iha: Yeah.

Cover Magazine: Are You Happy These Days?
James Iha: Yeah, I'm alright. I'm just sort of...even.

Cover Magazine: Uh-Huh.
James Iha: Just cruisin' on.

Credit: Anthony Bozza