In an interview last year, following the release of the new album Oceania, The Smashing Pumpkin’s front man Billy Corgan was asked how the new band members that surrounded him “dealt with the shadows of former members”. Corgan’s answer stated that the new members were honouring the past members by continuing on their legacy and concluded that “the ideology of The Smashing Pumpkins is more important than the music of The Smashing Pumpkins.”
His vision of the band as more than just four people playing together went as far as suggesting that he “can envision a scenario by which The Smashing Pumpkins would continue beyond [him].” He proposed a situation that in five years if he decided to stop touring, he would leave the band, but still contribute music to a lineup that was completely different to the original.
It’s an interesting proposition. At first my thoughts were probably like many of yours now – something along the lines of lunacy, but if you actually to stop to think about it, it makes sense.
Take a band like Dream Theater. Their first album ‘When Dream and Day Unite” was released in 1989 with a lineup that consisted of John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy, John Myung, Kevin Moore and vocalist Charlie Dominici. By their next album ‘Images and Words’ they had a new vocalist in the form of James LaBrie. Keyboardist Kevin Moore was replaced by Derek Sherinian for their fourth album, who in turn was replaced by Jordan Ruddess for their fifth album. Finally in 2010, drummer Mike Portnoy left the band and was replaced by Mike Mangini.
Say in five years time John Myung leaves and then in another five years John Petrucci decides it’s time for something new, then each original band member would have been replaced. This new lineup would still be Dream Theater and because of the gradual change in personnel the band would continue to sell out arenas.
There are many other bands touring today who have tiny fractions of their original line up left, yet that hasn’t had any impact into their popularity. Who says this can’t continue on further?
If this still sounds ridiculous think of a television soap or drama. For example, let’s look at Doctor Who. Last night the twelfth actor to play the role of The Doctor was announced. Will this impact on the show’s viewing figures? No. No, because the show is more than just a few recurring faces; characters may come and go, but the show’s canon remains in tact. This canon is analogous to the musical vision of band; the hairy people playing in a dark dingy venue are just characters that can come and go, but the band name will live on.
Corgan understood the potential backlash of performing such an audacious move. He wouldn’t expect the new Smashing Pumpkins to still do the world tours in large venues, but he did note there would be fans willing to accept that idea if he left. Corgan suggested the reason that fans would find it such an odd move is because “fans have been coddled in the last ten years of internet culture to believe they run the show. They don’t run the show. They would rather have four or five people on stage…who don’t get along, don’t share Christmas cards…than [have] those people to be healthy and make healthy music.”
It’s worrying when you realise he is right. Calls for lost lineups to reunite, fans demanding they play album x or y, cries for side projects to be put on hold. It’s the equivalent of going to work everyday and having colleagues moaning that you’ve moved on from cheese and tomato sandwiches and they want a return to the classic. It’s ludicrous. It’s their business and ultimately their way of life.
They may hate playing nu metal, but as long you’re happy, that’s all that matters right?
Please comment, like and subscribe, and if you have forty minutes to watch the whole interview, whether you are a Pumpkins fan or not, I really recommend it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A20G4kNqeis
Recommended Smashing Pumpkins:
- ‘Cherub Rock’ from ‘Siamese Dream’
- ‘Zero’ from ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’
- ‘Ava Adore’ from ‘Adore’
- ‘7 Shades of Black’ from ‘Zeitgeist’
- ‘My Love Is Winter’ from ‘Oceania’