Tuesday, November 25, 2014

90's Alternative: Smashing Pumpkins

Freak out
And give in
Doesn't matter what you believe in
Stay cool
And be somebody's fool this year
'cause they know
Who is righteous, what is bold
So I'm told

Who wants honey
As long as there's some money
Who wants that honey?

Hipsters unite
Come align for the big fight to rock for you
But beware
All those angels with their wings glued on
'cause deep down
We are frightened and we're scared
If you don't stare

Who wants honey
As long as there's some money
Who wants that honey?

Let me out
Let me out
Let me out
Let me out

Tell me all of your secrets
Cannot help but believe this is true
Tell me all of your secrets
I know, I know, I know
Should have listened when I was told

Who wants honey
As long as there is some money
Who wants that honey?

Let me out
Let me out
Let me out
Let me out
~ Billy Corgan, "Cherub Rock" 

The Smashing Pumpkins are from Chicago, Illinois. Formed in 1988 by frontman Billy Corgan (lead vocals, lead guitar) and James Iha (rhythm guitar), the band included Jimmy Chamberlin (drums) and D'arcy Wretzky (bass guitar) in its original incarnation. It has undergone many line-up changes over the course of its existence, with Corgan and rhythm guitarist Jeff Schroeder currently being the only official core members as of 2014.

Disavowing the punk rock roots of many of their alt-rock contemporaries, the Pumpkins have a diverse, densely layered, and guitar-heavy sound, containing elements of gothic rock, heavy metal, dream pop, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, shoegazing, and electronica in later recordings. Corgan is the group's primary songwriter—his grand musical ambitions and cathartic lyrics have shaped the band's albums and songs, which have been described as "anguished, bruised reports from Billy Corgan's nightmare-land".

The Smashing Pumpkins broke into the musical mainstream with their second album, 1993's Siamese Dream. The group built its audience with extensive touring and their 1995 follow-up, the double album Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. With 20 million albums sold in the United States alone, the Smashing Pumpkins was one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands of the 1990s. However, internal fighting, drug use, and diminishing record sales led to a 2000 break-up.

"Cherub Rock" was the first single from their second album, Siamese Dream, and was written by lead vocalist and guitarist Billy Corgan. It was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal at the Grammy Awards of 1994. "Cherub Rock" was one of the last songs written for the album, and the lyrics relate to Corgan's relationship with his perception of the indie rock community and larger media.

"Today" was released in September 1993 as the second single from Siamese Dream. The song was written by lead vocalist and guitarist Billy Corgan. The song, though seemingly upbeat, contains dark lyrics. Corgan wrote the song about a day in which he was having suicidal thoughts, exemplified by the reference to self-mutilation in the chorus. The contrast between the grim subject matter of the song and the soft instrumental part during the verses, coupled with use of irony in the lyrics, left many listeners unaware of the song's tale of depression and desperation. The song alternates between quiet, dreamy verses and loud choruses with layered, distorted guitar similar to the noisy guitar rock of My Bloody Valentine.

"1979" was released in 1996 as the second single from their third studio album, Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, "1979" was written by frontman Billy Corgan, and features loops and samples that were uncharacteristic of previous Smashing Pumpkins songs. The song was written as a coming of age story by Corgan. In the year 1979, Corgan was 12 and this is what he considered his transition into adolescence.

In 2006, Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin reconvened to record a new Smashing Pumpkins album, Zeitgeist. The band toured with a rotating lineup of between five and nine musicians through much of 2007 and 2008 with new member Jeff Schroeder before Chamberlin left the band in early 2009. New drummer Mike Byrne and bassist Nicole Fiorentino solidified a new lineup with Corgan and Schroeder, toured through much of 2010 and 2011, and are currently recording the album Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, having released the album-within-an-album Oceania in 2012. Although Byrne and Fiorentino departed the band in early 2014, on March 25, 2014, Corgan announced the next two albums, Monuments To An Elegy to be released Dec 9, 2014, and Day for Night to be released in 2015.