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Pumpkins’ Publicist Seeks Interns 12:07 pm // Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Posted by Jill in news, zeitgeist.
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I might argue that I’m aiding and abetting the competition, but the Smashing Pumpkins’ publicity firm – Mitch Schneider Organization – is seeking college students for its internship program.  From the job posting:

For those enthusiastic about the ever-changing music and media industries and publicity’s pivotal role in each, MSO’s internship program offers a first-hand look and hands-on approach for students to learn from the ground up. The program is designed to expose an overall view of our daily activities and interactions with artists, record labels, management, and media outlets and spans a variety of duties from advance CD and tour mailings to compiling press kits, media research and becoming part of our energetic and fast-paced office.  MSO is currently seeking motivated students with an interest in the music industry to fill positions in our internship program.
-Must receive school credit for the internship
-Internship is based in Sherman Oaks (local candidates only)
-Working knowledge of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook)
-Passion for music and interest in publicity

For those of you in the area and still in college, it looks worthwhile.  For those of us who can hardly remember the carefree days of college, grab your bifocals and check out the Mitch Schneider profile for the Pumpkins.  I’ve actually never seen it before and it’s interesting — includes some downloads, official media press releases, and loads of quotes from the band.  Most interestingly, it features a play-by-play of the Zeitgeist tracklist straight from the horses’ mouths.  Check it out after the jump.

(more…)

BBC Radio 1 interview transcript, part one of two 2:31 pm // Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Posted by jjb in interview, radio, revival, zeitgeist.
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Zane Lowe of the BBC did a brief interview with Billy and Jimmy last Wednesday. Here’s the first portion of a full transcript:

Zane Lowe: Billy Corgan, are you on the line?
Billy Corgan: Billy is here.
ZL: Jimmy Chamberlin?
Jimmy Chamberlin: Hello?
ZL: Ahhh, good news, good news. Smashing Pumpkins, welcome back to the United Kingdom! The tour is underway – the rockness is happening and we’ve got you on line on Radio 1. It’s nice to have you. How are you?
BC: Good, we’re great!
ZL: This is rare, I have to say, since Zeitgeist has come out, and I have to start right here: You guys have been kind of reluctant to talk about 21st-century Pumpkins and it’s a nice opportunity to get the chance to do so. But why were you so reticent to begin with?
BC: Well, I think we figured that the first problem we were going to have, which wasn’t a musical issue, was that anyone who would talk to us wasn’t going to talk about music, they were going to talk about the past, and the problems of the past and the band of the past. And it makes total sense – if I was a fan, I’d want to know that stuff too. But because we made the decision to come back for real, we figured, “Well, we’re going to be around for awhile, so let’s just let the music do the talking for a while.”
ZL: Can we get the customary past question out of the way right now? Why do you think, with the benefit of hindsight, you broke up in the first place?
BC: You know – and Jimmy can certainly add to this – we were really not prepared for what band success brought us. We were just so overwhelmed by it, and we tried to sort of soldier on and keep up a good face, and we just couldn’t handle it. And rather than sort of step back and come at it from a different end, we just kept going and going and going, and I think it just destroyed the band. There was no trust within the band.
JC: I think we really needed to grow up as individuals. I think [for] me personally, and I know [for] Billy…we had spent so much time in the band we were basically in what amounted to late adolescence, for lack of a better term, for us. I think growing up emotionally in a band that’s a juggernaut like that places a lot of stress on you that you’re not prepared for. I think more than anything, we needed a break to grow up spiritually and come back to music with a new appreciation and a lot of good reasons to do it.
ZL: Yeah, you’ve summed it up beautifully, but you really did when you released Zeitgeist as well. It was an aggressive, very angry, direct rock-and-roll record. Was that the idea from the very start with Zeitgeist, or did that just develop over the course of the couple years making the record that it turned into that beast? Or was that your idea, that “We’re going to come back and we’re going to come back hard?”
BC: In talking to fans, everybody was like, “Put the band back together and come back and rock.” You got that sense off the street that people wanted to hear some energy, that they didn’t want us rolling over and crying in our milk. So we looked at it like we looked at our very first album, Gish, where you just gotta make a statement. It doesn’t have to be everything, it doesn’t have to be The Wall. It just has to have some energy and have some currency and there has to be some music on it that somebody goes, “Okay, this is 2007, this is not 1994 again.”

Tastes like chicken 7:56 pm // Saturday, February 16, 2008

Posted by jpiniak in analysis, criticism, sales, zeitgeist.
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Back when Zeitgeist came out, HU was tracking with interest the sales numbers for the new disc. Would the fanbase respond and rocket the Pumpkins back to the top of the charts? Would the “reunion” be a success or crash and burn?

While the first week numbers were solid, the precipitous drop in week two had this HU prognosticator predicting the album as being considered a failure.

With the annoucement a few weeks ago that Zeitgeist has now gone gold, I’ll admit I may have been presumptous in my prediction. 500,000 units shipped is no small feat, though I’d still be curious to see total Soundscan numbers.

Either way, please pass the potatoes, it goes well with crow.

Setting the pace 3:56 pm // Friday, February 1, 2008

Posted by jpiniak in amusing, running, zeitgeist.
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Though I never posted a full-on review here, my fellow bloggers are well aware of my less than enthused reaction to Zeitgeist. Suffice to say, a few good songs, difficult production, and a fair share of outright clunkers, and then “United States,” which I find just short of abysmal.

However, despite my dislike, I still try and occasionally give it one more chance, to see if I can find more redeeming qualities. 

Sunday was one of those days, and I have news to report:

I’ve finally found a good reason to listen to “United States.”

It’s the perfect rhythm for an 8-minute mile while running.

Seriously. You just lock into the groove and stride.  And as you pick up the pace for the finish, the song builds to a crescendo.

Now it all makes sense.  

Anyone have an instrumental?

You don’t have to gawk 9:34 pm // Friday, January 18, 2008

Posted by jjb in criticism, zeitgeist.
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Zeitgeist was not among the 1,185 albums mentioned on at least one of the 452 top-10-albums-of-2007 ballots received by Gawker Media’s Idolator site for its Pop 07 critics’ poll.

Sympathy for music bloggers 7:20 pm // Friday, January 4, 2008

Posted by jjb in blogging, zeitgeist.
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Say you listened to Zeitgeist and – to your brain’s horror – your stomach, heart or some other influential but hard-to-control body part likey. And you’re a smart music blogger with a rep! That’s a tough spot to be in. Do you lock yourself in the bathroom and yell “shut up, shut up!” until your conscience gives in, or do you search for a compromise?

“Sugarkane” of a blog called “Ohmpark” has bravely opted for the latter, slotting Zeitgeist at hey-it’s-only-number-49 of his “Top 50 Best Albums of 2007″ post and beginning his commentary with all necessary preemption:

Ok, before you freak out that Zeitgeist made my list, hear me out.

“It’s Zeitgeist.” 9:35 pm // Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Posted by jjb in amusing, zeitgeist.
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[ed. This is a guestblog from my sister Lauren, recounting a key event that took place over the holidays. --jjb]

On Christmas Eve day morning, my father, stepmom, little sister, little brother, older brother Jason and I headed out for Ft. Wayne, Indiana to visit our grandparents. We would travel in two cars: Dad, his wife, and the kids would lead the way (Dad driving of course), and Jason and I would follow in Jase’s car (with Jase driving). As we pulled out of the driveway onto the street, something shiny flew off the top of my dad’s car. “It’s Zeitgeist,” announced Jason, and with a controlled sense of urgency, he hit the brakes and left our car to rescue the fallen CD. During the trip, Dad was able to listen to the borrowed album without a hitch. Thank goodness.

Journey to a land where the Pumpkins don’t exist 11:50 am // Thursday, December 6, 2007

Posted by jjb in amusing, blogging, zeitgeist.
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The ever-efficient Largehearted Boy has been collecting links to as many top-albums-of-2007 articles that he can find on the Internets.

If you dare, venture into this echo chamber, filled with amazing people who use their hip, tastemaking blogs (modal number of comments: zero) to post lists of the “best” recorded music.

For me, leaving hipstersunited.com to visit these other sites is like entering a totally different world…

UPDATE (12/16): Today I found an “awesome” parody of a typical music blogger’s best-of-2007 list. The same guy also did an hilarious riff on the typical biggest-disappointments-of-2007 list. Absolutely pitch perfect.

I believe…honestly! 3:42 pm // Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Posted by jpiniak in analysis, billy corgan, mary star of the sea, matt sweeney, zeitgeist, zwan.
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While waiting for the Blue Line this chilly late November morning, I happened upon the idea of listening to Zwan’s Mary Star of the Sea. The album is a recent addition to my Ipod, as I’ve been ever so slowly adding albums in terms of the amount I actually want to listen to them (Mellon Collie was another recent add, and for that matter, the Pumpkins have only been represented on the playlist since this summer).
those crazy zwan kids
I was on the Zwan bus when it first left the station in 2001, but jumped off around the time of the album’s release, as the joy and excitement of the early live shows was left dulled by a bland-sounding artificial album and a mostly moribund 5-night stand at Metro.

So, in listening to Mary for the first time in probably two years, I was intruiged to realize I found it far more compelling a release than Zeitgeist. I hear many similarities between the two, and it’s not hard to draw a direct progression from the sound of Zwan to the current Mach 2 Pumpkins, in terms of both style, production and execution.

But Mary is a far more satisfying listen, to me. Some of my fellow Hipsters may point to my general disillusionment of the “reunited” Pumpkins as a reason I would draw this conclusion, and while this post does touch on some of my thoughts with the current lineup I’ve been kicking around for a future blog, I will maintain that strip away the band names on the two releases, and my feelings wouldn’t change.

I find MSOTS to be more melodic, with actual hooks and more organic harmonies; with a crisper guitar tone and more intricacy, and still buoyed by often understated drumming from Jimmy. It’s by no means a good album, as the production still leaves me feeling hollow and there’s some questionable missteps. But I can find more worth coming back to than on Zeitgeist.

What say you?

Going once, going twice… 3:17 pm // Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Posted by jpiniak in billy corgan, charity, ebay, merchandise, zeitgeist.
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Zeitgeist posterThe Smashing Pumpkins, or rather, Billy Corgan, has donated a signed Zeitgeist poster to a benefit auction hosted by Music For Relief and United the United, where 100 percent of the proceeds will be used to aid the victims of the California wildfires. The band is joined by a multitude of stars, including Music For Relief founders Linkin Park, as well as Fall Out Boy, Avenged Sevenfold, Van Halen and the Chili Peppers.

At the time of this blog, Billy’s signature can be yours for the low low price of $124.49 plus shipping; the auction ends in roughly 31 hours.

Pales in comparison to the $160,000 Gwen Stefani donated on her own, but it’s nice to see Billy donating the band’s name to a worthy cause.

Quote from making-of-Zeitgeist DVD: Visions for the record 12:23 pm // Saturday, November 3, 2007

Posted by jjb in billy corgan, interview, jimmy chamberlin, zeitgeist.
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At the outset of “Inside the Zeitgeist” (Google search), Jimmy Chamberlin and Billy Corgan outline some of the thoughts that inspired them to record the album; here’s a transcript of those remarks.

Jimmy: The singular vision of this record was impact, and how to put together a body of songs that’s like a gut punch and that really resonates with people. A loud kind of example of thundering sonic terrorism, something that’s visceral. Zeitgeist is our kind of raising of the flag.

Billy: I think we had sort of about three interlocking visions. (more…)

Quote from making-of-Zeitgeist DVD: “From another eon” 2:38 pm // Friday, November 2, 2007

Posted by jjb in billy corgan, interview, jimmy chamberlin, mellon collie, zeitgeist.
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Here’s a transcribed segment from “Inside the Zeitgeist” in which Corgan and Chamberlin hold it down for old-school tech.

Billy Corgan: The great irony of working at Kerry [Brown]‘s is that he actually possesses the very same 24-track reel-to-reel machine that we used to record our Mellon Collie album. So, it’s almost like a bizarre sort of coincidence that we’re back using the same machine that we made our biggest album on, and we’ve kind of… It ended up being a sort of good-luck token, so we actually…when we went into the studio, we actually brought the machine with us. So some of Zeitgeist is recorded on the same Mellon Collie machine.

I have to say it’s really difficult to do analog recording these days because almost every studio has completely gone ProTools. (more…)

Quote from making-of-Zeitgeist DVD: “Masses of equipment” 4:00 pm // Thursday, November 1, 2007

Posted by jjb in interview, photo, roy thomas baker, zeitgeist.
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From the newly released “Inside the Zeitgeist” making-the-record documentary, here’s a transcribed segment in which producer Roy Thomas Baker marvels at the level of capital investment that goes into a Smashing Pumpkins record.

Baker: Masses and masses and masses of equipment. There’s walls and walls and walls of guitars. There was a 40-foot long table, which was about five-foot in depth, full of every conceivable guitar effect ever, ever made, dating back to when guitar effects started. These are…talking about old fuzzboxes from the ’70s and things like that. It was very funny…it never stopped coming in: “Wow, I found this Hammond organ on eBay,” and then next thing you know this brand-new Hammond organ would appear, that’s totally with not a scratch on it, that’s been in someone’s closet for 400 years.

“Inside the Zeitgeist” DVD out today 7:49 am // Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Posted by jjb in criticism, marketing, news, pitchfork, zeitgeist.
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This making-of-Zeitgeist documentary is available from Best Buy for $13.99; it will be packaged with a free CD copy of Zeitgeist that contains a previously unreleased bonus track entitled “Ma Belle”.

No, that’s not how it’s being marketed, but that is an economically equivalent way of describing the “re-release” of Zeitgeist. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with the band pricing a new standalone DVD documentary at $14; however, the offer of a $14 DVD/Zeitgeist combo ($10 if pre-ordered) has been met with some hysterically righteous denunciations. Two examples:

  • Pitchfo*k Media has responded to this $14 DVD/CD offer by (again) trotting out an image of a 100-dollar bill with Billy Corgan’s picture superimposed upon it, referring to the band as “$mashing Pumpkin$”.
  • The webzine Prefix headlines an article “Billy Corgan’s integrity R.I.P 2007″ and says anyone who wants this item would “probably better off writing a check for the same amount and sending it to P.O. Box Your Toilet”.

UPDATE: The “full length” DVD reportedly contains the 20-minute-long documentary as well as the promo videos for “Tarantula” and “That’s the Way”. That plus “Ma Belle” for $14? It’s a borderline call for me, but I won’t pretend to be deciding for everyone. Of course, I’m listening to “Ma Belle” right now for $0, so… :)

UPDATE: The in-store price is $10 through Friday.

You want to offer a correction? Cool. 1:40 pm // Monday, October 29, 2007

Posted by jjb in analysis, bullshit, criticism, zeitgeist.
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Sarah Rodman has a snarkitorial in today’s Boston Globe that offers snappy suggestions to the reformed Van Halen on the eve of its show in that sportstastic town. Rodman weighs in on “a rash of reunions big and not so big” in 2007, being generally complimentary of our heroes but tossing in an attempt at fact-based reportage toward the end:

You have a new record, Crowded House? You want to play a handful of its best songs? Cool. You want to play almost all of it, Smashing Pumpkins? Not cool.

Facts being checkable these days, I looked up the setlist from the Crowded House show in Boston on August 5; from their 14-track 2007 album Time on Earth, the Oceanic popsters played eight songs that night. Meanwhile, during their recent three-night stand in Boston, the Pumpkins never played more than six songs off the 12-track Zeitgeist in one show.

Better than that cheesesteak 3:11 pm // Saturday, October 27, 2007

Posted by jjb in acoustic, video, zeitgeist.
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The most pleasant surprise I had watching the Pumpkins in Philly was their performance of “Pomp and Circumstances”. The surprise was not that they played the song, but rather that I found its arrangement for live performance to be so beautiful; I’d not been struck so much by the track on Zeitgeist.

Decent video of the acoustic performance from the last night at Tower Theater has showed up, so I’ve posted it below. It’s not that this is the most perfect rendition possible; they were clearly still working on it…

Below: …but it’s the arrangement, people, the arrangement!! (YouTube)

Watch out, iTunes! Overture in B Minor! 6:22 pm // Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Posted by Jill in audio, sales, zeitgeist.
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In the first major competitive bid against iTunes, Amazon.com has recently debuted its own online mp3-buying portal here. And guess what. The Pumpkins are #9 on today’s top artist list!

… Right above Pavarotti and Wagner. Seriously? It seems like the mp3 market is reaching a new, DRM-free demographic that’s not obsessed with Rihanna’s damn umbrella. CNET posted a scathing usability article about the beta store and obviously it has quite a way to go to gain competitive edge against iTunes. But, if Amazon can provide lower prices, a consistently intuitive, multi-tenant user interface, then they will certainly enter this market as a stiff competitor. Plus, if they can manage to eliminate the 60 seconds of hard drive deep freeze my computer enters when it tries to load iTunes, I’m totally on board.

I can’t help but notice, however, that Feist’s single is at the top of the daily downloads chart — yes, that song from the iPod commercial. Ahh, sweet commercial irony.

Let’s just hope the Pumpkins stay up on the chart!

Zeitgeist making-of DVD on its way 8:25 pm // Sunday, September 30, 2007

Posted by jjb in billy corgan, news, releases, zeitgeist.
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Netphoria.org poster Bullet1979 (hey, that was a seven-inch) first brought this rumour to the Internets last Tuesday, citing a friend in the retail industry:

[T]here will be a Best Buy exclusive re-release of Zeitgeist packaged with a Making-of-DVD that follows the 2 years of writing and recording Zeitgeist. It will also contain all songs recorded during the Zeitgesit [sic] recording sessions and it apparently comes in a box that “looks pretty sweet.”

This weekend, the rumour was verified (?) by HU’s favorite (?) reluctant (?) Pumpkins-tour follower, who claims both to have inquired as to its veracity with frontman Billy Corgan and to have received an affirmative response.

UPDATE: Netphoria user jjbjjbjjb (???) lectures on the economics of a bonus DVD.

UPDATE: Even more from this crazy jjbjjbjjb person.

NYT: “Siamese Dream” lacked “zeitgeist-defining edge” 12:55 pm // Friday, September 21, 2007

Posted by jjb in analysis, criticism, siamese dream, zeitgeist.
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Sebastian (at netphoria.org) helpfully points out that the opening of the New York Times archives for free browsing means free browsing of old Pumpkins-related articles in the New York Times. Writers in the Times have almost always had great respect for the Pumpkins, but I still went straight to the review of Siamese Dream to check my claim that every Billy Corgan album has received mixed reviews upon its release. Simon Reynolds had the unenviable task of weighing in on an album that, in the future, generally would be considered a classic:

This major-label debut by the Smashing Pumpkins recently shot straight onto the Billboard chart at No. 10, partially justifying the industry hype about the Chicago quartet being “the next Nirvana.” But fuzzed-up riffs and angst-wracked vocals are quite the norm these days, and Smashing Pumpkins lacks the zeitgeist-defining edge that made Nirvana’s breakthrough so thrilling and resonant.

The Pumpkins, by comparison, offer sound and fury that signifies…not a lot, really. The band’s inferno of acid rock and art-metal fuses influences old (Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, “White Album” Beatles) and recent (Sonic Youth, Jane’s Addiction). Billy Corgan, the band’s singer and guitarist and overall esthetic shaper, may be hipper than Lenny Kravitz, but he’s just as much of a magpie.

With the string-swept “Disarm” and the Hendrix pyrotechnics of “Geek U.S.A.,” the Pumpkins aim for grandeur. But there’s something hollow about the immaculately sculpted bombast (co-produced, incidentally, by Butch Big [sic] of “Nevermind” fame.)

What jumps out (that is, besides the slick mention-Nevermind-but-omit-Gish-from-the-producer’s-resume tactic) is Reynolds’s claim that the Pumpkins failed to define the spirit of the times in 1993. The irony, of course, is that many reviewers of Zeitgeist directed a similar diss toward the band in 2007 while simultaneously implying that the claim might have been valid had the band made it around, oh, say, 1993. Witness Josh Love’s review for Stylus Magazine, which he opens by mocking the title of Zeitgeist before going on to say:

[T]he Pumpkins were…even Colossus-striding great for a time. Unfortunately, Billy’s scarcely made any adjustments since the turn of the century.

One wonders whether, had Mr. Love been a working music critic in 1993, he would have referred to Siamese Dream as the work of a band that was “Colossus-striding great”. I am guessing not.

Quote from XM interview: Finding a new sound 2:29 pm // Friday, September 14, 2007

Posted by jjb in billy corgan, interview, radio, zeitgeist.
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Doing more justice to the XM “Artist Confidential” program with the Smashing Pumpkins, here is another transcribed segment of the interview. There is a decent amount of irreverence in this section, so use great caution and generosity as you read/interpret the printed text.

Billy Corgan: That [original version of "That's the Way"] reminded us too much of Mellon Collie. So right there you have a contradiction of thought. On one level, we know that people want to hear that kind of feeling from us, because that’s what identifies some of our best work, and on the other hand, we’re saying, well, we don’t want to sound like that. So what do we do, you know what I mean? It’s not as simple as saying “reject the idea because it’s familiar.” (more…)

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