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Butch Vig, how did you come to work with the Smashing Pumpkins? 9:06 pm // Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Posted by jjb in butch vig, confusing, gish, history, interview, nirvana, vieuphoria.
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Billboard’s Mitchell Peters has a new interview with Butch Vig regarding Nevermind, the famed Nirvana album that Vig produced and that was released twenty years ago this month. An excerpt:

[Peters:] How did working on “Nevermind” raise your profile as a producer?

[Vig:] The record completely changed my life. It opened up so many doors. I had been doing a lot of underground work with independent labels. And all of a sudden, all of the major labels were calling and I was able to pick and choose the projects I wanted to do. It’s safe to say that the record changed the lives of those who were closely involved. Early on it sort of freaked me out, because I realized that I’d never have a record as big and commercially successful. You have to sort of put it over on one side and say, “I still want to make music and move forward.”

If I hadn’t done that record I don’t know if I would’ve been able to work with Sonic Youth or Smashing Pumpkins. And I wouldn’t have been able to start Garbage and do that, because it opened so many doors and allowed me to have an interesting career that I’m still luckily having — knock on wood.

While Vig’s first work for Sonic Youth was on the post-Nevermind album Dirty, he had produced the Smashing Pumpkins both on the 1990 seven-inch “Tristessa” and on the 1991 album Gish, issued on Caroline Records in May that year. On the Pumpkins’ 1994 video release Vieuphoria, Vig explained how he got together with the group:

The first thing I worked with [Smashing Pumpkins] on was a Sub Pop single. Jonathan [Poneman] from Sub Pop called me up and said, “There’s this band from Chicago that is awesome and you’ve gotta work with them.”

Vig also told the hookup story when he appeared in 2008 on “Sound Opinions,” the syndicated radio program hosted by Chicago rock critics Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis:

Vig: I think even those records [done at Smart Studios in the late 1980s and early 1990s] were fast and kind of down and dirty, I think they sort of did have a vibe, and you could hear the hooks when there were hooks. I think that’s why I got a lot of work, really. And that’s why, I mean, it just sort of snowballed…that whole indie scene led to me, you know, working with…Billy Corgan heard those records, and that’s why he called me from the Pumpkins.

DeRogatis: Corgan comes out there to do that Pumpkins record, and I guess that’s the real superstar…first act that put you on…first time you had a record on the Billboard charts.

Vig: Yeah, and I mean, I loved working with Billy, because he’s very intense and very driven, but when we made Gish, that was the first album where we actually had time…I was like, “oh my God, we have like 30 days to make a record,” and we worked like 14 or 15 hours every day for those 30 days to, you know, just to try to make it sonically…take it to another level.

HU Podcast #29: If All Goes Long 5:44 pm // Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Posted by chris in if all goes wrong, podcast, vieuphoria.
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It’s Thanksgiving week (in America), and to get you through the delayed flights and long, snowy drives home this week we recorded an overstuffed podcast this week all about the If All Goes Wrong 2-DVD set.

Listen to the whole show (1:37:11)


This week’s topics:

-Chris, Jason, Jill, and Andrew

Concert Footage
-Starla is a fan favorite, and I’m the only one distracted by Billy’s new vocal flourishes.  Commenters, back me up (or shoot me down) here.  (15:19)

Special Features
-Pete Towshend interview and the Ghost Children featurette. Pete Townshend rants about Baba O’Riley.  Should an artist feel upset when fans misinterpret their work?  Plus, we delve into The Head, Jill earns our iTunes explicit tag this week, and she bares her soul for the panel.  (16:14)

-Initial impressions.  We also digress on Billy’s recent comments about the listening public.  (17:52)

-Billy’s portrayal in the film.  The lonely life of the rock star and Billy’s relationship with the fans.  (22:18)

-The documentary’s co-stars: Asheville and San Francisco.  Why did the less-loving city and fans energize Billy as a writer and performer?  (9:35)

-DVD Sales numbers.  In its first week on the charts it hit #4 and sold 5200 units.  Is that the approximate size of the remaining hardcore Smashing Pumpkins fanbase?  (7:00)

This Week in Pumpkins History
-Vieuphoria is re-released on DVD along with Earphoria on CD. (3:17)

Song of the Week
-Chrysanthemum, November 16th, 2001

Make sure you save yourself some leftovers, because we will be taking next week off from podcasting.

Vieuphoria vs. If All Goes Wrong: a snarkalysis 2:05 pm // Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Posted by jjb in amusing, if all goes wrong, vieuphoria.
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Netphoria user myosis takes If All Goes Wrong down a few notches by contrasting it with the Smashing Pumpkins’ previous long-playing video release:

-both have the same typefont

-Vieuphoria has a dysfunctional band
-If All Goes Wrong has a somewhat mature band

-Vieuphoria has people my age playing gigs, looking like they are actually independent and full of personality and genuine emotion
-If All Goes Wrong has people my age looking like they are on American Idol or some other reality TV

-Vieuphoria has twisted humour from the band
-If All Goes Wrong has silent movie mocks with no real point, featuring only the lead singer

-Vieuphoria has fans saying stupid things for the sake of being silly
-If All Goes Wrong has fans saying stupid things but they mean them

The road has led him to a path of excess 3:23 am // Friday, September 19, 2008

Posted by jjb in amusing, video, vieuphoria.
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This* Election Day, there’s only one choice:

*Not really, as the photo is from 2006; however, standing for office in New Orleans was said to be part of the shtick:

And then there’s perennial candidate Manny Chevrolet, a part-time butcher and out-of-work actor who is the only one willing to admit that he’s running simply because he needs a job.

Success? Nada.

Below: Experience again “The Unbearable Likeness of Manny” (YouTube)

Because I’ve been making outrageous claims. 2:31 pm // Friday, January 25, 2008

Posted by jjb in amusing, video, vieuphoria.
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Does anyone else think “Why Am I So Tired?” hits its stride at about the 10-minute-30-second mark?

Okay…has anyone else even listened to “Why Am I So Tired?” in the past year?

Below: Maybe this guy did (ExpoTV)

Most Essential Billy Corgan Recordings: #19 2:16 am // Sunday, December 16, 2007

Posted by jjb in essential recordings series, live, vieuphoria.
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The Smashing Pumpkins
“Lost ’94 Tapes” (Vieuphoria DVD)

Quiet / Snail / Siva / I Am One / Geek U.S.A. / Soma / Hummer / Silverfuck

Buy it somewhere (google.com)

I used to hold what may be a common belief about the band’s shows from 1994: that they were playing before huge crowds (especially on Lollapalooza) but didn’t yet have the faintest idea how to satisfy huge crowds, “and so the shows sucked.” But after seeing these “lost” recordings (first released in 2002), I laugh at myself for ever having thought that the time between Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie could be a low point in Pumpkin history. Yes, the band’s M.O. here seems to be to forget they’re playing for a big audience, but if you can wriggle into their bubble there is some giddy craziness to enjoy.

I do not know which shows these performances come from, and I don’t even know if they’re from Lollapalooza, but it wouldn’t surprise me; there is an intensity that suggests competition afoot. The few shots that take in some of the crowd aren’t too helpful in show identification (has anyone figured it out?). They only reveal that, per usual, some attendees really liked the band’s performance.

Artistically, I think what we see here is the Pumpkins’ 1991-1994 neo-psychedelic period reaching its furthest possible endpoint. I can almost see Billy thinking, “Where is there to go with ‘Snail’ after this? How could we ever top this electric-cello-augmented ‘Soma’ while remaining in this same mode of performance and style?” I also see some of the Mellon Collie Pumpkins peeking out from their shell on a texture-first “I Am One” and, yes, in the noodly “Hummer” coda that features a helpful “Porcelina” chyron.

To err on Wikipedia is to err temporarily and forever 6:23 pm // Thursday, November 8, 2007

Posted by jjb in butch vig, gish, record labels, sonic youth, vieuphoria, wikipedia.
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Wikipedia is always being edited, and thus there is a good chance that any given error will eventually be discovered and corrected — that is, to be discovered and corrected on the Wikipedia website, wikipedia.org. However, since Wikipedia content can be copied freely, snapshots of Wikipedia entries are often taken and posted by third-party content providers. Therefore, any given Wikipedia error will likely continue to exist, somewhere on the Internet, indefinitely (and, obviously, long after it has been corrected on the Wikipedia website itself).

For example, this sentence once was part of the Wikipedia entry for the Smashing Pumpkins:

To give them indie credibility, Virgin matched the band with Sonic Youth producer Butch Vig and released their 1991 debut album Gish on Virgin subsidiary label Caroline Records.

The first part of this sentence seems to have been entirely made up, which probably explains why it is no longer part of the entry on Wikipedia’s site.* Vig says on Vieuphoria: “The first thing I worked with [Smashing Pumpkins] on was a Sub Pop single. Jonathan [Poneman] from Sub Pop called me up and said, ‘There’s this band from Chicago that is awesome and you’ve gotta work with them.'” Vig then produced the Pumpkins’ single “Tristessa”, which Sub Pop released in December 1990. Shortly thereafter, the Pumpkins signed with Caroline. Vig first produced Sonic Youth in March 1992.

However, you can still find the erroneous sentence today on a variety of third-party sites that copied the Wikipedia entry at that time. A lot of these sites are weird and spammy, but they do find their way into search results. My guess is that they still get read, and believed, fairly often.

*It doesn’t explain, however, how the sentence came to be there in the first place. That is not the subject of this post, but, generally speaking, “where does this stuff come from?” is one of the driving questions behind this blog…

Obligatory Radiohead backlash post 11:41 pm // Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Posted by jjb in billy corgan, lyrics, radiohead, rant, video, vieuphoria.
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When Billy said “the world is a vampire”, he covered Radiohead’s entire emotional palette with one line. Discuss.

(What? Was I supposed to say something about how I wouldn’t pay five pence for In Rainbows? Come on, as a “cause of the month” it is probably worth a pound or two.)


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