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Corgan: “I’ve already talked to Flood” about the ‘Machina’ reissue 12:42 pm // Thursday, April 26, 2012

Posted by susan in billy corgan, G.L.O.W., interview, machina, machina 2, news.
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David Swan of Australian live music site Faster Louder has released a new interview with Smashing Pumpkins head Billy Corgan. Corgan discusses topics including his in-progress memoir, recording music with his love interests, the legacy of Zeitgeist, and the themes of the Pumpkins’ upcoming album Oceania.

Swan queried Corgan about the status of the upcoming Machina reissues:

Machina II is a brilliant album, have you ever thought about releasing it properly, maybe when you re-issue the others?
Yes. Our sell-out move, for Machina, is we’re going to remix the whole record and put it in its official sequence the way I’d hoped for in the beginning. I wrote it as a rock opera double album type of thing, so we’re going to remix the whole thing. I’ve already talked to Flood, and he’s been indicating he wants to be involved with that part of the process, and then we’ll finally finish the album, the way it was meant to be.

On how to describe different eras of Pumpkins music:

Is the sound [of Oceania] a new direction for you or is it harking back to earlier stuff?
I can describe what people are saying, but I don’t really get into the sonic part because every time I say anything like that it turns into like a ‘oh, we made this kind of album’. How I describe my music never seems to be the way people hear it. I was listening today to a couple of old songs because we’re getting ready for the tour, just to see if I wanted to play them live, and a song I listened to was the song we did called G.L.O.W. And G.L.O.W. to me sounds like it could have easily been Mellon Collie, it sounds like it could’ve been on Machina, and yet because a lot of people didn’t like the Zeitgeist period it just sorta automatically got lumped into something that it wasn’t. And I was surprised, going back and listening to G.L.O.W. today, like ‘Wow, this actually kinda sounds like classic Smashing Pumpkins to me.’ But my opinion doesn’t seem to matter in those things because people seem to need to make periods about something other than what it actually is. So if I play heavy guitar music with certain people in the room it sounds like this, but if I make the same type of music with other people in the room, it sounds like this.

Interview with New Times Broward-Palm Beach 10:15 am // Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Posted by Jill in billy corgan, interview, machina.
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Smashing Pumpkins fan-turned-music critic Christine Borges of the New Times Broward-Palm Beach “County Grind” blog recently sat down with Billy Corgan in advance of tonight’s show in Ft. Lauderdale for a lengthy interview. She’s posted excerpts of the chat in three parts. Much of the interview focuses on similar themes we’ve seen in the recent round of press coverage: Corgan’s thoughts about the music industry, the Teargarden release model, the reception the shows have had with young and old fans alike.

But Borges also manages to get Corgan to open up and reflect on a few candid topics: firstly, he recounts his motivations behind Machina, and how he feels about the album in retrospect. Secondly, he speaks about his “big mouth” and how he feels it’s impacted his career. We’ve discussed this many times on the podcast before, but let’s see what Corgan has to say in his own words:

Christine Borges: Why are you so verbal about everything?

Billy Corgan: I was really encouraged when I was a child to read a lot and to speak my mind, you know? I didn’t realize that that wasn’t a popular thing to do in the world [laughs].

Borges: Not that it’s not popular, but a lot of times musicians get yelled at for being too verbal.

Corgan: Yeah, I dunno. Look, if I had to do it all over again, I’d probably keep my mouth shut.

Borges: Really?

Corgan: Yeah, ’cause I think it’s really done a disservice to my music.

Borges: I don’t think so. I feel like it’s helped your fans get to know you better.

Corgan: Yeah, but a lot of my fans don’t like me [laughs]. They don’t understand me, you know what I mean? Look, I love music and I’ve been fans of tons of people, and I can’t tell you how many times I thought I knew how somebody was gonna be and then I met them behind the scenes and got to know them as a person and I was totally wrong. But I know why I thought… like if I thought somebody was difficult or hard to get along with, and then I’ll get to know them in real life and they weren’t like that at all, I’ll understand why they came off the way I did. I have lots of friends, and I mean they all think I’m opinionated, but they don’t think I’m the person I’m portrayed to be in the world. But once you become portrayed like that, it sort of becomes more about that. Like most interviews that I do, 50% of questions have to do with me, my mouth, and the things I said and not so much about music. It’s obviously part of who I am, and I’m not trying to change that — nothing’s gonna change that. But the musician in me feels a bit like sometimes the music’s been overlooked because of me and my big mouth.

While I appreciate the humility in Corgan’s statements, isn’t the media also to blame for their lazy rants and reliance on decades-old characterizations of Corgan?! Or is that predilection changing?

UPDATE (7/21): Borges reviews the concert.

Waiting on the Kaleidyboard 1:57 am // Friday, April 2, 2010

Posted by apm in machina, studio, teargarden by kaleidyscope, zeitgeist.
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For the past two Smashing Pumpkins studio releases, Billy Corgan teased the fanbase by posting a photograph of a whiteboard scrawled with song titles that were being developed and recorded at the time to the Internet. Sometime in the late spring of 1999 we had the Machina board:

Then, in the lead up to the release of Zeitgeist, what looked like a cell phone picture of a whiteboard with a fresh set of songs appeared on the Smashing Pumpkins website:

In the recently much discussed March 18th Rolling Stone article, writer Brian Hiatt gave us a little tease of the latest incarnation of the Smashing Pumpkins studio whiteboard. Kerry Brown’s studio in Los Angeles indeed has one, covered with 50 songs written out in ALL CAPS, Hiatt claimed, though he provided only four (perhaps not wanting to waste too many of his 4,500 words on unreleased song titles). And, of course, no picture of the whiteboard accompanied the article. The songs: “As Rome Burns,” the only one previously known by title, the three unknowns (as far as we know): “The Dauphine,” “Blurricane,” and “Fate the Lonely Actor.”

As for the other 46 SONGS on the board, we’ll just have to wait and see if Billy feels like doing the whiteboard leak thing again. Nothing like deciphering Billy’s dryerasemarkership to pass the time waiting for the next batch of songs.

Machines of God celebrate 10 years as a ‘band’ 2:25 pm // Monday, March 1, 2010

Posted by jjb in amusing, machina.
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A full decade after having punched us in the gut with its only album, Machina, the mysterious group led by Glass still never has performed in public…at least, not under its own name.

Where are they now?

HU Podcast #50: Corgan in the 2000s 5:29 pm // Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Posted by chris in machina, machina 2, mary star of the sea, podcast, thefutureembrace, zeitgeist.
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It’s hard to believe that we’ve made it to 50 episodes of the podcast, but instead of looking back at our own bright spots and misadventures, we’re looking back at the decade of the 2000s and discuss Billy Corgan’s creative and musical output. 

Listen to the whole show (1:18:59)


This week’s topics:

-Chris, Jason, and Jill

-The turn of the century.  We discuss Machina and Machina II, and whether the original Smashing Pumpkins breakup was at a critical high-note. (12:25)

-The Zwan era and the release of Mary Star of the Sea.  We talk about the advent of critics feeling sorry for James and D’Arcy. (4:47)

-Billy’s online confessions, the Blinking with Fists poetry book, and TheFutureEmbrace.  Did Billy’s defensiveness over the issue of former bandmembers backfire?  Plus, Jill draws a comparison to Mariah Carey, and Jason talks about Billy’s relationship with the Chicago music scene. (30:03)

-With the decade coming to a close and the inevitable flood of “best of the decade” lists in sight, does Billy have a place on any of the lists given his musical output?  Plus, Jill comments on the disjointedness of Billy’s body of work in the 2000s. (24:49)

Song of the Week
-TheCameraEye, Sydney, Australia July 28, 2005

HU Podcast #41: Machina II 7:06 pm // Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Posted by chris in machina, machina 2, podcast.
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In addition to the lack of news, this month it has been hard to find a time for the whole panel to get together for a podcast.  This week was no exception, but Jason and I managed to squeeze in some time to talk about everyone’s favorite free Smashing Pumpkins album, Machina II.

Listen to the whole show (45:12)


This week’s topics:

-Chris and Jason

-We give our overall impressions of Machina II and talk a lot about sound engineering. (9:54)

-Machina II got some shockingly good reviews from the likes of Pitchfork and The Onion AV Club, both of which said it was better than Machina.  Was the album actually better, or were the reviewers influenced by the price tag or some other factor?  We compare the two albums, and Jason finally reveals his favorite tracks from Machina II.  (20:59)

-Virgin Records famously was offered the chance to sell Machina II in stores, but they turned it down.  Given past sales of Pumpkins b-side collections and the state of the fanbase at the time, how well would Machina II have sold in stores?  (7:09)

Song of the Week
-Dross, Oberhausen, Germany September 23, 2000

I have a feeling that some of you may disagree with our assessment of Machina II, so leave us your thoughts in the comments.

HU Podcast #36: Archivists, Apologies, and Visa 10:04 pm // Monday, March 9, 2009

Posted by chris in advertising, machina, podcast, smashingpumpkins.com, tinted windows.
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There were lots of topics for this week’s show, but once again the big news centered around marketing alliances rather than musical output.  Hopefully our next show won’t require that I get an MBA in preparation, although based on tomorrow’s events I may need to go to law school instead.

Listen to the whole show (57:15)


This week’s topics:

-Chris, Jason, Jill, and Andrew

-Kind of a Girl is released online.  We discuss Tinted Windows’ first single and whether it will turn younger fans on to the Pumpkins.  (7:30)

-The Archivist.  It’s not a new police procedural on CBS, it’s a new position in Team Pumpkins.  Jill has no inside info on his role, so we speculate wildly on when we’ll see the fruits of Frank’s labors and debate whether this is a job for a fan or a professional.  (8:22)

-Billy apologizes to the denizens of the new o-board, and we try to figure out what he’s apologizing for.  (7:42)

-Today plays while Morgan Freeman waxes poetic about Visa.  The panel is divided in our reactions to this financial stunt, but no one can argue that the band is reaching a wide audience.  Even Jill’s mom noticed. (21:22)

This Week in Pumpkins History
-Machina is released, and we reminisce about practically every song.  (7:22)

Song of the Week
-Today, Toronto, Canada Jan. 3rd, 1996

We may be back next week if Billy’s Congressional visit proves to be worthy of discussion.

HU Podcast #21: Early Tour Rumors, If All Goes Wrong, and the Machina Mystery 9:11 pm // Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Posted by chris in if all goes wrong, machina, marilyn manson, nine inch nails, podcast, tour.
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Part of this week’s podcast was obsolete before I even started editing it, as we recorded on Sunday before all the official announcements about the 20th anniversary tour.  However, we did touch on some of the early rumors as well as the If All Goes Wrong DVD features and everyone’s favorite cryptic multimedia mash-up: the Machina Mystery.

Listen to the whole show (1:08:24)


This week’s topics:

-Chris, Jason, Jill, and Andrew

-The 20th anniversary tour rumors begin with two dates in Los Angeles.  Is the band playing smaller venues by choice or necessity? (5:45)

-Another since-confirmed rumor: Smashing Pumpkins join the Bridge School Benefit for a third time.  Will we hear an acoustic rendition of G.L.O.W.?  Plus, Andrew tells us how small children react to Marilyn Manson. (4:32)

-The features and setlist of If All Goes Wrong are released, and we’re generally stoked.  Are any of us in the Ghost Children featurette?  Jill expresses her love for The Crying Tree of Mercury. (16:36)

-Billy’s interview in EQ magazine is published online.  Is there a musical genre that the next Pumpkins album won’t be influenced by? (11:41)

In-Depth Discussion
-We take on the Machina Mystery and its reception by the public after the recent series of articles on sp.com on the topic.  Eerie parallels between Machina and Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero abound. (21:38)

This Week in Pumpkins History
-The Pumpkins appear on Saturday Night Live and show off their acting chops. (3:22)

Song of the Week
-Age of Innocence, October 31st, 1999

One thing we didn’t have time to discuss during our talk of the Machina Mystery: If D’Arcy hadn’t quit and the band went through with the plan to be “in character” throughout the album’s release and tour, would the public’s reaction to the album have been any different?  Feel free to posit your theories in the comments.

ch6/the story of Machina (so what could I do but try to finish) 3:05 am // Friday, September 12, 2008

Posted by jjb in amusing, billy corgan, business, interview, machina, smashingpumpkins.com.
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SmashingPumpkins.com writer Supervajra, in a third piece on the Machina band-imitates-band concept, elicits this reminiscence from Billy Corgan:

When the re-formed band agreed to the concept in october of 1998 as a way to bring the band to a close, everyone agreed to “play their part’ all the way down the line. I never envisioned that D’arcy would leave in April of ’99, and that subsequently the 3 of us would try to finish. This put a stress obviously on the full integrity of the project. Because it was connected to the band not only bringing the music to fruition fully, but also the public component of being in character. I ended up in a broken band with a half-ass enthusiasm towards finishing a project already started…

Being bullheaded I pushed on, underestimating the strain it put on me to try to finish something I was no longer sure of. The songs were all written TO the concept, so what could I do but try to finish. I almost abandoned the entire project half-way thru. It took every fibre of my being to just not quit then and there in the middle of it. Jimmy wasn’t in the best state and James was, well, being James. The only reason I finished it was because I wanted off what had by then become a horrible label. And before anyone cries sell out + $, know that if I had disbanded the group then I would have gotten all the $ on the record and or shelved it and done whatever I wanted to instead music wise. I was the only person who could be held to the deal. James and Jimmy would have walked away free as birds, not only of the group but the contract as well. It was the last record of the deal, and that played into how it all went down.

If that just isn’t enough Machina mystery for you, the Internets will soon yield up Nick Kushner’s “Machina, Alchemy & The Occult”, an encyclopedic, novel-length mini-site currently in production”. Teaser material for the site can be seen here and here.

After the jump: Our speculative dramatization of an under-his-breath wisecrack that could have gotten James in trouble for, well, being James. [WARNING: Dramatization may be in LOLGATMOG form. I blame Jill…] (more…)

United Center or Allstate Arena for November Chicago gig 2:11 am // Thursday, August 21, 2008

Posted by jjb in billy corgan, brent dicrescenzo, criticism, interview, machina, news, pitchfork, venues.
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Brent DiCrescenzo — yes, the former Pitchfork Media contributor (more on Brent D. below) — gets the news in a phone interview with Billy Corgan for Time Out Chicago:

Corgan promises the Pumpkins will return to “Chicago proper” in November for the band’s 20th anniversary show; the only question, he says, is whether the venue will be the United Center or the Allstate Arena.

DiCrescenzo, best known to Pumpkins fans for his withering review of Machina, is apparently back in the world of music writing. (In 2004, DiCrescenzo wrote that he was quitting the profession at the end of his review of the Beastie Boys’ album To the 5 Boroughs, a piece that was later blasted by Pitchfork editors for…wait for itmaking stuff up about Radiohead.) So, now what did he think of the not-really-reunited Smashing Pumpkins playing at a fucking casino?

[I]t’s a shame nitpickers avoided the Horseshoe for the sake of some mythical rock ideals; there’s no way those shows will sound as sweet as this one.

The Pumpkins have been practicing seven hours a day, Corgan says, and it shows: The band rips through material from each of its records, some B-sides and a cover of Pink Floyd’s early acid freak-out, “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.” Unlike in his ’90s performances, Corgan exerts control over his voice; in fact, he sings better than ever. The group blends heavy-metal geek shredding with trippy goth shoegazing. After an insane, extended guitar duel, the band huddles up for a quiet acoustic set at the front of the stage. The Pumpkins always balanced the audacious with the intimate, which might have led to many listeners’ inability to understand Corgan’s intent. But that’s his point—to remain enigmatic. Before his biggest hit, “Today,” Corgan tells the audience, “This is for you, even though I don’t know who you are. But you don’t know me either.”

Wow, not even a snarky comment about how Billy singing “better than ever” must mean that he paid big bucks to have his “wax-paper septum” replaced! Looks like you can take the Pitchfork out of the boy.

HU’s Jill at SP.com: “Friends and Enemies of…Future Music?” 2:52 pm // Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Posted by jjb in b-sides, criticism, machina, radiohead, record labels, releases.
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Here is today’s article from our very own Media Militiawoman.

Most Essential Billy Corgan Recordings: #23 1:07 pm // Friday, November 30, 2007

Posted by jjb in essential recordings series, live, machina, video.
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The Smashing Pumpkins
St. Andrew’s Hall, Detroit
April 10, 1999
(or another show from the two-week “Arising!” tour)

I Am One …

Zero / Pug / La Dolly Vita / Glass’ Theme / The Imploding Voice / Dross / Speed Kills / Blue Skies Bring Tears / Stand Inside Your Love / Glass and the Ghost Children / Wound / Cash Car Star / Ava Adore / Today / Muzzle / Soma / Home / If There Is a God / With Every Light / Geek U.S.A.

The “Arising!” tour of April 1999 was the only reunion tour of the original four Pumpkins, with Jimmy Chamberlin reclaiming his throne behind Billy, James, and D’Arcy. Jimmy’s return found the band putting on “a real rock show” that found D’Arcy “actually sweating, for a change” (her words!). Jimmy, long the strong, silent type, mustered only this pronouncement:

Thank you, everybody. It’s good to be back. Detroit Rock City.

As a trial run for songs that would be recorded for Machina, the Arising! tour is no less interesting than the Adore demos. Machina ended up being (all together now) a complex art-rock album, but these concerts in packed venues go light on the art part. New crowd-rockin’ tunes “Glass’ Theme”, “Dross”, and “Cash Car Star” would all be left off the record. Superarty Machina tracks “Blue Skies Bring Tears” and “Glass and the Ghost Children” are more accessible here, with the latter’s second half sounding like a simpler, muted retread of “Porcelina of the Vast Oceans”. Even the Adore tracks “Ava Adore” and “Pug” are muscled up with power drumming and distorted guitar.

The band may not have chosen to rock out all over the Machina LP, but it only takes about 30 seconds of this show to reveal the band’s total confidence in its ability to blow apart a small club. Almost three years after their last show with Jimmy and over a year removed from having attempted anything that might be classified as hard rock, I cannot hear any evidence of hesitancy or doubt in any aspect of the band’s performance — and this is striking to me. A good one-sentence biography of the Pumpkins might be “American geeks become a heavy metal machine,” and while there certainly is no One Moment at which that happened, this show does put the point across.

A bourgeois problem 7:50 pm // Friday, November 9, 2007

Posted by jjb in audio, live, machina, rant, swearing at motorists, video.
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It’s rough being a fanboy when your favorite band often finds ways to redeem even the (few) songs that you never liked all that much and thus have been able to diss when others accuse you of unconditional band-love.

So it is with me and “The Crying Tree of Mercury”. To the album track I was indifferent, but of the released-on-MySpace studio piano version (3MB mp3) and the 2007 live acoustic performances I think frustratingly highly. Mr. Corgan dispenses with meter and trusts himself to make the song work in the moment, thus bringing to mind another of my favorite rock artists, Dave Doughman of Swearing at Motorists non-fame, who’s made quite a non-career for himself out of doing that all the time, as here (YouTube). Yeah, I never thought I’d have cause to make that comparison, but there it is.

And, please, I don’t even want to talk about how I sort of like the 2007 live version of “Glass and the Ghost Children”. Of course, as the age of this blog approaches infinity, odds are that I will. Sigh.

Below: “The Crying Tree of Mercury”, solo acoustic by BC, in Asheville (Google)

Scratch through the pages 11:46 pm // Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Posted by jjb in analysis, machina.
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The master’s thesis of Adam Michael Ware (pdf) is, in this sense of the word, awesome. On page 33 (it’s a sign!), he characterizes the Machina story as containing an implicit explanation for/fictionalization of the Pumpkins’ post-Mellon Collie commercial decline:

To an audience he had last left as zero, full of angst and vitriol, GLASS and his message of “Real Love” constitute quite a punch in the gut.

Is that the truth that hurts, or am I just winded from reading this far? Nah, I only tease because I really love. Hopefully Ware will go for a doctorate and figure out how “Superchrist” fits into the tale.

A failure of demand, or of entrepreneurship? 7:16 pm // Friday, August 31, 2007

Posted by jjb in analysis, machina, studio, thefutureembrace, zeitgeist.
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There have been a lot of fan complaints about the mastering of the last few records that Billy has recorded. Fans have circulated a few pre-mastering tracks from Zwan’s Mary Star of the Sea, but there has not to my knowledge been an effort to circulate premasters of other recent albums. Given that complete premasters exist — and exist in the public sphere — for Machina, TheFutureEmbrace, and Zeitgeist, it is hard to understand why they are not commonly traded within the fan community. Is it that, public whining notwithstanding, no one really cares that much? Or is it simply that no one has thought to do such elementary waveform comparisons as the following? (more…)

Fine, call it “Rat in a Cage”. See what I care 1:43 pm // Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Posted by jjb in lyrics, machina.
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One of the more memorable (not “controversial”) quotes from Billy is this one (sourced from the Jim Stapleton interview disc), on his philosophy for titling songs:

Say you write a song about a chandelier, and the chandelier gives off light, and the light is the color red, and red reminds you of the color you’re not supposed to wear around a bull. So you name the song “Cow”.

This got me to thinking, “How would the Pumpkins’ discography read if instead of using this approach, Billy had given the most obvious title possible to each of his songs?”

I’m not intending to go through the whole thing — though it would be fun if someone would (and comments are open!) — but here’s one to get us started: an obvious-titles tracklisting for Machina. You could certainly pick a different “obvious” title for a couple, but these are at least defensible options:

1. You Know I’m Not Dead
2. Between the Raindrops
3. Who Wouldn’t Be the One You Love?
4. Radio
5. You’re All a Part of Me Now
6. Try to Hold On
7. Heavy Metal Machine
8. Crashing Down
9. Everywhere You Are
10. I Want to Live
11. If You Wait
12. My Whole Life
13. Taking Over
14. Blue Skies Bring Tears
15. Desolation Yes, Hesitation No

Jillysp’s reaction to this was “it’s like backstreet boyz!” True enough, and I especially find the idea of retitling “Glass and the Ghost Children” in this fashion to be…hilarious.


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