“James Iha, I think, is just a piece of shit. I think he’s one of the worst human beings I’ve ever met in my life.”- Billy Corgan, taken from an interview with NME in 2012
So James Iha just reunited on stage with bandmates Jimmy Chamberlain and Billy Corgan on saturday night for the first time in 20 years.... Smashing Pumpkins, love em or hate em, define Alternative Rock. You can argue that the sound and movement started before them but as far as one band singularly defining a movement of music, Smashing Pumpkins defines the genre. It's pretty hard to dispute that. Siamese Dream, the bands sophmore album came out in 1993, I'll never forget the way the guitar chorus sounded on Today, beautiful, so perfect that it didn't match the dark overtone of the lyrics which is what made it so unique. Today is the greatest Day I've ever known Can't live for tomorrow, Tomorrow's much too long I'll burn my eyes out Before I get out Fronted by this squealing, wiry, curly haired demon-faced singer, Corgan looked like that kid every one grew up with that was just an asshole. Contrasted with the soft Japanese nobility of Iha... and don't forget "Darcy", "Darcy was so cool" paired with the manic junky, titanic of a drummer, Jimmy Chamberlain. They were without a doubt one of the most unique looking bands to hit MTV, which was in it's final lap of a heyday, before it changed to reality shows and... more reality shows.
As a fan, Siamese Dream is probably my favorite album from the group but 1995 saw the release of they're double disc Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and with it the elevation to one of rocks biggest acts. If you listened to the radio between 1995 and 1997 you probably heard "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," "1979" and "Tonight, Tonight" more times then you cared to listen. This is when things started to get weird for the Pumpkins as now Billy Corgan had a platform.
While Corgan considered issuing "Jellybelly" as the album's first single, it was passed over in favor of "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" because "'Bullet's one of those songs where, you know, it's easy to sing along to and [he affects a drawl] ya gotta sell them records."-Billy Corgan, Chart MagazineThey came out with two more albums and broke up in a very public, very nasty fashion (mostly Corgan did, though shots were fired from all camps) in 2000. Since then Billy Corgan has had numerous musical and um... if your really interested this sums it up. Iha has had a few gigs along with the other members, but this was one of those situations that you would never have thought you would see repair itself... in 2008 Billy Corgan wrote on his blog that the original lineup would never play together again. Then in March of this year, Corgan seemed to soften his disposition while discussing the possibility of a reunion if they were ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What does it even mean that James Iha is back? Corgan is infamous for recording all of the albums by playing all of the instruments himself, his talent as a vocalist is still amazing. Bassist D'Arcy Wretzky is still absent. What does this really mean? Guns n' Roses are headlining Coachella? Have you heard or seen Axel Rose sing lately? Don't get me wrong, as previously stated, Corgan sounds great still but this is fluff nostalgia, plain and simple, this is that date with the ex, years after you've broken up and all you can remember are the good times. In all fairness I hope that these bands can re capture the fire that made us feel at one time, the reality is quite the opposite unfortunately.
Words by Michael Cherrito
Photo Cred Rollingstones.com, Vice.com