THE SMASHING PUMPKINS have created one of the most acclaimed bodies of work in musical history having sold more than 30 million albums, and won multiple Grammy Awards in the process. The pivotal group’s many hits defined the alternative music era and continue to resonate on modern rock radio, influencing a whole new generation.
The Smashing Pumpkins, one of the original ALT ROCK bands from Chicago, IL inspired entire nations of young people with their raw and honest sound. People have been known to diss front man Billy Corgan for his ever true music making thunder. Why rest on your laurel’s when you have shit to say, songs to write and music to make. It’s a beautiful thing having grown up along side this sound.
With the release of ‘Monuments to an Elegy’, out this past December and now with ‘Day for Night‘, coming later this year, we were curious about this uptick in creative energy.
LBH Chat’s w/ Billy Corgan via BMM about the making of ‘MONUMENTS TO AN ELEGY’:
LBH: ‘Monuments to an Elegy’ is the first of two albums that you’ve said will be released within a one-year period. What is inspiring this output of music in a relatively short amount of time?
Billy Corgan: “My goal was having the impetus for a double record. But thinking of how it would be consumed in a surface-level culture made me want to split the work apart: which in itself has changed the process, writing, and review.”
LBH: ‘Monuments to an Elegy’ seems to sonically encompass the different eras of Smashing Pumpkins, definitely underlining the majestic and hard guitar sounds as well as keyboard/synth textures. What were you hoping to musically achieve with this album?
Billy Corgan: “I rarely go into an album thinking what it ‘has to be.’ Albums, as a way of coalescing songs, are just an organizing principle, and each is different given what’s going on within at that moment, and without. So if there was any sense here it was bringing all I’m interested in musically to the table at one go.”
LBH: What inspired you to ask Tommy Lee to play drums on ‘Monuments to an Elegy’? What do you feel he has brought to the music?
Billy Corgan: “The songs, in demo form, had a strut, and so the suggestion was made that we ought to get someone who ‘plays like’ Tommy. Jeff Schroeder, Pumpkins’ guitarist said, ‘why not get the real deal?’ [On MTAE] Tommy brings the power and grace he’s known for, which gives the music a vibrancy that is both immediate and unmistakable.”
LBH: Can you talk about the contributions of guitarist Jeff Schroeder, who’s now been in the band since 2007, to ‘Monuments to an Elegy’?
Billy Corgan: “To Jeff’s own admittance, it’s taken him some years to find his place within a sound that was uniquely formed before he came on board. For that he’s turned to playing more melodically so his voice so to speak is additive. And it’s that triumvirate between he, Tommy, and I that you hear most keenly on the record. Plus, Jeff’s just a natural producer in a recording situation, and really pushed me to be my best in a way that most wouldn’t understand how to: through patience, and encouragement.”
LBH: What do you feel producer Howard Willing, who you first worked with on the Adore sessions, has brought to ‘Monuments to an Elegy? The sound has grandeur and intimacy, always a trademark of Smashing Pumpkins.
Billy Corgan: “Howard lives in the real world, unlike me. And so it was his task to be the traffic cop. To point out where the Pumpkins’ sound needed to come forward, and for that I’m appreciative, because it was never the idea of the band as conceived to live in the past, or to become a machine of sentiment. And like all good rock and roll scythes, we’re back to chopping forward.”
LBH: Thematically, how would you describe the songs on ‘Monuments to an Elegy’? Your singer-songwriter introspective sensibility is in full effect here. There’s the directness/vulnernability of “Run2me,”the fractured romance of “Being Beige,” and in “Drum + Fife,” there’s the repeated line, “I will bang this drum until my dying day.”
Billy Corgan: “That I can’t speak to. We honestly just tried to pick the best songs, of which there were about 80 ideas to choose from. And in that, Howard Willing was attracted to those with strong identities more so than just a good riff.”
LBH: How will the second album, Day for Night, be different from ‘Monuments to an Elegy’?
Billy Corgan: “We’re at work on it already, and it literally is the other side of the sonic moon. At this early stage it appears to be a deeper work: less shiny, and more personal; which is always a quizzical thing to bring out into the open.”
From the album ‘Monuments to an Elegy’, hit single: Being Beige.
Monuments to an Elegy was recorded in Chicago with Smashing Pumpkins guitarist Jeff Schroeder, who’s been in the band since 2007. Playing drums throughout is Tommy Lee.
Socials w/ Smashing Pumpkins
Make sure you check out this album on iTunes! Many thanks on behalf of LBH
words by | Miss D