Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Corgan's Mission Statement for 'Oceania': Do or Die

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Corgan's Mission Statement for 'Oceania': Do or Die

Article excerpt


Billy Corgan calls "Oceania," the Smashing Pumpkins' first studio album since 2007, "an anti-mid-life crisis album."

Whatever it's called, the new album due out Tuesday represents Mr. Corgan's best work since the '90s, when the Pumpkins were among the most successful bands of their time. The band broke up in 2000, and to hear Mr. Corgan tell it, he's spent most of the last decade figuring out how to create fresh music out from under the shadow of that legacy without fully letting go of it.

He says that after reuniting with original Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin in 2005, he realized that he was holding on to an idea of the band caught between unrealistic expectations (repeating the success and sound of the Pumpkins 1993 breakthrough, "Siamese Dream") and his own nostalgia-loathing intentions.

He's in the midst of writing what he describes as a "spiritual memoir," and it's causing him to "dredge up stuff from the past I wish I had forgotten. This album is basically my way of saying I don't want to carry this stuff anymore. I don't want to carry [original Pumpkins members Chamberlin, James Iha and D'Arcy Wretzky] forward anymore. It's done. I couldn't have made 'Oceania' if I didn't let go of that band."

Mr. Chamberlin and Mr. Corgan parted ways in 2009, soon after a tumultuous tour that found the singer verbally tussling with his audience. For a 20th anniversary Pumpkins tour, many fans were expecting a greatest-hits retrospective. Mr. Corgan instead presented a deep dive into his music, in which the beloved '90s singles were balanced by deep cuts and plenty of new tracks. The often-hostile reaction led him to "blow up the band" so that he could start fresh.

Mr. Corgan rebuilt the Pumpkins with young guns: guitarist Jeff Schroeder, bassist Nicole Fiorentino and drummer Mike Byrne. The imperative was not only to re-energize the audience, but "to reconnect with that part of me that made me want to make music in the first place. …

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