Corgan Carves Up Pumpkins

Singer launches new album and tour with his old band on his mind

June 21, 2005 12:00 AM ET

Billy Corgan took out a full-page ad in today's Chicago Tribune announcing his plans to "renew and revive" the Smashing Pumpkins. "I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams," he wrote of his former band, which split in 2000. Corgan -- who releases his debut solo album, TheFutureEmbrace, today -- did not state whether his revival plans include fellow former Pumpkins: drummer Jimmy Chamberlin (who plays on Corgan's album), guitarist James Iha (now a member of A Perfect Circle) and bassist D'Arcy Wretzky, who was replaced for their final tour by Melissa auf der Maur (who now fronts her own band).

Earlier this month, Corgan told Rolling Stone that he had no interest in performing his former band's material on his solo tour, which kicks off Wednesday in Atlanta. "I don't want to play Smashing Pumpkins songs unless it says 'Smashing Pumpkins' above my head," he said. "The only reason I'd be doing it now is to make people feel comfortable. If they wanna come see me play, they're gonna have to come see what I'm doing now."

Corgan invited Chamberlin (whom he calls his best friend) to play drums on TheFutureEmbrace's atmospheric "DIA." He also invited fellow alterna-hero Robert Smith of the Cure to sing on a cover of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody."

The new CD has a stripped-down sound that might surprise Pumpkins fans, based more on New Wave synthesizers than on guitar heroics. "The first four months was really just sonic experimentation," Corgan said of the Chicago recording sessions with co-producers Bon Harris (former drummer for Nitzer Ebb) and Bjorn Thorsrud, which began in February 2004. "I know how to make good rock-guitar sounds and big rock choruses -- I've been writing them for years. I had to learn a whole new way of writing and recording."

Meanwhile, Corgan has been revealing the most personal details of his life in his online autobiographical project (at myspace.com/billycorgan). The posts include passages about his poverty-stricken childhood, his mother's time in a mental institution, dating goth chicks as a teenager and the Bad Brains show that changed his life.

"People have this impression that I'm a broken creature," Corgan said. "I'm actually the opposite -- I'm someone who was broken and has put himself back together."

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