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Iha Steps into Perfect Circle

Former Pumpkins guitarist back on the road

When former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha got an email a
month ago from A Perfect Circle’s Billy Howerdel asking if he’d
like to audition for the group, the last thing on Iha’s mind was
joining another band.

“I really didn’t see myself joining another band too soon after
the Pumpkins broke up,” said Iha, who has kept a low profile since
the Pumpkins’ December 2000 split. “I was recently saying to
someone that it would have to be a pretty good band to bring me
back — this is the band.”

Iha was also reluctant to hit the road again after his decade of
regular touring with the Pumpkins, but after a few weeks of
rehearsal with APC, fronted by Tool’s Maynard James Keenan, he was
convinced that he could bear the grind. Iha was already friendly
with the band’s members thanks to some 1999 Canadian dates that
paired the Pumpkins and APC. It also helped that his pal,
ex-Marilyn Manson bassist Jeordie White (a.k.a. Twiggy Ramirez),
had also recently been recruited to join APC and that Howerdel was
a one-time guitar tech for ex-Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan.

Iha stepped in to replace original guitarist Danny Lohner (Nine
Inch Nails). “They were looking for someone who had some experience
and a similar vibe musically,” Iha said. “I really respect all
these guys as a band and I’m flattered that they asked me to join
them. I think it was between me and Yngwie Malmsteen. They were
looking for that high-speed metal thing, but they settled for me.”
Iha does not appear on the group’s upcoming second album, The
Thirteenth Step
, and says he’s only a touring member of the
band for now.

While former Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan quickly jumped back
into the fray with the debut album from his new band, Zwan, Iha has
been content to toil behind the scenes. The quiet guitarist has
been busy running the recording studio he co-owns in New York,
Stratosphere Sounds, as well as re-launching his label, Scratchie
Records, which recently issued the debut from Swedish band the
Sounds. In addition to producing an album by New York singer/model
Karen Elson, Iha recorded a song for the film adaptation of Alex
Garland’s The Tesseract and co-wrote the score for the
2002 Canadian film Luck with bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur,
his former colleague in the Pumpkins.

“We were a great band,” he says of his former outfit. “I have no
idea if we’ll ever get back together. This band is similar in that
it has that kind of lightness and darkness. It has the heaviosity
and it can be delicate.”

In This Article: Smashing Pumpkins

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