Billy Corgan dropped the bomb shortly before the Smashing Pumpkins were due to take the stage of Los Angeles’ Universal Amphitheater Tuesday night. In a pre-show, on-air interview with radio station KROQ, the frontman revealed that the Chicago alt-rock mainstays were calling it quits after their current tour.
Corgan said the band had tired of “fighting the good fight against the Britneys of the world,” referring, of course, to the teen pop acts that have dominated the charts the past two years, while rock sales have wilted.
“It is a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Corgan confided. “I feel like I’ve been walking around with this weird secret. I think deep down our fans really knew this was the end. If you really listen to the album, it’s in the album.”
The singer said that the breakup had been on the Pumpkins’ collective mind even before they began recording their latest album, Machina/the machines of God, which was released Feb. 29. “We felt that before we even started this album, we had come to the end of our, sort of, road — emotionally, spiritually, musically,” he said.
The band plans to finish its current U.S. tour, and then return to Europe, Japan, Canada and possibly South America before actually pulling the plug, finding time in August to tape a segment of VH1 Storytellers and to appear on The Tonight Show. They may also stage a farewell U.S. tour. However, even though this will mean the end of the band of as a touring entity, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of new releases. “We have another album’s worth of songs left over from Machina we’re gonna try to finish starting in July,” Corgan said. “We also might do some additional live recordings.”
After he’s tied up the loose ends of the band at the end of the year, Corgan doesn’t have any set agenda or master plan. “I’ve been in the Pumpkins for thirteen years,” he said. “I really need to walk away from music for a while to figure out what I want to do.” As for the rest of the band members, he intimated that James Iha would pursue his solo project full-time, while drummer Jimmy Chamberlain, who was living in Florida racing cars when they reconnected with him last year, would return to that. He made no mention of Melissa Auf Der Maur’s future plans, but perhaps now Hole can call off their search for a bassist.
Much like 1998’s Adore before it, Machina has been a critical success but a relative failure commercially. Eight weeks after its release, the album was certified gold with sales of 500,000, but like recently released records by former alt-rock superstars (i.e., Oasis), it falls far short of what the band was selling at its peak.