Billy Corgan treated fans to an intimate cover of the Beatles’ “Something” during the VIP Experience at a Smashing Pumpkins show last week in Des Moines, Iowa. The frontman tackled the Abbey Road classic by himself, accompanying his voice with stark piano chords, prior to the Pumpkins’ June 20th performance on their first-ever acoustic tour.
The performance has a charming, casual vibe – Corgan, decked out in a hoodie, has to restart the song twice after flubbing the chords and lyrics. “It’s such a good song, and I keep fucking it up,” he says, laughing. “If I fuck up my own song, I’m like, ‘Well, I wrote it.'”
One fan jokes that he wants his money back, which prompts the musician to tell a hilarious story from the Pumpkins’ past. Once, when drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was unable to perform at a small club show, the band decided to perform two acoustic sets. At the start of the gig, Corgan jokingly told the audience anyone who wanted their money back should leave – and one person obliged.
The Pumpkins’ acoustic tour, dubbed “In Plainsong,” has found the alt-rock icons performing a range of material from throughout Corgan’s career, including Zwan and his solo work. The trek will wrap June 25th in Minneapolis, Minnesota before the electrified Pumpkins join Marilyn Manson for a 23-date, co-headlining summer tour called “The End Times,” which kicks off July 7th in Concord, California.
Good news for longtime fans: That jaunt will feature the distinctive percussive stylings of original member Chamberlin, who played on the band’s classic LPs like Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. (Chamberlin either quit or was fired from the Pumpkins – depending on the account – in March 2009.)
“We’re thrilled Jimmy’s back in the saddle this summer to drive a super high-octane set, and it’s nice to see the stars aligning around Smashing Pumpkins anew,” Corgan said in a statement. “We suddenly found ourselves in the situation of not having anybody lined up,” he told USA Today. “You can’t just grab somebody and say, ‘Play drums on this Smashing Pumpkins song.’ Jimmy’s drum parts are so incredibly technical and nuanced that it’s a very rare class of people that can step in and play.”
In recent years, the Pumpkins drum throne has been a revolving door. Corgan first replaced Chamberlin with Mike Byrne, who contributed to the ongoing Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project and 2012 LP Oceania. Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee played on last year’s Monuments to an Elegy, and live duties have been handled by both Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine) and Robin Diaz.