"Originally we just paid someone a bunch of money and then they kind of do it for you.

And then we realized that none off these people really knew what they were doing. And itís

surprising that the more of ourselves that we put in the videos, the more successful the

videos become. Itís just made us try harder."

- Billy Corgan

Today and Yesterday

A brief history of the Smashing Pumpkins

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

THE SON OF A BLUES GUITARIST, BILLY CORGAN grew up in a Chicago suburb, leaving
home at the age of 19 to move to Florida with his fledgling goth-metal band, the Marked. After the
band failed, he returned to Chicago around 1988, where he began working at a used record store.
At the shop he met guitarist James lha, a graphic arts student at Loyola University. The two began
collaborating, performing and recording songs with a drum machine. Corgan met D'Arcy Wretzky
at a club show; the two became friends, and she joined the group as a bassist.
The band had named themselves Smashing Pumpkins and soon gained a dedicated local following,
including the owner of a local club who booked them to open for Jane's Addiction. Before the
pivotal concert, the band hired Jimmy Chamberlin, a former jazz musician, as the group's full-time
drummer.

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During the Gish tour,
however, tensions among the band members began to escalate, as lha and D'Arcy, who had been
lovers, went through a messy breakup, Chamberlin became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and
Corgan entered a heavy depression. These tensions hadn't been resolved by the time the group
entered the studio with Vig to record their second album. Towards the beginning of the sessions, the
Pumpkins were given significant exposure through the inclusion of "Drown" on the Singles movie
soundtrack in the summer of 1992. As the sessions progressed, Corgan relieved himself of his
depression by working heavily-not only did he write a surplus of songs, he played nearly all of the
guitars and bass on each track, which meant that release dates were delayed several times.



Working with producers Flood and Alan Moulder, Smashing Pumpkins recorded as a full band for
their third album, which turned out to be, as Corgan predicted, a double-disc set called Mellon
Collie and the Infinite Sadness. This became an even bigger hit than Siamese Dream, debuting at
Number One on the charts. On the strength of the singles "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," "1979," "Zero"
and "Tonight, Tonight," it would sell over four million copies in the U.S.
The Pumpkins, who'd graduated to stadium shows for the Mellon Collie tour, were at the peak of their
popularity when things began to go wrong again, On July 12, prior to two scheduled shows at Madison
Square Garden, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and Jonathan Melvoin, the group's touring keyboardist,
both suffered heroin overdoses; Chamberlin recovered, but Melvoin died. In the wake of the tragedy,
the remaining Pumpkins fired Chamberlin and spent two months on hiatus, as they recovered and
searched for a new drummer. Early in August, they announced that Matt Walker of the industrial band
Filter would be the band's touring drummer, and Dennis Flemion, a member of the Frogs, would be
their touring keyboardist for the remainder of the year.
The Pumpkins returned to the stage at the end of August and spent the next five months on tour. During
this time, Corgan contributed some music to the Ron Howard film Ransom. Early in 1997, once the
Pumpkins left the road, lha and D'Arcy launched Scratchie Records, a subsidiary of Mercury Records.
In the spring, the Smashing Pumpkins recorded two songs for the soundtrack to the Batman & Robin
movie. In early 1998, James Iha released his debut solo album, the heavily acoustic Let It Come Down
(Virgin). At approximately the same time, Corgan, Iha and D'Arcy entered the studio to begin
recording what would become Adore.

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In 1990 the Pumpkins released their debut single, "I Am One," on the local Chicago label Limited
Potential. The single quickly sold out, and in December the band released "Tristessa" on Sub Pop.
By this point, the Smashing Pumpkins had become the subject of a hot bidding war, and the group
latched on to a clever way to move to a major label without losing indie credibility. They signed to
Virgin Records, yet it was decided that the group's debut would be released on the Virgin
subsidiary, Caroline; then the band would move to the majors.
The strategy worked. Gish, a majestic mix of Black Sabbath and dream-pop produced by Butch
Vig, became a huge college and modern-rock hit upon its spring 1991 release.

The resulting album, Sicimese Dream, was an immaculate production owing much to Queen that was enthusiastically embraced by critics upon its July 1993 release. Siamese Dream became a blockbuster, debuting at Number 10 on the charts and establishing the group as stars. "Cherub Rock," the first single, was a modern rock hit, yet it was "Today" and the acoustic "Disarm" that sent the album into the stratosphere, as well as the group's relentless touring. Smashing Pumpkins became the headliners
of 1994's Lollapalooza, and following the tour's completion, the band went back into the studio to
record a new album that Corgan had already announced would be a double-disc set. To tide fans
over until the new album, the Pumpkins released the B-sides and rarities album Pisces Iscariot in
October of 1994.

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