Here's a thought that may throw you: It's been 14 years since the Smashing Pumpkins
released Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
and proceeded to exist as both one of the coolest and biggest bands in the country. Billy Corgan's crew was impossibly popular—Sadness
sold over nine million copies—but no less interesting for it. If anything, the album and its predecessor, Siamese Dream
, helped define "alternative rock" when that phrase could be mentioned without a snicker and a joke about Puddle of Mudd
But through one misstep after the other, the
Smashing Pumpkins fell from grace and broke up. And that
would've been fine—leave us with our few Pumpkins records to geek
over and move on. But, unfortunately, through a string of awkward career moves, our expectation of the band has denigrated to the point where we wonder more "What will Corgan's next out-there gossip-blog headline
be?" than "What will Corgan's next out-there song be?"
So what if Corgan stopped for a moment of introspection, looked
at his last, say, four years (which all took a turn for the histrionic with
that newspaper ad) and realized his fans deserved better?
With the band's just-released plan for it's new series of EPs, it seems
like the Smashing Pumpkins could re-enter the grace of fans and critics
alike. Hold the scoffing. Yes, we realize the title is a tad, um, verbose. But in a recent statement, Corgan said that, beginning sometime this fall, the band will release 11 EPs of four songs each, together called Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. Once all 44 songs have been released, a physical box set (far from the Pumpkins' first—remember this gem?) will hit shelves, and the Pumpkins will launch a world tour. Oh, and all the music is free. As in, you won't have to join an e-mail list or sign up for anything. Free music, no strings attached.
Elaborating on the plan for Paste via e-mail, Corgan explained: "It is obvious that the system that was in place for many years no longer works to everyone's benefit. Artists still need to be paid for their work—I am not interested in subverting that fact. I am, however, interested in subverting a system that works against holistic thinking when it comes to how art is made and delivered to those who might want to hear it."
He continued by making a point that those of us on the other side of art's creation tend to forget—that fans and critics aren't always the most important part of the equation. Corgan's move to release his music for free, without label interaction, keeps the ball in his court. "What is most important to me is that I am free," he said.
Even so, that's not the point where Corgan gives us some hope. It's hard to compare the Pumpkin's output of late to the band's classic work, and so his statement that the
new material "harkens back to the original psychedelic roots of the
Smashing Pumpkins; atmospheric, melodic, heavy and pretty" is pretty
intriguing. Could the new music—the first four-song EP to be recorded soon—capture the same feel that made the Smashing Pumpkins what they were in the first place?
While the new music may touch upon his musical roots, he has no intention of backtracking. If anything, Corgan's focus is set squarely on the future of the Pumpkins. "There is no Pumpkins legacy," he said. "There is only Smashing Pumpkins right now."
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