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    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Lost inside the dreams, of teen machines


    Are the Smashing Pumpkins back?

    In the clearest sign yet that Billy Corgan is reviving seminal alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins, sources say he and Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin are set to begin work on a new studio album.

    Original members James Iha (guitar) and D'arcy Wretzky (bass), recent targets of Corgan's venom, are not participating in the reunion at this point. But sources say multi-instrumentalist Billy Mohler will be involved in some fashion. Mohler formerly played bass in pop/rock act the Calling and contributed to Chamberlin's 2005 solo album, "Life Begins Again."

    "As long as Billy has Jimmy, he can make the essential Pumpkins record, I'm sure," former Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur told Billboard.com ...


    Given that Corgan and Chamberlin were the ones who played on most of the records and the other two were primarily important when the band played live (there are obviously exceptions to that model, but Billy's bass playing is as much the signature bass sound as D'arcy's), I don't doubt that Auf Der Maur is right, to some degree. But my main question is: why do they have to call it the Smashing Pumpkins?

    No one ever loved Billy Corgan more than I did as a teenager, but there's something sad about him now. The level of sentimentality and romanticism that defines his music just seems part of another time to me (maybe because I associate it with my adolescence of sentimentality) and so the "re-forming" seems a little the same, especially when he says things like this:

    In 2004, he broke his silence about why the band dissolved, lashing out at Iha and Wretzky for walking away from an endeavor he described as "essentially my entire life... a dream I still believe in."

    He has come to seem to me an aged teenager; a sad rock tragedy who can't accept that his chance to "burn out" is over and he's only "fading away". I think that continuing to make music is cool; solo or with Zwan or some new band, even with Chamberlin (because you couldn't get a better rock drummer- the guy's incredible), but why return to the band you started when you were in your twenties?

    Watching Billy Corgan age pulls into focus my own aging. What matters to me has changed so much. And I can't look at the world around me with this sort of achingly sensitive perspective anymore (I am medicated; wonder if he is.) It's easy to look at this as a great loss. Watching Billy makes me realize that it is also a gain.

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