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electronic MUSICIAN


September 9, 2008

Billy Corgan on his bass playing…
“I was influenced by mostly new wave people: Simon Gallup from the Cure, Peter Hook. In my emerging adulthood I grew up with a lot of new wave and alternative, so I looked at that bass as “the” cool bass style. So if there’s any personality in my bass playing it’s that Peter Hook, ‘use the weird note’ thing. I always wish my bass playing had more to say, but in my head it all goes together like pieces of a puzzle. I understand how the bass works and doesn’t work with all the other pieces in my head, so it probably the thing that gets the short shrift on certain things. Some ideas could have easily been played on the bass, but they were just more effective on the guitar.”

Billy Corgan on Smashing Pumpkins b-sides…
“We would used b-sides as little advertising cards to show people what was coming. We wouldn’t use a b-side that we thought was going to make an album, but we would use a song we thought was maybe a tweener. It was a good opportunity to do a cool version. That’s why some of our best work was probably done very quickly. Boom! Just make it happen; and you’re not beholden to the aesthetic of an album and trying to make a track fit in against the other seven tracks. One thing I talked to Jimmy about is that going forward we should only do mini-sessions. We shouldn’t do that thing of trying to record 12 songs over four months. We should just go in and do a couple, like American Gothic. Just pick a vibe, go in, and live with it. I think that’s a better way for us. I think that’s yielded better recordings.”

Jimmy Chamberlin on the future of The Smashing Pumpkins…
“I have a good friend who is a multi-millionaire in the sandwich industry. He says, ‘I only know how to make sandwiches and that’s what I do.’ The more time you stop to think about business, the more likely you are to die a businessman. I don’t really want to die a businessman. I want to die a musician. I want to make music and leave a legacy of honesty and truth to it.”

Billy Corgan on his traveling recording studio…
“You’d be shocked if you saw how primitive my recording situation is! To this day I continue to use my Tascam 688 eight-track cassette recorder that I bought in 1990. I literally have a drum machine, my ADA MP-1, my Alesis QuadraVerb, and that’s it. That’s how I make my demos. They’re super-primitive. I play them for people and they look at me like, ‘That’s a song?!’ Pete Townshend told me, ‘You know, I really think writers should stay simple.’ When you get in there with all the bells and whistles, something gets lots. Just stick to the basics.”

Billy Corgan on no longer being with a record label…
”There are a tremendous amount of opportunities for a free artist, meaning free from a label structure, to do lots of interesting things. I think the danger is when you start playing to the front row of your audience. The audience that’s going to be there no matter what you do. I think it’s going to take a level of sophistication to continue to be progressive, dangerous, experimental, forward-thinking, and at the same time not lose everybody in the haze of non-directed creativity. You’ve got to get out of the Utopian idea of, ‘Now that I’m free I can just do whatever I want to do,’ and I think it splits your mind. I think the middle doesn’t exist anymore. You can be artistic, you can be mainstream, or you can be both, but you can’t exist in the middle. I think there were times that did work for us, but I don’t think it works for us anymore. We’re going to have to consistently prove to people that there’s a reason why we are a unique band. We still have to be able to show up and write a great song.”

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