The Smashing Pumpkins: The Great Pumpkin
GW TheFutureEmbrace depicts what you have described as the “beautiful coldness” in the music of Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen and David Bowie’s Low. Can you elaborate further on what you mean?
CORGAN There is a warmth to the metal of Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi achieved a massively heavy sound that was also inviting. In contrast, Joy Division had a colder sound, even though they were a metal band influenced by Black Sabbath. Space and repetition were critical components in what they did, but there is a groove in the mechanical nature of it. There is a way to achieve warmth over what is generally conceived as a cold feeling, and that is appealing to me.
GW Did you use a specific guitar for most of this record?
CORGAN Yes. Reverend made me a custom C-scale instrument, which means that it has a longer scale and sounds two whole steps lower without tuning down. I also used a one-of-akind Fender Jaguar that I bought in New York, and I also used a Gibson 335 from the Seventies.
GW You use a very distressed, distorted guitar sound in the echoed guitar solo on “To Love Somebody” and on “Walking Shade.”
CORGAN Yes, extremely distressed! If you remove the guitar track, the songs sound much smaller; the guitar creates the impression of size. It may seem to be mostly synths and effects, but the tracks are really very guitar-driven.
GW I said earlier that “Dia” reminds me of “Perfect,” but in fact I hear similarities to Adore all over the new CD.
CORGAN Adore was the most “solo” of the Pumpkins albums, in terms of what I was trying to accomplish and the participation of the other band members on the songs and the sound of the record, overall. At the time, Darcy was in fact very upset; she felt I should have released it as a solo album.
GW The Adore track “For Martha,” dedicated to your mother, is thick with atmosphere in a way that is akin to the sound of your solo album.
CORGAN Yeah, I see what you mean. For me, going into this territory reinvigorates my approach to heavier rock music. Metal was my favorite music when I was a kid, but I was bored with it by the time I was 17. The music of the Cure is what really got me into playing the guitar. So I brought the heavier rock stuff into the mix afterward, and I always go back to that approach in order to find who I am.
Sometimes I turn on the radio and hear all these different guys doing my trip, and I think, Well, what am I supposed to do? All my moves have been copied and I get no credit whatsoever from any of these new bands.
GW It’s been 10 years since the release of Mellon Collie, and, as you say, its influence is obvious in the music of many new emo-rock bands, both sonically and lyrically. A perfect example is “1979,” which was a huge hit.
CORGAN You can still hear the influence of that track. I was bitter about it for a while because I felt we had been uncredited, simply because every new band over the last 10 years would claim Nirvana as their prime influence. That was silly to me, because Butch Vig, who worked with us on Gish, took our sound and brought it to Nirvana for Nevermind, and the truth is that sound originates with the Smashing Pumpkins. So for years I felt the credit hadn’t been given to us.
But now there’s a whole new generation of bands that are crediting us, because it’s not a political issue anymore. They grew up on the Pumpkins, Zeppelin and Nirvana, and these are the bands that inspired them to play. At the end of the day, it’s turned out to be fine and wonderful. I took what I could from my heroes—Hendrix, Blackmore, Iommi—and I am standing on the shoulders of giants. I would never in my wildest dreams put myself in their league.
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