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Jeff Schroeder offers update on new Smashing Pumpkins record: “It's a big, sprawling thing”

[L-R] Jeff Schroeder and Billy Corgan
(Image credit: Burak Cingi/Redferns)

Last year, Billy Corgan revealed that The Smashing Pumpkins were working on a 33-track “rock opera” sequel to Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness and Machina/The Machines Of God.

In an announcement last October, the frontman said that the record “in many ways completes the circle on everything we started and weren't able to finish at that time”, adding that he and his bandmates are “very excited”.

Now, guitarist Jeff Schroeder has offered an update on the album, sharing that recording will “probably take most of the rest of the year, 'cause it's a big, sprawling thing”.

“We've been working for basically the whole year on it,” Schroeder tells Audio ink Radio. “But we're in the middle of real tracking and stuff right now. James [Iha] and I are working out here in LA.

“Drums are basically done, so Jimmy [Chamberlin]'s done his part. But Billy [Corgan] is working in Chicago, and I'm out here in LA, and James in LA, so we're plowing through it.”

Due to the sheer volume of material required for a record of such epic proportions, Schroeder says he's had to “dig in deep” creatively.

“Even for me as a guitar player, usually you're always kind of working on things and you have a bunch of ideas to try on these new tracks,” he explains. “And then, after four songs, you're like ‘Okay, I've gotta come up with some other stuff.’ So, then you work hard and get through the first 11 songs, and you're like, ‘Oh, wait a second. That's only the first act. I've got two more acts to go!”

“You've got to dig deep in to your soul to find out what is in there. What's this song calling for? How can I listen to this song differently than I listened to the last one? And it really pushes you artistically.”

Schroeder also details working with Billy Corgan, describing him as “relentless for greatness”.

“One thing that I always tell people is – because he has maybe a reputation for being difficult in the studio or something like that – but he absolutely doesn't put any expectations on anybody else that he doesn't put on himself, as far as quality of performance,” he says.

“He relentlessly, from an artistic standpoint, pursues his ideas, and that is the best lesson to learn. And then another one would be that he's unabashedly unique.”

The Smashing Pumpkins

(Image credit: Michael Campanella/Redferns)

He continues, “Another thing that I've learned is that there's different types of musicians and there's musicians that will go out and get hired by a band to be a backing band guitarist or drummer, and those are very valid and great ways to earn a living and make a living.

“But then there's also musicians of a different ilk, that maybe bring a different sort of quality to the table, and that is being absolutely unique.

“I feel like legends like Billy are born out of that ilk where there is only one person that be Billy Corgan, and it's Billy Corgan. From the second he plays the guitar, from the second he sings, it's only one person.

He concludes, “That takes a lot of courage, devotion and dedication to cultivate that type of uniqueness – because it's scary, it's vulnerable, whereas it's easier to copy other people. But to be completely unique and be yourself is the hardest thing to do. And he's been quite successful at it. So, that's something that I definitely notice every day.”

Sam Roche

Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.