Pumpkins say band's more stable now
Indianapolis Morning Paper - Summer 1996
Typed up by ZeroGirl29
As modern rock's most dysfunctional family, the Smashing Pumpkins have long been considered the combo most likely to implode.
Bassist D'Arcy once said of being in the band, "It's like being married with four people you never even wanted to date." Divorce seemed all but inevitable.
Fans of the band held their breath, then , when the Pumpkins' back-up keyboardist was found dead in his hotel room July 12. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was arrested on misdemeanor drug possession charges after allegedly shooting heroin with the keyboardist, Jonathan Melvoin.
To many, it sounded like the blast that would trigger the group's demise.
But the band didn't fold. It got angry.
The group fired Chamberlin and hired Filter drummer Matt Walker for the remainder of the tour. Frogs founder Dennis Flemion was added on keyboards.
"I mean, everything that happened, it was real sad, but it was also very stupid and very senseless. And we're very angry with Jimmy." D'Arcy said from Las Vegas, where the Pumpkins played their first date since Melvoin's death and Chamberlin's arrest.
"It was the last straw, you know. The drugs were not the problem, but more like a symptom. It was just like a wake-up call-this is not going to be fixed," she said. "He really just screwed up a lot of stuff for us, and cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Necessity not the reason
It wasn't imperative that the band press on. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the group's fourth release, has emerged as one of the year's greatest commercial and critical successes. A sonically intricate album with as many delicate ballads as squalling guitar track, the album has sold 6 million copies.
With its songs all over the radio and videos still in heavy MTV rotation (and up for a few honors in this month's MTV Music Video Awards), the group didn't need to continue touring.
But the other three Pumpkins, front man Billy Corgan, guitarist James Iha and D'Arcy, wanted to get back on the road as soon as possible.
"It's just not the band Jimmy affected," D'Arcy explained. "Hundreds of people's livelihoods are dependent on this tour."
"We had to move forward. We worked eight years to get to this point. To have it all thrown away......for what?"
The Chicago combo has worked its way up from clubs to arenas, honing its album-rock ambitions into a brilliant blend of thick distortion, airy melodies and infectious pop hooks. Its eight-year climb has been fraught with infighting, from D'Arcy's romantic split with Iha to Corgan's unpopular decision to play all the instruments himself on Siamese Dream.
Despite the distractions, the group reached an art-pop apex on Mellon Collie, an opus members admit could be hard to top. At least now they feel they have a shot.
With Chamberlin out of the fold, D'Arcy describes a band that no longer has to spend much of its time wondering whether its drummer will show.
"There's no way we could have gone forward if we had kept Jimmy on," D'Arcy said. "We didn't trust him. We were worrying constantly."
She says other tensions within the group have also eased since Chamberlin was fired. The band's predicted implosion now seems less imminent.
"We've been around for eight, nine years now, and people have been spreading rumors like that ever since we came together," the bassist said. "How many of the bands that are contemporaries are still around? Pearl Jam plays every now and then...."
"We just always really put the music first. That was the one thing Jimmy was having a hard time with. He seemed to have other things going on that were more important to him."
"I feel so much better now," D'Arcy said. "Before, I always felt, like you never knew what was going to happen. It seemed much more volatile."
"Now I feel like we could go on forever."
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