MTV OPENING ACT INTERVIEW WITH THE SMASHING PUMPKINS
(Preceeded the MTV 1996 Video Awards Show) Sept 4, 1996
(Transcribed by Nikki Christoff)
Tabitha: You have faced the questions of Jimmy's drug use in the past. As you began the tour though it was your impression, just for the record that he was no longer using drugs or any kind.
D'Arcy: Not drug of any kind but...hard drugs.
D'Arcy: Right. Heroin, cocaine.
I spoke to Jimmy Chamberlin and Billy Corgan, at the beginning of their summer tour in Indiana. There Jimmy talked openly about drugs as if they were part of his distant past.
[clip from interview from begining of MCIS tour] Jimmy Chamberlin: Getting, 'ya know, flown around the world. Having, living a unreality the become reality. Where you can do anything you want to do and somebody else pay for it. It puts you in a mind set that's very dangerous, and self destructive.
Where you aware at that time that he was still battling with drug use or that it was recreational?
Billy: We...were really under the impression that he was having his little kinda weekend warrior blowouts, but that was basically under control. We were being made to believe that we were being made to believe, that we were being told the truth every step of the way. Which we later found out wasn't true at all.
[clip from interview from beginning of MCIS tour] Jimmy: It's always a tragedy when that happens. 'Cause it isn't always necessarily the artists fault.
Billy: That's more bullshit, drug addict excuses. I'm sorry but that's just more excuses. The fact of the matter is, is that your a human being. You have responsibilities. Not only to yourself, but to others.
Tabitha: The European leg of the Infinite Sadness tour was played by problems centering around Jonathan Melvoin and Jimmy Chamberlin. Last Spring, the band offered to stop there tour so Jimmy could seek treatment. But, he insisted he didn't need it. Surprisingly the Pumpkins managed to keep the drug situation a private, despite the fact the severities of the problem they were having.
Billy: There were 2 Overdoses, prior to this particular Overdose.
Tabitha: By Jimmy or Jonathan
Billy: The first one involved Jimmy and the second one involved both of them.
Tabitha: Did you at that point sit Jimmy and Jonathan down to say...
Billy: Oh yeah, Oh yeah
Tabitha: Firing was an option?
Billy: We had a long comical talk where they told us, No it will never happen again and we are really sorry. We realize we are destroying our lives here. Jonathan is like, I have a baby and a wife and responsibilities and i'm so grateful for the opportunity. Jimmy is like yeah I have so much to lose and we're really sorry.
James: You know, we didn't want to look stupid. At the time we really wanted to believe.
D'Arcy: We actually did fire Jonathan. We did fire him. He was fired for about a month. He was just going to finish up the end of the tour.
Billy: The end of the Euro tour.
D'Arcy: Yeah, the one leg of the tour. And, he was a sweet sweet man. We didn't know him for very long, and we didn't know his history. He came to me basically and sounded and not only convinced me he had himself obviously convinced that he was cleaning up his act. I didn't know his history, and I still don't really.
Billy and D'Arcy: We gave him another chance to prove himself.
D'Arcy: And he did. He did for the rest of that tour.
Billy: On their best behavior.
D'Arcy: and you want to believe that they were going to be Okay.
Tabitha: It was difficult for the band to detect Jimmy's heroin abuse, do to the lack of obvious physical signs.
Billy: All we had was our intuition telling us that something wan't right, that Jimmy wasn't always in the right mind at all the right times. But you gotta understand that he was hiding it so well that you were never quite sure, and when you believe that someone telling you the truth and you say ok now your telling me the truth right? And you say "Oh, i'm telling you the truth". Is everything fine? Everything is perfectly fine. What are you going to do go ask there mom. I mean this is a 31 year old man.
Tabitha: Did you notice in playing on tour?
D'Arcy: He was playing very erratically. But I didn't know what the problem was.
Tabitha: Just days before the band was to play New York City, they confronted Jimmy about his drug use again. He insisted he was clean. This denial made it more shocking when the news come that Jimmy had OD and Jonathan had died of the combined effects of alchol and heroin.
D'Arcy: I was just absolutely numbed, just numbed, literally numbed. I thought I had dropped the phone out of my hand, 'cause I couldn't feel my hand anymore.
Tabitha: The members of the band were taken down to the police station and were questioned.
D'Arcy: It was kinda absurd. They split us up like on the TV show. They took us in separate rooms and questioned us to see if our answers matched up. We were like this isn't real.
Tabitha: Jimmy Chamberlin has a September 26th hearing in New York on his heroin possession charge. He is still in drug rehab, and so far we have had no success in trying to reach Chamberlin for comments on what his ex band mates have to say about him.
Billy: For every person that questions this kind of decision...they didn't sit with him on a bus at four in the morning were he called us all sorts of names. They didn't see him not show up for practice and just completely disappear. They didn't have a recording session with him, where he completely disappeared. You didn't know if he was dead and you hear reports, oh yeah he went to the REM concert. They didn't live through all this. He's an amazing drummer. If he is not the best drummer, he is top. There are very few Jimmy's in this world, and that certainly played into our denial of it 'cause it was very hard to face his removal and what it would do to the band. It's amazing how you find these tragedies creeping up at the worst times. You're like in the middle of a tour. Your in the middle of a record. Somebody decides to go off the deep end. You don't go off the deep end when you are at home watching TV. They go off the deep end when you need them and you excuse there behavior 'cause you have to deal.
Tabitha: Why did you need him so much? Why was he so valuable to you?
Billy: Anyway you cut it Jimmy is a original member of the band. And when we all started the four of us, nobody gave 2 shits about us. Nobody, zero, nobody and when we used to beg for friend, family to come to the shows so we wouldn't be embarrassed. Ok, nobody cared about us. We built our little egg up, to the part where we were on TV and people cared and came to the concerts. Ok, it's not so easy to turn around and say, you know I want to remove this 25% of this such successful thing that totally has changed my life. You know I just wanna throw you out just to see what will happen. There is a fear there, that your goin' to blow up you little balloon up and there ain't going to be nothing left. What we're trying to say to people is we finally faced that fear we said we don't give a fuck if it destroys the band, who the fuck cares. He's got to go, for himself and us. So we are carrying on without him. If people don't like it-if we suck- whatever, that's rock n' roll tragedy. What's the point of having a band that's so screwed up that there is no band. There is no heart. I mean a band that talks about heart and faith and all these things, to be going around keeping a secret under the covers. We just can't take it anymore.
Tabitha: While Billy Corgan will take responsibilities of the musicianship in the band, he won't be blamed for what the members do on there own time.
Billy: We're human beings, 'ya know. We didn't do everything perfect every step of the way. We did our best but we try to go back and recalculate the moment and the thing. Meanwhile, while this was going on. We are on a rock tour, we have our own crap to deal with. I wake up everyday wondering if I can even talk. We're all dealing with our own little dramas. Here all i'm trying to say is the world needs to stop defining these kinda tragedies by what people around them do. The simple fact of the matter is they're too fucked up, and they just didn't fuck up once, they fucked up three times. And after the first time we are like Woah. After the second time it was like this is crazy, this is totally insane. If a man can't keep himself from doin' those things without everything to lose-his band, his life his status, economic and whatever future. If he can't stop himself from picking up something, what's going to stop him, us?
Tabitha: Is any part of you hopeful that Jimmy is getting the help that he needs and he will be successful in getting it under control.
Tabitha: Are you in contact with him, do you know...
Billy: He is out of our lives 110%.
Tabitha: The band picked up the pieces by hiring 2 temporary fill-ins for the tour. Matt Walker from Filter and Dennis Flemion from The Frogs. A month and a half after Johnathan Melvoin's death, the Pumpkins relaunched their tour.
Billy: We faced the Boogie Man and you know what it's fine we are totally fine. The band sounds great and we are goin' to go on tour and you know what its not going to be sad, it's goin' to be exactly the opposite. We are goin' to go out and have a good time.
Tabitha: Are you changing anything else?
Billy: Smiles. We are all smiles now. We are smiling now. The new Pumpkins!
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