Smashing Pumpkins rocking a little softer on album and tour
7/31/98 pre-concert article
Thanks to Eve for the review.
On such guitar heavy albums as Siamese Dream and mellon collie and the Infinite Sadness the Smashing pumpkins turned the volume up to 11. With it's latest album the Chicago trio turns it down a notch or two. "It's kind of a different Smashing Pumpkins record, " says guitarist James Iha, who joins bandmates Billy Corgan and D'arcy Wretsky in concert tonight at the Orpheum. "It's more of a studio based record, I think it has a more ambient sound. It's deeper in sound than are other records are." Indeed, with it's marriage of icy electronics and warm acoustic pianos and guitars Adore envelops lops the listener with a gentler hand, while exploring familiar themes of fractured relationships,deeply felt loss and bitter rage. "We'd actually talked about taking out the rock element before we did Mellon Collie," iha said referring to the group's Grammy winning double album which sold eight million copies. "We thought that would be our last heavy,rock based record. That's not to say we wouldn't make another heavy record again, but we just felt that we had to change. One, because the band I think was starting to repeat itself as far as rock riffs and sounds, and I think times are changing and we change with it. Which is not to say were hopping on a bandwagon. We just wanted to try different sounds." So Iha bassist Wretsky and singer-songwriter-guitarist Corgan, holed up in a studio for a year trying out those sounds seesawing between acoustic and electronic tendencies. Since the departure of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, after his well-publicized drug problems and links to the drug related death of touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin, the group decided to use both live drummers and drum machines. "They definitely evoke different moods," said Iha. When trying to decide between live or taped drum sounds Iha said: "I think it depended a lot on the song like (the single) AvA Adore when it was more like a rock band sound, it was just boring. It sounded more typical more Pumpkins sounding. When you put an electronic element in it just sounds a lot more now. It has a lot more of an edge to it."
Other songs had similar transformations Appels and Oranjes with it's ultra 80's synth rock "was a lot more folky sounding" he said with a laugh. "it definitely went a long way from where it came from." Iha's voice a soft croon heard on his recent solo release Let It Come Down-would have perfectly complemented the tenderness of ADore. The fact that his voice wasn't heard on the album was pointed out to Iha. "Yeah well he (Corgan) sings a lot, " he said. Then he added more diplomatically. "I did all my songs on my solo record. I went right from my record into the band record, and I didn't really have any leftovers or anything." But Iha is working on more tunes that he envisions being on another solo record-as opposed to the next Pumpkins release-both of which should be coming soon. For now he and his bandmates are looking forward to this smaller venue charity tour. "We originally wanted to make this whole tour for free, " said Iha After a tour of unusual venues in Europe he said, "we wanted to play outdoor places (in the United States) but most of the cities wouldn't let us because of crowd control problems, so we just thought of this charity tour. To make it special we'd play typical rock places but give the money away." The money, Iha said will go to charities oriented towards kids "homeless kids, sexual abuse and domestic violence." The recipient in Boston is the children AIDS program at Boston Medical center. The group chose children in the hopes that the cause would be "less political", because who can argue with giving money to needy children. What can fANS EXPECT AT TONIGHT'S SHOW? lARGE DOSES OF THE NEW ALBUM AND mELLON COLLIE. "WE'RE NOT PLAYING A LOT OF OLDER MATERIAL ON THIS TOUR MAYBE THREE OR FOUR SONGS." Iha SAID. Also count on new arrangements. "Were doing them in a new style not note for note like on the record." Even the new songs won't sound quite the same. "the way were playing it now were not using any drum machines or tapes, we have a keyboard player who plays synth and piano, a drummer and two percussionists." The band wants to keep the songs as live as possible since loops lead to rigid playing says Iha. The Smashing Pumpkins play the Orpheum theater tonight. the show is sold out.
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