The Starchildren. Who are they? What are they? Where do they come from?

The Starchildren is the side-project of head Smashing Pumpkin, Billy Corgan. The line-up of the band can vary a lot. Sometimes it's just Billy messing around by himself in the studio, other times it's a full band, playing a live show. Billy Corgan is the only full-time member, but some of the people who have featured in the band are:

  • Kerry Brown (Catherine / D'arcy Wretzky's husband)
  • Jimmy Chamberlin (ex-Smashing Pumpkins)
  • Bob English (friend of Billy's and sometime producer of The Starchildren)
  • Cliff Fox (Catherine)
  • James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins)
  • Neil Jendon (Catherine)
  • Mark Rew (Catherine)
  • D'arcy Wretzky (Smashing Pumpkins)
  • Mary Magdalin (friend of Billy Corgan's)
t seems as though The Starchildren have been around for a lot longer than any of us previously thought. Personally, the first I'd heard of them, was when they released the Delusions of Candor 7", but according to the news article below (thanks to Nikki's News Stand), they've been going for at least as long as the Pumpkins:


Chicago Tribune - September 7, 1990

Personnel:
Billy Corgan, guitar, vocals; James (he doesn`t use his last name), guitar; D`arcy (neither does she), bass; Jimmy Chamberlin, drums.

Formed:
August 1988, in the city.

Sound:
"We`ve been called everything from neo-glam to hypnotic drone grunge," Corgan says.

Influences:
Corgan cites " `60s mega-rock bands like Cream, Black Sabbath, the Stooges, Blue Cheer, Led Zeppelin-your monsters of rock."

Songwriting:
Corgan.

In-concert cover versions:
Steppenwolf`s "Sookie Sookie" and "a pretty nasty" version of Blue Oyster Cult`s "Godzilla." The band also covered the Ozark Mountain Daredevils` "Jackie Blue" for an upcoming Pravda K-Tel tribute album.

Namesake:
"It just kind of came to me," Corgan says. "It means absolutely nothing. It`s the most ambiguous name I could think of."

Memorable concert experience:
"This guy got on stage and grabbed the microphone, so I shoved him," Corgan says. "He proceeded to stand one foot in front of me as I sang the next song."

Turf:
The band often plays at Cabaret Metro, which is run by their manager, Joe Shanahan. The Pumpkins have also toured throughout the Midwest.

Side project:
Corgan is in a less ear-friendly side band, Star Children, whose motto is "Be repetitive for nuisance`s sake."

Recordings:
Smashing Pumpkins released the single "I Am One" on Limited Potential Records in May. The band just recorded a single, "Tristessa"/"La Dolly Vita," for Seattle`s Sub Pop label for a November release.

Philosophy:
"It`s such a personalized band that I wouldn`t say there`s an external philosophy," Corgan says. "We just do what we do, and if you like it you like it, you don`t you don`t."

Goals:
"Success to me would be to be able to put out the exact type of records I want to put out and play the shows I want to play and have people accept that," Corgan says. "If you`re doing exactly what you want to do and you`re getting support for that, then there`s no reason to do anything else."


So as I was saying, the first I had heard of The Starchildren was when the Delusions of Candor 7" (backed with Catherine's Songs About Girls) was released. After that came the cover of Joy Division's Isolation (you can get more info on the Songs and Releases page). Then came the thing that got me the most excited - a friend informed me that The Starchildren had played a few shows in and around the Chicago area, and there was the possibility that one of them had been recorded. I immediately began asking around to see if anyone had it (this was before it became common knowledge), and my effort payed off, for I finally located a copy of the show - from 18 June 1994 at the Double Door in Chicago.

This is the only Starchildren show that we fans know anything about. To start with, the line-up that night was:

  • Billy Corgan
  • Neil Jendon
  • James Iha
  • Jimmy Chamberlin
  • Kerry Brown
  • Mary Magdalin
And here are some interesting facts about that show which you may not be aware of:
  • A lot of the songs were improvised. This is because the night before, when the band was meant to be rehearsing, they got caught-up watching the O.J. Simpson chase on T.V.

  • The show came about because Joe Shanahan (owner of the Double Door and friend of Billy's), asked him to put something together for the opening night of the new club.

  • Mary Magdalin's song, Junkie See, was made up ten minutes before the show - unfortunately the bootlegger decided to go to the bathroom when this song was being played. On the tape it's the song you hear fading out right after Cars.

  • The piece of dialogue: "And you must resist the devil so that he will flee" from Siamese Dream is played during the show.

  • James plays a warped intro to Today during the show.

  • During Give Peace a Chance, Billy breaks into U2's Numb.

  • A picture of the setlist is available.

  • For those of you who have the show on tape, the setlist is: A Night Like This / Santa Claus is Coming to Town / Barley Synth / Just Between / The Boy / Germans in Leather Pants / Feel the Funny / War Jam / Cars / Junkie See / Delusions of Candor / End Synth / Give Peace a Chance.
I know of two other shows - no recordings of these ones have surfaced.

The first was in 1990 at the Chicago Metro. The Starchildren that night consisted of:

  • Billy Corgan
  • Neil Jendon
  • Jimmy Chamberlin (on bass)

As for the other show, I have no idea about dates or places, but the lineup was:

  • Billy Corgan
  • Neil Jendon
  • Cliff Fox
  • Kerry Brown

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