"No More Infinite Dysfunction"

St. Louis Post Dispatch's Get Out Entertainment Magazine
September 26, 1996

(Thanks to Becky Eilering and FraPeters@aol.com)

The Smashing Pumpkins carve out a tour and a new attitude after the death of Jonathan Melvoin and the departure of jimmy Chamberlin.

Throughout it's sever year career, Chicago's Smashing Pumpkins gained a reputation as perhaps rock's most dysfunctional band. Relations have been so tenuous that several times the group appeared ready to split among a flurry of recriminations and accusations. So one really had to wonder about the future of The Smashing Pumpkins when, just two months ago, the band members faced perhaps their biggest crisis.

On July 12, the Pumpkins were set to play a two-night stand at new York's Madison Square Garden--two high profile shows on a triumphant tour behind the band's groundbreaking epic double CD, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness." At 5 that morning, bandleader billy corgan received a phone call.

The keyboardist hired for the tour, Johnathan Melvoin, had been found dead from a overdose of a mixture of heroin and alcohol. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who allegedly had been using drugs with Melvoin, had been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance.

For Chamberlin, it was the latest setback in a longrunning battle with heroin addiction-- a problem the band thought he had overcome well before the "Mellon Collie" sessions.

Immediately, the group's tour was put on hold--including the date for St. Louis. Five days later. Chamberlin was fired. Fans were left to wonder once again about the future of Corgan and his bandmates, bassist D'Arcy and guitarist James Iha.

But instead of being a crippling blow to the Pumpkins, the events of july 12 seem to have added a level of cohesion to the band, which is now touring with drummer Matt Walker of Filter and keyboardist Dennis Fleming.

"After everything that had happened with Jimmy and all that stuff, things are just even better now," D'Arcy said in an interview from New York City. "I think we're all learning to understand each other, especially after what happened to Jimmy, which is not taking things for granted anymore. We just all were really scared."

"I mean, we never used to hand out together that much. Now. we've been spending a lot of time together and the shows have been really enjoyable."

That's a new attitude for a group whose troubles have been public over the years. the band has dealt with a romantic meltdown between Iha and D'Arcy, Corgan's nervous breakdown, Chamberlin's drug problems and Corgan's sometimes dictatorial ways when it came to songwriting and recording.

Nevertheless, all three of the group's CDs (1991's "Gish", 1993's "Siamese dream" and last fall's "mellon Collie and the Infinite sadness") have been critically acclaimed and commercially successful-- and some observers have theorized that the tensions have contributed to the musical success of the band. D'Arcy, especially in the Pumpkins' new found era of inner-band harmony, doesn't buy that theory.

"I don't believe that at all. I think there's so much we could have accomplished if we had all been functional all the time and able to communicate with each other better," she said, "I think we would been like a well-oiled machine. I don't think anyone of us believes the suffering artist thing."

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