The Smashing Pumpkins Chronology
The Siamese Dream Era

1993 - 1994

The Siamese Dream era was certainly a memorable one. The Pumpkins released their breakthrough album, Siamese Dream, the follow-up to Gish.

The most common rumor regarding the album is whether or not Billy played most of the guitar parts. At age 19, Billy had taught himself the bass guitar. Billy was asked about this topic many times in the interviews he did during '93. He gave different responses. In July, he said "I don't think it would be politically correct to say." Two months later, he said "If you're just one person and you're not getting any support then you're just simulating the mood of four people. If I recorded the album by myself, it would sound totally different. Yes, the guitar parts are slanted toward me. But a lot of that has to do with me being the songwriter."

However, the band had to overcome many obstacles with their problems. Billy described the period "so horrible I don't even want to think about it, much less talk about it." They were constantly being labeled as "dysfunctional". Billy had also said, "I was obsessed to meet a standard that was beyond our capability. I was more concerned about technical efficiency than heart." The Siamese Dream sessions were a nightmare.

As the Gish tour ended, the Pumpkins were pressured by Virgin Records, their new major label, to head into the recording studio and begin work on a new album. "Today" was the first song the band played for Virgin and they really enjoyed it. At the time, the band had only five or six completed songs.

Billy was nearly suicidal at the time. He later admitted that he never did attempt suicide, "Because if I did, I would have succeeded."

Billy had to seek help in therapy. He had later said "To compile all my therapy into one sentence: As a child I learned that it was more advantageous to be this creation than it was to be who I really am." The therapy was to help him cope with the loss of his longtime girlfriend, not the stress involved in creating Siamese Dream. However, he also experienced nervous breakdowns, which he felt, were caused largely by the high expectations that the band saddled with.

His girlfriend of seven years (whom he later married), Chris Fabian, left him and he lost his apartment. Billy later told the press that he "couldn't write songs for a long time" because of his writer's block and began to contemplate who would miss him if he died.

Guitarist James Iha and bassist D'Arcy's long standing relationship from the Gish tour ended leading to more problems.

Drummer Jimmy Chamberlain became addicted to drugs from the tour and had to seek help. He spent twenty-eight days in rehabilitation for alcohol and heroin addiction. He felt that the drug rehab was "a gift from the band." Jimmy also suffered an emotional breakdown during recording and had to leave the studio for five days. It was his first major substance abuse crisis as a Pumpkin.

The band had decided to do recording for the new album in Atlanta. This was because they thought that Jimmy would have difficulty in obtaining drugs since he was no longer in Chicago. Unforuntately, the theory failed and Jimmy would sometimes show up too wasted to play and once disappeared for five days. He later became food poisoned.

Jimmy had a different view on the decision to record in Atlanta. He reasoned that it had been for warmth, since the previous sessions for Gish in Madison, WI was in a cold climate. Jimmy thought that New York and Los Angeles had been avoided because "it's too close to the industry and we'd have people out everyday." Of course, Chicago had extraneous distractions so Atlanta seemed the best choice.

The band is featured on a number of releases issued in '93. They have the song "Glynis" and "Today" on the "No Alternative" video and they appear on a few others as well.

In late '94, D'Aarcy and James formed their own independent record label, called Scratchie Records. Bands such as Fountains of Wayne, Chainsaw Kittens, and the Frogs were later signed to the indie label.

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