meta-scriptSmashing Pumpkins Announce "Bare-Knuckle Rock And Roll" Rock Invasion 2 Tour |
Smashing Pumpkins in 2019

Smashing Pumpkins in 2019

Photo: Jeff Hahne/Getty Images


Smashing Pumpkins Announce "Bare-Knuckle Rock And Roll" Rock Invasion 2 Tour

Billy Corgan says the tour will bring "the kind of show and set we haven't done for a very, very long time…Full, unrelenting power"

GRAMMYs/Mar 3, 2020 - 06:26 am

The Smashing Pumpkins have announced a U.S. spring headline tour dubbed the Rock Invasion 2. It's named after their Rock Invasion trek that went down in 1993, the same year they catapulted towards fame with their classic GRAMMY-nominated LP Siamese Dream.

"It's been a good while since we've played a straight-up, bare-knuckle rock and roll show—one that avoids little in the way of raw power," frontman Billy Corgan said in a statement. "This tour won't be for those faint of heart and will certainly echo the dynamic modes in which we built our live reputation."

The 11-date jaunt begins in Louisville, Ky. on April 23 and continues with dates across the Southern and Midwestern states, including a stop at Nashville's legendary Ryman Auditorium on April 28. The tour also includes two festival dates—Memphis' Beale Street Fest and Atlanta's Shaky Knees—before the tour wraps up in Greensboro, N.C. on May 8.

Ticket pre-sale starts tomorrow, March 3, at 10 am local time; newsletter subscribers will get pre-sale access codes.

After the headline shows, the GRAMMY-winning band will embark on their previously announced opening sets for select dates on Guns N' Roses stadium tour. This includes shows in larger cities (and much bigger venues) including Philadelphia, Detroit, Toronto and Boston, all in July.

Corgan shared a long note (which you can read above) about Rock Invasion 2 and their upcoming album, which he teases as their "first double album effort since [2000's] Machina." That hard-rocking LP, Machina/The Machines Of God, turned 20 three days ago on Feb. 29.

The singer/guitarist also shared that the upcoming tour will bring "the kind of show and set we haven't done for a very, very long time…Full, unrelenting power. Enjoy! And bring your ear plugs."

Their last release was an LP in 2018 called SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL. 1 / LP: NO PAST. NO FUTURE. NO SUN. No release date has been set yet for their upcoming album.

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Slash's New Blues Ball: How His Collaborations Album 'Orgy Of The Damned' Came Together

On his new album, 'Orgy Of The Damned,' Slash recruits several friends — from Aerosmith's Steven Tyler to Demi Lovato — to jam on blues classics. The rock legend details how the project was "an accumulation of stuff I've learned over the years."

GRAMMYs/May 17, 2024 - 06:56 pm

In the pantheon of rock guitar gods, Slash ranks high on the list of legends. Many fans have passionately discussed his work — but if you ask him how he views his evolution over the last four decades, he doesn't offer a detailed analysis.

"As a person, I live very much in the moment, not too far in the past and not very far in the future either," Slash asserts. "So it's hard for me to really look at everything I'm doing in the bigger scheme of things."

While his latest endeavor — his new studio album, Orgy Of The Damned — may seem different to many who know him as the shredding guitarist in Guns N' Roses, Slash's Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, and his four albums with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, it's a prime example of his living-in-the-moment ethos. And, perhaps most importantly to Slash, it goes back to what has always been at the heart of his playing: the blues.

Orgy Of The Damned strips back much of the heavier side of his playing for a 12-track homage to the songs and artists that have long inspired him. And he recruited several of his rock cohorts — the likes of AC/DC's Brian Johnson, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Gary Clark Jr., Iggy Pop, Beth Hart, and Dorothy, among others — to jam on vintage blues tunes with him, from "Hoochie Coochie Man" to "Born Under A Bad Sign."

But don't be skeptical of his current venture — there's plenty of fire in these interpretations; they just have a different energy than his harder rocking material. The album also includes one new Slash original, the majestic instrumental "Metal Chestnut," a nice showcase for his tastefully melodic and expressive playing.

The initial seed for the project was planted with the guitarist's late '90s group Slash's Blues Ball, which jammed on genre classics. Those live, spontaneous collaborations appealed to him, so when he had a small open window to get something done recently, he jumped at the chance to finally make a full-on blues album.

Released May 17, Orgy Of The Damned serves as an authentic bridge from his musical roots to his many hard rock endeavors. It also sees a full-circle moment: two Blues Ball bandmates, bassist Johnny Griparic and keyboardist Teddy Andreadis, helped lay down the basic tracks. Further seizing on his blues exploration, Slash will be headlining his own touring blues festival called S.E.R.P.E.N.T. in July and August, with support acts including the Warren Haynes Band, Keb' Mo', ZZ Ward, and Eric Gales.

Part of what has kept Slash's career so intriguing is the diversity he embraces. While many heavy rockers stay in their lane, Slash has always traveled down other roads. And though most of his Orgy Of The Damned guests are more in his world, he's collaborated with the likes of Michael Jackson, Carole King and Ray Charles — further proof that he's one of rock's genre-bending greats.

Below, Slash discusses some of the most memorable collabs from Orgy Of The Damned, as well as from his wide-spanning career.

I was just listening to "Living For The City," which is my favorite track on the album.

Wow, that's awesome. That was the track that I knew was going to be the most left of center for the average person, but that was my favorite song when [Stevie Wonder's 1973 album] Innervisions came out when I was, like, 9 years old. I loved that song. This record's origins go back to a blues band that I put together back in the '90s.

Slash's Blues Ball.

Right. We used to play "Superstition," that Stevie Wonder song. I did not want to record that [for Orgy Of The Damned], but I still wanted to do a Stevie Wonder song. So it gave me the opportunity to do "Living For The City," which is probably the most complicated of all the songs to learn. I thought we did a pretty good job, and Tash [Neal] sang it great. I'm glad you dig it because you're probably the first person that's actually singled that song out.

With the Blues Ball, you performed Hoyt Axton's "The Pusher" and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," and they surface here. Isn't it amazing it took this long to record a collection like this?

[Blues Ball] was a fun thrown-together thing that we did when I [was in, I] guess you call it, a transitional period. I'd left Guns N' Roses [in 1996], and it was right before I put together a second incarnation of Snakepit.

I'd been doing a lot of jamming with a lot of blues guys. I'd known Teddy [Andreadis] for a while and been jamming with him at The Baked Potato for years prior to this. So during this period, I got together with Ted and Johnny [Griparic], and we started with this Blues Ball thing. We started touring around the country with it, and then even made it to Europe. It was just fun.

Then Snakepit happened, and then Velvet Revolver. These were more or less serious bands that I was involved in. Blues Ball was really just for the fun of it, so it didn't really take precedence. But all these years later, I was on tour with Guns N' Roses, and we had a three-week break or whatever it was. I thought, I want to make that f—ing record now.

It had been stewing in the back of my mind subconsciously. So I called Teddy and Johnny, and I said, Hey, let's go in the studio and just put together a set and go and record it. We got an old set list from 1998, picked some songs from an app, picked some other songs that I've always wanted to do that I haven't gotten a chance to do.

Then I had the idea of getting Tash Neal involved, because this guy is just an amazing singer/guitar player that I had worked with in a blues thing a couple years prior to that. So we had the nucleus of this band.

Then I thought, Let's bring in a bunch of guest singers to do this. I don't want to try to do a traditional blues record, because I think that's going to just sound corny. So I definitely wanted this to be more eclectic than that, and more of, like, Slash's take on these certain songs, as opposed to it being, like, "blues." It was very off-the-cuff and very loose.

It's refreshing to hear Brian Johnson singing in his lower register on "Killing Floor" like he did in the '70s with Geordie, before he got into AC/DC. Were you expecting him to sound like that?

You know, I didn't know what he was gonna sing it like. He was so enthusiastic about doing a Howlin' Wolf cover.

I think he was one of the first calls that I made, and it was really encouraging the way that he reacted to the idea of the song. So I went to a studio in Florida. We'd already recorded all the music, and he just fell into it in that register.

I think he was more or less trying to keep it in the same feel and in the same sort of tone as the original, which was great. I always say this — because it happened for like two seconds, he sang a bit in the upper register — but it definitely sounded like AC/DC doing a cover of Howlin' Wolf. We're not AC/DC, but he felt more comfortable doing it in the register that Howlin' Wolf did. I just thought it sounded really great.

You chose to have Demi Lovato sing "Papa Was A Rolling Stone." Why did you pick her?

We used to do "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" back in Snakepit, actually, and Johnny played bass. We had this guy named Rod Jackson, who was the singer, and he was incredible. He did a great f—ing interpretation of the Temptations singing it.

When it came to doing it for this record, I wanted to have something different, and the idea of having a young girl's voice telling the story of talking to her mom to find out about her infamous late father, just made sense to me. And Demi was the first person that I thought of. She's got such a great, soulful voice, but it's also got a certain kind of youth to it.

When I told her about it, she reacted like Brian did: "Wow, I would love to do that." There's some deeper meaning about the song to her and her personal life or her experience. We went to the studio, and she just belted it out. It was a lot of fun to do it with her, with that kind of zeal.

You collaborate with Chris Stapleton on Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" by Peter Green. I'm assuming the original version of that song inspired "Double Talkin' Jive" by GN'R?

It did not, but now that you mention it, because of the classical interlude thing at the end... Is that what you're talking about? I never thought about it.

I mean the overall vibe of the song.

"Oh Well" was a song that I didn't hear until I was about 12 years old. It was on KMET, a local radio station in LA. I didn't even know there was a Fleetwood Mac before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. I always loved that song, and I think it probably had a big influence on me without me even really realizing it. So no, it didn't have a direct influence on "Double Talkin' Jive," but I get it now that you bring it up.

Was there something new that you learned in making this album? Were your collaborators surprised by their own performances?

I think Gary Clark is just this really f—ing wonderful guitar player. When I got "Crossroads," the idea originally was "Crossroads Blues," which is the original Robert Johnson version. And I called Gary and said, "Would you want to play with me on this thing?"

He and I only just met, so I didn't know what his response was going to be. But apparently, he was a big Guns N' Roses fan — I get the idea, anyway. We changed it to the Cream version just because I needed to have something that was a little bit more upbeat. So when we got together and played, we solo-ed it off each other.

When I listen back to it, his playing is just so f—ing smooth, natural, and tasty. There was a lot of that going on throughout the making of the whole record — acclimating to the song and to the feel of it, just in the moment.

I think that's all an accumulation of stuff that I've learned over the years. The record probably would be way different if I did it 20 years ago, so I don't know what that evolution is. But it does exist. The growth thing — God help us if you don't have it.

You've collaborated with a lot of people over the years — Michael Jackson, Carole King, Lemmy, B.B. King, Fergie. Were there any particular moments that were daunting or really challenging? And was there any collaboration that produced something you didn't expect?

All those are a great example of the growth thing, because that's how you really grow as a musician. Learning how to adapt to playing with other people, and playing with people who are better than you — that really helps you blossom as a player.

Playing with Carole King [in 1993] was a really educational experience because she taught me a lot about something that I thought that I did naturally, but she helped me to fine tune it, which was soloing within the context of the song. [It was] really just a couple of words that she said to me during this take that stuck with me. I can't remember exactly what they were, but it was something having to do with making room for the vocal. It was really in passing, but it was important knowledge.

The session that really was the hardest one that I ever did was [when] I was working with Ray Charles before he passed away. I played on his "God Bless America [Again]" record [on 2002's Ray Charles Sings for America], just doing my thing. It was no big deal. But he asked me to play some standards for the biopic on him [2004's Ray], and he thought that I could just sit in with his band playing all these Ray Charles standards.

That was something that they gave me the chord charts for, and it was over my head. It was all these chord changes. I wasn't familiar with the music, and most of it was either a jazz or bebop kind of a thing, and it wasn't my natural feel.

I remember taking the chord charts home, those kinds you get in a f—ing songbook. They're all kinds of versions of chords that wouldn't be the version that you would play.

That was one of those really tough sessions that I really learned when I got in over my head with something. But a lot of the other ones I fall into more naturally because I have a feel for it.

That's how those marriages happen in the first place — you have this common interest of a song, so you just feel comfortable doing it because it's in your wheelhouse, even though it's a different kind of music than what everybody's familiar with you doing. You find that you can play and be yourself in a lot of different styles. Some are a little bit challenging, but it's fun.

Are there any people you'd like to collaborate with? Or any styles of music you'd like to explore?

When you say styles, I don't really have a wish list for that. Things just happen. I was just working with this composer, Bear McCreary. We did a song on this epic record that's basically a soundtrack for this whole graphic novel thing, and the compositions are very intense. He's very particular about feel, and about the way each one of these parts has to be played, and so on. That was a little bit challenging. We're going to go do it live at some point coming up.

There's people that I would love to play with, but it's really not like that. It's just whatever opportunities present themselves. It's not like there's a lot of forethought as to who you get to play with, or seeking people out. Except for when you're doing a record where you have people come in and sing on your record, and you have to call them up and beg and plead — "Will you come and do this?"

But I always say Stevie Wonder. I think everybody would like to play with Stevie Wonder at some point.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Code Orange
Code Orange

Photo: Tim Saccenti


Code Orange's 'The Above': The Metalcore Heroes On Their Creatively Generous New Album

Code Orange threw red meat to the listening public with "Out For Blood," ahead of a tour with Korn. After that zig, a zag: released on Sept. 29, 'The Above' is their most eclectic and well-rounded work yet.

GRAMMYs/Sep 28, 2023 - 02:37 pm

Billy Corgan doesn't make too many guest appearances. But he readily guested with Code Orange.

Check his list of credits: generally, Corgan's behind the scenes as a co-writer. When he has appeared as a vocalist or guitarist, it's generally been for veterans — like Scorpions, New Order or Hole — or then-upstarts of modern rock, like Breaking Benjamin.

But there he is, in the delicate bridge of Code Orange's bludgeoning single "Take Shape." "Spread your wings/ Show us who you are," he sings over fingerpicked acoustic guitar, in his inimitable keen. "Spread your wings/ You'll go far."

Corgan's guest appearance has resonance far beyond name recognition, or '90s cred during the '90s wave. Because the Smashing Pumpkins were probably the most emotionally and artistically generous band of that decade.

Back then, Corgan and company gave you everything they were. Emotionally and materially, "withholding" wasn't in their DNA. And the same goes for Code Orange, who hold the odd distinction of being punk veterans by their early thirties.

Over the course of five albums, vocalist Jami Morgan, guitarists Reba Meyers and Dominic Landolina, bassist Joe Goldman, keyboardist Eric "Shade" Balderose, and drummer Max Portnoy have metamorphosed from basement hardcore to a hydra of heavy styles.

Think Pumpkins meets A Perfect Circle, with a helping of metalcore, and you're somewhere in their vicinity. For their efforts, they've garnered two GRAMMY nominations.

Across their development, Code Orange have exemplified this Pumpkinesque spirit of generosity. Their new album, The Above, out Sept. 29, is teeming and bountiful — both emotionally unsparing and all over the map stylistically.

One minute, they're mellow and openhearted, as on "Mirror." The next, they're nightmarishly twisted and alien, as on "A Drone Opting Out of the Hive." And many songs, from "Splinter the Soul" to "Snapshot," effectively marry those refractive qualities.

Whether due to their maturity as songwriters, Steve Albini's blunt-force engineering, or any number of other happy factors, Code Orange have raised the bar once more. And as per Corgan's presence and cosigning, they feel like worthy candidates for the Pumpkins' heirs.

Here's a breakdown of how Code Orange arrived at The Above — with quotes from their brazen, stage-stalking frontman, Jami Morgan.

They Declared Themselves "Out For Blood"

Code Orange's 2020 album Underneath — the one that got nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Metal Performance — was a wonderfully suffocating and immersive work of experimental metal.

The following year's single, "Out for Blood," was a hard right turn — a push into the mainstream rock sphere, ahead of a tour supporting Korn, with an ear for the airwaves

The video is hellacious; the song could soundtrack a weekend rappelling off buildings. It unabashedly flirts with nu metal. It's also just a lot of fun.

Read More: As Code Orange Wraps Up Tour With Korn, They Look Ahead To Headlining Stages & Making New Music: "We Really Want To Take A Big Swing"

"Out for Blood" was arguably Code Orange's furthest-afield single to date; those who got on the train back when they were Code Orange Kids, playing to circle pits in VFW halls, may have been a touch confused. (Or, in YouTube comments and on the hardcore Facebook group No Echo, outwardly hostile.)

But regarding their roots, Code Orange are too canny to just let go of the tether; "Out for Blood" was a brief detour, in the form of a bloody good time.

The Concept Bloomed During The Pandemic

If Underneath represented claustrophobic, subterranean depths, The Above lives in blinding, oppressive daylight: the film Midsommar transmuted to music.

"It started with this light metaphor," Morgan tells "I was reading a lot about parasites, and how when they attach to the host, they'll take other bugs that shouldn't be exposed to light and expose them to it, so they can be consumed.

"I saw that as a cool metaphor for trying to follow the light of our outside acceptance," he continues. The songs he was writing dealt with self-acceptance, success and striving for inner peace.

The lockdown kickstarted Code Orange's writing process earlier than expected. "We started with the loose shape of this record right off the bat," he says. "When we started determining what that is — what paths we could take, that we weren't going to take."

They Embraced Hooks & Pop Structure

Nothing on The Above is quite as deliciously shameless as "Out for Blood." But The Above does share one key element with that barbarous banger: a grasp of pop structure.

"It was like a spliced reality off of the Underneath cycle," Morgan says of "Out for Blood." Over Zoom, he points to a mood board behind him, representing The Above: "To me, the band is one wall, and everything we've done fits in."

Accordingly, Code Orange applied lessons learned to their new album. "Every song, heavy or not, has some kind of hook that comes back," he says. "It's not an ABCDEFG record," like some of the songs we've made in the past."

Code Orange

*Code Orange. Photo: Tim Saccenti*

They Imbued The Music With Newfound Humanity

Scanning the band's discography, Morgan perceives moments where they didn't quite land where they wanted. Because of this, they opted to produce The Above themselves.

"We didn't want to take it and hand it to somebody, like we've done," Morgan says. "Because we've had problems with that."

While at the production controls, they went for a detail-oriented approach that prioritized openness, breathability and forthright emotion — while keeping the experimental torches alight.

They achieved this more organic aesthetic by making the raw band the focus. Also, Morgan rendered his diction clearer, his lyrics more understandable.

"We definitely thought, Can we make something that is experimental, that is boundary-pushing, that is pulled from the past and future," Morgan says, "but is coloring within the lines of structure a little more?"

The Above Feels Like A Bridge Into The Unknown

To Morgan, Code Orange's 15-year evolutionary arc has reached its opposite end on The Above.

As he explains, the closing track, "The Above," is meant to "visualize being on an island of self. I wanted to make a song that you could almost sit on the f—ing beach to, and feel your soul — feel the emotion, and be stoic in yourself."

In that way, The Above is a culmination of everything they've built to — and also a launching pad. "If this was the last thing we did, I will be happy with it," he says. "But I also can see so many possibilities of where to go from it."

Overall, Morgan stresses that Code Orange never existed to rock out or have fun; "It exists to fill a void that I want to see," he says. "We're trying to make statements and we're trying to make artistic pieces.

"If people want that, then we're going to be here forever," Morgan concludes. "And if they don't, then we won't."

But in the modern rock landscape, they bear a message that's difficult to ignore. And it's sung by their spiritual forebear, rock's patron saint of ambition, largesse, and generally being a lot: "Spread your wings."

Songbook: A Guide To The Smashing Pumpkins In Three Eras, From Gish To Atum

The Smashing Pumpkins - Songbook
The Smashing Pumpkins

Photos (L-R): Stefan M. Prager/Redferns via Getty Images, Paul Natkin/Getty Images, Paul Elledge


Songbook: A Guide To The Smashing Pumpkins In Three Eras, From 'Gish' To 'Atum'

From their wall-of-guitars early years to their hyper-eclectic commercial heyday to their 21st-century rebirth, here's a rundown of the Smashing Pumpkins' discography.

GRAMMYs/May 5, 2023 - 09:09 pm

At their best, the Smashing Pumpkins represent a captivating dichotomy of tranquil and thunderous, delicate and pulverizing. Step into Siamese Dream cold and see if you don't agree.

From the volcanic intro to "Cherub Rock" onward, the Pumpkins' performances are ferocity incarnate: Billy Corgan's overwhelming bramble of overdubbed, Big Muffed guitars, Jimmy Chamberlin's jazz-like flow undergirding it all. But while Corgan screams, he also cooes. Yes, the music flirts with brutal metal, as it does on "Quiet" and "Geek U.S.A." But it closes with "Luna," the polar opposite — a gossamer ballad. In highlights like "Soma" and "Mayonaise," both these streams of feeling run concurrently.

Try to find another record with these simultaneous qualities, dialed up to 10. (Corgan's direct inspiration, My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, is the exception that proves the rule.)

From there, investigate the two-time GRAMMY winners' entire catalog; this duality is everywhere. It's all over their 1991 debut, Gish — and reached a peak of extremity in 1995's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, where whimsical baubles like "Lily" and "Cupid de Locke" sit next to hair-on-fire death-metal meltdowns like "Tales of a Scorched Earth" and "X.Y.U."

A litany of beefs, breakups and make-ups haven't compromised that essential core. Their 2023 conceptual triple album, Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Parts, by the mostly reunited original lineup — bassist D'arcy Wretzky didn't return — is just as clear a window into Corgan's dark-and-light psyche as any. The rawk is there, as on singles "Beguiled" and "Empires," but so is an innocent air of sci-fi fantasia.

Pull up any interview with Corgan, and it will be many, many things: tempestuous, braggadocious, humble, vengeful, funny, conciliatory. After all these decades, it's impossible to truly get a read on the guy — other than that his mind is a freight train. And by the sound of the epic, ambitious, narrative-freighted Atum, that train isn't slowing down anytime soon.

With all that in mind, here's a quick trip through the Pumpkins' singular catalog, divided into three epochs.

The Original Run (1988-2000)

Five years after the Smashing Pumpkins disbanded, Corgan fired a missile that's almost jarringly revealing. 

"I was into Black Sabbath and it just wasn't cool, but I didn't give a s—," he seethed to Pitchfork in 2005, while promoting his debut solo album, TheFutureEmbrace. "My band was going to sound like Black Sabbath because I f—ing wanted it to and I didn't give a s— what some idiot f— thought."

As quaint as it seems now, it was gauche in early-'90s alternative circles to bear a classic rock influence: punkness was the platonic ideal. To Corgan, a tormented and talented child who grew up to assume an alt-rock platform, this was a call to arms.

Vibey and paisley-patterned, Gish was a contrarian move, seamlessly blending his beloved Sabbath with goth, shoegaze, dream pop, and other disparate influences.

Even looking at a photo of them at the time — Corgan looking like a Boston roadie; workaday, mulleted Chamberlin; boy and girl next door James Iha and Wretzky — it's clear they arrived in this sphere like space invaders.

Any number of Gish tunes, from "Siva" to "Rhinoceros" to "Tristessa," remain Pumpkins classics, but the album arguably served as a ramp-up to Siamese Dream — one of the all-time "Guy loses his mind in the studio under the guise of a band" classics.

The jury's still out on how much, or even if, Iha and Wretzky even appeared on it. The interpersonal drama behind the scenes has been public knowledge for decades.

"Cherub Rock" is that infamous Sabbath quote turned into a raging anthem; when Corgan screams "Let me out!", he means the fetters of hipsterdom. Watch Corgan when they debuted the song on "Saturday Night Live" in 1993; each crashing chord at the end is a hammer striking down his enemies, and at song's end, he throws up devil horns for good measure.

The eggshell-fragile hit single "Today" is mostly remembered for the video with the ice cream truck, which belies that it's about suicidal ideation. "Mayonaise," a heavy, windswept ballad co-written with Iha, is a thing of uncanny beauty.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness represents the culmination of Corgan's classic rock dreams, at least until Atum. It's their Wall, their Sandanista!, their White Album. (Indeed, it ends with a song called "Farewell and Goodnight.")

And on top of an already impressive 28 songs, it spawned an entire boxed set of outtakes — The Aeroplane Flies High — that are just as good as the album.

As for the double album proper, "Tonight, Tonight" conjures a strain of longing and awe that's oddly specific to the Pumpkins; the magnificent video cemented it as an all-timer. The whimsical title of "Jellybelly" belies that it's one of the heaviest metal songs they ever recorded. Corgan's paint-peeling scream at the climax of the already over-the-top "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" is unforgettable.

Crucially, Mellon Collie's epic feel is due to far more than the sheer length of the album: in "Here is No Why," when Corgan proclaims "May the king of gloom/ Be forever/ Doomed!", and Chamberlin answers him with a galactic snare fill, the effect is of your body lifting a few inches in the air.

The new-wavy side of Planet Pumpkin came to the forefront with "1979," their most well-known song by some margin. But as rightly adored as that hit single and its video are, it's an outlier. At their mid-'90s commercial peak, the Smashing Pumpkins were seemingly capable of anything, and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness put all their cards on the table.

In the pantheon of great "everything's crumbling" records, 1998's muted, gothy Adore deserves a seat at the table. Corgan was clearly grappling with the loss of his mother, who died in 1996: the piano ballad "For Martha" is named for her. The skulking industrial-pop single "Ava Adore" represents Corgan at his most Gary Numan-eque.

Other highlights — "Perfect," "The Tale of Dusty and Pistol Pete," "Behold! The Night Mare" — capture a particular rapprochement between gloominess and pop appeal that Corgan never repeated. He would later call the experience of making Adore "one of the most painful experiences of my life."

The still-underrated Machina/The Machines of God brought the Pumpkins' original run to a halt. Chamberlin was back, but Wretzky had been replaced by Melissa Der Auf Maur. Among some critics, the pushed-to-the-red production did Machina no favors.

Machina continues a somewhat opaque sci-fi tale that began with Mellon Collie and culminates with Atum. While strange-yet-tantalizing concoctions like "The Crying Tree of Mercury" might be for Pumpkins diehards rather than neophytes, Machina contains one of the greatest songs Corgan ever wrote: "Stand Inside Your Love." If you're wired a certain way, this arena-rocking monument to longing and devotion might make your heart leap into your throat.

A scattered sequel, Machina II/The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music, was freighted with legal issues. Released as three EPs for free on the Internet, it's an essential addendum, with terrific deep cuts like "Home" and Iha's "Go."

As with The Aeroplane Flies High and their phenomenal 1994 outtakes and B-sides collection, Pisces Iscariot, which contains a borderline definitive version of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," Machina II is an essential companion piece to the Book of Billy.

The Transitional Years (2007-2016)

After Corgan's short-lived yet beloved supergroup Zwan made one sunny album and flamed out, the Smashing Pumpkins reunited in the mid-2000s. Kind of. It was just Corgan and Chamberlin, with guitarist Jeff Schroeder and bassist Ginger Pooley filling them out. 

The reconstituted band's first offering was 2007's Zeitgeist — the band's heaviest album by some margin, and one that fixated on a topic that the band had never broached before: U.S. politics. (Underlined by an almost 10-minute-long think called "United States.")

Despite a so-so critical reputation, Zeitgeist has aged well, especially given the current 2000s boom — despite the fact it's disappeared from streaming. "Tarantula" was and is a satisfying comeback single, and idea-rich tunes like "7 Shades of Black" and "Neverlost" are further proof that Corgan's songwriting chops remained in fine form during the break. They followed Zeitgeist with an acoustic EP, American Gothic, that same year.

It's no criticism of the Pumpkins to say that what happened next is all over the place. Partly because the next chapter resulted in a slew of great songs.

Chamberlin then exited, leaving Corgan as the sole original Pumpkin. After hiring Mike Byrne as Chamberlin's replacement, Corgan fired up another one of his hallucinogenically ambitious conceptual projects: Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, Conceived as a 44-song project themed around the tarot, the songs would be rolled out via an unconventional method: one by one, as he recorded them, in real time. While Teargarden didn't make it to completion, some of the tunes rank among Corgan's prettiest, like "Tom Tom" and "Spangled."

2012's Oceania hinted at the band continuing in a new form — Corgan, Schroeder and Byrne, filled out with bassist Nicole Fiorentino. But it didn't last. Still, approach this fan favorite not for the drama, but for the tunes, like the barreling "Panopticon," which recaptures that Siamese Dream fire, and the quiet-to-loud banger "The Celestials."

Corgan consolidated for 2014's Monuments to an Elegy, where the lineup is the grand total of himself, Schroeder and Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee. Pop-radio-pointed singles have looked good on Corgan from the jump; for an obscure one, check out their strummy, end-credits farewell single "Untitled." "Being Beige" is another jewel in that crown.

While this period may have reflected a sense of uncertainty, it turned out to be temporary: in 2018, three original Pumpkins got back together — for real this time.

A New Era (2018-Present)

Despite having more original members today than at any point in nearly two decades, the Smashing Pumpkins have refused to make a reheated Siamese Dream. Rather, the band's recent creative moves have been quixotic and unpredictable in the most Pumpkinesque way.

It started in 2018 with a mouthful of a title: Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1 / LP: No Past. No Future. No Sun., a spirited Rick Rubin-produced mini-album to gas up fans for the reunion tour. 

If you thought we were getting a Vol. 2, though, think again: what came next was Cyr, a double album of austere synth-pop with almost zero deviation. That aesthetic blossomed into 2023's Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Parts, where Corgan and company deftly incorporate those analog synths into their old guitar-heavy template — updated with modern rock production.

Out of the entire set of '90s-rock royalty, the Smashing Pumpkins could be the most flat-out entertaining and transportive. A writer once summed up Corgan's two greatest strengths as a musician: "symphonic grandeur and needling intimacy." Partly thanks to Corgan's mastery in both departments, there was nobody like them when they arrived, and there will never be again. Believe in them, as they believe in you.

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