Billy Corgan Goes Hippie
Billy Corgan is no longer a rat in an alt.rock cage and has become a hippie.
We’re kidding… or are we?
Corgan hasn’t started wearing Birkenstocks, grown his hair out or donned a fringed leather vest. But the setlist for a two-set show by Spirits In The Sky at Santa Barbara, Calif.’s Muddy Waters Coffee House on Friday was reportedly a summer of love-inspired affair.
The show obviously featured numbers by Saxon’s band The Seeds, a Bonnie Dobson number made popular by The Grateful Dead and covers of Pink Floyd and The Velvet Underground, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. The band also played 10 new tracks written by Corgan, which were apparently ’60s-influenced.
Spirits In The Sky is Corgan’s Sky Saxon tribute band featuring himself, guitarist Dave Navarro, Strawberry Alarm Clock keyboardist Mark Weitz and new Smashing Pumpkins drummer Mike Byrne. He formed the band after Saxon passed away earlier this summer, and they’re playing a run of six California shows this month.
Here’s the band’s setlist, according to the Santa Barbara Independent:
“Can’t Seem To Make You Mine” (The Seeds)
“Emerald Green Is The Colour”
“Widow Wake My Mind”
“(Walk Me Out In The) Morning Dew” (Bonnie Dobson/Grateful Dead)
“The Time Has Come” (Anne Briggs)
“A Stitch In Time” (Corgan acoustic)
“Caroline, Yes” (Corgan acostic)
“A Song For A Son” (Corgan acoustic)
“Femme Fatale” (The Velvet Underground)
“Lucifer Sam” (Pink Floyd)
“Long Haired Lady” (Quicksilver Messenger Service)
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Smashing Pumpkins officially introduce new drummer
Billy Corgan has formally announced 19-year-old Mike Byrne as the new Pumpkins sticksman, saying that he believes the teenager will make him a ‘better musician’.
It has only been three years since Billy Corgan reunited Smashing Pumpkins with Jimmy Chamberlin, and less than one year since Corgan pledged the band would no longer release albums – but already those commitments have kicked the bucket. This week, Corgan formally announced Chamberlin’s replacement on drums, together with plans for a new Pumpkins LP.
Nineteen-year-old Mike Byrne has officially joined Smashing Pumpkins after recording demos with the band this summer. The teenager from Oregon was not even born when the Pumpkins played their first gig, but he impressed Corgan at auditions earlier this year. Chamberlin quit the group in March, saying that he couldn’t “cash the check” and “commit all of my energy into something that I don’t fully possess”.
“Dream come true, man,” said Byrne, who has been listening to Smashing Pumpkins since he was 13 – that is, since 2003 – when he found them “exciting and fresh”. After playing in obscure bands like Moses, Smell the Roses and the Mercury Tree, Byrne answered Corgan’s call for internet applications – and was invited to auditions in Los Angeles. “We didn’t actually play songs at the audition,” Byrne said. “We just kind of jammed for about 15 minutes and then talked about Fugazi for the other 15 or so minutes.” Besides the Pumpkins and DIY punks Fugazi, Byrne says his influences include Mogwai, Maserati and quirky indie-pop band Maps and Atlases.
Corgan said: “We counted over 1,000 submissions, and what made Mike stand out was he just seemed to have that X-factor that all the great drummers have, a stunning blend of power, speed and grace. I’m excited to work with him moving forward – he truly deserves this opportunity. I believe in my heart he will push me to be a better musician.”
Byrne will play with the Pumpkins at a handful of concerts in August, but more important is his contribution to a forthcoming album. A “major announcement” on the follow-up to Zeitgeist is promised for September. This will be the first Smashing Pumpkins album to feature only one original member.
“We’re starting from scratch and just working our influences up into something totally different,” Byrne said. “It’s sort of a new direction.”
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I’m not really sure that we should listen to Harvey Danger’s Sean Nelson tell us which rock bands he wants to break up, but it does amuse me that he’s chosen to exit the music business (Harvey Danger announced their break up this spring) in a blaze of glory. Plus, “Flagpole Sitta” is quite a nostalgic jam for me, so here goes nothing:
“I was never really a fan of [Smashing Pumpkins] and watching them turn into what they did turn into—and you might have a different perspective of this—but that validated my not liking them in the first place,” Nelson told A.V. New York. Nelson concedes that Harvey Danger’s Jeff Lin and Aaron Huffman are big Gish fans, but he accuses of Billy Corgan of too much “Dude, just stop doing that.” I have no idea what that means.
As for the Coldplay dis, Nelson calls their songs “generic” and “inspired by the boring parts of Radiohead,” asking “what is the point of Coldplay?” When asked to answer that question, Nelson says, “There isn’t one. They serve no need. Anyone could sort of do what they do. And I just don’t think it’s worth doing either.”
The bands Nelson wants to reunite are extremely safe (as in not likely to offend the masses) bets (The Clash, Blur) and, come to think of it, the ones he trashes are already popularly maligned in the music critic blogosphere, so what’s the point? Dude, just stop doing that.