Here are some of the top threads from the past month (or two) on the Smashing Pumpkins board of the Netphoria Forums.
For more Smashing Pumpkins related topics please see the SP board or the Tour Info board.
MESSAGE FROM BILLY REGARDING
THE SUBSCRIPTION MODEL
On Monday, SmashingPumpkins.com announced that an online 12-week subscription service will be made available in the near future, that is, if demand is ample for the project. Today Billy has sent a message to those than have shown interest by signing up for updates via an email newsletter.
Hello, thank you for signing up for these updates. Because of the nature of today’s post, and how the different ideas interact, I will be touching on both proposed business models; the archive fan-club and the new ‘window’ into the album songwriting sessions. Around 6,000 of you have shown interest in these updates, so because I am assuming you are on the dedicated side already, I will try to get to the center of the issues without a whole lot of contextual explanation.
Our first concept that we threw out for the archives (300$ for 200 songs) was met by a whole lot of complaining. Because we desire a harmonious relationship with those who would most want a completest approach to the bands history, we have revised this to a 40$ (proposed) fan-club sign up and this has been met much more positively. I think this demonstrates a willingness to work together to find a balance that will sustain over the next decade plus. The average mainstream fan doesn’t give two hoots about that gig in Iowa in 1989, so we aren’t even going to bother them with this kind of stuff, hence creating the relationships with you. We have enough on our hands to get them (the mainstream) to listen to newly recorded work. As you can see, everyone in the record biz these days is having the same problem, so it not particular to SP.
With that in mind, I have additionally proposed something quite unique as far as a ‘window’ into my songwriting processes with the idea of 12 weeks of mini-TV (about 25+ minutes a week broken into 5 updates OR 5+ hours of content). This would dwarf the kind of access that was given for example in the ‘if all goes wrong’ dvd, where one could see me briefly working out some idea. Having seen some of the raw footage from what Kristin shot at that time, there were moments that played out over 5 or 7 minutes that were quite interesting on their own but were definitely too long for a movie that had to hold a plot narrative. One of my favourite moments not shown in the film was the morning I wrote the riff for ‘Sunkissed’. You see me playing some bs blues and I stop, take a deep breath, and then the idea comes out fully intact in one crystalline moment. Even I was surprised, and for the next few minutes you see the song just pour out of me. I realize for most this is not interesting at all, but this is interesting for some and that is the point of a project this is an optional, pay-if-you-want to see it deal. You would get to participate in moments essentially as they unfold. Here however is where it indeed does all go wrong…
‘Take a walk with me
Tell me what you see
Take a walk with me tonight”
-lyric from an unreleased song I wrote last year
Last night I made the mistake of reading some of the feedback to this proposed idea. To say I was dismayed at some of the comments would be an understatement. The reaction was 50/50 mixed and very negative on the one side. I was so upset that I wrote a very long post in reaction, mocking the arguments made and canceling it altogether. Reading how something as open-hearted as inviting you into my inner-world of creativity turns into a sick, capitalistic manipulation is really disappointing to me personally. I speak not as the head of a multi-million dollar corporation, but as someone who lives and breathes being a musician. (I unfortunately made the vain mistake of asking for 3 dollars and 50 cents a week). The 40$ figure as a ‘all in’ was arrived at because I wanted to insure that those that were interested were going to take the whole ride for the all 12 weeks. I had expressed that this was not a profit driven business model, but many questioned the truth in that and went on to turn into personal attacks seeing it as yet another example of me taking advantage of them. Judging by this kind of feedback I would say this idea is dead on arrival. Which leaves me with 2 choices; cancel or revise.
My heart says to cancel, because the whole thing isn’t worth the hassle for the few thousand that would show up and faithfully engage in something new and exciting and trust me on the expenses involved to deliver such a project to them. The willful part of me says I know this is a really cool idea because it will force a new kind of dialogue between artist and listener at a much earlier stage in the process.
In my last extensive post, I promised love and light moving forward. But I also promised reality as we struggle to find what is going to work business-wise in the years ahead. The Smashing Pumpkins ‘business’ is alive and well (thank you), or I wouldn’t have just completed 165 date tour a few months back. Its laughable for people to think that this is some kind of way to stuff my pockets. One 90 minute concert alone and the profits from that completely blow such stupidity out of the water.
I have found thru the years that when I must become a salesman that this in turn reflects poorly on me as an artist. If I was a good salesman, there would be more than 6,000 people reading this newsletter, and I would be doing everything in my power to tell you why this a good idea and not a bad one.
Right now it’s a bad idea because this proposal has some (not all) accusing me of all sorts of lame things that have little to do with the spirit of the music or the business that surrounds it. I don’t need your money, for I am going to film these sessions anyway. The difference here was if we had an audience and a budget to work with, well then we could make it a whole lot of fun for everyone who wants to ‘be there’ and wants to see-here how the magic gets made. Great attempts would also be made to provide additional content to justify your participation. It would come with the responsibility on us to get the technical end right on a daily basis, hence the extra budget necessities to be able to turn footage around quickly.
Pandering to people for $ has never been my trip. I just don’t care that much. So here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna lay it all out there to you as a community. You decide what you want to do, because I already know what I’m going to do. Its your call. I figure to do this right its about 2,000$ a day, or 10,000$ a week which adds up to 120,000$. Boring isn’t it?
3000 subscribers at 40$=120,000$
6000 subscribers at 20$=120,000$
12,000 subscriber at 10$=120,000$
So you see, it is not a profit driven model. It is a content creation model.
If you as a community can self organize and 6000 people want to do this, then its 20$ (for the whole 12 weeks). I’d much rather stuff 20$ in my pockets from 6000 people than 3000! (That’s a joke by the way for those of you who lack the irony gene)
It ain’t gonna happen for 40$ obviously because the negative vibe in the air just makes it all so icky. And I don’t do icky anymore. If 20$ is TOO much for 12 weeks of unique, daily content and the trust isn’t there for me to deliver it, then I might as well just focus on the mainstream fan who I know already doesn’t give care for ‘the art’ and get back to the *yawn* grunge…
So that’s it. We need 6,000 people who are adventurous enough to take this journey at 20$ or I’ll just put it all in a can somewhere and move on. Your feedback is helpful and I thank you.
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Billy Corgan has been hinting at future models for providing music and media from the studio to the fans during interviews and other press. Plans for this service are now underway and will be executed in the form of a 12-week paid subscription service for access to various media updates detailing the creative process within the studio. The media updates will be in the form of exclusive web-video and photographs. Subscribers will be able to watch the next era of Smashing Pumpkins music take shape.
Here are Billy’s hopes and expectations for the upcoming project:
The goal is to create a working model that is not profit motivated but rather information and access motivated. In exchange for a fixed resource base fans will be let inside in an unprecedented way to the creative process of preparing to make the next SP album while also inspiring an inter-active dialogue that will help shape the work. Because of the open window, further efforts will be made to provide content so that anyone participating can more readily follow the arc over the 12 weeks, with unprecedented access to lyrical and musical content.
Everyone involved with the project is very excited to create something memorable and thought-provoking during the course of this project. Some people that would be involved include Kerry Brown, Mark Tulin, Linda Strawberry, Julie Mitchell, + Carina Round. Artistic contributors would include Justin Coloma, Kristin Burns, and Lisa Johnson.
A very important aspect to this entire project is the current interest of the fan-base. As highlighted by Billy above, the project is not profit-motivated. However, to get the project off the ground, substantial interest from YOU is needed. In order to gauge the interest, we are creating a new mailing list (sign up here) to inform everyone on progress. The concept is similar to that of the SP Archive Newsletter, however updates are not scheduled to be weekly at this time. This is the best way for us to estimate the demand for this experimental idea. If we don’t find that there is enough demand for this, the project will be set aside for a future time.
Your participation in this project will influence the progression of the music being documented.
Here are some details regarding the subscription model:
- $40 for 12 weeks. A minimum of 5 updates from the studio per week, so that’s 60 updates for $40.
- Updates would be posted in a less-than-24-hour consistency. For instance, if something happened on Monday, it would be posted no later than Tuesday
- Each update would be a minimum of 5 minutes in length. That would mean subscribers would receive at least 25 minutes of unique audio/video material per week, and at least 5 hours over the course of the 12 weeks.
- There is a possibility of live streaming video content in addition to what has been presented above.
- The updates will ultimately be part of a substantial “art film.”
In closing from Billy:
I am excited to make this offer to anyone who might be interested what goes on behind the wizard’s curtain. It is my goal to far exceed the normal docmentary process and use the moment to create something that invokes synchronicity, electricity, and faith into a moment that is ever unfolding.
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Billy Corgan posted a mission statement yesterday on the future and direction of the Smashing Pumpkins. Below is the message he posted on the official site.
Message from Billy
April 9, 2009
Hello from sunny California, where I’m currently working with some of my friends on new SP songs. The mood here is relaxed, serene, and studious as my pals are helping me with some TLC to zero-in on the new direction that I’m trying to take the music. I’ve made many, many mistakes through the years, and one of them is that I often rush headlong into my next album without really taking the time to reflect on what I’ve just done, and test my resolve a little on where I’m going. One small detail that I think was beneficial to the band in the early years was we practiced a lot. It wasn’t uncommon to have weeks where we practiced 30+ hours, which may not sound like a lot but at high volume this was very fatiguing, and of course exciting too. Through all that playing you would easily come into contact with the emotional value of whether or not a song ‘worked’, so to speak. Add to that another 20-30 hours per week at home writing music and lyrics, and you can see I was very immersed in that process of checking my ideas between head, home, heart, and practice.
Right now we are just focused on about 5 or 6 songs, using them to try out some new feels to try to find a consistent foundation upon which to build this large multimedia project I have in mind. 44 seems to be the magic #, so let’s say I’m shooting for 44 songs on this one. I’ll get to how I plan to release them later. Because the work will be conceptual in nature planning it all out also I think will help keep me from losing my way in the evil forest.
I’m going to step right into the heat of the matter now and address the infamous ‘why?’ question. The why being ‘why’ I have chosen to continue on under the Smashing Pumpkins banner considering I am the only remaining original member? The simple answer is that when I decided to write and record again under the name The Smashing Pumpkins in 2005, I committed myself 100 pct. 100pct of my mind-body-soul to come back and make the band really be great again, and I feel in tune to SP in a way I haven’t felt in tune probably since 1995 or 1996. As they say in No Limit Poker, I’m ‘all in’. I’m not going to back out of the challenge in front of me now. I’m absolutely exhilarated by what I see and feel the future to be for SP. There is a difference in how I think and approach a body of work for the Pumpkins then say I would as a solo artist or under any other name. Being the near lone songwriter for the Pumpkins has always made me want to put all the diverse harmonic fragments in my mind together, and it has been an incredible musical journey so far to keep trying to match up to the size of that idea. I truly am not focused on where I’ve been now as much as where I am going, and I haven’t felt that way for a very long time.
I appreciate that for many fans, the public part of my musical journey has often been quite confusing. I’ve tried to explain many times in both public and private venues that it’s really not so different than a character on tv who embodies the role they are in. I don’t think there is anything inauthentic about my play-acting within those created personas (zero, the whyte spider, the sad guy, the vampyre, etc) and acting them out on the grand stage in front of the glare of whoever cares. That to me IS what rock and roll is about. But many lack the sophistication to appreciate that just because I play a baby-faced killa upon the darkened stage that it doesn’t come close to who I really am. I would point very gently to the diversity and complexity of my artistic work to give you some sense of who Billy Corgan really is (that is a joking 3rd person by the way). Part-alien, part-human, part-robot, part-star-crossed lover and part-mercury filled apparently if one was to read the songs in that way. I am a sensitive soul and I make no apologies for that. As Popeye said, “I yam who I yam”. Or in my case maybe it’s “I am who I ain’t.”
I am at peace now with the idea that SP is worth bringing to life again and again, because the challenge of the band’s shadow has inspired some great work. It’s also just a name, THE Smashing Pumpkins (it just rolls off the tongue, don’t it??). It’s a dumb name, but I choose it cause I thought it was funny (yes, funny in 1987 ha ha). All that aside, what the band represents to me and obviously to so many fans SYMBOLICALLY is what is really important in my opinion moving forward. I think the energy in the Pumpkins community is fantastic right now. I love the diversity of opinion and perspective. There is nothing to argue about there. But at least there is something to argue over! Meaning SP is substantive once again; there are new songs, questionable decisions, abject failures, and unique triumphs to dissect over and over. Enjoy!
I do plan on doing other things coming up though. I have notions to start 2 other bands and also release some more solo work. I would love to get into more details on those projects but I would like to secure the domain names first because I don’t want to have to fight to get them back later. It’s bad enough that I have someone posing as me on Twitter LOL…the general idea is the work of the other groups and solo may intertwine with the SP album as far as a release schedule would go. But I’m all ready ahead of myself there.
So let’s get down to business and talk about what the plans are ahead. First up is/are the drum tryouts on the 14th/April. We’ve received a staggering amount of submissions so far (over 1,000!), so let me say to everyone who has submitted thank you and God Bless you for having the courage to throw your name out there. The auditions on the 14th are just the first round of trying people out. There is no ‘hurry’ at the moment, as I’m not quite ready to record yet, and it’s possible I may need more than one drummer for what my plans are. So for someone who may think they would never get a chance there is still time in the months ahead to keep trying. I view it as a process to find the right person(s) and it’s important that the right consideration is given. Jeff and I will be holding the first round of auditions, with me on bass (lookout!).
As I stated earlier in this post we’ve just been rocking amongst friends, so for the moment Kerry Brown, my best man and co-producer is manning the skins. The past few days we had Daxx Nielsen in to play on a few things, who is a great drummer himself. Lord forbid I would want 44 different drummers on 44 different tracks, but I suppose anything is possible.
Ok, album plans: first off, I still plan on making an album. I know this may contradict with what I’ve said publicly but I think I just didn’t state what I meant clearly. I meant I don’t think I’m going to make albums in the old-fashioned way, meaning 12-15 songs, etc in one small package. My desire at this point would be to release one song at a time, over a period of 2-3 years, with it all adding up to a box set/album of sorts that would also ******* an art movie of the album. (Sounds like a lot of work, don’t it??) My thinking is that if I focus on one song at a time I would approach them as beautiful, distinct paintings that would each require the attention they deserve. This would also mean I would choose what I am recording quite carefully as there would be tremendous internal pressure to get it just right, and that is the kind of pressure I like, which is to make the most beautiful thing possible. I’ve gotten lost many times during the long haul of making a record and have overlooked some great songs because of that. The new standard for an SP song would that it be excellent and fantastic and most importantly essential or it’s not coming out. I will do my best to meet that intention fully. So soon I will announce (hopefully) that I’ve begun the process, May being the most likely ‘start’ date. I will continue on from ‘there’ until whatever date it all seems finished. That would probably be marked by the release of the final artwork package and the movie. So lots of details to be worked out as you can see. I plan on the first actual song release coming in September. For the new SP I don’t think I would be interested in a subscription model unless it was something where enough people wanted a daily access to the work (in progress). I guess we as a community could throw out how many people would be interested in that as an idea. It would definitely have to be something that would be worth the effort on all sides.
Speaking of subscription models, I think Frank Quinto is doing a great job so far as Archive Czar keeping all of us in the loop on his progress. I can say from my end right now the biggest hurdle is sorting out the business side with our former label EMI (once Virgin). As some of you know, there are currently 3 lawsuits; the band is suing EMI, 2 of my former band mates are suing EMI, and EMI is suing me because of the ex-bandmember lawsuit. Thankfully EMI has shown a willingness to try to sort this out and God willing it will be resolved soon. My hope is to have access to all of the unreleased materials (with the contractual rights clearly worked out) so that I can set a plan in motion to get it all out over the next decade. That would be the best way, but sometimes that is not the way it works out. I do have all the Gish unreleased rights, but I don’t want to kick start that and by the time we get to Siamese have a whole legal mess on our hands and then have to stop our momentum. It’s all or nothing with the archives. Those with a positive attitude can see that as a blessing because it means if stuff starts to come out it’s all coming out.
It is really important for me to re-state first and foremost that the band will remain now and forever about making new music. This is where most of our energy over here belongs. That doesn’t say or mean to say anything negative about the past. In fact my posture on it is consistent with the original band vision, which was to always push forward. I’m not about to change that now. That doesn’t mean we can’t be smart and live in the world of 2009 and approach opportunities with a fresh mindset. Together we can find the right balance.
Many of the old indie-world values that people throw about without context were BS back in the day, and I said so back then too. I am no poster boy for alt-nation because alt-nation found its heroes elsewhere. You can have those heroes now. I am my own man from this day forward. The day SP gets proper credit for what it got right is the day that this can be a different conversation about what I may or may not be entitled to. The funny thing about being left out in the cold is you get used to the temperature.
I want to be quite candid here and say some things I don’t think I’ve ever shared. For many years I’ve been really unhappy with the stupidity of the music business (that’s no secret!). But now I am free from corporate meddling. No contracts, no deadlines to meet, nothing but rainbows ha ha… My wish is that from this day forward this group will represent nothing but love and light. If you see BC out there griping, it is only because I have failed to set the proper conditions to be in the love and light with you. The fan is NOT responsible in any way, shape, or form for my happiness or the my ability to do my job. (Nor have they ever been) If I have given that impression to any of you through the years I am sorry about that. That was an error on my part. When a fan comes to an SP show we owe it to you to put on the best show possible, rain or shine. I believe the days of standing on a stage somewhere in the world feeling torn about why I am up there are over. SP will be about peace from this day forward as well. The music WILL also reflect this shift in devotion and humble gratitude. You shall see!
I would like to end by saying thank you to those who pray for me, and send me well wishes and support. It means a lot to me that there are fans out there who see me as the humble human I truly am. Public life is a brutal, weird game that I have chosen to play for my own convoluted reasons my OWN way. I wish it was as simple as being about the trappings normally associated with fame! If only life were so simple. But it ain’t…but that too shall change. SP can and will represent a new kind of way of connecting my music with you in a way that leaves both parties feeling better for it. You have my personal promise on that.
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Jimmy Chamberlin has posted on his blog site about why he left the Smashing Pumpkins:
By now you have heard the news of my departure from the Smashing Pumpkins. I will say, without going into any unnecessary details that this represents a positive move forward for me. I can no longer commit all of my energy into something that I don’t fully possess. I won’t pretend I’m into something I’m not. I won’t do it to myself, you the fan, or my former partner. I can’t just, “Cash the check” so to speak. Music is my life. It is sacred. It deserves the highest commitment at every level and the Pumpkins are certainly no different. I’m sorry but it really IS that simple. There is no drama, bad blood, or anything else but a full commitment to music. My best goes out to Billy and I’m glad he has chosen to continue under the name. It is his right. I will continue to make music with the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex as well as pursuing other musical interests. I feel that I have a long way to go and a lot to give. Thanks to everyone for your kind words and support through all of this. I am constantly humbled by all of you! It is an honor and a privilege to play music for a living and I don’t take it for granted not even for a second.
Stay tuned……. JC
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Today on the official Smashing Pumpkins website front man Billy Corgan announced the departure of Jimmy Chamberlin. Billy Corgan has also announced he is going back to the studio to record a new album alone. Click here to join the Netphoria discussion about this important news.
Former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha is part of a new band that also includes members of Cheap Trick, Fountains Of Wayne and Hanson.
Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, Taylor Hanson, and bassist Adam Schlesinger of Fountains Of Wayne round out the line-up of Tinted Windows, and they’ve already recorded their debut album.
It was recorded at the Schlesinger-Iha-owned Stratosphere Sound Studios in New York, and according to Billboard, will be released in the spring.
The band will play their first publicized gig at South By South West in Austin on March 20.
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Auf Der Maur Talks Smashing Pumpkins, Hole Reunions
Having played in two of the biggest bands from the alternative scene’s heyday in the ’90s, calling’s pedigree impressive would be an understatement. “Playing in Hole and Smashing Pumpkins was an incredible education period of mine, like unbelievable,” she tells Spinner. “It was the best music and social education and life I could have ever asked for.”
Unfortunately for her fans, it doesn’t look like Auf Der Maur will be reuniting with either band anytime soon, though the Pumpkins did have a little reunion recently. “I haven’t seen any of the Pumpkins’ reunion shows, but I’d like to,” she says. “There was a brief conversation once about me rejoining but it didn’t happen. We’re on good terms and I’m a huge Pumpkins fan. Opening for them was how I even got involved in any of these bands to begin with.”
Meanwhile, Auf Der Maur has been out of touch with former Hole bandmate Courtney Love. “We very rarely talk but when we do, it sure makes me laugh,” she says. “She’s one of the funniest ladies I know and I hold huge amounts of love and respect for her. She’s my big sister.” Auf Der Maur’s quick to assert that her opinion of Love certainly hasn’t changed, even through Love’s peristant tabloid fodder and bizarre Myspace missives. “Things were wild during the years I was with her in the band and she’s one of the wildest creatures I’ve ever met, but I have my own personal perception of her,” she says. “There’s nobody else like her. I feel like there should be a review of the great stuff that Hole and Courtney put out there. I would support that because I feel it’s important to pass on to women of future generations.”
In the end, the dim prospects of rejoining either band are truly due to Auf Der Maur’s focus on her own career. “I don’t have a problem with reunion tours but it’s a complicated situation in general,” she says. “Right now, it doesn’t make any sense in my musical life. I have to say, my freedom to make fantasy films and concept albums whenever I want makes me happy.”
For its Super Bowl Ad Hyundai-commissioned a new song by the Smashing Pumpkins, “F.O.L.,” which made its debut right before the big game. The Ad featured many careening turns and some sort of “make your own ad” contest that takes about five minutes of Flash animations to finally get to. Billy Corgan completists out there can grab the track, which is only 3:05 yet sometimes feels like it’s about double that length (perhaps I need to, as Corgan instructs over and over and over and over again, “feel our love”), at the car company’s site.
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Here is the commercial:
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The Smashing Pumpkins have released their new music video for their latest single “G.L.O.W.”, appearing first on MySpace. The song, “G.L.O.W,” was released by the Smashing Pumpkins and marks the first time a band has recorded a new song exclusively for the Guitar Hero franchise which was released afterwards.
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