Smashing Pumpkins Reissues Offer 'Massive Upgrade' in Sound, Says Corgan
Billy Corgan isn't one to dwell on the past, preferring to focus on the present and future -- like Smashing Pumpkins' continuing "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope" and next year's "Oceania" studio album. But Corgan says he's found inspiration for those projects through the extensive Pumpkins reissue campaign that kicks off later this month.
"Before I started this process, I would've thought, 'Yeah, this is going to be a little uncomfortable because I'm trying to make this new point at the same time I'm trying to make an old point,'" Corgan tells Billboard.com. "But it's actually been the opposite experience. I've found it's brought a sort of peace to me, because it reminds me of my journey. It's like I look at an old photo and I don't go 'Ugh!' I look at the old photo and go, 'That's good I did that. That's good I went there. That's good I took those chances,' and I can feel compassion for when I did something stupid or said something stupid because I believed in something."
Corgan says that reviewing the Pumpkins' old material for the reissue series "also reminds me, 'You can do this. You have this in you if you really want to.' It reminds me of that kind of passion and that kind of commitment."
Corgan has been fully involved in putting together the reissues, which begin with the Nov. 29 release of 1991's "Gish" and 1993's "Siamese Dream." Both feature remastered (by Bob Ludwig) versions of the original albums and a second disc of rare and unreleased material, while deluxe editions add DVDs of concerts filmed at Chicago's Metro from August 1990 and August 1993, respectively. Corgan says he's particular stoked by the sound on the "Siamese Dream" reissue.
"It's stunning, the quality level. It really recasts it in a different light," Corgan explains. "It's a real massive upgrade in terms of the quality of the album, sonically, that was shocking."
The campaign continues in 2012 with the release of 1995's "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," the 1996 box set "The Aeroplane Flies High" and 1998's "Adore," while 2000's "Machina/The Machines of God" and "Machina II: The Friends & Enemies of Modern Music" will be packaged together in 2013. A best-of retrospective is also due that year.
"We have so much stuff," Corgan gushes. "The beauty of the deal (with EMI) is we can put out anything we want, any way we want it, when we want it. I have complete access to all the archives, and we can do whatever we want. It's crazy." Corgan adds that he's found "tons of weird, crazy stuff that we're going to just give away for free, and there's other stuff we're trying to package in a way that would make it easy for fans who are interested in particular periods. Things we've found that don't fit on the discs we'll put up online, sort of like an online box set." Details for that are currently being worked out.
Corgan does acknowledge that the quality of some of the unreleased material is "dubious," but he's still happy to put it out. "With 20 years on it here or there it does take on a nice documentary feel," he explains. "It's a little less about quality and maybe more about giving insight into a moment." He also cautions, "Because we released so many of our extra songs, we're not sitting on some magic treasure trove of great songs that no one's ever heard. We never made the great lost record or anything like that. It's more an insight into the process, or a different take on something."
He's also found "a couple of half-written songs and things like that where I thought, 'Wow, I can't believe I didn't finish this idea.' It could be cool, under the right circumstances, to maybe finish those, to complete the idea, so we'll see."
Corgan did not, however, engage any of the original Pumpkins -- guitarist James Iha, bassist D'arcy Wretzky or drummer Jimmy Chamberlin -- in the reissue program. "There's no relationship at all," he says. "It's unfortunate, but -- without going into the details -- they've sort of put me in a position where that's the way it is."
The current incarnation of the Smashing Pumpkins launches a European tour on Nov. 2 in Stockholm, Sweden, and will be across the pond until Dec. 9. No release date has been set yet for "Oceania" or for the next "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope" tracks.