Billy Corgan says the ambivalent reception to Smashing Pumpkins' large-scale, diffuse "Teargarden By Kaleidyscope" project is what led the band to create an actual album, "Oceania," that's due out in coming months.
"I reached a point where I saw that the one-song-at-a-time idea had maxed itself out," Corgan tells Billboard.com. "I just saw we weren't getting the penetration in to everybody that I would have hoped. I mean, we have 1.3 million followers on our Facebook page, right? So you think you put (a song) up and 1.3 million people are gonna see it -- but only if they're looking at the exact moment it goes up. They're not necessarily searching and they're friends aren't necessarily going to tell them about it. It's very mercurial.
"I just saw that we weren't reaching the sort of casual person who still gets their information from traditional sources. So I thought, 'What do I need to do?' and then I thought, 'OK, I'll go back to making an album.' "
Smashing Pumpkins have so far released a dozen or so tracks that are part of the planned 44 for "Teargarden..." -- including "Owata," whose video is currently streaming on the group's web site -- while "Oceania" will feature another 14. Corgan says the group is "still trying to figure out the business side" for "Oceania," the Pumpkins' first traditional album since 2007's "Zeitgeist," and hopes to "make it available to be heard in November, but we don't know that yet for sure." As for the music, he describes it as "some of the most melodic work I've ever done, but somehow it rocks pretty hard, too. It's probably the most open-sounding album I've ever made. The general description I've heard from people who have heard it is that it reminds them of the Pumpkins in the way they like the Pumpkins, but somehow it sounds new. So there's a familiarity, but everybody says, 'OK, it does sound new. It doesn't sound like they went back to their old sound.' "
Most of "Oceania" is comprised of "new songs that I wrote this year," Corgan reports, but some also date back a while, including some material he worked in with Electric Prunes founder Mark Tulin before his death in February. "He had played on a lot of the demos," Corgan says, "and to sort of grieve and embrace my time with him, I actually went through every demo we had done and I found a couple of ideas that I thought, 'Oh, I overlooked those. So I put those ideas in the pile, but mostly it's new songs."
Corgan and the current Pumpkins -- drummer Mike Byrne, bassist Nicole Fiorentino and guitarist Jeff Schroeder -- are hopeful that "Oceania" will not only sate Pumpkins fans' appetite for a more conventional album but also help to energize the ambitious "Teargarden..." concept. "We feel pretty confident this is going to help make the progression of 'Teargarden' make sense to people," Corgan says. "If we're able to get that sense that something is happening again and get people to rally behind us a bit, I think the next three, four years will be very interesting for the band. I think if ('Oceania') basically hits the same wall a lot of the other stuff has hit, we're going to have to step back and really evaluate where we're going, because it's a tremendous amount of energy to put out to just feel like you're throwing a pebble in the ocean."
The Pumpkins hit the road for a 12-date U.S. tour on Oct. 5 in Los Angeles, followed by a five-week European swing that begins Nov. 2 in Stockholm, Sweden.
The planned track list for "Oceania" includes:
1.Quasar 2.Stella P and the People Mover 3.Panopticon 4.The Celestials 5.Violet Rays 6.My Love is Winter 7.One Diamond, One Heart 8.Pinwheels 9.Oceania 10.Pale Horse 11.The Chimera 12.Glissandra 13.Inkless 14.Wildflower